Retreat on the Run: a journey into the heart for Lent
By Vinci Halbrook-Paterson, Guest Commentary
This is the eighth year that Campus Ministry has sponsored Retreat on the Run during Lent. Participants challenge themselves to carve out 20 minutes of silent prayer each day for six weeks. They also commit to meet with a prayer guide once a week for the six weeks of Lent (except during spring break). This year there are 37 students participating: eight men and 29 women, with 18 staff and faculty serving as prayer guides. I asked students to reflect on a few questions. Below are some of their answers:
Why did you choose to do retreat on the run?
"I chose to do it because this year has been all about change for me. After going on the Encounter with Christ I wanted to be more involved in Campus Ministry, in the Church and in my own faith life. I saw the Retreat on the Run as a great opportunity to get close to God and expand my faith life. So far, its been pretty awesome!"
"I felt that the Retreat on the Run would be the best way for me to really grow in my faith. Normal retreats are a good time for some personal reflection, but most of the time when you realize what's going on, the retreat is over and you have nothing to build off of. Now I have 40 days that can grow into a habit of prayer and growing closer to God."
"Honestly, I saw some advertisements around campus and such and thought it would be a great idea, but looking at my hectic schedule with work, school, and extracurricular activities, I really didn't think I'd be able to do it. I was sitting in the Cove studying with a friend one evening when our dear Beth from Campus Ministry had a friend deliver the form to me and tell me to fill it out. And that's how I got pulled into Retreat on the Run. Since I had the desire to do it, maybe I just needed that little extra push to step my foot into this experience."
"I chose Retreat on the Run because I hope to use Lent as a time to refocus on my faith. Having someone holding me "accountable" (my prayer guide) helps me to do that. It also helps to have someone who is more knowledgeable about our faith to discuss with, as those discussions and questions help me to deepen my understanding of, and love for, Catholicism."
"I chose Retreat on the Run because I want to continue to develop my prayer life and I know I'll be consistent with my prayer life if I'm committed to it with a retreat!"
"I chose Retreat on the Run so I could make prayer more constant in my life. I want to deepen my spirituality this year, especially during Lent, and felt that Retreat on the Run would help me do so."
"I chose to do Retreat on the Run because I felt my prayer life was lacking and wanted to form a more intentional prayer life this Lent."
What is most rewarding so far?
"The most rewarding things so far has been deliberately sitting and being quiet. Even though its hard to do that sometimes, I get the chance to be with God. Whether I am praying for something that I need or something that others need or just sitting, it's really nice. It's also very rewarding to share my experience with my spiritual advisor. It's been so great to be able to talk about my prayer experience and maybe why it worked one day and didn't another. It's wonderful to share my daily encounters with God and it's really building me up as a person. I'm learning so much about myself, my faith and my church all in one retreat!"
"The most rewarding thing has definitely been the better understanding of the Scripture. There are so many hidden messages within even the smallest of passages that reading it over and over really does speak to your heart."
"The thing that's been most rewarding for me so far is the chance to carve out a little time frame of my day where I can tune out all the worries and noise of the day in order to reflect and calm down. The ability and chance to just STOP. There's always so much going on in life, thoughts racing left and right, a constant struggle to keep up with time and appointments. However, this retreat has given me the permission to simply pause for a brief while each day during Lent to quiet down my spirit and reach for a deeper connection and relationship with God. I've found this to be the most rewarding part of this experience so far. I find that I can think more clearly, I feel more at peace, and I feel lighter and happier in general."
"It makes me feel good to know that I've chosen to focus on my faith this Lent. Additionally, it is rewarding to feel the peace that you get from allowing God to have a bigger role in your life."
"The most rewarding part I feel is being able to get quiet time to spend in prayer and reflecting on the week, where I am at in my life, and how I can grow from here."
"The most rewarding so far has been looking forward to spending more time in the chapel, reading the Gospel of Matthew, or talking with my spiritual director."
"The most rewarding thing for me has been actually learning to step back, take a deep breath, and listen. Throughout the day I'm going going going, so my time of prayer is a much needed nice break."
Vinci Halbrook-Paterson is the Assistant Director for Faith Formation in Campus Ministry. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org