“For God’s foolishness is wiser than human wisdom,
and God’s weakness is stronger than human strength”.
1 Cor 1:25
In these days almost 200 FFF readers are united in prayer making their own retreat-in-everyday-life. This is nothing too strenuous – our daily routines are challenging enough already. You can join the group at the link below.
A decision to make a Christian retreat is not an avoidance of the reality of daily life. Instead the one who “retreats” in the Christian sense is retreating only from what is superficial and less than real, all that is not necessary, in order to engage more fully with all that is real and present.
It takes surprisingly little to adopt this life-giving focus, simply the desire to live with a daily and hourly awareness that we are not alone, Jesus Christ is waiting for our invitation to be present and active working miracles in our lives.
Taking some (extra) time each day for prayer and reflection gives the opportunity to notice how exhausting our days can become. Our human strength is too often drained and our tiredness and anxiety can make it difficult to trust our human wisdom.
The wisest people in history, and those we admire most, are those who live with a healthy awareness that life without God is more of an existence than a life.
Augustine of Hippo, whose feast we celebrate today, is a great example of one who grows from childishness (even in his 20’s) to maturity in Christ. His confessions are a unique autobiographical work written 1600 years ago and considered to be an all-time masterpiece of literature.
“Urged to reflect upon myself, I entered under your guidance into the inmost depth of my soul. I was able to do so because you were my helper. On entering into myself I saw, as it were with the eye of the soul, what was beyond the eye of the soul, beyond my spirit: your immutable light…
…”O Eternal truth, true love and beloved eternity. You are my God. To you do I sigh day and night. When I first came to know you, you drew me to yourself so that I might see that there were things for me to see, but that I myself was not yet ready to see them. Meanwhile you overcame the weakness of my vision, sending forth most strongly the beams of your light, and I trembled at once with love and dread. I learned that I was in a region unlike yours and far distant from you, and I thought I heard your voice from on high: “I am the food of grown people; grow then, and you will feed on me. Nor will you change me into yourself like bodily food, but you will be changed into me.”
“I sought a way to gain the strength which I needed to enjoy you. But I did not find it until I embraced the mediator between God and humanity, the man Christ Jesus, who is above all, God blessed for ever. He was calling me and saying: I am the way of truth, I am the life. He was offering the food which I lacked the strength to take, the food he had mingled with our flesh. For the Word became flesh, that your wisdom, by which you created all things, might provide milk for us children.
“Late have I loved you, O Beauty ever ancient, ever new, late have I loved you! You were within me, but I was outside, and it was there that I searched for you. In my unloveliness I plunged into the lovely things which you created. You were with me, but I was not with you. Created things kept me from you; yet if they had not been in you they would not have been at all. You called, you shouted, and you broke through my deafness. You flashed, you shone, and you dispelled my blindness. You breathed your fragrance on me; I drew in breath and now I pant for you. I have tasted you, now I hunger and thirst for more. You touched me, and I burned for your peace.?
- Read again the part of Augustine quoted above that most touched your heart. Now read that phrase again, more slowly, and savour it allowing Jesus to encourage you using this phrase during the day. You might carry it with you through the day as a touchstone of encouragement.
- As many of us continue these days as a retreat-in-daily-life, this simple morning and evening reflection might be helpful. Try it on waking in the morning before getting out of bed, or last thing at night after turning out the light.
- Email firstname.lastname@example.org with your initials to join those taking these few days as a simple retreat-in-daily-life, and to invite others to keep you in prayer. Click the image to enlarge.