Read: Together on Retreat
By James Martin, S.J. (HarperOne, 2013)
If you’re looking for an easily accessible way to spend some quiet time with God, here’s a retreat that you can go on from the comfort of your home, in a park under a tree, or virtually anywhere. Jesuit Father James Martin shows us that retreats don’t necessarily have to be as intense or formal as 30-days of St. Ignatius’ Spiritual Exercises under the direction of a retreat leader. Martin’s book, Together on Retreat: Meeting Jesus in Prayer, blends the modern medium of an e-reader with the ancient practices of reflecting on scripture and prayer. This is a much welcomed gift to all of us who lead busy lives.
Martin’s “e-retreat” is focused on three gospel stories from the shore of the Sea of Galilee. Through the thought-provoking questions and personal examples in his reflections accompanying each passage, Martin describes the familiar stories through a new lens. “We’ve heard some of these stories so many times that it’s easy to overlook their overriding strangeness,” he says. “We’ve lost the ability to be surprised by them.”
To take a unique approach to the stories and to put us out of our comfort zone, he introduces two new forms of prayer that some readers may not be familiar with. Martin engages our five senses with “Ignatius contemplation” to imagine that we are immersed in the beautiful imagery from the Bible. He then invites us, through Lectio Divina, to read, meditate, pray, and act with four questions that take a closer look at the actual words of the scripture passage.
True prayer, however, requires active involvement. To make sure readers are actually participating, Martin says, “You can’t just read this e-retreat; you need to take time out to pray. Using this e-retreat without praying would be like attending a swimming class and never getting in the water.” He urges retreaters to be attentive to their emotions, insights, memories, desires, and feelings that happen during the retreat and to slow down. Prayer is not about producing results, rather it is about reflecting on our time with God.
This e-retreat will help you to make the most of these few stolen minutes of quiet time and will give you a new perspective on the gospel stories, even if you’ve read them a thousand times.