Discernment Retreat Week One

Discernment Retreat Week One
Beginning your Retreat

This Discernment Retreat has been put together as a tool for helping you to listen to God more closely. It covers some of the major themes of Benedictine Life and will give you an insight into what you might expect in a Benedictine monastery.

We suggest that you try to set aside two 20 minute periods each day for prayer and reflection. Keeping a journal can be a helpful tool in your discernment process. You can use your journal to keep a record of your thoughts and feelings as you pray and reflect.

During each week of the retreat there will be passages of Scripture and quotations from the Rule of St Benedict for you to reflect upon. Benedictines traditionally practice a form of prayer known as Holy Reading or Lectio Divina.

Lectio Divina

Lectio Divina is a way of praying with Scripture which involves:

  • Reading
  • Reflecting
  • Responding
  • Resting

The Latin words for these movements in prayer are Lectio, Meditatio, Oratio and Contemplatio.

One way of approaching Lectio Divina is as follows:

Choose your biblical text. Prepare it before you sit down to pray. Read it silently or aloud. Read it very slowly, really allowing each word to speak to you.

REFLECT (Meditatio)
Enter into the text that you have chosen. You may imagine that you are part of the scene. Or you may hear the words being addressed to you in person. Notice the words and phrases which strike you.

RESPOND (Oratio)
After meditating you may be drawn to ‘prayer of the heart’. This is simply opening your heart to God. Allow God to speak and allow yourself to respond. God may be prompting you to a course of action or a change of heart.

REST (Contemplatio)
You may be drawn into silence. It is a call simply to be in God’s presence in silence and stillness.

When you are ready, bring your prayer time to a close.

For a Short Guide to Lectio Divina see below:

Beginning your Retreat

To begin your retreat, choose ONE scripture passage for each day this week and try the Lectio Divina method of prayer. Pray the same passage morning and evening. Use your journal to note the words and phrases where you have felt God speaking to you:–

I exult for joy in Yahweh,
my soul rejoices in my God,
for he has clothed me in the garments of salvation,
he has wrapped me in the cloak of integrity,
like a bridegroom wearing his wreath,
like a bride adorned in her jewels.
For as the earth makes fresh things grow,
as a garden makes seeds spring up,
so will the Lord Yahweh make both integrity and praise
spring up in the sight of the nations.

Isaiah 61

For this Law that I enjoin on you today is not beyond your strength or beyond your reach. ·It is not in heaven, so that you need to wonder, ‘Who will go up to heaven for us and bring it down to us, so that we may hear it and keep it? Nor is it beyond the seas, so that you need to wonder, ‘Who will cross the seas for us and bring it back to us, so that we may hear it and keep it?’ ·No, the Word is very near to you, it is in your mouth and in your heart for your observance.

Deuteronomy 30

Listen, Israel: The Lord your God is the one Lord. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength. Let these words I urge on you today be written on your heart.

Deuteronomy 6

I know the plans I have in mind for you- it is the Lord who speaks- plans for peace, not disaster, reserving a future full of hope for you. Then when you call to me, and come to plead with me, I will listen to you. When you seek me you shall find me, when you seek me with all your heart; I will let you find me. I will restore your fortunes

Jeremiah 29:11–1

I am the Good Shepherd; I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for my sheep. And there are other sheep I have that are not of this fold and these I have to lead as well. They too will listen to my voice, and there will only be one flock, and one shepherd. The Father loves me, because I lay down my life in order to take it up again.

John 10

It is to the glory of my Father that you should bear much fruit, and then you will be my disciples. As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you. Remain in my love. If you keep my commandments you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my own joy may be in you and your joy be complete.

John 15

We know that by turning everything to their good God co-operates with all those who love him, with all those he has called according to his purpose. They are the ones he chose specially long ago and intended to become true images of his Son, so that his Son might be the eldest of many brothers. He called those he intended for this; those he called he justified, and with those he justified he shared his glory.

Romans 8

Read through your journal and notice where you have felt that God was leading you. Perhaps there is one Scriptural passage that stays with you. Write it out or type it out and put is somewhere where you will see it each day.

You are now ready to begin your Discernment Retreat.

Rule of St Benedict: ©1981 by Order of Saint Benedict. Published by Liturgical Press, Collegeville, Minnesota. Used with permission.

Scriptural quotations from THE JERUSALEM BIBLE, ©1966 by  Darton, Longman & Todd, Ltd. and Doubleday, a division of Random House/ Penguin, Inc. Reprinted by Permission

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