The Creighton University Online Retreat can become an enjoyable part of your everyday spiritual life. I first discovered the Creighton University Online Retreat in a random search which initiallyt led me to Creighton University’s Daily Reflections. After using the reflections for several months, I found the experience so rewarding that I returned to the general Creighton Online Ministries website to see what other programs it offered. In fact there were a variety of services available to website frequenters like myself including links to “Stations of the Cross” and “Guide to Daily Prayer”. But what really caught my attention was the “Creighton University Online Retreat”.
Since that discovery I have visited the Creighton University Online Retreat site with enough frequency to offer a personal evaluation of what it has to offer.
My immediate reaction to the Creighton University Online Retreat was one of elation. If like me you have often thought how nice it would be to engage in a weekend or even an overnight retreat for your personal spiritual growth, the Creighton University Online Retreat may open the door to a workable alternative. The online retreat is organized to offer you a chance to grab moments from your own busy day and week and use them as mini time blocks with which you can construct a very meaningful at home, on line retreat program. In other words it really is possible through the Creighton University Online Retreat to feel some of the spiritual benefits that come from a regular retreat program without paying a fee, traveling to a distant retreat house or talking a spouse or friends into covering all your weekend responsibilities.
There is plenty of help on the retreat site to get you ready to begin what retreat presenters consider a journey. How much time you can put into the retreat depends upon you but you should know at the outset the retreat is set up according to a weekly schedule.
Each week retreatants are given a weekly theme around which their spiritual activities will be focused . This theme is set out in a written Retreat Guide. The guide summarizes the kinds of focal points that you are expected to concentrate on in the week ahead. The weekly topics feed upon one another. For example the first week program topic is “Let’s Begin at the Beginning : Our Life Story” . Subsequent weekly topics include such titles as “The World As It Is Meant to Be”; “The Disorder of Sin” and “The Invitation to Love”. The final topic in the series is “Let Us Reflect on the Path Before Us”.
Sound a little daunting? Not to worry. I addition to the structural guide, which actually gives a lot of direction, for each topical week you will also find supplementary materials to let you more fully concentrate and develop the theme in keeping with your own schedule and particular mood on any given day. Jesuit Father Larry Gillick, S.J. offers enlightenment in words that he entitles “For the Journey”. His comments and suggestions help you to more successfully unpack the spiritual contents of each weekly topic. Fr. Gillick is a priest well known to those who already have used Creighton University’s Daily Reflection series.
Those pursuing the Creighton University Online Retreat can also turn to two other spiritual aids in sections entitled simply “Readings” and “Prayers”. The readings offered for your reflection may be scriptural or they may be simply drawn from other religious readings. In either case they are explanatory of the theme and will lead you to more deeply reflect on aspects of the central topic as you go from day to day. You may read some or all and of course you are free to simply re-read those for which you have an immediate attachment, returning to them throughout the week as you choose. The “Prayers” help you to form your own words of conversation with God. They are drawn from the rich treasury of personal and community prayers of Christians and can help to put you on your own prayerful track, using your own words.
Surprisingly enough participating in this online retreat program doesn’t really mean participating all alone. There is a built in option that allows you to share your thoughts, spiritual stories or blessings during each week of the retreat. You have the option to grow not only from your internal examination and reflection but from the experience of others.
So what’s the catch? This program sounds too good to be true. The catch is that to complete this program requires a conscious commitment to stay with it for a prolonged period of time. There are in all 34 weeks of topics to be developed. That means that for some two-thirds of the year you will be spiritually, though not physically, on retreat. Sure you can get something out of the on line retreat program by just picking out a week or two to develop and then dropping the program, but for the greatest spiritual benefit you will want to devote yourself to a full 34 week program.
Don’t let the long time frame be a deal breaker for you. If you already pray every day but really want something more, just consider the Creighton University Online Retreat a chance to take your prayer to a whole new and more rewarding level. Or as the retreat authors suggest:
“Be open and trust in God, who is not outdone in generosity.”