Reflecting on Pope Benedict’s resignation, what’s interesting to me is that the pope’s last day comes shortly after his annual Lenten retreat. What perfect timing! I am reminded of Jesus retreating to the desert. Shortly after he emerged from his 40 days alone with God, he began his public ministry, a transition to a new period of life. In the same way, Pope Benedict’s retreat was time away to be with God, and just days after his retreat he faces a transition to his new period of life.
Just as the Spirit empowered, filled, and directed Jesus while he retreated in the desert, I trust that the Spirit empowered, filled, and directed Pope Benedict XVI on his retreat. From my own experience of being on retreat, I trust that God met the pope where he was with all of his fears, tiredness, health issues, desires, joys, and questions. I pray that the graces Pope Benedict XVI received while on retreat continue to deepen within him as he prepares for his last day as pope and his new journey.
The invitation to retreat away from daily life to spend time with God is not just an invitation for Jesus or the pope. The invitation is ours as well! We are invited to take time away just to be with God. There are multiple opportunities this Lent and throughout the year to go on a retreat. Silent retreats provide the quiet time and the space to be alone with God. Gifting ourselves with this sacred time deepens our relationship with God. God meets us where we are and in all that we bring with us on retreat—our fears, our tiredness, our health issues, our desires, our joys, and our questions. In this sacred space, this time away, God tends to us and nurtures us, empowering us to go back into our daily lives ready to face what is ahead.
I invite you to treat yourself and take an opportunity this year to go on a retreat. For information on retreat houses, see the list here on IgnatianSpirituality.com.