Any student, faculty, or staff member of the JCU community may participate in the preparation program for the retreat. If you have already made the retreat at JCU you may make it again ONLY if there is space available.
There are as many reasons to go on this retreat as there are people who attend it. Some of the reasons others have made this retreat include: wanting to deepen their relationship with Jesus Christ, desiring to spend quality time in prayer and reflection, wanting to learn more about yourself in relationship to God and to others, preparing to make a significant decision, and responding to the movement of the Spirit. To put it another way — because you want to live a meaningful, God-centered life and you want to explore your questions and life’s “big questions” as it relates to the life of Christ.
This retreat is more about “being” than doing. You will spend time each day in prayer and reflection (usually three to four set “prayer periods” of at least 30 minutes) and you will meet with your spiritual director (see below). You are also encouraged to enjoy individual leisure time (music, puzzles, art) and exercise each day. Eucharistic liturgy is offered each day and there will be opportunities for the sacrament of reconciliation.
Spiritual Exercises refers to the handbook written by Saint Ignatius based on his own personal spiritual experience and that of others to whom he listened. It is an organized series of spiritual exercises that invite individuals to meditate on Christian faith and to contemplate the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Although ultimately God is “directing” your retreat, each person is assigned a spiritual director (members of the JCU faculty/administration or the Cleveland community). A spiritual director is someone who is committed to prayer, and has training and experience with Ignatian spirituality and Scripture. You will meet with your spiritual director each day for approximately 30-45 minutes. Your director will listen to your reflections about how God is present in your life. He or she will offer Scripture passages and other materials for your prayer and reflection.
You will be speaking with your director at daily meetings and also have the opportunity to pray aloud at daily liturgy. Silence is not the focus of the retreat, but it is a necessary component of a fruitful retreat. God speaks to us in many ways, and at times God speaks to us through our conversations with others. However, the Eight-Day Silent Retreat is a privileged time when we can tune out the noise and distractions of our regular routines in order to more intentionally focus on our relationship with God. Whether in the dining room or the chapel, walking on the paths, or reading in the lounge, our focus should be on God, not on the other retreat participants.
In order to be open to the ways and times that God wishes to communicate with each person, all retreat participants are asked to maintain an atmosphere of silence for the duration of the retreat. In this setting, silence is an attitude of making space for God in your life. Silence invites you to give your attention to all the ways that God can speak to you without the distractions of noise, “small talk,” and business. The silence and solitude is not a withdrawal from, but an opening to; we are not leaving the world but allowing ourselves to be present to it, to be touched by it, and thus better come to realize our place in the world and the ways in which we can serve.
Although prior retreat experience may be helpful, it is not necessary. The only “requirements” are: a desire to deepen one’s relationship with God, a generosity and openness to how God may wish to meet you on the retreat, a willingness to share some of your prayer reflections with a director, and the maturity and discipline necessary to be in a community of silence and prayer for eight days.
Registration forms will be available at the information sessions. EVERYONE has some questions, concerns and/or doubts about the experience. The information sessions and the preparation program are designed to help you sort through these. Therefore, all those interested in the retreat are REQUIRED to attend an information session AND participate in an individual preparation program with a Campus Minister. You will meet at least three times for a one-on-one meeting with Campus Ministry to learn about praying with Scripture and the dynamics of sharing your prayer in spiritual direction. Participants are asked to commit to daily prayer with Scripture throughout the preparation process. At the end of this process, in consultation with Campus Ministry staff, we will make a decision about participating in the retreat.
Through the generosity of the Detroit Province of the Society of Jesus and other generous benefactors, JCU is able to subsidize almost the entire cost of the retreat. Although the actual cost is approximately $500/person we request a fee of $100/person. As with all of our programs, additional financial assistance may be available for those with significant need.
The retreat takes place at the Jesuit Retreat House in Parma, Ohio (approximately 35 minutes from JCU). Transportation to/from the retreat center can be arranged upon request. You will have your own bedroom with shared bathrooms in the hall. All meals are included.
After completing the Eight-day retreat, it is our hope that:
1) Students will have come to an appreciation of spiritual direction;
2) Students will have reflected on what it means to live a meaningful, God-centered life;
3) Students will have begun to cultivate a habit of reflection by exploring life’s “big questions” as it relates to the life of Christ;
4) Students will have come to appreciate silence as a way to make space for God in their lives and to be present to God in the world,
5) Students will have meditated on and understood the central aspects of the Christian faith as laid out in the Spiritual Exercises (creation, sin and forgiveness, life, passion, death and resurrection of Christ, and calling and ministry).