Advent Retreat Programme
Friday 6 December
The Coming of Our Saviour
This will be a chance to take some time out of the busy nature of daily life and the preparations for Christmas, and instead to focus on what the season is all about: Advent is a time of waiting for the arrival of Jesus, our Lord and Saviour – waiting in expectation of something momentous.
During the weekend there will be several sessions led by a retreat guide which will help you to notice your response, to pray, and to feel closer to God. Some of these sessions will be scriptural, some guided meditations, some informative, some with time for discussion.
Between the formal sessions there will be time for prayer and meditation within a silent setting. This could include walking, art-work, writing or other forms of creative or relaxing time with God. There will also be the opportunity to meet individually with a spiritual director.
How to book
All welcome but places are limited.Full board, all rooms ensuite, including 2 ground floor accessible rooms, home cooked meals.Cost: Single room £185 or shared room £150 per person.
What is a retreat?
A retreat is a time to step back from everyday life and focus on your relationship with God. There are different forms of retreat: themed, individually guided, preached, silent, and more.
A themed retreat takes place in a group with one or more retreat directors offering sessions which may contain information (such as, how to make a discernment), guided meditations, methods of praying, topics to discuss, and group prayer meetings.
Sometimes the group can meet and talk over the input with each other between formal sessions, sometimes they spend the intervening hours in silent prayer.
An individually guided retreat is held in silence apart from an initial group meeting. Each retreatant meets with a spiritual director each day to talk about what is happening in their prayer, and to receive guidance on what to pray with for the next 23 hours.
Meals are held in silence, and there is generally no vocal group prayer (there may be silent group prayer). Retreatants are expected to spend much of the day in a meditative way with several focussed periods of prayer.
This type of retreat typically lasts from 2-8 days. Beginners might want to start with 2 days. Amazing things can happen with God even in 2 days!
A preached retreat is held in a group with a retreat director who gives formal spiritual ‘lectures’ and then leaves the retreatants to pray with the content, generally in their own way. Normally this will be done in silence, although there may be group prayer.
Prayer during a retreat can include imaginative contemplation, centring prayer, creative art-based activity, writing, walking, meditation etc. In general reading is not encouraged as it can take the mind away from God, but sometimes poetry is used for prayer.
What is spiritual direction?
Spiritual direction is about growing your life with God. It is NOT counselling – it is not about solving a problem – but about listening out for God in every aspect of life, and helping you to follow God’s ways.
A spiritual director listens to you without judgement as you talk about what is going on in your life with God, either specifically in prayer or generally in your work, family, church etc. The term ‘director’ is not really accurate, as they don’t direct.
Rather, they accompany you on your faith journey, listening out for God’s voice or action in what you tell them. Typically in spiritual direction you talk about whatever is most active in your life, whether good or difficult, and the spiritual director will help you to discern what is going on, how to respond, what to pray with, and more. They might teach you methods of prayer, or make suggestions for scripture to pray with.
A spiritual director should be properly trained, and generally is invited to train because they have shown signs of being gifted in this area. There are different training programme based on different types of Christian spirituality, but all involve learning to listen actively for God.
All spiritual directors should be in spiritual direction themselves and have regular supervision. They should operate to a set of ethical guidelines such as those prepared by the London Centre for Spiritual Directors or the Retreat Association, and are often bound by diocesan safeguarding rules.
Our retreat director
Naomi Hamilton is a trained spiritual director and retreat guide. She was invited by her own spiritual director to train on a 2-year course in York which was focussed on Ignatian spiritual direction. She has also spent time with Benedictine monks learning their spiritual traditions.
Naomi trained in retreat direction at St Beuno’s Jesuit Retreat House, and worked on the permanent team there, giving individually guided retreats and themed retreats as well as being part of teams training spiritual directors and prayer guides. She is also trained in supervising spiritual directors.
Having recently moved to Sussex to become a freelance spirituality worker, she offers not just spiritual direction, retreats and supervision but also parish quiet days and courses on prayer.