Friday, July 16, 2010

Fleeing Daily Life for Silence--Retreat

Retreats have always been a part of Catholic life, and at this time of the year there are many kinds of retreats being offered for the Korean Catholic. The Catholic Times set aside a full page to list them all, with an introduction that briefly highlights the benefits of each one.

By "retreat," we mean leaving our daily life for a period of time to commune with God. In Korean, the word retreat is formed with two Chinese characters: one meaning to flee and the other silence. One flees a busy life to go to a place of silence. On the front of one of the large retreat houses, there is a stone with the words, in Latin, "All welcome, remain alone and exit as another.

The Church in Korea has developed a very organized way of introducing the priesthood or life as a religious to students; it's an important focus of Church life and the results have been encouraging. Many retreats are for teenagers who are thinking of a vocation. These retreats allow prospects to briefly experience the life they are interested in, and at the conclusion of the retreat, those who wish are given the opportunity to keep in contact with the group by internet.

There are also retreats for families, for children, and even retreats that include experiencing life on a farm or visiting historical sites, and others that are not specifically spiritual.

Retreats are organized in different ways: directed, preached or private, in the Ignatian style, with lectio divina, or retreats that follow the traditional methods of the sponsoring groups.

The Korean Bishops' website has a detailed list of all the retreats. These opportunities to deepen the life of our Catholics have proven to be very attractive to many Koreans, who have a natural desire for the spiritual.