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Do you plan to attend a retreat this Lent? Cathi Kennedy offers tips for holding on to that calm, peaceful feeling even after you're back to routine.

I had the privilege of attending a weekend retreat recently. It was a wonderful few days, and it blessed my soul to spend time with faithful women and to reset, refocus, and recharge before Lent. But soon after I returned on Sunday evening, life's tasks, obligations, and stresses crept in, crowding out the calm, peaceful feeling. I've encountered this after past retreats. I call it the post-retreat slump. Is there any way to combat this?

Let's consider why a retreat helps restore and recharge us and find a way to incorporate parts of a retreat into our everyday lives.




Limit distractions

Typically, retreats are held at a parish or retreat center where you can be physically removed from the things that take your time, energy, and focus: work, children, spouses, and phones, to name a few. Keeping my phone—which links us to our work, children, and spouses—in my room instead of carrying it with me throughout the day was not as difficult as I thought it would be.

Can I limit my phone use throughout the workday? On weekends? I've had my phone on silent for about six months, and I have not missed a single important call or text. Maybe start there—limit the noise of the pings and buzzes that seem ever present in our lives. Then try leaving your phone in your office or your bag during a meeting. Remove social media apps, or set a timer to alert you to the time you spend scrolling. Silent the notifications on your watches as well. You will be shocked at the peace you find when everything isn't dinging constantly throughout the day.




Anchor your day in God

Begin and end your day with prayer. The Liturgy of the Hours is perfect for this. You can use a book (the Breviary or the new Word on Fire Liturgy of the Hours) or the beautiful Sing the Hours podcast.

If daily Mass is not feasible because of your schedule, try fitting in just one extra Mass a week.

Schedule the time on your calendar for Adoration—even if you can only stop in for 15 minutes, it will do your soul well to spend that time with Jesus.

Try saying a daily prayer in the middle of the day—the Angelus at noon or the Divine Mercy Chaplet at 3 PM.

Be realistic with your schedule. Adding one thing at a time until it becomes a sustainable habit, then building on that with one more prayer or Mass, and so on.


Learn about your faith

During our retreat, we had good and holy priests teach us lessons on charisms, vocations, Mary, and holy friendship. There is always something to learn about our beautiful Catholic faith.

Find a book about a saint you are devoted to or whom you'd like to learn more about and read a few pages daily. Listen to a podcast while cleaning, at the gym, commuting to work, or running errands. Fill your mind with inspiration and understanding about your faith.


Support one another

I am blessed to have many faithful friends I can turn to for prayer, support, encouragement, laughter, and fun. They are treasured.

Finding these friends can take some effort. Join a group at your parish, start a book club, go on a retreat, or simply introduce yourself to that person you keep seeing at Mass. It can be that easy.

And once you have established friendships, nurture them. They will sustain you through hard times and make the good times even better. You are all on the journey to sainthood together!




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We can order our days to be focused more on God and less on the world, even if it's one extra prayer a day. #CatholicMom

You may be reading this and thinking, "My day is jam-packed. I cannot possibly add one more thing." And I empathize with that. The world we live in is constantly pulling at us. But I challenge you to try. Make it work for your schedule. One mom at the retreat said she prays Evening Prayer while waiting in line for school pick-up.

Retreats are wonderful opportunities to grow closer to God. They restore us, reconnect us with our faith, and recharge our weary souls. It may not be possible to carry the calm and peaceful feeling of a retreat with us every minute of every day, but we can order our days to be focused more on God and less on the world, even if it's one extra prayer a day.



Copyright 2023 Cathi Kennedy
Images: church interior photo copyright 2023 Cathi Kennedy; all others Canva