Clergy Retreat: The Business of Prayer

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This year’s annual retreat was in a familiar setting—Cardinal Sritch Retreat House in Mundelein, Illinois, although the facility’s furnishings have undergone some renovations. Tiled floors have given way to carpeting—the stairwells and elevator; the chapel carpet looks more “church-y”, but there’s no mistaking the underlying ambiance.

Monday afternoon and evening clerics from far and near arrived in time to occupy their assigned rooms and settle in in readiness for timely presence at the 7:00 am Divine Liturgy.

Bishop Benedict conducted the week’s events, advising in his first presentation that we were to be aware that our attention was to be directed to our “business” of prayer. As such, each morning was to be maintained in silence, to allow us to hear the sometimes still voice of God directing us to “retreat” from the mundane cares of life through our inner communication with God.

The Liturgies during the post-feast of the Elevation of the Cross, set the tone, As well, the morning meals were eaten in a hushed environment, followed by an hour-long discourse on spiritual values—an hour of quiet time to reflect and meditate—and another hour-long message was delivered in the chapel.

 At the noon meals, conversations resumed, and all was in readiness for the afternoon sessions about the “business” of the eparchy. Bishop Benedict presented a profile of the structure of the Eparchy of St Nicholas. As elsewhere, all assignments of the previous eparch become vacant—with every office and position in need of attention. His Grace enlisted the input of all present in suggesting ways to address the many needs of the Church, noting what can remain as before, and what may be in line for change. Two hour-long sessions were allotted for each day—with a short interim between them.

Vespers preceded the evening meal, which later led to more informal discussions, as each took charge of the business of contributing ideas for implementing the tenets presented throughout the day in a more relaxed forum.

On the final day of the retreat, at the conclusion of the Divine Liturgy, a Thursday morning, after Divine Liturgy, participants posed for this picture. The Business of Prayer continued on next page panakhyda was sung for the deceased hierarchs and clergy who have served St Nicholas Eparchy.

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