The author Margaret Mahy speaks of the necessity to retreat from everyday activity “so the life of the story can take me over.” She continues: “That is why a writer often needs space and time, so that he or she can abandon ordinary life and “live” with the characters.”

Paraphrasing this helps me to understand the section on retreats in the 1818 Rule. Times of retreat were necessary for the Missionaries “so that they could abandon ordinary life and “live” with the Savior.”

Each year everyone will do ten days of retreat in complete solitude and strict silence. Likewise they will spend one day in retreat each month.

1818 Rule, Part Two, Chapter One. §5 On prayer and exercises of piety

 Today’s Rule of Life invites us all

To put ourselves increasingly at the service of God in his people, we will set aside special times each month and each year for deeper personal and community prayer, for reflection and renewal.
One week each year will be spent in retreat.
Fraternal gatherings and an exchange on apostolic experiences could well precede or follow the retreat.

CC&RR, Constitution 35


This is not an idle escapism and navel-gazing, but a necessity for the Missionary, who spends his life giving to others. he must allow “the life of the story to take him over” once again and to give him a renewed vision to be shared with recharged batteries and new enthusiasm.

“Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, Jesus said to them, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.”   Mark 6:31


“There are certainly times when my own everyday life seems to retreat so the life of the story can take me over. That is why a writer often needs space and time, so that he or she can abandon ordinary life and “live” with the characters.”   Margaret Mahy

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  1. Eleanor Rabnett, Oblate Associate says:

    I love the idea of “letting the life of the story take us over”. We need that time to just be able to really stop and listen and then to be replenished. Not that we don’t listen or try to listen regularly or daily in our lives but to have that time set aside to just listen and be and then come to where God brings us – such a gift. And even though it is not usually “a walk in the park” – there are times where I struggle and feel the pain of letting go, but that is just a part of it all. There is always the other side of the gift – the freedom to love more deeply, the joy that comes with that freedom and the renewed life and passion to return to the journey no matter how it is lived out.

    I find it is not only with a retreat, some of that recharging and renewal may come as part of our monthly Basic Oblate Community gatherings or our Associate gatherings where together as community we offer to each other renewal of life and honest reflections of who we are in God and each other. They too are necessary times for us to be together as community, in communion with each other in a very real way. They are incredibly life-giving and necessary to my being able to go out every day and love – in whatever form that takes.

    Although I do not wait with “baited breath” for these times to come, I do look forward to them. To me they are all gift and I have been known to refer to them as times when God is going to give me something really special! That’s the recharging of the batteries and the new enthusiasm.

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