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Do you know how to unburden yourself before God?

Larry Chell tells the story he heard from a pastor in the Philippines. The driver of a carabao wagon was on his way to market when he overtook an old man carrying a heavy load. Taking compassion on him, the driver invited the old man to ride in the wagon. Gratefully the old man accepted. After a few minutes, the driver turned to see how the old man was doing. To his surprise, he found him still straining under the heavy weight, for he had not taken the burden off his shoulder.

In today’s Gospel passage, Jesus says to His disciples, “Come away by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while.“ The value of rest is just as important in the spiritual life as in the working life of each one of us. Overworking can lead us to being workaholics and underworking can lead us to laziness. Jesus I nvites us to rest for several reasons.

One good reason is to re-create ourselves with God’s grace. A second reason is to view our lives with a new perspective. A third reason is to unburden ourselves to the Lord who knows what our troubles are but allows us to tell Him so that we can experience his consolation. A fourth reason is to simply sit in His presence and enjoy Him. A fifth reason is to come out of that rest time with God-given new purpose, energy, and drive.

This is the reason why Jesus invited the disciples, after their preaching labors, to come aside and rest with Him. This is the reason why Archbishop Wenski mandates that each priest make a yearly retreat. After resting in the presence of the Good Shepherd, it is to be hoped that the retreatants will return with renewed vigor to take up their work in the vineyard of the Lord.

But retreats are valuable for every person on a regular basis or for moments of particular spiritual growth. Confirmation students are required to make a retreat as are those preparing for marriage, priesthood, the deaconate, or consecrated life. Persons marking significant anniversaries or life-changing moments find retreats to be good preparations for new adjustments or for continuity. As you recall, Jesus Himself made a 40-day retreat in the desert before He began His mission of preaching the Gospel of the Kingdom Thus, He prepared for His ultimate sacrifice in His Passion, Death, and Resurrection.

If you are interested in making a retreat, there are many places you can go both locally and throughout the United States or even abroad.

There are 7 retreat centers in the Archdiocese of Miami; just visit the archdiocesan website at www.theadom.org.

But there are many other retreat centers in Florida and around the country and in the world. If you look on line, you will find various kinds of retreats that are offered.

Why should you make a retreat?

It is time well-spent that can be richly rewarding and peaceable. (Some people never want to leave!) But the purpose is not to stay but to go back and be better prepared to accomplish that which God has in mind for you. A teacher of music once explained to our class the value of rest stops in music. “If you are singing,” she said, “a rest stop will give you a brief time to think about what has gone before—either to savor it or intend to do it better as you continue. Without the rest stop, music can become exceedingly dull, monotonous, and out of tune.”

The same is true for our spiritual life. If we take time to stop to rest with the Lord, we can lay our burdens aside, listen to Him, and allow Him to help us shoulder them anew. We then continue on our way home to His Kingdom, where we will “rest from our labors” and enjoy the company of God forever.

Father Kirlin