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By Michael St. Pierre, Ed.D. | Image By Getty Images/digitalskillet/Getty Images/iStockphoto | June 2022

Pondering

Spend Time With the Lord Away From the Noise of the World

“How often do you visit with families each week?” I asked my friend, Father Dennis. I had always marveled at how many families he kept up with in a given year. “Almost every night, I’m visiting with someone,” he said with a smile on his 75-year-old face. This man, whom I have known for many years, has literally spent his entire priesthood pouring into others.

What people may not know about him, amid all of his energy and home visits, is his routine of making personal retreats. His schedule might actually be a model for us as well.

Daily:

Father Dennis begins each day with an hour of reading the Scriptures, journaling, thinking and interceding for others.

Monthly:

Father Dennis takes one day per month at a local hermitage to unplug. When he returns to his busy schedule he feels renewed and ready to tackle the challenges ahead.

Annually:

Father Dennis takes several days for an annual retreat, often spent in silence and nearly always surrounded by nature. This grounds his year, enabling him to have the energy – physically and spiritually – to give his life to others.

You and I can learn something from Fr. Dennis’ regularly scheduled times away from the noise of the world. Notice that he uses different methods of retreat. Notice, too, that these times of withdrawal are not self-centered but rather give him the energy to be other-centered upon his return to the hustle and bustle of life.

Father Dennis didn’t come up with this routine on his own. Rather, he learned it from Jesus.

In Mark 1:35-39, we read about Jesus rising early in the morning for prayer and then immediately going to the synagogues for preaching and healing. The Apostles also took time to withdraw and pray. (Mk 6:30-33)

The fifth habit of a prayerful person, Pondering, answers the question: “How can I schedule regular times of prayer in order to engage fully with the world?”

I suggest being intentional about your daily time of prayer. Build your schedule around your time with the Lord and see how things fall into place. From there, perhaps you can look at scheduling some time away. There may be a retreat house nearby that would allow you to spend a day or even an afternoon. Finally, look to make an annual retreat, perhaps for a full weekend. These rhythms of retreat and withdrawal put the Lord at the center of your schedule and your life.

The Church today needs Catholics who are intentional about withdrawing from the busyness of life in order to be with the Lord.


Michael St. Pierre, Ed.D. is the executive director of the Catholic Campus Ministry Association, the founder of Nonprofit Productive and the author of The Five Habits of Prayerful People: A No-Excuses Guide to Strengthening Your Relationship with God.