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Friday, May 27, 2016

From the Daughters of St. Paul: A Summer Retreat

Recollection and Finding Time   View this email online if it doesn't display correctly
Retreat Day 1: Recollection and Finding Time
Recollection is paying attention to the presence of God in your soul. To “recollect” is to remember something, and it’s easy to forget God’s presence and promise when life gets busy. Taking time—making time—for silence and solitude is one of the best ways to truly recollect God’s love.

In the Catholic tradition, we recognize two types of recollection:
  1. Active recollection may be acquired by our own efforts aided by the grace of God. It means creating a habit of thinking about God’s presence in your life, and in this moment, right here and right now. It means fixing your attention on God and his presence and perfection.
  2. Passive recollection doesn’t depend on our own efforts, but is an extraordinary grace given by God. In this mode of recollection (which mystical writers see as the first degree of infused contemplation), the Holy Spirit reaches into you and absorbs your mind and heart into God.
Three things are necessary: solitude, silence and the recollection of the presence of God.
Most of us, most of the time, will engage in active recollection. Here’s what St. Alphonsus Liguori had to say about it:

To preserve recollection of spirit or the constant union of the soul with God, three things are necessary: solitude, silence and the recollection of the presence of God. It was these three things which the Angel of God referred to when, addressing St. Arsenius, he said: "Flee, be silent and rest." In other words: seek solitude, practice silence, and rest in God by keeping the thought of His presence ever before you.

It may seem that silence and solitude don’t have much of a place in modern life. We have telephones with us constantly; the Internet sucks our time; our families and work and friendships all make demands on us. Who can “flee, be silent, and rest”?

When we think about silence and solitude and recollection, it’s tempting to believe that it would all be easier to do if we lived in simpler times. It’s tempting to blame our distractions and lack of time and energy on our century and our location. Yet the reality is that God called us to be here, in this time and in this place. God called us into the complicated nexus of the modern world, and he did so for a reason.

So what is our response?

Perhaps we can start by making that our offering. God has asked us to dwell in this world, to sanctify it somehow. To make of all the drudgery and distractions and lack of time a holy thing, an offering of love. To see that it is through those very things that God is dwelling inside of us.

We don’t need to go on retreat to feel God’s presence. We can discern it in everything around us… including in our own tired, cluttered, distracted lives. And we can do that with the practice of recollection.

So take this summertime retreat as a way into really thinking about that offering. To claim a space of silence and solitude to recognize God dwelling inside of you (even if it’s only for a precious few minutes a day!), and then to take the experience of that silence and that solitude out into the world that God has called you to live in. To remember it—to recollect it—whenever things feel overwhelming. The more you practice, the more it will be a comfort to you, an energizing touchstone to which you can return again and again. And the more you practice, the more you’ll be aware of God’s presence with you all the time, not just in the precious few moments you can set aside for prayer and reflection.

Before You, Lord, in Prayer
LORD, help me to recollect your presence in my life and my being all the time. 

Open me to the slightest whisper of your voice so that I may go about my tasks and duties with the knowledge and assurance that I am your servant in everything I do.

 Take my offering of my busyness, my distractions, and my responsibilities and help me to see them in the light of your love. Amen.

Book Suggestions
Father Jean LaFrance talks a lot about recollection in his book, Pray to Your Father in Secret. We don’t go to God, he says: it is God who seeks us out, who calls us to him. Recollection is how you can open yourself up to God:

"You will become a truly spiritual person—that is, a person of prayer—when you live completely in the present moment. 

"We have within us a secret desire to live in a state of unceasing prayer. We feel that to live in the presence of God is the source of joy, peace, and true happiness. If we gathered together all the minutes and hours we waste each day, we would have plenty of time to pray. Now and then, take five minutes to stop and rest in inner silence. Focus only on being that you are there, speechless and motionless, in the presence of the living God. Throughout your day, never let an hour go by without going deep into your heart in the presence of the Most High. You have frequent opportunities to call upon God for help—cries of love or recognition, even in taking a breath. 

"You will be a person of continual prayer if you know how to accept the present moment as a gift of God."

Jean Lafrance, Pray to Your Father in Secret, pp.118-119

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