Silence – A Sacred Place
Noise. Constant noise coming from everywhere. We have forgotten how it looks like to be in complete silence. As a matter of fact, we hate to be surrounded by silence. It scares us sometimes. Why? Because we are scared to be alone with our thoughts. Because we lost our connection with God. It seems that our connection is possible only through social media, radio and TV. Do you also feel that “communication burn-out”?
Yes, that is something that needs to change, and a great idea to start with is - silent retreat.
Before we dive deeper and explain what silent retreat is, the types, the catholic silent retreat and everything else, we need to focus on silence. Why is it so important and why moments you spend in silence are so beneficial to your spiritual growth and self-recognition.
If you learn to enjoy the silence it will change you immensely and forever. For now, you need to understand that silence is a therapeutic tool – it is a unique cure for stress, fear and anxiety.
Why is Silence Important When Praying?
Let’s do a test.
Do you think it is easy to pray in the silence? Fine then, try it right now! Put down your smartphone or whatever device you are reading this article on, step away from the PC table, and go to a quiet room, close your eyes and start praying. Just follow the words of Matthew.
But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
A few minutes later you will end up in a situation like this: you are staring at one spot, thinking how you need to drive your kids to school, how you need to meet a new client at noon, how your in-laws are coming today and how you need to cook something nice, and so on… the list is endless.
See… You lost it. You are out of focus? Thinking about everything except of God and prayer.
Your brain is playing games with you. Your brain is trying to fool you. Some therapists and Buddhists like to say, “monkey mind”. What is a “monkey mind” after all? Don’t worry, it is nothing to be afraid of. You have probably been in a situation in which you can’t control your thoughts. Your thoughts are racing, your mind is jumping around, it feels like you have several drunk monkeys in your head and they're making nasty noises and screaming for attention. It can get really crowded in your head sometimes, wouldn't you agree?
Now, it's up to you to calm your mind down. It is not an easy task to be alone with your thoughts in complete silence. On some days you will have more success, on others you won’t. But hey, you are trying. And that is OK, you deserve one big CONGRATS for even trying.
There are people that can easily step away from daily tasks and go to enjoy silence, meditation and praying. On the other hand, most of us need guidance or spiritual assistance to learn how to enjoy silent moments.
Prayer or meditation in silence needs practice. It is a discipline. If you want to stay connected and deepen your connection with God, you'll need to find that corner of the Earth where you can put your thoughts together in silence.
Our society and modern culture want us to live in bigger houses, be more educated, drive expensive cars, to travel more. It is all about the results. We are so “goals-oriented” today. But, is that our purpose? Is that the real meaning of our lives? Think about that - BUT IN SILENCE.
Journey Called Silent Retreat
Back on silent retreats again. Silent retreat usually has connection with spirituality. Silent retreat has strong roots in Christianity and Buddhism, meaning, it consists of prayer, meditation or yoga in monasteries and temples. Muslims and Jews are taking silent retreats as well, but a lot of times the retreats don't have anything to do with spirituality. Our focus here will be on catholic silent retreats.
If we need to give a definition, this would be some kind of silent retreat wiki:
Catholic silent retreat is time we spent in full silence, on private and quiet place, trying to consolidate our thoughts toward Holy Spirit and deepen connection with God.
Where To Find Silent Place?
In a retreat center. These places offer several types of silent retreats depending on their core service.
Silent Retreat Form
Catholic retreat centers offer silent meditation retreats, retreats for women, family silent retreats, silent retreats for couples, people who have drug or alcohol issues, etc.
One of the first things you need to know is that you must leave your phone at home. There is no place for a TV, radio or tablet from this point on. There is only room for your thoughts and God. You can read, but you won't even need books in the beginning. Get rid of all distractions.
There are only your thoughts and God. There is nothing to worry about. This is an opportunity to hear and understand the will of God more clearly.
Retreat centers also organize programs that are not in connection with spirituality, such as reading silent retreats, writing retreats, divorce silent retreats, mindful retreats, even sleep retreats and stop-smoking retreats. As you can see there are many formats to choose from.
Catholic silent retreats have few things in common:
- time for mass, prayer, meditation or spiritual exercises
- time for yourself – walking, writing poetry, painting
- time for meeting spiritual director for those who need assistance on this journey.
Silent retreats vary in length. Some, like quiet day retreat, can last for a day. Some can last for a month or so. Most common situation is a silent retreat that lasts for one weekend. They are perfect to get isolated from anyone for two days, spend alone time with your thoughts and the Lord.
In case you are not sure which way to go, a good advice would be to go with a single day silent retreat first time around. As you've learned already, praying in silence requires practice and determination. After examining your experience, register for a retreat that lasts for several days.
A lot of people think that silent retreats can be individual. But they are wrong. Group silent retreats can be helpful just as much as a private one. In this case you will attend group meditation, sleep in a room with other people, dine with others, but all in quietness and silence.
This bring us to the key question and maybe the only rule you'll need to set (or maybe it is already set by retreat center) while on a silent retreat. How should you define the level of silence?
Some silent retreats allow speaking only during lunch time. Some on the other hand, demand full or complete silence to secure total serenity. You can only speak at spiritual sessions with spiritual director.
What to Expect?
Silent retreats affect people in different ways. It all depends on a few things:
- silent retreat program and formation
- your level of spirituality
- previous experience with retreats
- prediction and expectations.
California Silent Retreat
Retreat center Old Mission San Luis Rey is located in Oceanside, CA, serving the whole San Diego County. This place is a perfect retreat setting for everyone who is seeking for peace and silent meditation retreats in California. It is focused on retreats in Christian tradition, especially Franciscan themed retreats both for individuals, couples and groups. But no matter the retreat center focus, everyone is welcome.
There are many types of retreats available. They last one day, like the well-known Quiet Day Retreat, but there is a three-day retreat and spiritual direction upon request as well. Retreat center offers you the possibility to custom tailor your visit to Old Mission and to stay for as long as you want.
Fantastic geolocation of Old Mission San Luis Rey de Francia (founded at 1798) will trill your senses. Historic church (open every day for prayer and meditation), Stations of the Cross and Labyrinth, retreat center chapel, peaceful gardens, mission Rose garden, long walkways, heritage lawn, beautiful arches, several fountains and sculptures will remind you of Biblical scenes.
You have the option to reserve a single-bed room or a twin bed room. Meals are served in the dining room. One-day retreat includes boxed lunch. Weekend retreats include lunch served at noon.
To book a silent retreat at this sacred ground and California historical landmark send an email or call (760) 757-3659.