7 and 8 Grade Virtual Retreat

Welcome to the 2021 Virtual 7 and 8 Grade Retreat!  I hope this opportunity is fruitful for you, though I know that a virtual alternative cannot perfectly replace an in-person retreat, we are going to do our best to under this year’s circumstances to get the most out of the opportunity possible.  So, let’s begin with some advice and run through how this will work.  THis virtual Retreat consists of three “sessions,” you can choose to do all three sessions in one day, or break it up over the course of three days.  However, I do NOT recommend breaking up individual sessions, since all aspects of each session go together.  Each session will consist of a  2-3 videos, a prayer activity, and some reflection questions.  As you complete each session, please write out your thoughtful answers to the reflection questions on a sheet of paper and turn the completed questions into Rob to get credit for completing the Retreat.

I encourage you to:

  1. Turn off your cell phone, and get rid of all distractions in order to get the most out of the experience.  THAT is one of the most beneficial parts of retreats: getting rid of distractions that hold us back each day and solely focusing on our relationship with Jesus for a while!
  2. Do the retreat with someone else, maybe a friend (even over Zoom or facetime), or a family member.  One of the best parts of retreats is often the community that is on retreat along with you.
  3. Fully commit.  I assure you, you will get out of the retreat what you put in, that’s true of in-person retreats AND virtual.  Watch the videos in their entirety, really participate in the prayer opportunities, and give some serious thought to the reflection questions.
  4. Take your time!  I know it is easy for something like this to feel like a homework assignment, but try not to treat it like one.  You can’t rush quality friendships, and we certainly can’t rush through our relationship with God.

Now let’s get ready for the first session.  What you’ll need:

  1. Bible
  2. Paper and a writing utensil
  3. Rosary
  4. Maybe some snacks! 🙂

Session 1: God Loves You and Wants to Hear from You!

As we move through the Easter season, we are reminded of just how much Jesus loves each one of us.  So much, in fact, He was willing to die so each one of us could live with Him in Heaven for ETERNITY.  That’s a pretty big deal! Can we be sure Jesus ACTUALLY rose from the dead though? It happened so long ago…. Where’s the evidence? Begin this with this video:

 

Reflection Question #1: What were some of the reasons Mark gave that we can be confident that Jesus TRULY rose from the dead?

Okay, so God rose from the dead, great!  However, we often may feel like we aren’t worthy of love, or perhaps we sin too much for God’s love.  As humans, we often underestimate How much God loves us.  Continue by watching the following video.

 

Reflection Question #2: Who are some of the people in your life that love you?  How do you experience God’s love through their example?

God’s love is limitless, Jesus pursues a personal relationship with you EVERY day!  God does not NEED you to be perfect, He just want you to be HIS.  What a beautiful thing to know about our heavenly Father.  The thing about love is, it requires a response.  Think about a wedding proposal.  When a man gets down on one knee and asks a woman to be his wife, it necessitates a response.  Perhaps she will say “yes” or “no,” often times their answer doesn’t even really come from the words they speak, but their physical response instead!  God invites us to join Him for life with Him every day, and we have to respond.  Often times our response isn’t in words but our actions, in our choice to sleep in instead of going to Mass, or perhaps by loving someone the way He taches us to love.  One way we DEFINITELY should be responding to God’s love is in PRAYER:

Reflection Question #3: How has your prayer life been lately? Check in with yourself on how your communication in your relationship with God is going, the quality time you’ve spent with God lately. What areas of your prayer life could use improvement? Focus? Listening? Frequency? Ask God for the grace to pray, or for whatever grace you desire.

Prayer Activity Session 1: Find a quiet place to pray, maybe light a candle (with your parent’s permission), get comfortable, and set a timer for 10 minutes.  Then spend that 10 minutes in prayer, just you and God.  You don’t have to have any fancy words, just have a conversation.  If you run out of things to say, that’s okay, just listen for God to speak to you.  Remember, when God speaks to us, it isn’t often in a big thundering voice from the sky, more often it is in the silence of our hearts.  When the timer goes off, if you want to spend more time in prayer, go ahead.

Is 10 minutes of prayer something you can do everyday? Probably!  Think about it… there are 24 hours in a day, that equals 1440 minutes! That means 10 minutes is less than 1% of your day.  Let’s spend that 1% (or more) with Jesus!

 

Session 2: God Wants to Speak to Us!

One of the greatest challenges of being Christian is not knowing if God is speaking to us!  It can be tough, and even the best disciples sometimes struggle, St Mother Theresa of Calcutta famously struggled in her prayer life for YEARS!  That’s why one of the greatest gifts God gives us is His WWORD in the BIBLE.  Especially at times we may not be sure if God is speakign to us, we can go straight to the source!  Continue by watching the this overview of the Bible:

Reflection Question #4: Have you heard the stereotype that Catholics do not read the Bible? What do you think about that
now? Do you have a favorite book or passage of the Bible?

One of the tricky parts of  reading the Bible is we don’t know where to begin, or when we do, it feels overwhelming!  Part of that is often the result of trying to read it like any other book on our shelf!  We try to read it cover to cover and knock out as many pages as we can in one sitting.  That’s not how the bible is meant to be read!  The Bible is the Word of God, we are intended to read it in prayer, it’s supposed to be a conversation!  So how do we do that?  Well, one of the ways people have done that through out history is something called Lectio  Divina:

Reflection Question #5: What are the 5 parts of Lectio Divina outlined by Father Josh?

Prayer Activity Session 2: Try Lectio Divina yourself.

  1. Read. Begin by reading Luke 8:22-25. Take a moment to consider what the story is saying, sometimes reading it a second time can be helpful
  2. Meditate.  What stand out to you? What is God saying to you in this scripture reading?
  3. Pray.  Have a conversation with God.
  4. Contemplate.  Simply take some time in silence to allow God to speak.
  5. Action.  What is God calling you to do?  How can this reading change your life in a practical way?

Session 3: Discipleship takes practice!

As we get to know God more, we enter into a unique relationship with Jesus as a DISCIPLE.  A disciple is someone who follows closely in the footsteps of a teacher.  For Christians, it has a special meaning in that we desire to love God, neighbor, and self through the power God gives us in order to transform the world.  So what does a disciple who has a relationship with Jesus look like?  Let’s ask Father Mike:

Reflection Question #6: In your own words, summarize the main point of Father Mike’s video.  What are the most important parts of being a disciple?

The first and most perfect disciple is Jesus Mother Mary.  It’s easy to forget that she was a disciple, since she played such a unique role in Jesus’ life, but think about it, she certainly had a relationship with him, she was His MOM!  Mary also definitely followed in Jesus’ footsteps, in fact, she even followed him to the cross. and trusted Him the whole way.  As Catholics, Mary is also our Mother.  Mary invites us to have a relationship with her son, and sets an example of what true discipleship looks like.  Mary is like a former olympian training you how to be a good athlete! She is the perfect person for the job.  So, let’s learn a bit more about Mary:

Reflection Question #7: Do you have a mentor or someone you go to in times of need? What makes that person so dependable?

Reflection Question #8: Catholics often ask Mary to intercede for them with important matters. Have you ever prayed for someone in need of prayer? Catholics call this “intercession.” Have you ever asked for Mary’s intercession?

One of the best ways to pray with Mary and get to know Jesus through here eyes is the Rosary.  For some the Rosary is hard.  It may feel like its just a bunch of prayers on repeat, but that’s kind of the point!  The rosary is a prayer of meditation, at the beginning of each “Decade” of prayers a Mystery is announced.  A Mystery in this sense is a moment in Jesus life to reflect on.  Then, while we pray along with Mary, we reflect on that moment of Jesus’ life and Mary is there with us to help know her son in a more personal way.  Kind of Cool, right?  Admittedly, the Rosary has been a hard form of prayer for me too, BUT all catholics should have the rosary in our “spiritual tool belt” because it is a great tool to have!  Let’s learn more:

Reflection Question #9: What might a prayer life filled with reflection on the life of Christ through Mary’s eyes do for your spiritual life? What might that do for the world if we all cultivated
that kind of spiritual life?

Prayer Activity Session 3: The Best way to learn the rosary is to pray it!  So  As we close our virtual retreat, let’s pray with Mary.

Begin by Printing this Rosary How-To Sheet HERE

Then, join Father Mark-Mary and Brother Malachy as they lead you through the Rosary: