Very early in the morning, about the time Rita will start pounding the southern USA, I will board a jet for the East, then there will be a drive of several hours into a long valley.
Nestled in that valley as a true hidden place is a tiny village. Near there, on the banks of a river amongst the forested hills, is a community of consecrated souls from all over the world.
This community serves the Church across the globe, especially the poor, the lonely, the questioning.
Each year at this time we priests, both those who are full time members of the community and those of us who are part of the community but serve under our Bishops all over the world, gather for our annual retreat.
Jesus, as is shown often in the Holy Gospel, frequently withdrew either by Himself or with the Apostles, to a lonely place to rest in communion with the Father and to have the Apostles rest in communion with Him and each other.
This is the essence of a retreat. Retreat as in withdraw, with the purpose of being renewed so that you re-turn, first more deeply to Him and then, within that re-turn, refreshed and renewed returning to His vineyard, the apostolic duty of the moment.
So some priests will give us a daily formal instruction, and we will spend some time each day in holy conversation with one another. We will share meals with the Staff of the place where we are gathering and those dedicated lay people will also re-treat us to their wisdom and encouragement.
Much time will be spent in prayer, in contemplation, often alone, sometimes gathered together, especially for the daily concelebrating of Holy Mass, the source and summit of our faith and the prime duty of a priest.
Indeed as one of our number who now celebrates with Christ in heaven often said: “Once I have celebrated Mass the day is perfect, the day is complete.”
The retreat will be over all too quickly and that most painful of asceticism for our little priestly band of brothers will take place, saying adieu [which literally means ‘to God’] until next year.
Obviously while on retreat no internet, no blogging!
So until about the 6th of October, a-dieu and please pray for us that during the retreat we open wide the doors of our being to the Father, Son and Holy Spirit so that we may become holier priests, truly your servants.