Retreat Without Having to Leave Home – Online Retreats at Paraclete Press

How much screen time have you had during the last two months?  Is it up from a year ago?

For most of us it probably is.  Why?  Does it have anything to do with the pandemic we are all facing and the amount of time we have had to “shelter-in-place” or otherwise alter our lifestyles?

Probably so.

We have had to adapt to some new ways of doing things.

One thing that has altered for many is how we “go to church.”  Many congregations (and parishioners) who never thought of attending their congregational services electronically are now doing so.  Some pastors have discovered they may be connecting with more people now than when preaching was only offered to those the same room.  We all know that for a very long time such services have been coming to folks on the radio, on TV and more recently on computer screens, but now it is becoming virtually normal to “attend” church on Facebook Live, or Zoom or similar services.  

So how about a retreat?  Do you need to get away from your screen for a while?  Or at least alter how you approach it? 

How about an “Online Retreat?”

I recently received an email from Paraclete Press about six online retreats they are offering this summer.

Each retreat is from 9 am to 3 pm (Eastern Time)  and includes time with the retreat leader/speaker, break time, stretching/exercise time and time for questions and answers with the speaker.  Yes, a pattern similar to what we might find in any retreat.

While this retreat is not about getting away physically to a “retreat center,” it is about changing our routine and our focus and making a space for us to focus on the spiritual and the Holy in a deliberate and intentional way.  Not a bad idea at all.

Of course, Paraclete Press, will not be the only group offering such and I am not trying to claim these are best around this summer (I am not at all sure what else may be around!) but I was impressed with several of their offerings based on what I already knew about either the speakers or the topics and the quality of books published by Paraclete Press.

Here is a link to the retreats –

The retreats will use Zoom and will cost $65.

And if you need a quick list of the retreats, here you go – 

Friday, June 26- Angela Alaimo O’Donnell—On Pilgrimage with Flannery O’Connor: In Search of the Province of Joy. 

Friday, July 10- Sybil MacBeth—Praying in Color: Old and New Ways to Pray in an Ever-New World. 

Friday, July 24- Fr. Ron Rolheiser—Spiritual Principles Drawn from the Deep Wells of Christian Mysticism. 

Friday, August 7th- Msgr. Timothy Verdon—The Art of Prayer. 

Friday, August 21- Mark Burrows—Heart-Work and the Art of Loving: A virtual day-retreat  with the Poetry of Rainer Maria Rilke. 

Friday, August 28- Jana Riess—Writing Your Spiritual Memoir: Why and How to Tell Your Story with Jana Riess, author of Flunking Sainthood. 

While I cannot comment (and if I am thinking clearly, should not) on all the presenters and topics, I will offer a few observations.

  1. Flannery O’Connor is always worth reading and encountering.  I have not read Dr. O’Donnell works, but she has spent much time in O’Connor’s works and Dr. O’Donnell’s books have been well reviewed by trustworthy voices.
  2. Sybil MacBeth’s approach to “Praying in Color” has often been recommended by friends of mine whose advice I always find very worthwhile.  If you enjoy doodling and/or coloring, this would be of interest to you.  If you are not familiar with MacBeth’s approach, visit her website –
  3. Fr. Ron Rolheiser is a respected writer and a good voice to pay attention to our current spiritual landscape.  It is always worthwhile to pay attention to what the Christian mystical tradition is really about and what it can teach us.
  4. Jana Riess’s “Flunking Sainthood” should be required reading for everyone and especially those of us who think “all of us”  must pay attention to our “spiritual practices.”  Especially those of us who might approach “practices” in an overly rigid and “legalistic” spirit. Riess writes clearly and with much humor.  This leads me to think her retreat would be enjoyable on top of informative.  Of course, given the title of the retreat, I am guessing she is going to ask us to pay attention, careful attention, to our own spiritual journeys.

Do you have a Friday you want to set apart for a retreat?  You have options.


{ubi caritas et amor, Deus ibi est}

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