The value of retreats and conferences

In our busy lives, it is easy to let “normal” activities dictate our calendar. This is even true when we plan our vacations. How often when we’re thinking of our next vacation, does it inevitably focus on relaxation, tropical locations, Europe or the other “normal” vacations.

But what about building up our faith?

While the daily and weekly and annual patterns of our faith do a great deal to help build our relationship with God, there is something unique that comes out of explicitely taking a vacation from our regular daily lives to go on a retreat or to attend a conference for the purpose of building up our faith. Towards this end I’d like to take a moment to speak to the LA Religious Education Congress that I have attended a couple times.

The first time I attended “Congress” (as it is usually called by those who regularly attend) I was overwhelmed by the number of people there and the number of options for activities to participate in. Which Masses should I go to? Would Tridentine or Celtic be better? What evening entertainment should I try out? The concert or the prayer session? Should I get up early to have some prayer time? And of course, what workshops should I go to? There were a number of workshops that I knew off the bat that I didn’t want to attend. Things like: “Soul Formation – the Foundation For Positive Self-Esteem Synopsis” (an actual workshop for 2006). No thank you, please keep your touchy-feeliness to yourself! But beyond that I wasn’t sure what I was interested in. So, when regisitering, I dabbled here and there to try different things and get a taste of everything.

That turned out to be a very wise way to go about it. Not only did I get the opportunity to discover more about what interested me, I also got an opportunity to stretch myself into areas I was less comfortable in. I learned about things I would have never thought to learn about. I also examined areas of myself I had never thought to examine before. Doing this forced me to grow.

And that’s really what a retreat is about: growing in one’s faith.

I haven’t made it to Congress the last two years but I am going to go in 2006. For me, that’s not going to be enough conference or retreat time for 2006 so I’m looking for something else to do. I recommend to everyone to try and do at least one retreat a year. There are LOTS of retreats out there with TONS of different themes. Some are very simple and are mostly an opportunity to go somewhere and pray. Others have workshops galour and a packed schedule.

You’ll have to decide for yourself what best fits you, but I encourage you to make the effort to go, no matter where it might be. Give Congress a try if nothing else. It’s only $20 a day!

Comments are closed.