Friday, March 30, 2007

Nattering Nullities of Our Nation

Anchoress links this acid-tongued op-ed piece. Ouch.

Note to Anchoress: Have a great retreat, hon!

9 comments:

Athos said...

Oh, yeah. Waves and blown kisses to the Anchoress. What will I get when I go on retreat the weekend after Easter?

"Heya, Ath, don't let the door hit you in the *ss on your way out, man."

Porthos said...

I can blow you kisses too, Ath. Mwa.

Hey, you'll get no sympathy from me, dude. I have never been on a retreat proper in my life (not counting a few charismatic Evangelical ones when I was twelve or thirteen).

I don't even no how one takes a retreat, or what one does. Do you just head off to your favorite monastary? Is it organized? Do you do planned things with others or just pray and wander around by yourself. Actually, I'd like to hear a run-down and typical itinerary of a retreat from you or Aramis. It might help me know what to do if I ever get the chance.

Athos said...

The Cursillo weekends that Aramis teams on are highly structured retreats: a short-course on the Catholic faith, intense, interpersonal, Eucharistic. Wonderful for bonding (what the Men's movement could only dream of doing as a poor imitation) and seeing and hearing models of the faith while realizing that these are only men like yourself. Correct me if I'm wrong, Aramis; I'm basing my info on my experiences with men's Walk to Emmaus weekends, a direct offshoot of Cursillo.

My retreats at Holy Cross Abbey (Cistercian) are absolutely unstructured. One is free simply to stay in one's room at the Guesthouse, take meals, walk the countryside. Otoh, one may attend every service (Liturgy of the Hours, all the Psalms in a week's time) using that as one's "structure". All in a respectful silence at meal times and all other times, unless one wants to talk quietly with another retreatant out of earshot of others. "Monastic silence" is the goal. Lots of time for reading, sleeping, contemplation.

The monastery bookstore is deadly rich with choice reads, objects d'art, and devotional aids like CDs of gooood music, tapes by Thomas Merton, etc. I don't take my laptop and I turn off the cell phone. My fair lady understands and wouldn't have it any other way. And it's payback kind of for her flying off to visit her family in February ... it balances out, all in all.

Porthos said...

Thanks! This helps. I had the privilege of two overnight stays at an old monastary (mostly unused except as a lodge/guest-house for weekend getaways that are usually not religious in nature) here in my country of abode, with wife and one kid each trip. It was not a retreat proper, but at least I got the feel of what one might be like. Similar experience at the 2003 COV&R conference at Innsbruck, when I stayed at a convent, somewhat citified, but nice.

Aramis said...

I don't really classify the Cursillo weekend as a retreat, but rather, like Athos described, it is a short course on Christianity - as it packs a wallop for most who go through it.

I think of a retreat as a time and a place coming together allowing one (at this joining) to be open to where God's Time and Place intersect. This is usually done with guidance, alone or with others.

I think the commmon and hip retreat today (with tongue in cheek) is the retreat, I call, my-do-it-how-I-want getaway. I can call it this because this is the way I usuallly do a retreat. My issue with it is that I feel we moderns (and I consider myself one) do retreats holding hands with those of the reformation - strictly of faith mistrusting works (or authority). Saying that, I will still continue to do self-guided, and/or with my lovely wife, retreats.

Aramis said...

Oh, yea, I forgot another trap of modern retreats... the facilities where we usually go have been built with or remodeled so it houses a fantastically stocked and merchandised bookstore. These bookstores are filled with wonderful books, tapes, stuff and more STUFF – as you know, we STUFF addicts can't be more than a half-day away from a STUFF fix.

Hey, what was the original post all about anyway?

Athos said...

Hey, what was the original post all about anyway?

Sometimes it doesn't matter, eh, mon ami? I enjoyed the discussion re: retreats. I guess I'm not quite so cynical since mine have taken place solely at an abbey where the monks are about their vocation of ora et labora. The gift shop/book store is, of course, a source of income, but not a prime income producer.

Aramis said...

From one who is quoted as having said, "I am given to bouts of idealizing all things of the Middle Ages."

I am NOT knocking gift shop/bookstores Ath. And I certainly am not knocking getaway 'retreats'. I was just trying to say that a lot of our retreats probably fall way short of really clearing away the idols and distractions of the day. And just imagine a retreat those of the Middle Ages took - that stretches the 'ol comfort zones a bit, don't you think?

Athos said...

I rather doubt that guests were even allowed for scheduled retreats at monasteries and convents in ye olde Middle Ages. They extended hospitality for true strangers in extreme need, it is true.

More likely one who wanted to deepen one's faith went on pilgrimage; i.e., Chaucer's Canterbury Tales. And that most certainly would stretch those comfort zones! But what even those pilgrims shared as we probably never experience the same way was a common Catholic faith -- vibrant with belief in a supernatural realm all round, invisible, yet impinging with demons, angels, and various other influences.

Again, Girard's dictum about Satan holds sway, in my book.