Saturday, March 11, 2006

Manresa Retreat Weekend

I spent last weekend at Manresa the Jesuit Retreat House at Woodward Ave. and Big Beaver Road, in Bloomfield Hills. I belong to a group that goes on retreat at Manresa every year on the first weekend of Lent.

I knew before I left, the change of place and pace would do me good, but I was surprised at how badly I needed the time away. I came to realize me need for a peaceful setting right after my arrival at Manresa, while standing in the entrance with my suitcase still in my hand.

As is the tradition common with all Jesuit retreat houses, this was a silent retreat and talking was not permitted in the retreat house. This is not a disciplinary measure or a penance, but a way of maintaining a prayerful atmosphere. Each person stands alone in the crowd with God. It was also nice not to have to make social talk with anyone. The atmosphere was one of peace and rest.

The theme for this retreat was Holy Ground, so our presenter wanted to begin each presentation with all of us singing a simple song:

“This is holy ground; we’re standing on holy ground
For the Lord is present, and where He is, is holy-


These are holy hands; He’s given us holy hands:
He works through these hands, and so these hands are holy—


At a presentation on Saturday, the presenter told us we were not going to sing the song anymore. It seems that one of the men on the retreat told him, he had gotten up during the night to use the bathroom, and found himself singing: “This is holy ground; we’re standing on holy ground.”

I think the truth is, the presenter did not want to hear us sing anymore. We were not all that good.

Saturday began with Morning Prayer in the Chapel. The prayer was The Deer’s Cry, from 8th century Ireland:

I arise today

Through the strength of Heaven
Light of sun, Radiance of moon
Splendor of fire, Speed of lightning
Swiftness of wind, Depth of the sea
Stability of earth, firmness of rock

I arise today
Through God’s strength to pilot me
God’s eye to look before me
God’s wisdom to guide me
God’s way to lie before me
God’s shield to protect me
From all who shall wish me ill, Afar and anear
Alone and in a multitude
Against every cruel merciless power
That may oppose my body and soul

Christ with me, Christ before me
Christ behind me, Christ in me
Christ beneath me, Christ above me
Christ on my right, Christ on my left
Christ when I lie down, Christ when I sit down
Christ when I arise, Christ to shield me
Christ in the heart of everyone who thinks of me
Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me

I arise today

The retreat included the Rosary, a Thanksgiving Service, a Healing Service, and the Stations of the Cross. There was also Confession. We could take part in anything we wished, or sit in the library and read, or sit with our thoughts in our room. I enjoy walking the grounds of Manresa, and this year I found the nature trail. It is such a peaceful setting that I was sorry to leave, and will be going back next year. In fact, I am going to the Manresa web site and make a reservation right away.

Manresa will hold an open house on Sunday, May 7, 2006, from 3:00 to 6:00 PM, there will be food and refreshments, and be sure to simple the bread. You can visit their web site at for more information. Take the time to view the photographs of the grounds, it is worth the time.