When a retreat fails

| March 2, 2013 | 1 Comment


I am at a Catholic retreat in southern Maryland. It’s an annual parish men’s retreat and I have done it the last two years. I’m sort of an “unlapsed” Catholic who struggles a bit intellectually with religious faith. Still, I’m also a committed Catholic who goes to Mass every Sunday.

My previous two visits were calming and somewhat spiritual. I left feeling renewed and refreshed. And i gained some spiritual satisfaction. Nevertheless, I do sometimes find the full immersion in “God” talk a bit off-putting.
In my mind, a God who created the entire universe, with its millions, if not billions, of galaxies, doesn’t square with the anthropomorphic God described in some of the sessions. “God wants this or God wants that” just doesn’t make sense to me. How can an all powerful, omniscient God “want” anything? I prefer to think of God as utterly incomprehensible to the human mind.

That said, the concept of such a God sending a version of himself to humanity to teach a gospel of love has some logic for me. So, Jesus, I get. And I also believe a God that powerful, can find a way to “care” for every one of the billions of humans on earth and probably quadrillions of extraterrestrials individually. But I don’t think we can possibly ascribe to Him (Her?, It)  human emotions and motivations.

Mostly, I tolerate the God talk as a mechanism to help our puny brains understand God. I see it all as metaphor. Or, in the catch all escape clause, it’s a mystery. Still, sometimes I can’t take it. This is one of those times.

As I write, I’m thinking of bailing out. The good news about a silent retreat is that, since nobody is talking to anybody, nobody will notice if you’re gone.

I suspect, I’m just not in a good frame of mind right now. Unfortunately, while the retreat grounds are beautiful, it’s too cold to walk around, so I’m pretty stuck in side. Also, I’m distracted. I have a client that is being wrongly accused of complicity in a murder in Singapore and my precious daughter got home from college for her break after I left for the retreat. She has pointed out that this stretch of time is the longest she’s ever been away from her parents. I miss her deeply and am beginning to think I will get more spiritual fulfillment from seeing her that staying here.

So, I’m setting aside all the assigned reading and contemplation. I have one prayer:

Dear God, should I stay or should I go?

………I’m waiting…..

Category: Catholic Church

Comments (1)

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  1. Jean says:

    I’m betting you made the right call.

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