Family Retreat

DAY 1 - Why a Retreat

  • Pray – Together, as a family, pray the Our Father
  • Read – Luke 6:12-13

In those days he departed to the mountain to pray, and he spent the night in prayer* to God. When day came, he called his disciples to himself, and from them he chose Twelve,* whom he also named apostles.

  • Reflect – Notice how this time that Jesus spent in prayer led to the major decision of calling and choosing the Twelve Apostles. When you have a major decision to make, how do you invite Jesus into the situation?
  • Discuss – Finding a quiet place to retreat to once and awhile is an important part of being human so that we can refresh and recharge. Jesus was no exception; He needed to find times to slip away from the crowds and from His work so that He could reconnect with God the Father. We go on retreat so that we can come to know God more fully, know ourselves more fully, and to have the strength to carry out what God might be asking of us. Take this time now to discuss as a family:
  1. What does it mean to pray? Prayer is a conversation with God, consisting of moments when I share what is on my mind/heart with Him and also to take time to listen to what God might be saying to me. Share with one another some of your own practices and/or ideas for praying.
  2. How can we find time to depart from our busy schedules and spend some time in prayer with God, inviting Jesus into our lives? Discuss this as a family. If your family is not in the practice of praying together, start small (for example, have each family member state one thing he/she is thankful for and one thing that is on his/her heart, share a moment of quiet to simply listen, close with an Our Father).
  3. God gives us gifts or inspirations in prayer, calling us to action. Discuss a time when you felt God was calling you to do something as a result of prayer.
  • Practice – Tonight, as a family, pick a time to retreat together, finding a quiet time to talk to God, listen to God, and discuss what inspirations come forth. For example, it could look like this:
    • 8 p.m.: Gather as a family together in a quiet place, before a Crucifix or piece of sacred art. Sit in the quiet for a moment or two.
    • 8:02 p.m.: To yourself, talk to God about your day. What happy moments did you have? What sad moments did you have? Did anything make you angry? What brought you joy?
    • 8:05 p.m.: Remaining in the quiet, ask God to speak to you. Listen; you might get a word, phrase, or inspiration; you might not. Offer the time to God and thank Him for this time.
    • 8:08 p.m.: Take this time to share with your family. What did you tell God? What did God tell you? What did you think of the quiet?
  • Practice makes perfect. Even if this was unbearable, make this a daily practice and keep at it! Graces will flow as we faithfully offer God whatever time we can; remember Jesus needed all night to get 12 names.

DAY 2 - Relationship with Jesus

  • Pray – Together, as a family, pray the Our Father
  • Read – John 15:7-11

If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask for whatever you want and it will be done for you. By this is my Father glorified, that you bear much fruit and become my disciples. As the Father loves me, so I also love you. Remain in my love.If you keep my commandments, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and remain in his love. “I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and your joy may be complete.

  • Reflect – Notice how relationship with Jesus, being his disciple, is summed up by Jesus as remaining in His love. Being in another’s love is another way of saying that you are united to this other. Think of a time when you felt one with Jesus Christ.
  • Discuss – A surefire way to come to know Jesus Christ is by studying His word in Sacred Scripture. By studying the Bible, and then taking the words we read to prayer, we slowly come to know and fall in love with Jesus. Being a disciple or a follower of Jesus is a little like following your favorite sports role model as a kid; you hold a baseball bat and swing like him, you dribble and mimic basketball moves like him, you try to make ridiculous circus football catches like him. As someone who is in love with Jesus, we try to emulate Him in how we worship God and love our neighbors as ourselves.
  1. What does a disciple look like? Together as a family, discuss some characteristics and qualities that you each recognize in someone who is a disciple and is in love with Jesus.
  2. What characteristics of discipleship do you see within yourself? Within your family? Within your friends? Discuss these and share why these characteristics point you to and remind you of Jesus.
  3. A critical part of forming, maintaining, growing your relationship with Jesus is being united with Him in prayer. Another key element is action, serving God and our fellow man in love. Consider some ways that you and your family have actively served God and neighbor.
  • Practice – Tonight, as a family, talk about ways that you can each adopt a characteristic that has been identified as belonging to a disciple. Consider ways that you each can practice your named characteristic and how you hope this will unite you more closely to Jesus Christ.

DAY 3 - Service to Others

  • Pray – Together, as a family, pray the Our Father
  • Read – Matthew 25:31-40

 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit upon his glorious throne, and all the nations will be assembled before him. And he will separate them one from another, as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will place the sheep on his right and the goats on his left. Then the king will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father. Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.  For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me.' Then the righteous* will answer him and say, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? When did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you?When did we see you ill or in prison, and visit you?’  And the king will say to them in reply, ‘Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.’"

  • Reflect – In our last mini-retreat, we considered characteristics that point us to women and men who are disciples of Jesus Christ. With our parable from Jesus above, we are given the Corporal Works of Mercy that provide us with concrete examples of a loving relationship with Jesus in motion. What does this parable tell you about serving God?
  • Discuss – Jesus, who is the second person of the Trinity, exists in an eternal communion with the Father and the Holy Spirit. This eternal exchange of loving communion gives life to all of creation. Humanity, for his part, is called to participate in this communion by living and committing loving acts of service to those that we encounter each day and thus bring forth a Trinitarian encounter through our lived example.
  1. How is my life a lived example of the Trinity? Put yourself in the scene above: you are before the king and he asks you when did you feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, clothe the naked, etc. What could you tell him as answers to these questions?
  2. It is common when considering this passage to fall into one of two traps: one is to be overly scared in realizing the number of times we have missed opportunities to serve our least brothers and sisters and worry that the second half of this passage (not listed) is our fate or two, to think that only the holy men and women who are saints are afforded the capacity to live the Corporal Works of Mercy listed. The reality is we each probably have missed chances to serve the poor (and thus serve God) but through the Sacrament of Reconciliation and the graces available in the Church, we can avail ourselves to these graces to serve others at the next opportunity. Also, we are all called to holiness, and while we might not have the call to serve the poor in ways that some of the saints have, we are called to consider the poor that we encounter as Jesus Christ before us and desire the good for this particular soul. Together, as a family, discuss how you can better see the other as an encounter with Jesus and how this encounter plays a part in your relationship with the Divine.
  3. Consider the Corporal Works of Mercy (feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, shelter the homeless, visit the sick, visit the prisoners, bury the dead, and give alms to the poor). What ones do you feel strong in? What ones do you feel weak in? Which ones might you be afraid of?
  • Practice – Tonight, as a family, pick one of the works of mercy to work on together while respecting the stay-at-home directive, such as making cards to send to prisoners or researching charitable organizations online and selecting one to support. Schedule a time in the coming week where you can practice this work of mercy as a family. After doing this, debrief the experience with these questions:
    • What was this experience like for me?
    • Name the feelings and thoughts I harbored during this experience for the person/people I served, especially since I cannot see them face-to-face.
    • Where did you see Jesus in this experience?
    • How has this changed you?

Day 4 -  Encounter with Jesus Through the Gospel Message

  • Pray – Together, as a family, pray the Our Father
  • Read – Luke 24:27-32

Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them what referred to him in all the scriptures. As they approached the village to which they were going, he gave the impression that he was going on farther.But they urged him, “Stay with us, for it is nearly evening and the day is almost over.” So he went in to stay with them.  And it happened that, while he was with them at table, he took bread, said the blessing, broke it, and gave it to them.  With that their eyes were opened and they recognized him, but he vanished from their sight. Then they said to each other, “Were not our hearts burning [within us] while he spoke to us on the way and opened the scriptures to us?”

  • Reflect – Notice how the two along the way, when they hear the word of God proclaimed, their hearts are set ablaze. The Gospel message, or kerygma, tells the truth of God and His love for us. In your encounters with Jesus, think of the times your heart has been set on fire with His love, His peace, His joy.  
  • Discuss – It is important for each of us as Catholic Christians to study and know the Gospel message. Much like our relationship with our family members, we don’t come to know them without learning about their personal stories. When we study and learn about God, why we were created, why He saved us, what this means for our lives, etc., we come to know who He is and fall in love with the One who loves us so.
  1. Share together as a family your favorite Bible story. How do you see God’s love in this passage? What does this passage tell you about God? What in this passage speaks to you? What in this passage challenges you?
  2. Share together with your family a story from your life in which you encountered the love of Jesus. Think of a time when your heart was set aflame with love, peace, joy, happiness and discover Jesus at the center and as the cause of that scene.
  3. Consider the 12 Truths. The Gospel message lies as the foundation of these Truths and thus these Truths as a skeleton structure of our faith. Discuss these together as a family. Which of these 12 stand out to you? Which of these is most difficult?
  • Practice – As a family, pray for the grace to be aware each day of Jesus walking alongside you and to have Him help you realize how Jesus is accompanying you in your day-to-day. Begin the practice of the family, perhaps at dinner time or in your nightly prayers, of sharing how Jesus was made known to you and how you were affected by this encounter. Also, work on knowing the 12 Truths and build-up a practice of incorporating and studying these into your daily life.

Day 5 - Domestic Church

  • Pray – Together, as a family, pray the Our Father
  • Read – John 19:26-27

When Jesus saw his mother* and the disciple there whom he loved, he said to his mother, “Woman, behold, your son.” Then he said to the disciple, “Behold, your mother.” And from that hour the disciple took her into his home.

  • Reflect – Living with Jesus, whether as His mother or as His disciple and friend, draws one into community; a community of persons that reflects the communion of the Trinity. What about this passage is most striking to you?
  • Discuss – Our life together as a family should reflect the life and love of the Trinity. The family is to be that safe place for each of us; that place where we can go to experience love and discover who we are called to be, that holy daughter/holy son who has great dignity and was created for a unique purpose by the Creator. With this understanding of family, one can see why the Catholic Church refers to the family as a domestic church, or a church that is to be lived and handed on at home.
  1. What does it mean to be a domestic church for your family? How do you practice and hand on the faith to each other in your home?
  2. Name some of the struggles you have encountered of being a domestic church. What do you not do well? What don’t you do at all?
  3. Consider ways that you can strengthen and grow your domestic church. Watch Mass online as a family and participate fully in all the prayers, postures and music. Find ways to allow the grace of Mass to be present throughout your days and weeks (discussing something that struck you from the readings, elaborating on a point Father made in his homily, etc.). Perhaps prayer together is not consistent or even nonexistent; consider ways to grow this practice and thus grow in your relationship with Jesus.
  • Practice – As a family, choose one thing in your domestic church you wish to strengthen and one thing you wish to add. Be honest and realistic about your situation. If you struggle making it to Mass on a consistent basis, name that and invite Jesus in to provide the grace make this a number one Sunday priority, beginning with watching Mass livestreams and continuing attending Mass when public liturgies resume. If you really wish to add a service element to your family, find something that is appropriate in kind and time that your family can do together and make sure to add an element of discussion that connects your service to Jesus Christ. The ideas are many, but through prayer and discussion with the Holy Spirit and knowing your own family, you’ll make the right steps to hand on and grow the faith for those most precious to you.