Lent Retreats

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Welcome to our Lent Retreats page. You are welcome to use these resources in whichever way you find most helpful.

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.

Lent Retreat 2024
On Holy Ground

Opening prayer

Use this prayer to begin your retreat.


“On holy ground is a phrase that runs through the story of our faith from the very beginning. It speaks to that deep seated awareness we all carry, that it is possible for humans to encounter the living God. Holy places can be anywhere we encounter God’s presence in our lives.

We want them to be special places we can go to so we can escape the messiness and uncertainty of our lives. We expect them to be both intimate and separate. Often they have boundaries around them, like the sanctuary in a Church, or an island far out to sea, a visible sign of separateness.

It might be somewhere that is difficult to get to, involving a long, physically demanding journey. The arduous journey is part of the experience, making us aware of our vulnerability and sensitising our senses to God’s presence. They are places of both consolation and challenge.

But we don’t have to travel to a special place to be on holy ground. The bus stop, the Corner shop, the multi-storey car park and the myriad of other places we pass through in daily life all have the potential to become holy ground. We are even discovering that we can find holy ground online, creating and holding sacred space for one another.

 The truth is that we are always in the presence of God, and that God is always seeking to encounter us. Therefore, wherever we are at any time is holy ground because, however unlikely it might seem, wherever we are, we are in the presence of the living God who at any moment can reach out and touch our hearts.

Scripture is full of stories of people discovering they are on holy ground, that they are standing in the presence of God. This retreat offers the opportunity to explore three of those encounters. Moses at the burning bush, Jacob wrestling with the angel, and the call of the first disciples. In each of these accounts people are called in the midst of their ordinary and sometimes messy lives.

Moses is pasturing his father-in-law’s sheep, having fled from Egypt after having killed one of Pharaoh’s servants. Jacob, on the surface a wealthy man, is returning in some trepidation to encounter the brother he cheated of his birth right. The disciples are mending their nets after a long, exhausting and disappointing nights’ fishing.

Into the midst of the mixed bag of concerns they carried God breaks through. God touches their hearts, consoling, encouraging, challenging and wrestling, to draw them into a new life that is daunting and hopeful beyond anything they could have imagined.

The God who reached out to them, reaches out to us in the same way, calling us to recognise the holy ground we stand on in the midst of own uncertain and messy lives.

From the heart of the fire

Image © Turvey Abbey

Begin your reflection by reading Exodus 3: 1-8, 13-15. You may find these questions helpful as you reflect on the text.

  • “The angel of the Lord appeared to him in a flame of fire, out of a bush” Allow yourself to think over the ordinary activities of your day, where are you aware of the presence of God in these activities?
  • “I must turn aside and look at this strange sight” Where are you aware of having been surprised by God’s presence in your life?
  • “Remove the sandals from your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground” What helps you to discover the holy ground in the midst of daily life?

Wrestling with God

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Begin your reflection by reading Genesis 32:23 — 32, the story of Jacob wrestling with the angel. You may find these questions as you reflect on the text.

  • “And Jacob was left alone.” What does it mean to you to be alone in the presence of God?
  • Jacob replied, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.” Where do you most feel the need for God’s blessing in your life
  • “Jacob named the place Peniel, “Because I have seen God face to face, and I have survived” What is your experience of coming face-to-face with God in the midst of your life?

Into deep water


Begin your reflection by reading Luke 5: 1-11, the call of the first disciples. You can use the passage for Lectio Divina. There are some guidelines for Lectio Divina here:

Or you may find these questions helpful in your reflection on the text:

  • ‘Put out into deep water and pay out your nets for a catch.’ Where is Christ challenging you to risk putting out into deep water?
  • “For he and all his companions were completely awestruck at the catch they had made; so also were James and John, sons of Zebedee, who were Simon’s partners.” When have you been awestruck by Christ presence in your life?
  • ‘Do not be afraid; from now on it is people you will be catching.’ Then, bringing their boats back to land they left everything and followed him. Where is Christ calling you to listen and respond to his call with your whole being?


As you come to the end of your retreat you may want to use this video to reflect on what you have discovered in your time of prayer.

Closing prayer

Lent Retreat 2023
Living Water

Opening prayer

Use this prayer to begin your retreat.


The encounter of Jesus with the Samaritan woman is one of the richest and most familiar in the Gospels. We find a very human Jesus, tired, thirsty and incapable of meeting his own needs encountering a Samaritan woman who clearly thinks deeply about her faith. She is articulate in expressing her faith and willing to take the risk of asking questions. She stands her ground with Jesus, defending the Samaritan position. Yet, she also has an open heart and mind that enables her to recognise him as the Messiah and to share that good news with her people.

As is so often the case in the gospel the woman has no name and the Western Church has always stayed with that tradition. However, in the Orthodox tradition she is known as St Photini, meaning light or illuminated one. She is celebrated as an evangelist, one who by sharing her experience of Christ brought others to him. St John Chrysostom writes of her:

“For what the Apostles did that did this woman also. They when they were called, left their nets; she of her own accord…leaves her water pot, and winged by joy performs the office of Evangelists. And she calls not one or two, as did Andrew and Philip, but having aroused a whole city and people, so brought them to Him.”

In that condition he encounters a woman from a rival ethnic and religious group.

A lot has been written and said about this woman, that she lives and immoral life and is in some way ostracised from her community as a result. There is nothing in the text that suggests this, either in the timing of the woman’s visit to the well or in Jesus’ comments about her marriages. In the Annotated Jewish New Testament Amy Jill Levine suggest that the woman

 It both echoes themes from other Scriptures and takes us into territory that is entirely new.

Wells are often places of important encounters in Scripture, Abraham, Moses and Jacob all found wives at wells. Hagar, on the run from Sarah’s harsh treatment encounters the angel of the Lord at all well. So even before there is any conversation between Jesus and the woman we are led to expect this to be a significant encounter.

Thirsting for God

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Begin your reflection by reading John 4: 5 – 42. There are some questions below to help you reflect on the text:
“Give me something to drink.” How does your thirsting for God shape your daily life?

“The woman left her water jar and went back to the city.” What do you need to put down in order to respond to God’s call?

“Jesus said to her “I am he, the one who is speaking to you.”. What enables you to recognise Christ’s presence in your life?

In Spirit and Truth

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In the Orthodox tradition the well at Sychar represents the baptismal font, the place where we are all called to new life in Christ. In baptism are anointed and called to share Christ’s role as priest, prophet and king. For this section of the retreat spend some time reflecting on the importance of the prayer for your life.

You can use these questions as part of your reflection:
How does Christ call you to share his priesthood is serving your community?

Where are you called to share Christ’s anointing as prophet by sharing his Word with others?

How is Christ inviting you to share in his kingship by building the kingdom?

Living Water

In the Western Church the Samaritan woman is nameless. However, in the Eastern Church she had a name, St Photini, which enriches our understanding of this life changing encounter with Christ. It means light or illuminated one because she has been illuminated by her encounter with Christ, and so is able to carry the light of Christ to her neighbours, bringing light and life to them. She is celebrated as an evangelist. St John Chrysostom writes of her:

“For what the Apostles did that did this woman also. They when they were called, left their nets; she of her own accord…leaves her water pot, and winged by joy performs the office of Evangelists. And she calls not one or two, as did Andrew and Philip, but having aroused a whole city and people, so brought them to Him.”

Her experience allows us to reflect on our own life changing encounters with Christ. She offers us the opportunity to ask how those experiences illuminate our lives and enable us to carry Christ’s light to the people we meet.

For this section of the retreat there are two options.
Begin your reflection by rereading John 4: 5 – 42. You can use the video below as part of your reflection. There are some guidelines for Lectio Divina here:

Or you can reflect on this passage from Ephesians. Begin your reflection by reading Ephesians 5: 8-14. You may find these questions helpful in your reflection:
“For once you were darkness, but now in the Lord you are light. Live as children of light.” Where is Christ calling you to live as a child of his light?

“For the fruit of the light is found in all that is good and right and true.” How does the light of Christ bear fruit in your life?

“Wake up from your sleep, rise from the dead and Christ will shine on you.” Where is Christ calling you into the light of new life?

Closing prayer

Use the prayer below to bring your retreat to an end.

Discovering the Kingdom

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The Beatitudes are one of the most well-known and loved parts of Scripture. They are part of the sermon on the Mount, which can be seen as the blueprint for the kingdom that Jesus promises.

If I’m honest I’d have to say that I find them some of the most challenging verses of Scripture. Their talk of blessing turns everything we see as blessed on its head. However, we choose to interpret “blessing” we generally don’t connect it with the experience of poverty, spiritual or material, mourning, persecution, or even with gentleness or purity of heart.

So from the beginning the Beatitudes are drawing us out of our comfort zones, away from our human ideas of how things should be. They call us to look again at all our values and to reassess them in the light of our encounter with Christ and his teaching.

They call us to a conversion of life that starts in the depths of our hearts, but that has to spill out to make a real difference in the daily interactions of our lives. If the kingdom Christ promised is to become a reality it has to be built by us. Allowing the values of the Beatitudes to shape our lives is the first step on the journey to becoming the people of the kingdom, who can, with God’s grace transform the world.

This isn’t an easy journey. It will be full of challenge, disappointment and self-sacrifice. It will lead us through real wilderness and desert places. But it won’t leave us there, if we truly allow ourselves to be shaped by the Beatitudes we will be led out of those wilderness places into a place of blessing, of hope and of trust. If we have the courage for that journey, then our own lives and our world can be transformed.

Poor in Spirit

Opening Prayer
Loving God, grant me the courage to admit my neediness in your presence. Fill me with faith and enable me to trust your promise and to live in hope. In Jesus name. Amen

Begin your retreat by watching the video below. Notice what word, phrase or image touches your heart.

Read the St Matthew’s Beatitudes, (Mt 5: 1-12) through slowly several times. You may find it helpful to read them aloud.

“How blessed are the poor in spirit: the kingdom of Heaven is theirs.”
Where you aware of your poverty of spirit?
What enables you to admit your reliance on God?
What helps you to glimpse the kingdom in your life?

Read psalm 130 through slowly several times. You may find it helpful to read it aloud.

“O Lord, my heart is not proud nor haughty my eyes.” What experiences have enabled you to learn humility?
“Truly I have set my soul in silence and peace.” Where are you called to trust and to rest in the Lord’s presence at this time.
“O Israel, hope in the Lord both now and for ever.” What inspires you to keep hoping in the Lord?

People of the Kingdom

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Read Revelation 22: 1-5 through slowly several times. You may find it helpful to read it aloud.

“Then the angel showed me the river of life, rising from the throne of God and of the Lamb and flowing crystal-clear.” Where are you aware of the life-giving presence of God flowing through your life?
“On either bank of the river were the trees of life, which bear twelve crops of fruit in a year, one in each month, and the leaves of which are the cure for the nations.” What gift do you desire from the healing leaves of the trees of life?
“The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city; his servants will worship him, they will see him face to face, and his name will be written on their foreheads.” How does your awareness of being in God’s presence shape your daily life?

To bring your retreat to a close watch the video again. Notice again what word, image or phrase touches your heart. Is it the same as when you began your retreat?

Closing prayer
Heavenly Father, fill us with your grace, give us all we need to seek your Kingdom before all else and to allow its values to shape every part of our lives. In Jesus name. Amen

By Desert Paths

One of our Lent hymns begins:

“With joy and by the Spirit led the Church of Christ seeks desert paths.”

The words often come into my mind as we move through Lent. They evoke something of the essence of the season and take me back to it’s heart. They recall the Iraelites setting out into the uncertainty of the wilderness as they journey to the promised land. They remind me of Jesus driven or led by the Spirit into the desert after his baptism to be tempted by Satan and ministered to by angels.

It also calls us to take the same path, to journey through our own inner deserts, those dark, harsh, broken places within that we would prefer to avoid.

It’s always tempting to focus on the harshness of those desert places. We can get so caught up in the challenges and struggles that we can lose sight of the other side of the desert experience. It is also a place of blessing and grace of hidden treasure. The Israelites face plenty of tempttions and failures in the wilderness. They are also nurtured tenderly by a loving and faithful God both materially and spiritually.

Jesus has a similar experience. His desert experience is full of temptation and struggle as he battles with Satan. Yet it is also a place of blessing for him, as he is ministered to and cared for by angels.

It’s also true for us as we travel through our own deserts. There are plenty of challenges, temptations, struggles and failures. But they can also be places of rich blessing, where we can allow ourselves to be nurtured, held and healed by the ever present love of God.

Children of the day

Opening prayer
Loving God, as we journey through Lent nourish and sustain us in our desert times; As you quenched the thirst of the Israelites fulfil our desire to be in your presence, and bring us safely to the joy of Resurrection.

Begin your retreat by watching the video. There are some questions for reflection and a copy of the text below.

What darkness is Christ calling you to leave behind this Lent?
Where are you aware of God turning hardships into blessings in your life?
How is new life being breathed into you this Lent?

Text ©Turvey Abbey


Read Exodus 17: 1 – 7
“Moses cried out to the Lord.”
Where are you “Crying out” to the Lord?
“I shall be waiting for you.”
Where are you discovering the God who waits for you this Lent?
“Strike the rock and water will flow out of it, so that the people may drink” What nourishes and sustains you as we journey through Lent?

A new heart

Read Ezekiel 36: 24 — 28

“I will sprinkle clean water upon you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleanesses, and from all your idols I will cleanse you.”
What is your response to the promise of being cleansed?
“I will take out of your flesh the heart of stone, and give you a heart of flesh.”
What change of heart do you desire this Lent.
“And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and be careful to observe my ordinances.”
In what ways might the indwelling of God’s spirit transform your life?


Read Mark 1: 12 – 15
“And the Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness”
Where does the Spirit compel you to visit your inner wilderness?
“He was with the wild animals, and the angels looked after him.”
What hidden treasures do you discover in your wilderness times?
“The kingdom of God is close at hand.”
Where are you aware of the closeness of the kingdom in your life this Lent?

Closing Prayer
God of love, as we face the challenges and temptations of Lent enable us to discover the treasure of your presence in our hearts and our lives.