Listening for the voice of God
January 20, 2022
“He said to them, ‘Come away by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while’” (Mark 6:31a).
Jesus spoke these words to the Twelve He had chosen to be the ones that He would personally instruct and form in the spiritual life as they walked with Him through the towns and villages surrounding Jerusalem. Along the way, He taught them about the Father’s abiding love for them and equipped them with a message of hope for a world that was surrounded by the darkness of sin.
Jesus sent these chosen few out on mission in groups of two to proclaim the Good News and bring healing to the minds, hearts, bodies and souls of everyone who was willing to receive the message. After sharing that message, they returned home full of joy and were profoundly excited to tell Jesus about what the Father did while they were on mission.
Their joy, sadly, was short-lived, as it was interrupted by the tragic beheading of John the Baptist at the hands of King Herod. Jesus, seeing that the hearts of His chosen were being pulled apart by both grief and joy, invited them to come and find their rest with Him amidst these conflicting experiences. He desired to share with them his communion with the Father and to teach them to bring everything to the Father so that their hearts could receive the consolation they were yearning for.
Stop for a moment and imagine that you are one of the Twelve whom Jesus has called to this rest in the midst of your struggles. He looks you in the eyes and invites you to come spend time with Him so that the two of you can process the raw experiences and movements of your heart. What is your response? Will you go with Him or will you decide to hold onto your emotions and process them alone? Your answer, just as your life, is deeply important to Jesus.
Resting with the Lord is important. In fact, it’s vital for our spiritual survival. Have you ever noticed that the only apostle to be with Jesus on Calvary and to stand at the foot of the Cross is the only one noted for resting his head on His Heart? Is it possible that this type of rest is what makes great disciples and equips them to teach others about the Master’s Love?
Today, when we speak of this type of spiritual rest, we might call it a retreat with the Lord. This means we retreat from the world for a period of time so that we can be alone with Jesus and have time to speak to Him about our daily lives and the deeper movements of our own hearts. Retreats are a time away from the normal activities of life that allow us the freedom to become more familiar with the voice of God in our daily lives. It is a time for us to examine our priorities and make adjustments as necessary.
Jesus spent 40 days on retreat in the desert fasting and praying before He began His public ministry. Jesus continues the habit of making intentional retreats throughout the entirety of His public ministry. Think of how often Scripture relates to us that He goes off to a deserted place to pray. His moments of retreat make such an impact on the disciples that His example moves them to ask Him to teach them how to pray as He prays.
I invite you, no matter what your age or station in life, to consider taking the time to make a retreat. There are many types of retreats that vary in length and style. The key is to find one that meets your needs, availability and spiritual appetite. In general, a retreat will offer you time in silence. The world is a noisy place and pockets of silence in our day afford us the opportunity to better hear God’s voice speaking to us.
Retreats offer sufficient time for prayer and adoration of the Lord present in the Blessed Sacrament. They offer time for rosary walks and for confession. Lastly, they give us time to read Sacred Scriptures, journal, or read a spiritual book. Retreats give us time to encounter God’s love in a new way and then, leaving the time of retreat refreshed, to re-enter the world changed and ready to fulfill our mission as disciples of Jesus Christ.
Talk to your pastor about possible retreat opportunities in your area. Watch your bulletin for missions your parish may be hosting and make plans to attend. Take the time you need to rest with the Lord and wait to be amazed at the fruit it will bear in your life and in the lives of those you love.
Father Walter Nolte is pastor of St. Patrick Parish and president of Archbishop Bergan Catholic Schools in Fremont.
RETREAT CENTERS IN THE ARCHDIOCESE OF OMAHA
Cloisters on the Platte, Gretna
Immaculata Monastery and Spirituality Center, Norfolk
Niobrara Valley House of Renewal, Lynch
402-569-3433 or 402-569-3143
St. Benedict Center, Schuyler
St. Columbans Retreat Center, Bellevue
Tintern Retreat and Resource Center, Oakdale