Program of the Spiritual Retreat
It is a necessity for the believer to spend a day with the Lord every now and then. Jacob the Father of Fathers needed to spend the night with the Lord alone (Gen 32:22-32). Moses the prophet has twice stayed 40 days on the mountain. (Ex 34:28, 24:18).
Elijah also in (1 Kings 9:8) and the Lord Jesus Christ on the mountain stayed for such a period (Matt 4:2) as well as spending many nights in prayer. Based on that example our father the saints followed and so we remember Saint Arsenius who used to spend the whole night in prayer.
Therefore it is necessary for the believer to have days of spiritual quiet sessions with the Lord in addition to the daily ones.
These days there are many benefits to spiritual retreats:
1- Renewal of spiritual understanding by staying away from the world and its responsibilities, worries and the service and its involvement.
2- The correction of the spiritual path as many times our spiritual path is deviated from God’s purpose with the many responsibilities and worries. Therefore, the need is crucial to review and re-examine oneself to correct its path.
3- The enjoyment of a serene period with the Lord to praise and glorify Him and be joined and attached to Him.
4- Practicing the prayers of intercessions on behalf of others and for the work of the Lord in the whole world.
5- Renewal of the vows and promises as we consecrate and ignite the gift of God in us.
6- To be filled with new strength, in a new phase through the holy path.
4am-8am Midnight praise and the Holy Liturgy
8am-9am Breakfast (except during Fasts)
9am-1pm working inside or outside the spiritual retreat building according to the assigned responsibilities by the guiding father.
1:30pm -2pm Lunch
2pm-3pm Resting time
3pm-4pm Reading at the library
4pm-4:30pm Prayer of the 11th and 12th Hours at the Church of Saint Paul
4:30pm-6:25pm Quiet time by the mountain
6:25pm -7:00pm Midnight Prayers
7:00pm-8:00pm Listening to a spiritual sermon by one of the fathers
Times of meals during Fasts:
Times of Closure for the Spiritual Retreat Building:
10pm during winter and 11pm during summer
1- No one under the age of 16 is allowed.
2- Appropriate attire is adhered to at Church and around the monastery in general.
3- Important personal items are to be left with the responsible Father
4- The length of the spiritual retreat to not exceed three days and departure is scheduled for 9:00am.
5- There needs to be intervals of three months between each spiritual retreat
6- A recommendation letter from the father of confession is required prior to the retreat.
The morning spiritual retreat does not only end with a brief period of time that is spent with God, to study His word and pray, without feeling any changes or having any further obligations. On the contrary, it serves as a spiritual recharge where the effects remain with you throughout the whole day. Being with God is not limited to the time of retreat during prayer, but to live the whole day in the company of the Lord, facing life through Him, feeling His presence under all circumstances – at work, during meetings etc. This way, your life becomes a prayer, as was expressed by St. Basil the Great, saying:
“Prayer is a union with God in all moments and ways of life, and so life becomes one prayer without interruption or disturbance"
Also in Psalm 16:8, David the prophet said, “" I have set the Lord always before me: because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved."
Accordingly, the morning retreat is the starting point for a life in the presence of the Lord, engaging God in all our actions and thoughts to know His will in all what we intend to do and all that our hands stretch towards, as one of the fathers said: "The aim of prayer in our life is to exist in the presence of God and the involvement of God in all our actions and thoughts, and know His will."
Therefore, throughout the day make sure you remember: -
1 - You have handed your life to the Lord on this day, He is responsible for it, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." (Philippians 6:4, 7).
2 - You live in His presence so be awake and beware of mistakes.
3 - God leads your life through the events of the day, be sure to know His will and His opinion in every step.
4 - He dwells in you by His Spirit to face life through you, therefore be sure to:
a. To look at people through His eye
b. To listen to them through His ears.
c. To love them through His heart.
d. To talk to them with His tongue.
e. To think of them through His mind.
5 –Throughout the day, remember the Lord’s voice to you during your morning retreat, and practice what you learned from this retreat.
6 - In the evening, question yourself to know how many times you were successful, and how many times you failed. Ask the Lord to forgive you for the times of failure, and thank Him for the times of success. The next day train yourself on living your life in the presence of the Lord, through which the retreat will have fruitful effects and a blessed impact on your life.