Tips for making a successful retreat?

The title pretty much says it.

I’ll be going on retreat fairly soon after months of anticipation. And, I’m wondering if any of you have tips for how to prepare? It will be a preacher retreat over a weekend.

I’ve only ever done one other retreat (also preached), and it was not a great experience to be honest. So, I’m really hoping to make the most of this one.



No clue as to what type of retreat you will be going on (I have made several different ones), but all you need is an open heart and an open mind.


Following the counsel of Thomas á Kempis, consider making yourself as small and insignificant as possible; consider all others present to be superior to yourself, which will prepare your spirit to adopt the attitude of humility. Profound humility creates fertile soil for grace and the Lord will plant seeds of grace which will bear fruit in abundance.


Annual retreatant here. :wave:t3:

In the days immediately prior to departure, take some time to reflect on the topic(s) of the retreat. Ask God to open your mind, heart and soul to whatever He wishes to tell you in the experience you are about to have.

Clear your schedule of all unnecessary tasks in the 24 hours before you leave. Make sure your luggage is fully prepared and ready to go at least a day in advance. If you can delegate to someone else laundry, meal preparation and cleanup, and other household tasks that would ordinarily be your responsibility during those last 24 hours, do so. If you work outside the home, take both the day before and the day of departure off if you can. In other words, shift to a lower gear. You don’t want to risk bringing the stress of your “normal” life with you on retreat.

Allow plenty of time for the trip so that you will arrived relaxed even if you experience unexpected delays.

Praying for you on your retreat!


Thank you so much! What great advice. I will take it all into account.

The retreat will be Ignatian and focused on discernment.

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Let me also add that your advice about slowing down the 24 hours before is poignant. I was not able to do that before my last retreat. I barely made it that weekend because things were so chaotic at home. I was totally stressed by the time I got there and there was so much planned for us that I was never really able to settle. I think this is a lot of the reason why that retreat experience was so bad for me.

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A lot depends on what kind of retreat it is? Are doing the Regnum Christi Spiritual Exercises retreat?

Practical advice, wear very comfortable clothing. Clothing you can sit in, move in, and just be comfortable in. Bring a sweater or light jacket, sometimes they keep the rooms a bit cold. Bring a bag to carry materials in, journal, pens, highlighters, paperclips, sticky notes…whatever you usually need to take notes and write reflections in. (I’m a colored pen person myself.) Bring a water bottle, mints, chap-stick…

If you are staying overnight, bring enough with you to be comfortable but I would leave electronics home, laptop or tablet, and bring a spiritual book you’ve been wanting to read.

Most of all be well rested, open-minded, receptive, and eager to hear God’s message for you in this retreat.

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I’ll double down on this.

I hate retreats. I know that sounds harsh but it is what it is. The activities and often the talks just seem saccharine to me. (I did a CRHP retreat, both as a retreatent and as a team member. Some parts were great. Some silly. Some things really moved people (Letters from loved ones). I found them contrived. The huge value for me was in the team experience leading up to the retreat I helped to put on. But the retreat (for me)… meh.

That said, I see the need for retreats; and I believe you can get out of them what you put into them. If I’m going to take the time I have to put my admittedly cynical world view aside, be humble, and accept things in the spirit they are given. Find an activity dumb? Know that someone with your best interest worked hard on it and tried to make it meaningful; and respect that. Don’t feel like talking? That’s fine. But respect other people’s input. Take the quiet times to reflect. Take every opportunity for the sacraments they give, and understand someone worked hard to make them available for you. It can be a positive experience.

Just my $0.02

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I have a few spiritual exercises retreats under consideration. Regnum Christi is one of them since there is a group in the region. I’ll be honest that I am a little apprehensive about choosing that one because of the challenges the group has faced in the last 10 years, but from what I can tell, it seems like they have weathered that storm well and are in ship shape.

They have more than weathered the storm, they came out of stronger and more dedicated to their spiritual development as well as the movement in general. All the constitutions of each vocation were re-written, with the lay vocation constitutions just finished a couple of months ago.

This happened in 2006 and Fr. Maciel was sent to retire to a life of prayer & penance. He passed away in 2008. Since 2010 the RC movement has been working on recovering from the damage Fr. Maciel caused.

I don’t know what I would do with my Regnum Christi team and our work together. I can’t recommend the Spiritual Exercises enough. Ours is done in silence with a great deal of time for reflection. Mass daily, reconciliation, spiritual direction, adoration, the rosary. We have ours in a retreat center and stay for two nights but have the option for a single room. No one goes home in order to stay in the silence and attitude of the retreat. I don’t know if the one you’re looking at is the same.

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That sounds like exactly what I’m looking for. I’m not sure if this one is formatted the same way, but I will give their retreat serious consideration. Thank you.

Excellent! Do you have a copy of The Imitation of Christ*, by Thomas á Kempis? It is a masterful work and, while written for those in community, virtually all of it pertains to the laity as well.

Humility and the Ignatian spiritual exercises go hand in hand. The more you confess to God that you are weak, the more grace He will pour upon you to strengthen you. The more you confess to God that you seek direction, the more the Holy Spirit will illumine your spirit.

Prayers ascending.

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I have almost purchased a copy of it several times. Perhaps I’ll finally get one and bring it with me to read while on the retreat. Thank you for the suggestion and for your prayers.

I just added a link that may be of interest.

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