Silence, peace, and tranquility are things we all desire but they often elude us in the days and weeks of our busy lives.
Yet these are the very elements on offer at a retreat planned for Saturday 28 October, on the grounds of the beautiful St Martha’s Chapel in Sydney’s inner west, offered by the Parish Renewal Team of the Sydney Centre for Evangelisation.
“The Oremus Day Retreat is an opportunity to retreat from the ‘busyness’ of daily life, with a focus on prayer,” said Tania Rimac, a member of the Parish Renewal Team.
“It’s a chance for people to pause and reset, renew and rediscover the importance of prayer in our lives, and reconnect with God.
“The distractions and noise of everyday life make it hard to hear the voice of God, and in turn can draw us away from him; we need to be intentional about making time for him and this is one of those opportunities.
“Prayer is how we grow in relationship with Jesus; it is what helps us get through the challenges of everyday life.
“Our hope for this retreat is that, by God’s grace, people will be refreshed in their faith.”
As part of the Archdiocese’s Go Make Disciples mission plan, this one-day retreat is an invitation to explore and renew our prayer life; the day will include input, Mass, and Adoration.
“This retreat is the practical element of an online series which we hosted in September, titled Oremus: Foundations in Prayer. At these sessions people were open to discovering or rediscovering the rich tradition of prayer in our church, such as visio divina and the liturgy of the hours, said Tania.
“Sometimes, what we understand prayer to be, is really a prayer from when we were young children, and we haven’t developed from that.
“This day will be an opportunity to rediscover and immerse ourselves in prayer which might be familiar to us as Catholics, as well as be introduced to what might be a new way of praying.
“It’s a special opportunity to pray with other people and make time for the Lord.
“He’s always there, waiting for us but it’s us who are distracted and not making time for him.”
Psychologist Dr Wanda Skowronska, says the benefits of mediative prayer at events like the Oremus Retreat Day offer more than just spiritual nourishment.
“All the studies show that when people take time out to find inner peace through prayer, they have greater mindfulness and wellbeing,” Dr Skowronska said.
She says the opportunity to turn down the inner noise, and appreciate the silence and transcendent, activates multiple parts of the brain.
“The distractions of modern life have led to a lack of connection to the transcendent, the soul suffers, and mental health can decline, as a result.
“This is us speaking from our soul and to communicate in that way with God has been proven to be a great way to promote our psychological and spiritual wellbeing.”
While many Catholics seek peace in Eastern meditation, Dr Skowronska said “the Catholic Church has millennia of teaching meditative prayer!”
Prayer, she believes, is the greatest weapon against what she calls its greatest enemy: the digital world.
“We are living in what Pope Francis calls ‘the dark triumph of technology’—we’ve become too attached to technology and it is bad for the soul,” Dr Skowronska.
“It attacks our sense of ‘interiority’ – that sense of the transcendent.
“When people are filling their minds all day with cyberworld, it erodes your interior sense and that’s what we must regain.
“That interior sense. We need a balance between digital time and non-digital time. Days like this offer us balance.”