Just to be clear...
...this is a silent retreat (retreatants are silent from Thursday night till Sunday after Mass), but there are a lot of optional conferences during the retreat]
Many people today, youth and adults, experience very serious confusion, difficulties, and sufferings. They, we, need Jesus. Only Jesus can respond to our deepest needs and bring divine healing to our profound wounds. Above all, we need not just ideas or feelings but a personal contact with Jesus Himself. He is the true “Bread of Life” for the spiritual hunger of today. The Encounter With Jesus (EWJ) offers the opportunity to discover Him in prayer of the heart and through His Real Presence in the Eucharist. But this encounter requires an act of supernatural faith.
Thus, the EWJ exists for the purpose of leading to this act of faith. For this reason we avoid methods that cause an immediate, intense enthusiasm for God, but which quickly dissipates.
What is an EWJ?
An Encounter With Jesus is a weekend retreat to offer people the opportunity of a living encounter with Our Lord Jesus present in the Eucharist. It introduces retreatants to silent prayer and Eucharistic Adoration in a way that is adapted to today’s situation.
The Second Vatican Council affirmed that “The Eucharistic Sacrifice is the source and summit of the Christian life” (Lumen Gentium 11). In the words of St. John Paul II, “The Church and the world have a great need of Eucharistic worship.” The EWJ is to help us experience this reality in our lives.
For whom is the EWJ?
This Encounter is for persons 18 years or older. It does not require any special formation or previous prayer experience. It does require, however, that anyone coming have a “thirst” in their soul; that they are truly seeking Him. And it is essential that they are freely choosing to come, rather than coming due to pressure from someone (spouse, parent, friend...).
The Encounter is a serious retreat because it takes seriously the Presence of Jesus in our lives and our own struggle to respond to that Love.
The Encounter can, at times, be intense and demanding because it is for the demanding challenges that we face today. One of the challenges is that the retreatants are silent for most of the retreat. This is a sacrifice, but one that allows us to go through a time of more intense spiritual training. It is a challenge that prepares us for a deeper work of the Holy Spirit. Often people are understandably anxious about the challenge of silence. But by the end of the retreat, many say they don’t want the silence to end.
“Oh, if souls would only want to listen to My voice
when I am speaking in the depths of their hearts,
they would reach the peak of holiness in a
Jesus to St. Faustina (Diary, No. 584)
Each retreat has 3 parts:
1. An introduction to “listening” in silence to God Who desires to “lead us to the desert and speak to our hearts” (cf. Hos. 2. 16), following the example of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
2. A focus upon the Paschal mystery of Jesus where we discover the gravity of sin but especially the infinite mercy of God for us. There we can also find meaning and strength for our own sufferings, united to Him.
3. A path which leads to faith and adoration of the great mystery of Jesus in the Eucharist.
Thus, in Jesus, through prayer and the Eucharist, we find the authentic response to our desire both for God’s infinite transcendence and for an intimate friendship with Him.