What is a Silent Directed Retreat? Part 1

By Fr. Ron Will, CPPS

You have probably seen notices and emails advertising our Directed Retreat programs. You may have wondered what these are all about. Maybe you’ve even considered scheduling one for yourself, but you’re not sure what a directed retreat is or if you should make one.

Well, over the next several days, I hope I can answer some of your questions and perhaps nudge you just a bit. If you’ve never made such a retreat, I’d like to invite you into a wonderful experience. If you have made a retreat before, I’d encourage you to come back.

At a directed retreat, a silent directed retreat, there is only one’s conversation with God. The retreat director helps you listen to God.

First question: Why make a directed retreat?

The aim of a directed retreat is to intentionally set aside quality time for you and God to be together and to grow more deeply in that relationship.

It is an opportunity to have “ongoing direction” in that you and your director focus very intentionally on the inner movements of your heart. It is a time to have someone help you notice the movements of God in your heart. It is a time to get in touch with your feelings, your thoughts and your actions both in prayer and during the rest of your day.

This time is set up and directed toward helping you deepen your relationship with God. All the relevant and distracting persons and entities are withdrawn. You and the director enter into a community of three: the two of you and God. This smallest possible community promotes the personalization of the retreat. Everything is aimed directly at you and your unique needs here and now. Outside stimulation is at a minimum and the environment is as protective as we can make it.

Contrary to a preached retreat, where you would listen to a series of talks or engage in group activities, the directed retreat demands much more of you and focuses on what you are experiencing more than what the director is saying. You are asked to give a faithful account of the inner experiences and responses that take place in the course of your prayer. This account of your personal experiences is always given in a private interview. This account is at the heart of the directed retreat, as is the response the director makes to it. The practice of making this report develops your ability to discern the movements of good and bad that play in your mind, heart and feelings. It helps you to distinguish the divine call from every other influence in your life.

To share with someone your God experiences clarifies for you, deepens your commitment, brings with it more accountability, surprises you, and gives insight into what you are experiencing.

Our New Stay-at-Home Directed Retreat Format

We have adapted our retreat format so that you can make the retreat from your own home. We will use this format for those who cannot attend in-person events. You will still meet daily with a spiritual director for a personalized retreat experience.

Our next stay-at-home directed retreat is Sept. 16-18, 2022, 9 a.m. Friday to 5 p.m. Sunday

There will be a couple of retreat directors available to you, including me. You can make a reservation — there is a $10 registration fee

Read the other parts of this series here: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3 and Part 4.

[Fr. Ron Will, a Precious Blood priest and spiritual director, is a graduate of Catholic Theological Union and Creighton University’s School of Christian Spirituality. He has a special interest in helping form intentional disciples of Jesus, encouraging others to go spiritually deep-sea diving to explore a deeper relationship with God, and walking with people as they dive into the ocean of God’s mystery actually experiencing God rather than simply dipping one’s toe into the water.]


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