When I was in high school I played football. Well I say "played football" - technically I was on the football team, but most of the time I watched the game from the sideline. At any rate, every halftime our coach would give us a speech to pump us up and encourage us to get back out on the field AND WIN THE GAME! His speech was short, sweet, and "Brave Heart" in style- maybe 5 minuets long. His words really moved us boys, but he did something more effective than just give us a war time speech- he left us with 20 minuets of silence. Time to think. Time to reflect. Time to redirect. My coach would leave us with a personal locker room retreat. Retreat is also recommend and necessary in this battle.
Well my brothers, it is past halftime for us- just 10 days left. Go ahead and take a look at the scoreboard of your own personal battle. Are you ahead, or are you behind? What needs to happen to have victory in this game? Take time to think. Time to reflect. Time to redirect. Take a personal retreat. Retreat is necessary in this battle.
Retreat is a time to go into the wilderness. Jesus started his public ministry by a 40 day wilderness retreat. What does "going into the the wilderness" mean in your life? In the wilderness, Jesus was "tested" by Satan. What demons do you need to battle? What demons have you yet to slay? In the eerie quiet of the wilderness, there is nowhere to hide. Nowhere to hide from your demons. Nowhere to hide from your God. How are you going to get to the desert? How are you going to make time to retreat? What distractions do you need to retreat from in order to more clearly hear the Father whisper His will to you? Let this scripture be your model:
And Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan, and was led by the Spirit for forty days in the wilderness, tempted by the devil. And he ate nothing in those days; and when they were ended, he was hungry.
The scriptures say that the Spirit LED Jesus into the wilderness. That same Spirit wants to lead you to the same place. Spend the rest of this Boot Camp in your own personal wilderness of prayer, fasting, study, alms giving, and physical mortification. At the end of the 40 days Jesus was strengthened and ready for his public ministry. You, by virtue of your baptism, have a public ministry. You've been baptized into the eternal ministry of priest, profit, and king. God has a plan for you- you just have to be quiet enough, patient enough, and disciplined enough to hear it.
I have spent the last couple days in the woods. Praying and thinking in the silence. I've come to the conclusion that if we do not surrender to pride/oblations and decide to go on a retreat- we will eventually surrender with a white flag and retreat the battle for purity. Two different ways to surrender and two different ways to retreat. You pick.
Famous Catholic writer, Dorothy Day, wrote this about retreats in her life:
"I made this retreat many times. The first time brought with it a shock of recognition that this was what I was looking for in the way of an explanation of the mystery of the Christian Life, the plan of God for us all. Though still I saw through a glass darkly, I saw things as a whole for the first time with a delight, a joy, an excitement, which is hard to describe. This is what I expected when I became a Catholic. This is what all my reading had led me to expect in the way of teaching and guidance in the spiritual life. I came away with what I can only consider to be an increased knowledge of the supernatural life, the feeling that I had grown in faith, hope, and charity, that I had been fed the strong meat of the Gospel and was now prepared to run the race, to journey onward with that food which would sustain me for forty days in any wilderness. I felt prepared for deserts and underground tunnels, for the dark night of the senses and of the soul. And I knew too that this strong light would dim with the ensuing months and that the next year I would again have to make the retreat, to adjust my visionto the blazing truthwhich was set before us, to get things into perspective once again."