What Is A Retreat?

A retreat is a refreshing experience of withdrawing to a quiet, comfortable place, alone or sometimes with friends, to step aside from everyday concerns, relax, take a fresh look at life, sort things out, and care for your soul. The experience can be brief or extended and is reflective and spiritual. Different kinds of retreats are appropriate depending on the retreatant's personal life journey. Servant Song offers a variety of retreats, for both individuals and organizational groups. These are open to men and women from all faith traditions and every race and ethnic group.

Private Retreat

The private retreat experience is one in which an individual desires to be entirely alone and pray for a period of time. The time frame of this solitude is selected by the retreatant and can be as short as 6 to 8 hours or as long as several days or more. He or she enters into a time of intense silence/quiet and solitude. By definition, this retreat does not provide for a human director; God himself remains the immediate director. Generally, the retreatant does not participate in any group activities other than perhaps prayer/worship services and meals, during which silence/quiet is maintained.

Private-Directed Retreat

Servant Song's directed retreats are offered according to the method of the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola. Retreatants either choose or are appointed a spiritual director with whom he/she meets daily (about 45 minutes). The director assists the retreatant in processing his/her prayer and discerning the movement of the Spirit.* Within an atmosphere of silence, there is time for personal prayer, reflection, and liturgical celebration. The directed retreat is most commonly presented in 5- and 8-day models, but can also be presented to accommodate individual needs.

*The director is one for whom the Spiritual Exercises are a part of his/her personal spiritual journey and who is specifically trained and qualified in the dynamics of offering the Ignatian Exercises in group, individual, and retreat settings.                                                           __________________________________________________________________________       We have added a new option to our directed retreats this year for anyone who is accustomed to making directed retreats but unable to make the trip to Servant Song because of extenuating circumstances--a private-directed retreat via Skype. You can read all about such an experience below from one of our regular retreat guests who lives about 3 hours away and found herself in just such a situation last fall. After much prayer/discernment, we have decided to also make this available to others who find themselves in a similar situation.

The Skype Directed Retreat worked very well for me. I live alone and can control my environment enough to have a silent retreat in my home.

I set aside one room as my prayer room. I even lit a candle during my prayer times in that room, as well as during my meals, and it helped me realize that God is with me and very near to me.

I met with Donna at the end of each day via Skype to discuss what God had been showing me and to gather input from her. By the next morning, I had an e-mail in my Inbox with that day’s scripture meditations.

God met me in my 3-day retreat! It was a sacred time. He honored the time I had set aside to seek Him. He answered many of my prayers very, very quickly – like a Divine conversation. The evening that I ended my retreat, a call from a family member brought with it feelings of “worthless”. Donna was there via Skype to say that this was no coincidence; perhaps the Lord wanted to heal something in me concerning that feeling of worthlessness. Donna led me thru a prayer for Healing of the Family Tree in order to cleanse me, my family, past generations as well as future generations from (feelings of) worthlessness. The next day at work when someone called me by my first name, I realized it was the first time I had heard my name and felt good about it, rather than feeling bad. God had indeed worked thru Donna, thru her prayers on my behalf, and (if I can go so far as to say) thru the technology of Skype to heal me during this time of retreat. Using technology for good (and for healing no less!) is a breath of fresh air! Donna, as you go with God and enable others to go with God, please continue to use the Skype Directed Retreats for those who cannot physically be with you in the hermitage in Waynesburg.  ---Karen S., November 3, 2016           ____________________________________________________________________________ 

 Guided Day of Prayer/Reflection

An individual seeking a guided day of prayer/reflection meets with a spiritual director upon his/her arrival. The director briefly (about 15 minutes) offers Scripture suggestions for prayer and reflection chosen especially for the individual. The individual spends the day (6 to 8 hours) at Servant Song in prayer and quiet reflection. Before leaving, the individual again meets briefly (about 15 minutes) with the director to share his/her experience of the day. Guided days of prayer may be scheduled on any available day of the week.

Preached or Conference-Type Retreat

This is what most people understand a retreat to be. A number of people come together and a presenter or retreat leader provides intervals of talks and periods of reflection around a central theme on some aspect of spirituality. Outside the conference talks, the participants pray, do meditative reading, and personal faith sharing. Silence may or may not be emphasized, depending on the retreat director and the desire of the group. Those drawn to this type of retreat are not usually seeking personal guidance. These retreats may be presented by Servant Song or by a visiting retreat group.