Catholic Activity: The Family Retreat
It is highly recommended that each Catholic take an annual retreat to step back and assess their progress in the spiritual life. Besides an individual retreat, a family retreat is an excellent practice. The family retreat is a retreat for husband and wife, giving them an opportunity to renew their spiritual life together. Here is a suggested program.
Seeking to center the attention on the spiritual aspects of Christian marriage, this retreat is a good way to help the couple and their children in the spiritual process of sanctification.
It places emphasis on the following:
- It recalls the profound dignity of Christian marriage as a sacrament, as a symbol of the union of Christ with His Church, and as a part of the Mystical Body.
- It endeavors to picture to retreatants home life at its best.
- It calls attention to the possibilities of the home as a place for the practice of the Christian virtues by the grownups, and as a school for teaching them to the young.
- It reminds couples of the duties assumed in marriage and family life.
- It recalls the correct moral law in marriage.
- "It urges the revival and reintroduction into the home of those simple religious practices which in the ages of Faith brought Christian family life to such full bloom." (Family Life Bureau, Washington, D. C. )
This retreat seldom extends over more than a day. Often it lasts only a half day. This is because often parents of young children find it difficult to find someone to take care of the children.
The ideal is that the retreat be held as a parish function. Arrangements should be made with the pastor of the parish for a special Mass for the retreatants in the morning. The sermon of the Mass is to be especially for them. In the afternoon the following program may be observed:
- Three or four separate discourses by the retreat master, covering the topics above indicated.
- An examination of conscience, the retreat director suggesting questions to help with the examination.
- One or two opportunities for prayer in quiet, husband and wife making a visit to the Blessed Sacrament, or reciting the Rosary, or a part of it, together.
- An opportunity to ask questions of the priest who conducts the retreat.
- A closing family Holy Hour is held in the Church and consists of:
- Prayers to the Holy Family
- Consecration of the family to the Sacred Heart
- An appropriate hymn or two
- Renewal of marriage promises
- Recitation of the pledge to Christian marriage
- Benediction with the Most Blessed Sacrament
- Te Deum
The above program may be varied to suit the needs and inclination of retreatants and priest.
Activity Source: Our Christian Home by Rev. Joseph A. Fischer, Seraphic Press, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, 1954