Advent Retreats

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Welcome to our Advent Retreat page. You are welcome to use these resources in whichever way is most helpful to you.

Getting Started

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The retreat is divided into sections. You can use them over a day, over several days or weeks, by yourself or with others. This section has some useful tools to help you start your retreat. Here are some ideas for creating sacred space and for praying with scripture. They can be used individually or with others.

Advent Retreat 2023
Light of the World.

Use the prayer to begin your retreat.


We live in dark times, full of suffering and uncertainty. Whatever direction we look in we come up against impossible situations, and are confronted with the suffering and pain they cause. Times such as these make us aware of our connectivity and our vulnerability.

Even if we avoid the news we see and hear much that is distressing, that tempts us to give in to despair. We end up telling ourselves stories with no hope, no goodness or kindness, no light to alleviate the darkness that limits and scares us.

The Advent liturgies tell us that there is another story. Both Isaiah and St John tell us a story that, while it doesn’t deny the reality of the darkness or the fear and uncertainty we experience, offers us the hope of light dawning in that darkness. It might be a glimmer so small that darkness still surrounds it, it might never dispel the darkness completely, but, as St John tells us, the darkness will never overwhelm that light. Instead, however tiny the light appears it will change the darkness forever, transforming it with hope and love, one tiny glimmer at a time.

Each of those glimmers is a sign of Christ, the light of the world, come to bring his light to our damaged hearts and our broken world. We can choose to ignore those glimmers, telling ourselves they’re not enough to take the darkness away. Or we can give them our whole attention drawing on the love and hope they offer, by sharing them and by passing them on whenever and wherever we can.

The light that shines in the darkness.

Read Isaiah 9: 2-7.
“The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light; on the inhabitants of the country in shadow dark as death light has blazed forth” Where are you aware your need for God’s light to dawn in the dark places of your life this Advent?

“For the yoke that weighed on it, the bar across its shoulders, the rod of its oppressor these you have broken as on the day of Midian.” What burdens do you need Christ to lift from your shoulders this Advent?

“This is the name he has been given, “Wonder-Counsellor, Mighty-God, Eternal-Father, Prince-of-Peace to extend his dominion in boundless peace…” Where do you need Christ to extend his boundless peace in your life this Advent?

Reaching out with Longing.

This reflection is based on a hymn written by one of our sisters. Begin and end your reflection by watching the video. You can find the full text of the hymn below.

• “Hope of your coming is a light to give us courage on our way.” Where do you need the light of Christ to give you courage this Advent?

“Christ came, but not in wind or fire; few recognised his signs on earth.” What would help you to recognise Christ’s presence in your life this Advent?

“Send us your peace to cleanse our hearts until your will on earth is done.” What might help you to open your heart to the cleansing of Christ’s peace this Advent?

Light of the world.

Begin your reflection by reading John 1: 1-18. You can use the text for Lectio Divina. There are some guidelines for Lectio Divina here:
Lectio Divina

Or you can use these questions for your reflection:

“All that came to be had life in him and that life was the light of people, a light that shines in the dark, a light that darkness could not overpower.” Where are you aware of your need for the light that darkness cannot overthrow to break through into your life this Advent?

“A man came, sent by God. His name was John. He came as a witness, as a witness to speak for the light…” What enables you to bear witness to the light of Christ today?

“Grace and truth have come through Jesus Christ.” How are you welcoming the grace and truth Christ offers into your heart this Advent?

Closing Prayer

Use this prayer to close your retreat.

Thank you for using this online retreat. If you have any questions or would like to receive more information about our online retreats please contact Sr Judith

Advent Retreat 2022
Shout for Joy

Opening Prayer

Use the prayer to being your retreat.


In these challenging times “Shout for Joy” seems a strange name for a retreat. Our media, our civic spaces and conversation are already overflowing with a shouting that does nothing to engender joy. Part of me wonders if we need another voice added to that cacophony.

There is so much going on in the world that would cause us to despair, to give into hopelessness and decide there is nothing to be done. I sometimes think we live with the myth that we can only be joyful when everything is perfect, when our personal and communal lives are sorted. John the Baptist and Isaiah tell a different story.

Their voices ring out in far from perfect circumstances. They are living with uncertainty, fear and vulnerability. In the midst of that they are able to find hope and to shout for joy. Isaiah, speaking to an exiled people, assures them that their mourning will turn to joy. John the Baptist is unshakeably confident in the coming of the Messiah that he proclaims despite the precariousness of his own life.

Some years ago Rabbi Jonathan Sacks told the Scottish parliament that hope is an active virtue, not a passive one. I think the same is true for joy. We can’t wait for everything to be perfect to become people of joy. We have to actively look for reasons to be joyful in the darkness of the uncertain times we live in. The call of Advent is to nurture those glimmers of joy and hope, however small, that we discover in our dark and uncertain times, and to trust them to lead us into new life.


Begin your retreat by reading Isaiah 35: 1-10. There are some questions below to help you reflect on the text:
What might make your wilderness exult?
Where do you need to hear God say to you, “courage, do not be afraid.” this Advent?
How might the coming of God into your life alter the day-to-day reality of that life?

You can use the video as part of your reflection:


This section of the retreat is based on the text of one of our Advent hymns, “How shall we hear the word?”, the text is below.

Text ©Turvey Abbey

Begin your reflection by reading the text several times. You may find the following questions helpful in your reflection:
Where do you hear the word of God in your life?
What brief lights illuminates your path to Christ?
What waters of hope sustain you on your journey?


Image by Kent Tupas on

Begin your reflection by reading Matthew 11: 2 – 11. You can use the passage for Lectio Divina . There are some guidelines for Lectio Divina here:

Or you can use these questions for reflection:
What signs of God’s presence do you see in the world?
What would you go into the wilderness to seek?
What is preparing you for the coming of the Saviour this Advent?

Closing Prayer

Bring your retreat to an end with this prayer.

Advent Retreat 2021
Seeds of light

Advent is a season of hope and promise at the darkest and coldest part of the year. Just as everything in nature seems to point towards hibernation, and even death Advent reminds us that new life is germinating beneath the frozen surfaces, and that what may seem dead is simply waiting to be enlivened by the coming of the Light into our lives. This part of the retreat is based one a hymn for the feast of St Lucy (13 December), a celebration of the light that shines in even the darkest places and times.

God of love, who scatters seeds of light through the darkness of our lives open our hearts to your presence with us today. Let the light of your love fill us and transform our darkness. We make our prayer in Jesus name. Amen

Begin your retreat by watching the video. There are some questions to reflect on and a copy of the text below.

Where are you aware of living water singing beneath the surface of your life?
What is your hope for the coming of “life’s fullness” this Advent?
What would help to unseal your inward eye so that you recognise the coming of the Light who loved us first?


In times of suffering and loss, when all hope seemed lost the prophet
Isaiah reminded the people that whatever they faced their God was with them. In desperate times he brought consolation and the hope of a new way of being.

Read Isaiah 40: 1-5
What are the areas where you most desire the consolation of the Lord? Where you aware of God speaking to your heart in the challenging events of this Advent?
In what ways do you feel called to prepare for the Lord’s coming into your life this Advent?
What gift would best help you to recognise the revelation of the Lord’s presence in your life?


John the Baptist is a central figure in Advent. He has a very clear idea of his role and who he is. So he has no difficulty in answering the questions put to him. He is a witness to the Messiah, not the Messiah. He is a witness to the light, not the light. He is a man of honesty and humility.

Read John 1: 6-8, 19-28
You can use the passage for Lectio Divina. There are some guidelines for Lectio Divina here:

Or you can use the questions below for your reflection:
Where are you being called to make a straight way for the Lord in your
Where are you being called to be a witness to the light of Christ?
What is your hope for the coming of the Messiah?

End your retreat with a time of thanksgiving for the gifts and graces you have received.