HOW TO USE THIS RESOURCE
Nativity is a resource you can use to go on retreat in the midst of your busy life. People go on retreat all the time. People go on lots of different retreats. Some retreats are at monasteries, others are at retreat centers, and still others are at churches. Regardless of when or where, retreat is essentially a time in a person’s life where they commit to being present to God—to pray, to listen, and to receive.
But, you’re busy, and you can’t get away, right? That’s okay. This retreat is just for you. While you may not be able to get away for several days, the mere fact that you’re reading this right now is a sign that you’re hungry for more. If you want to reconnect with God – and want some help in doing so – then this “retreat” is just for you.
The first thing you’ll need is commitment. In John 15:16 we read, “It was not you who chose me, but I who chose you.” Jesus has called you on retreat. So, when you commit to praying everyday, you commit to a person, Jesus.
For starters, find a place—a room, a church, a park, wherever. Find a place where you can focus on God without distractions. Next, you’ll need time. Ask Jesus to show you how to find the time. It may be your lunch break … could be early in the morning … could be instead of TV at night. You are busy, and in order to find 20-30 minutes each day you may need to sacrifice doing some of your favorite things. Finally, if you miss a day, forgive yourself. However, do your best to follow the days in order, even if you miss a day. The meditations build on each other sequentially.
Each day’s reflection will end with “FOR YOUR PRAYER.” There, you will be given a brief Scripture passage to pray with. Read the passage once. Get familiar with the text, the words, etc. Slowly read the passage a second time. Pay attention to how you feel as you read. Pay attention to which words “strike” you.
Next, use your spiritual senses, your Christian imagination, to pray with the passage. In his book, Meditation and Contemplation, Father Tim Gallagher, O.M.V. writes, “In this manner of praying, Saint Ignatius tells us, we imaginatively see the persons in the Bible passage, we hear the words they speak, and we observe the actions they accomplish in the event.” (page 36) So, “jump into” the Scripture passage. Be in the scene. Be with Jesus. Be with the Apostles. Once the scene comes to its natural conclusion, continue with A.R.R.R.
A.R.R.R. stands for—Acknowledge, Relate, Receive, Respond.
You have sat with God’s Word. You have entered into the scene. Now, once you feel God is saying something to you, acknowledge what stirs within you. Pay attention to your thoughts, feelings, and desires. These are important.
Once you’ve acknowledged what’s going on inside your heart, relate this to God. Don’t just think about what’s going on. Don’t simply think about God. Don’t think about how God might react. Relate to God. Tell him how you feel. Tell him what you think. Tell him what you want. Share all your thoughts, feelings, and desires with God. Share everything with Him.
Once you’ve shared everything with God, receive. Listen to what He’s telling you. It could be a subtle voice you hear. It could be a memory that pops up. Maybe He invites you to re-read the Scripture passage. Perhaps you feel something in your body. Perhaps he invites you into a still, restful, silence. Trust that God is listening to you and receive what He wants to share with you.
Now respond however you want. It could be more conversation. It could be a resolution. It could be tears or laughter. Respond to what you’re receiving.
Finally, journal. Keep a record this season of what your prayer was like. It doesn’t have to be earth shattering, it could be a sentence or two about what God told you or how that day’s reflection struck you. Regardless of how you do it—journal.