What is an Individually Directed Retreat?
In an individually directed retreat, three parties are involved.
The first is the Lord who desires to draw closer to us in a relationship of love, and who invites and inspires individuals for that purpose to come aside to a secluded place and rest a while. (Mk 6:30-32); The second is the retreatant, a person who is seeking a more intimate relationship with the Lord and perhaps the Lord’s will in some particular area of life. The retreatant responds willingly under grace to God’s call, sets aside the normal occupations and preoccupations of daily life, comes to a place apart, like Loyola, and takes the time to grow quiet, to center, and to listen for what the Lord will say. Retreatants need to have experience in prayer, the ability to enter into silence, enough self-awareness to recognize their own inward movements and feelings and their moments of consolation and desolation in prayer, and enough openness and trust to share these experiences with their director. The goal is to help the directee to discern how the Holy Spirit is personally leading, recognizing that God has a special and distinct plan for each person’s life and everyone is not called exactly the same way. In this sense, there are no better or worse callings or vocations, as the best calling for an individual is God’s plan for that person in particular no matter what it might be. Like scripture says, there are many members of the body and all are good and necessary. The idea is to determine and encourage the directee to be the unique person that God made them to be, doing the things that God is personally asking of each of us.
The third party is the retreat director. “Spiritual companion on the journey” might be a more appropriate title, since it is the Lord who directs both retreat and retreatant. The director, in daily meetings with the retreatant, listens to and encourages retreatants to give voice to their experience in prayer and to come to a deeper perception and understanding of that experience. Together they try to discover the movements of the Holy Spirit, to discern the direction God appears to be leading, and to choose topics for prayer that seem the most appropriate at that moment.