12 Catholic retreats held in the most beautiful settings

To drop everything for a weekend, and spend time in solitude (and maybe silence!), prayer and reflection is the perfect antidote to our busy, distracted lives. As we look forward to a frenetic holiday season, with Thanksgiving around the corner, this may be the perfect time for a spiritual retreat. If things are a little too busy now, consider scheduling a retreat for after Christmas, when you are ready to make the most of it.

Spiritual retreats are not just for priest and religious. In fact, the United States Council of Catholic Bishops urges lay people to take advantage of opportunities to go on a retreat: “In the midst of your busy lives, a retreat opportunity affords you time of silence and clarity that cannot be found in the world.”

What do you trust? A question of where to place our faith

Readings for Today

This weekend’s homilies were given at Our Lady of Lourdes, Saint Louis, MO, at the 5pm Mass on June 9, 2016, and at the 9 and 11am Masses on June 10, 2016.

In what do you trust? Science? Wealth? Politics? Only yourself? Or is it that you do the will of God and seek primary relationship with Jesus? This weekend’s readings challenge us to seek to do the will of God, to place primary trust in Jesus, and to live as he wishes. It it not to suggest that science is bad, for I want my doctor to know good science.  It is not that wonderful things cannot be done with someone who is generous with their wealth. It is not that people should not work to make political change.  But if we are seeking peace and fulfillment, happiness and salvation, it is first found when we follow Jesus. Only then do we find the peace that surpasses understanding.

Prayer and Spirituality – We each have a call to spirituality

Each of us is called into existence by God as someone special. “I have called you by name: you are mine,” (Isaiah 43: 1). Through Baptism, we are initiated into a special relationship with Christ. Our Church leads and guides us but each person needs to develop a close friendship with Jesus, to know Him intimately. This is not accomplished solely be going through the motions of rituals and ceremonies. We respond to God’s love on a personal level by tapping the resources of God within our inner souls. People are body and soul and both must be cared for and developed if we are to be fully human. We are called to live as humanly as possible. This involves living a life in the Spirit and making God a very real part of our daily lives.

The Star that Leads to Jesus: Homily for Ephiphany Sunday, January 7, 2018

Readings for Today

Today we are reminded of the importance of following Jesus.  As we encounter the example of the Magi who followed the star, without knowing exactly where it led, we are reminded that our lives of faith are about following someone.  The challenge is that we can choose to follow stars that do not lead to Jesus.  We can be tempted by the allure of the popularity of social media, or the tug of consumerism, or the need to be constantly distracted so that we do not ever confront ourselves about areas where we need to convert.

And Herod in today’s gospel reminds us that we can also follow the false star of power.  It is not just absolute power like that of Herod, but the power of people who believe they can do it all themselves.  The belief that they do not need others.  They can go it alone.  People can believe they do not need God, and so they do not surrender to God. Then there are the Magi, who follow the star that leads to Jesus.  What star will you follow?

Who is the liar? Homily for Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Readings for Today

There are some people who really, really hate religion.  It is not just that they disagree with this or that thing, but the very existence of religion makes their blood boil. And it is not just that they do not want any religion mentioned, they do not want anyone else to mention it either.  It is about destroying any public reference to religion. Religion is simply something that is meant to be private. Period.

In today’s first reading, Saint John refers to such people as liars.  Those who deny the existence of God are the ones who speak untruth. Often, if a simple statement is made to an atheist, namely, “Tell me about the God you do not believe in”, it often becomes clear that Christians do not believe in such a God either.

Fully Divine and Fully Human: Homily for Thursday, December 7, 2017

Readings for Today

Today is the feast of Saint Ambrose.  We might not know much about Saint Ambrose, but he is a very important saint for us.  He was one of the first four doctors of the Church. Saint Ambrose was a politician, who unlike today, was so well-loved he was named bishop by pubic acclaim. Perhaps most importantly, Saint Ambrose fought ceaselessly against a heresy that denied the divinity of Christ in a way which made Christ equal with the Father and the Spirit.

During Advent this matters, because it is not just because Jesus was a nice person worthy to imitate that we celebrate. Rather, we celebrate the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity who takes on flesh to become fully human.  Three persons in one God. So that the incarnation is not just one birth among many, it is THE birth that is connected to our salvation. We seek the promises of God because God has become one of us, and has become savior to a people that do not deserve or earn salvation.

It’s Coming to an End: Homily for Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Readings for Today

It should not be surprising that as we come to the end of the Church year the readings too focus more on the end of time. We will hear from the Book of Daniel this week, and the gospels for this week also focus on how we need to prepare ourselves for the final judgment. The importance seen today is our inner disposition of faith and trust in God. Yesterday we had a miraculous example of trust from the widow.  Today the invitation is to us.

When people approach the end, they search for meaning. Sometimes this meaning takes the form of a life review, such as can happen when someone dies. The end of centuries and millennia can give rise to predictions about the end of the world. This week will help us to prepare for the end of the world, and for the coming of Christ.

Ready or Not Here I Come: Homily for Sunday, November 12, 2017

Readings for Today

Remember when you used to play Hide and Seek as a kid? The real fun of the game began after the one who was “it” had finished counting, and warned the other players, “Ready or not, here I come!” Today’s gospel reminds us that the same is true for each of us Christians.  Jesus is coming, and he will come, ready or not! Just how is it that we get ready for the return of Jesus?

If you have a sympathetic heart, readings like this can make you sad.  You can think that perhaps everyone should have been let into the feast. But the truth is that if we are going to be ready for the coming of Jesus, we have to make our hearts ready.  We have to go to the gate, to experience God’s presence now, so that we can come to know God ever more fully.  We have to be people of prayer, so that we will be able to recognize the Lord.

A Thief is rewarded – The Dishonest Steward: Homily for Friday, November 10, 2017

It can be the most frustrating part of life. I am referring to those people who get out of one bad situation by doing something dishonest. It can be so frustrating. Why is it that bad people seem to get away with doing bad things? And why is it that anger is often directed at the most vulnerable and weak?

Jesus addresses this today. When someone is dishonest, they are good at being dishonest. This is not unlike the work of Saint Thomas Aquinas on virtue and vice.  Borrowing from Aristotle, Aquinas refers to vice at the repeated bad action. It is repeated so often it becomes a habit or a way of life. The opposite is a virtue, which is a repeated good action that becomes a way of life. While trusting in God may not always lead to success in this life, it is the pathway to eternal life.

An 18-year priority: Homily for October 30, 2017

Readings for Today

What is your priority? Or, in light of today’s gospel, who is your priority? It seems interesting that people of faith could make anyone other than Jesus a priority, but it happens.  Moreover, it seems almost impossible that in the midst of a miracle, the power of Jesus could be questioned.  But such is the case in today’s gospel. Eighteen years of suffering are relieved, but all some can see is the letter of Sabbath law.

What is your priority? Can you see beyond the letter of the law to the lawgiver? Can you allow Jesus to take over your heart? Can you love Jesus so that you will find him wherever he is present to you?