Individually Guided Retreats (IGRs)
The classic individually guided retreat is made in silence, with a daily meeting with a spiritual director who will listen to what has been happening in your prayer while listening also to God, and make suggestions for prayer materials for the next 23 hours. The retreatant is expected to undertake several periods of formal prayer each day, and remain in a prayerful silence without recourse to distractions such as mobile phones for the rest of the time. Activities such as walking, creative arts and writing may well be part of a retreat. Traditionally an IGR lasts for 6 or 8 days, but nowadays it is common for shorter ones to be offered.
I offer IGRs of 2, 3, 4, 6 and 8 days’ duration, at different times. These might be offered in a group setting at the Sussex Heritage Centre, or can be undertaken by an individual using a hermitage which is available in North Bersted at a time that suits them.
For information about upcoming individually guided retreats, visit the Home page.
A themed retreat is not undertaken in silence, but consists of some sessions of input from the retreat leader – information, prayer, explanation etc – which may include discussions. Between these formal sessions there is time for individual prayer and reflection. It is common for retreatants to be offered a range of ideas and materials for how to use this time fruitfully.
Themed retreats take place in groups, and may be based around a liturgical seasons (such as Easter), or a general faith-based theme such as prophecy, or around methods of prayer and discernment. They may last only a day, or several days.
For information about upcoming themed retreats, visit the Home page.
Week of Accompanied or Guided Prayer
This is a form of retreat in daily life which involves a commitment to pray for an agreed length of time each day, and a meeting with a spiritual director or prayer guide each day for a week. At each meeting the guide will listen to what has been going on in prayer, and offer suggestions for what to pray with over the next 23 hours until the next meeting.
This form of retreat permits people to continue with their normal lives rather than having to go away to a retreat house, but it can be a powerful and transformative experience.
Generally such weeks are arranged as a large group event, either ecumenically with all churches in a town taking part, or across a deanery with a number of parishes involved. Typically there will be an opening and a closing service, half a dozen guides, and some workshops on prayer to help retreatants.
However, it is possible to do this on a much smaller scale, and I am happy to work with any church that wishes to try a week of guided prayer and may have only a handful of retreatants.
The Diocese of Arundel and Brighton is organising a Week of Accompanied Prayer for each deanery over the next few years, in conjunction with the Jesuits. Although advertised mainly in Catholic parishes, they are open to all.
Upcoming Weeks of Accompanied Prayer which I will be working on as a prayer guide:
- Thakeham and Sullington CoE Parish 15-22 March 2020.
Retreat in Daily Life
Many people don’t have the time or the money to go away for a residential retreat, especially not for the ’30 day’ Full Spiritual Exercises of St Ignatius. I offer two forms of retreat in daily life – a six week version, and the longer Ignatian Spiritual Exercises.
For a six-week retreat, the retreatant agrees with the director on a certain amount of prayer each day, and meets with the director once a week to talk about what has been going on, and receive input and guidance for the coming week. This form of retreat in daily life is similar to a week of guided prayer but is helpful for people who cannot manage the intensive time required in one week.
St Ignatius was fully aware that the 30 day retreat he designed originally to help young men choose to join the Jesuits was not suitable for everyone, so he designed a way to go through the same journey of faith during normal life which is sometimes known as the 19th Annotation. For this, the retreatant undertakes to pray for an agreed amount of time each day, and to meet with their director every one or two weeks to discuss what has been going on and receive guidance for the next week or two. The experience can be as life-changing as the 30 day retreat, but generally takes about 7 months to complete.
I can offer both forms of retreat in daily life. The six-week form is suitable for anyone wishing to deepen their prayer life and their relationship with God. Those wishing to do the 19th Annotation should already be in spiritual direction and have had experience of a retreat. Anyone interested should contact me for a discussion to ensure that it is suitable for them.
30 Day Full Spiritual Exercises
The full Spiritual Exercises of St Ignatius is a very specialised retreat that follows a schema designed to help someone make an important decision based on total following of Jesus. It helps people to make a full commitment to Christ with all that might involve in the future. It is carried out in silence, with daily meetings with a spiritual director.
The 30 days is suitable for people at particular times of decision-making, but requires considerable stamina and good physical and psychological health. Anyone wishing to undertake this retreat should already be in spiritual direction, and have experienced at least one 8-day silent retreat. It requires huge commitment, and the willingness to change direction if God asks that of one.
I offer the opportunity for an individual to make the 30 day retreat in a hermitage in North Bersted, or in other suitable accommodation they might suggest within easy reach of South Bersted. Anyone interested should contact me for a discussion and interview. References will be required to ensure the candidate is capable of the rigour of this retreat and that it will be beneficial.
If you are looking for a retreat for yourself or a group you are part of then feel free to contact me for a no-obligation discussion.