Why make a retreat – 2

In this post a few weeks ago, St Ignatius explained to us how helpful it is to make a retreat.

Dom Jean-Baptiste Chautard (1858–1935) was for many years Abbot of Sept-Fons, a Cistercian monastery in France. He is best known for his writings on the apostolate, whose fruitfulness, he emphasizes, depends on the deep interior life of the apostle.

Dom Jean-Baptiste Chautard

Dom Jean-Baptiste Chautard

In his most well-known book, The Soul of the Apostolate, Dom Chautard explains why making a retreat like ours requires the engagement of our manly character traits in generous cooperation with God’s grace:

When we have to make a three days’ retreat, how unwilling some of us are!  To withdraw for three days from a life which, though full of things to be done, is easy, and to live on the supernatural plane, making the supernatural sink into every detail of our existence during this retreat; to compel one’s mind to see everything, during this time, by the light of faith alone, and one’s heart to forget everything in order to seek Christ alone, and His life; to remain face to face with one’s self and lay bare the infirmities and weaknesses of one’s soul; to throw the soul into the crucible, and turn a deaf ear to all its cries of complaint:  all this is a prospect which makes some people, otherwise ready to face any fatigue, turn tail and flee when there is no longer a question of an expenditure of merely natural energy.

No doubt, in this labor of detachment, grace shoulders a great part of the difficulty, making the yoke sweet and the burden light.  But still, what efforts the soul has to make!

                 — The Soul of the Apostolate, Part 1, Chapter 5.

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