Making time to take a retreat Print
Living and Learning
Thursday, Nov. 05, 2009 -- 1:00 AM

Living and Learning column by Msgr. Daniel T. Ganshert

You haven't changed a bit. That was the tongue in cheek line at a recent reunion I attended. As home towns go, mine is the best, of course. Small but still drawing all of us wayfarers back from time to time to catch up on things.

Reunions make that possible thanks to those who give their energy and time to draw a community together. Our oneness of experience growing up made for good conversations and the rekindling of memories from years gone by.

Both trials and triumphs were discussed as we inwardly noted the resultant thinning hair, telltale lines, and other human landscape changes life's journey made apparent with our face to face encounters. Looking forward to the next time we would get together, I was on my way, again, all the better for this reunion where our group took time to stop, look, and listen to life as fellow travelers with much in common.

Making a retreat

Drawing people together. Very important. Making time to be there. Also very important. A little like a mountaintop experience. Together we reflect on where we've been, where we are, and where we're going. Sound familiar? Yes, this can happen at a reunion, but I am talking retreat. Making a retreat.

November is Family Month and making a retreat, any kind of retreat, can be good for the family. Everyone's time is limited. But even an afternoon or one, two, or three-day retreats lend themselves to busy schedules. A little extra time with the Lord to enter into his peace. To listen to his indescribable words of kindness and understanding for you and for me.

Some suggestions for retreat opportunities can be found at So, I ask myself. Can I afford to set aside some time for this? Or, when it comes to my spiritual life, can I afford not to?

'Hungry for meaning'

Not so long ago, in a book entitled When All You Ever Wanted Isn't Enough, the author wrote, "Our souls are not hungry for fame, comfort, wealth, or power. Those rewards create almost as many problems as they solve. Our souls are hungry for meaning, for the sense that we have figured out how to live so that our lives matter, so that the world will be at least a little bit different for our having passed through it."

Reunions may cause us to be reflective about the meaning of life. A retreat can invite us to enter into it. This invitation is extended by Jesus Christ himself who calls us to review the past, sure. But more importantly, to accept the great task he holds out to each of us: to follow him today and beyond. It will take our total dedication as his disciples if we are to find meaning in life, if we are to find happiness in life.

No matter what our age, the Kingdom of Jesus Christ is about living life more fully so that its presence in us will transform our sacrifices and dedication into an ever new and personal fruitfulness.

As you probably guessed, I enjoyed my reunion and how it got me to reflect on my life's journey, both, what I have been and what I will be.

Next week I'm going on retreat. I am looking forward to enjoying this privilege to be with my fellow priests. Reflecting together on living fully in Jesus Christ today and for the rest of our days in our Year for Priests will enliven this graced time. May you notice a big improvement when I return.

Msgr. Daniel Ganshert is the vicar general for the Diocese of Madison.