Last year, between August and May, I set aside the time to make a directed Ignatian Retreat in Daily Life, the 19th annotation of the Spiritual Exercises. This was a time of change in my life; after homeschooling my children for over 20 years, my youngest had graduated high school. This was a time to step back and talk with God about what this change meant in my life, about how my vocation as wife and mother was meant to be lived now. Even though I was forewarned that they are called “exercises” because they require work, I was surprised at the level of stamina that was required to, month after month, keep up with this change.
Routines are good for us. They help us develop good habits and function efficiently, but becoming too comfortable and dependent on them is easy. Pope Francis tells us: “From the words of Christ, we see that vigilance is tied to alertness: be alert, do not get distracted, that is, stay awake! Vigilance means this: not to allow our hearts to become lazy or our spiritual life to soften into mediocrity.”
In a letter to Miss Stéphanie Gourd, Saint Peter Julian advises her: “For spiritual matters, you would need to make a retreat of renewal. You will have to do it at home, when you can manage it, I will give you the subjects for it. It seems to me that it would shake you a little, because you have been following your ordinary routine for such a long time!” (Counsels for Spiritual Life, page 49)
How attached are we to our spiritual practices and routines? When did we last allow the Holy Spirit to inject new life into our prayer routine? Advent is coming! Perhaps it is time for a retreat.
Let us pray:
“Let us listen to the voice of God; let us enter into his rest.” (Antiphon from Invitatory)