What’s so great about retreats? And how to get the most out of them.


I’m not a big retreat person because retreats always seemed cheesy and overly sentimental to me. I’m usually not into the sentimental, “feely” kind of religion. I subscribe to my dad’s philosophy on religion: “emotion isn’t devotion.” I like that phrase because I know that emotions fade. In order to be a strong, lifetime Catholic, my faith cannot be based on emotion. It must be devotion.

That said, it’s been quite some time since I’ve felt as good as I did last weekend when I went to my first retreat in several years.

For the past year of my life, I worked in the marketing department of a property owners association. I’m not going to bore you with details. Simply put, I was surrounded by unloving, uncaring people.

After a solid year of struggle and pain, I finally received my parents’ blessing in moving to California. When I came, though, I wasn’t going to mess around. I got right down to business; applying for jobs, meeting fellow musicians and volunteering. The plan was (and still is) to not pass up an opportunity.

One opportunity that jumped out at me right away was the retreat. I knew I needed to meet people because I am terrible at being alone.

Basically, the retreat rocked. And I think some of that rock-ness had to do with the mindset I had when going into it. I’m going to share my mindset and my experience in hopes that you will a) be encouraged to attend a retreat b) be able to use the retreat to its fullest extent.

Retreat Details:

  • Ages 18-49, Young Adult Retreat
  • Started Friday at 6pm
  • Ended with Sunday mass at 5:30pm
  • About 20-30 Attendees (Including Retreat Leaders)

As I said before, I was alone going into the retreat. I knew not a soul my own age. So, my primary purpose was to meet people.

I believe having this purpose is what helped bring me to the level of all the other awesome people at the retreat. I was ready to get to know people, ask about their lives, laugh with them, pray with them. It was primarily about the people.

By the end of the retreat, I had fulfilled my purpose by means of the getting-to-know-you conversations at meals, wise and interesting small group discussions, and the talks given by retreat leaders followed by large group discussions.

I really felt loved and equal with these people when I realized I wasn’t going to be the only one asking questions in our getting-to-know-you conversations. Usually I do most of the listening and question asking. This time, the  conversations were very balanced, and they were more enjoyable than a big bowl of Cocoa Pebbles.

When it came to the small group discussions, things panned out similarly to the meal conversations. Everybody had a chance to give input, and almost everybody gave their full attention to the person talking.

My second and third reasons for being on the retreat were to learn and grow. The seeds in my brain were given a brilliant light to sprout beneath during the large group discussions. And the plants of knowledge and faith were nurtured by prayer.

I didn’t talk a whole lot at the large group discussions. But I pay very close attention to the anecdotes and ideas of those who did. What happened was, even though I already knew most of the information that was taught during the talks, I was able to receive the information from another person’s perspective during the discussions. That is when I really learned new things. I saw several ideas and teachings in a different light, expanding my mind to new levels.

One of the greatest features of the retreat was the exposition of Jesus Christ. He was available on the altar for adoration during every hour of the retreat. Morning and evening prayers were said. We were even taught about other forms of prayer including meditation and a form I never heard of before called Lectio Divina (we’ll talk more about that later).

By the end of the retreat, I had fulfilled every one of my wishes – and more! I met, interacted with and learned from a diverse group of super awesome, super caring, super loving people. That part blew my mind and more than restored my faith in humanity. Further, and more importantly, I got to pray with Jesus Christ, himself, and those awesome people I mentioned a second ago!

I will remember that retreat forever, and I can’t wait to meet up with my new friends again.


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