May 17, 2019

Worship and Evangelization Outreach / Georgene Beiriger

A vacation of a different kind

Ah, vacation time! It’s that time of year when your planning and saving up materializes into, perhaps, a trip to another state or a foreign land, the mountains or beach, maybe to visit people you know or to meet new people in places you have never been.

Vacations are meant to get away from the routine of normal life, to spend time with your family or friends in an amusement park or big city, or see some breathtaking vistas that maybe you’ve seen only in pictures. On vacation, we can leave behind the usual routines long enough to escape, but a vacation can also bring its own stress. Navigating new venues, arranging for hotels, transportation, meals, tickets to events, parks, museums—when do you truly rest?

Did you ever feel like you need a vacation after your vacation? When you get home, it’s the same old things. Well, I have an idea for you.

Actually, it’s Jesus’ idea. He told his disciples (that’s us): “Come away by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while. People were coming and going in great numbers, and they had no opportunity even to eat” (Mk 6:31).

Jesus wants his disciples to retreat even when—no, especially when—they have no time to eat and people are constantly wanting things from them. Retreats are for busy people like you and me!

Jesus teaches us that the path to spiritual growth, our path to holiness—and sanity!—is resting and reconnecting with God. He did it on a regular basis and for various lengths of time, from an hour or two, to an overnight, to a stretch as long as 40 days and nights!

No matter how long, a retreat allows an inner change to occur: that ongoing conversion of heart that is critical to deepening our faith and our sense of inner peace.

There are different types of retreats: some are silent, some are not silent much at all. Some give you access to a spiritual director, and on others you may be able to connect with people with like interests or struggles. You might learn new prayer forms or have an opportunity to practice a favorite prayer form. Retreats may be for a day or several days, some for a weekend or during the week. You may also do a private retreat that fits your particular schedule.

The best part of a retreat is you just show up. There is no planning except how to get there and back. All you have to do is immerse yourself in the experience and open yourself up to hear God’s call and seek God’s healing grace.

On retreat, it is possible to gain clarity of God’s will for you, surrender a problem that has burdened you, gain a new perspective that allows forgiveness in your heart, or receive strength to get through a challenging time. Or just rest your body, mind and soul in the care of our loving God. Refresh, renew and refocus.

So when you return to the same old things on a different day, you will be different. And that changes everything!

Vacations are fun, memorable and exciting—but can also be exhausting. Retreats are restful and transformational. Before you say “no,” just try it—if even for a day.

“There’s only one soul in all creation that you can truly know, and it’s the only one whose fate is placed in your hands.” — C. S. Lewis

(Georgene Beiriger is director of Our Lady of Fatima Retreat House in Indianapolis. For more information on Fatima and program opportunities or to donate to support its ministry, go to, or call 317‑545-7681.)

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