Welcome back to Beyond the Pew. As we continue this series on how to help your youth come home from different church events, we’re going to be talking today about retreats. So when your youth goes away for a weekend or for a day retreat, and they’ve encountered Christ there, how do you help them come back to their daily life?
There are four things we can do to help our children come back from retreats.
Know the theme. The first is to consider that the retreat had a theme. Something like, how to be saints, or the power of the cross, or maybe the power of God’s forgiving love through Confession… there was some kind of theme. All the talks were based around that theme. Sometimes in the past we have sent home booklets so parents can know what is going on in all of the talks. If you didn’t receive one of those, know that the youth minister did plan out all of the talks! Ask them what was discussed, or for the talk blurbs, so you know what was presented on so when your youth comes home you can ask them about what they learned. At least know the theme so that you can keep in mind, Okay, they just spent an entire weekend focusing on God’s love and forgiveness in connection to the cross. How can I talk to them about that or bring that up throughout this coming week? This really helps them take home what they heard about and experienced throughout the weekend.
Ask about their prayer experiences. The second thing to keep in mind is that they entered into several different kinds of prayer experiences on this retreat. They probably had some time reading scripture whether that was in a talk or a Bible study setting or in a time where they got to just sit with their Bible. They might have had a time of praise and worship where they were able to sing, they might have had a time in Adoration where they sat before Jesus in the Eucharist. They might have prayed a rosary. Know that throughout the weekend, they experienced different kinds of prayer. Ask them what their favorite way to pray was! Ask if they encountered a type of prayer that was new or weird. Try to talk to them about those different ways they talked to God. From that, you can move forward and say, “If there was something you really liked, can we do that as a family? Or, could you teach us how to do that and we could all do it together?” Try and find ways to integrate those experiences into your home and your family life.
…it becomes more, something that your family is doing together.
Then you are all receiving fruit from that retreat time.
Encourage them to keep going. The third thing to keep in mind is that they probably received a challenge at the end of the retreat connected to the theme. If it was about saints, they were probably were challenged to grow in holiness. They probably set a goal to strive in holiness. Maybe that was pray five minutes a day. That’s a really common one. Chances are, that might be their goal. Sometimes it is to work on their relationships with their siblings or pay more attention at mass. Whatever it is, it would be helpful for you to know that so you can encourage them to continue to grow and strive to meet that goal. There’s also a chance that you as a family could each set goals and you could hold one another accountable to the goals that you set. It becomes more, something that your family is constantly doing together. Then you are all receiving fruit from that retreat time.
Pray for them and pray with them. The last thing is just to encourage them to pray. Pray for your youth as they are on the retreat, that they would be open to whatever God has in store for them. Pray for them as they return home that as they face temptations to forget what they experienced or temptations to not meet their goal, that they would resist. Pray that you would help encourage them. Pray for their continuing growth in holiness and for the role that God wants the retreat to play in that role of discipleship.
We will be praying for you at Ablaze, and until next time, God bless!