We all have those times in our lives when we need to take a break and be re-filled. There is no “pause” button in life, though, so we must take and make our own opportunity to do this. Years ago, when my husband was in the diaconate formation, I had one weekend a month to myself. Don’t hate me. I used that time when I could to refill my soul, locking myself away from the world and focusing on God and my relationship with him. The best book I used at that time was Consoling the Heart of Jesus by Fr. Michael Gaitley. Spiritually eye-opening and grace-filled was the time I spent in prayer that weekend with that book.
These days a whole weekend to myself is rare; when we’re not busy with friends or ministry work we like to be with our grandson. FYI, no complaints about that! One would think that since I work mostly at home and alone it would be easy to find time to nurture my soul, but it isn’t. Whether you have young children and are home with them all day, or you’re the empty nesters who it seems should have more time, or whatever season of life you are in, we must first be intentional and plan some extended time with God.
This DIY retreat is a small bite, taking 4 to 6 hours. If you have less time, do two things; if you have more time you can add some of the optional ideas. The firs thing is to plan when and where you will do this. There may be a church nearby with an Adoration chapel or a retreat center you can visit for a day. If that’s not possible, your own home is fine — or go to a friend’s house. Depending on the weather, maybe you can do this outdoors. When you have that decided, look at the activities for the day.
Try to include at least one these in the day: Mass, Confession, or Adoration, depending on your circumstances. Have a Bible, journal, and music for the day. Let the day unfold slowly; do what you can; do what is helpful for you.
Begin with some time of praise and worship music: “Lord, I Need You”; “Your Grace is Enough”; “Your Love Defends Me” — all by Matt Maher.
Read the daily Mass readings and spend some time in quiet, asking God to show you what he wants you to learn or to give you some comfort. Write down your thoughts.
ACTS prayer time: in writing or mentally begin to pray using the ACTS acronym. Adoration, Contrition, Thanksgiving and Supplication. Tell God how awesome He is, ask forgiveness for wrongs, thank Him for all He has given you and ask Him for what you need. I think writing is very powerful because then you will see how God is working in your life right in front of you.
After this time of lots of thinking and talking, take 10 minutes (more if you can) and sit, emptying your mind and resting in God. Set a timer if you are worried you can’t be quiet for 10 minutes. If thoughts come to you, imagine they are on a cloud that you notice but then it quickly moves away.
Read Psalm 139 out loud; underline or write down the words/phrases that strike you. Look at what struck you, thank God for all the ways He has taken care of you, and pray that He heals hurts that cause you to not believe those things. Listen to the song “No Longer Slaves” from Bethel Music and be reminded that you are God’s daughter and have been set free for abundance in your life.
Here are more scripture suggestions for your time:
- Psalm 33;
- Isaiah 43;
- Matthew 8:23-27;
- Mark 5:25-34;
- Luke 2:22-38;
- John 3:1-21.
As you read and pray the scriptures, what does God say to you in those words?
Go for a walk and take some time to reflect on the day. What gift did God give you?
I hope He gave peace, knowledge that you are loved and insight on how to walk the path He has set you on.
Copyright 2018 Deanna Bartalini