"The Father spoke one Word, which was His Son, and this Word He speaks always in eternal silence, and in silence must it be heard by the soul." (St. John of the Cross, Sayings of Light and Love)
A retreat is simply time taken away from the ordinary duties of life in order to connect more deeply with God. It is a very ancient practice, and for the Christian its essential model may be found in the Biblical account of Christ's forty days in the desert (Matthew 4:1-11). It is a time to step away from the noise of life, from the clamor of schedules and devices, and hear again the still, small voice of God speaking in our hearts (1 Kings 19:1-13).
A retreat is best undertaken in an atmosphere of deep silence and stillness, where it is possible to quiet the noise of our hearts and escape the hustle and bustle that characterizes most of our lives. For this reason, most retreat centers are located in very rural areas of great natural beauty and quiet. For centuries, monasteries have been privileged places of retreat for lay Catholics, with guest houses set aside for those seeking to spend some time with God among men or women who have dedicated their lives to prayer and contemplation and who can provide wonderful guidance in the spiritual life.
Retreats can be directed, involving spiritual conferences or guided practices, or they can be silent and structured entirely according to the needs and desires of the retreatant. Here in the Diocese of Arlington, the retreats are regularly offered at the following:
San Damiano Spiritual Life Center
125 Old Kitchen Rd
White Post, VA 22663
Located on 150 acres in the Shenandoah Valley and offering a wide variety of retreats and days of reflection for groups and individuals.
Holy Cross Abbey Retreat House
901 Cool Spring Ln
Berryville, VA 22611
A Cistercian (Trappist) monastery offering private, individual retreats for a maximum of 15 people. Weekday and partial weekend retreats are also available. The monastery is located in a beautiful spot on the Shenandoah River, about halfway between Leesburg and Winchester.
Longlea Conference Center
5535 Security Cir
Boston, VA 22713
Operated by Opus Dei, Longlea offers scheduled group retreats, professional conferences, seminars, study weekends, and other opportunities for retreatants to reflect on the meaning of their everyday occupations, family life, and relationships with God and others in light of the truths of the Catholic faith.
Mount Tabor Society: A House of Prayer and Christian Community
2363 Hunter Mill Rd
Vienna, VA 22181
Benedictine Pastoral Center
9535 Linton Hall Rd
Bristow, VA 20136
Offering Benedictine spirituality and a variety of retreats and days of recollection as well as meeting facilities for large and small groups.
Within the boundaries of the Diocese of Arlington there are other monastic communities such as Dominicans and Poor Clares, but they do not offer retreats; their chapels, however, are sometimes open to the public.
If you have questions or would like help finding a place to go on retreat, please contact us.