Good Morning Everyone,
Our theme for this month: “Balance”
Our Bible verse for today: “He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he restores my soul.” Psalm 23:2 (NIV)
Our thought for today: “Take time for a retreat.”
On the table next to my recliner I have a book of the speeches of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia. Every once in a while I open it and read one of the speeches. Justice Scalia is fondly remembered as having been a staunch defender of the Constitution and a reliable conservative voice on the Supreme Court. But there was much more to his life than just his legal career. He was frequently invited to give speeches to many different groups on a wide variety of topics including law and justice, virtue and the public good, living and learning, life in America, heroes and friends, and on matters of faith.
Scalia was a good natured, jovial Italian who loved music, hunting, sports, and people. He had a terrific sense of humor and he loved to tell jokes and witty stories. He was also a man of strong Christian faith who committed much time and effort to the practice of his faith. And, he encouraged others to be strong in their faith as well. After graduating from High School, Scalia gave serious thought to enrolling in a Catholic seminary and spending his life as a Jesuit Priest. Eventually he decided against that because, “I realized I had other talents that needed to be utilized, not the least of which was my ability to procreate.” (Priests must take a lifelong vow of celibacy but Scalia concluded that was not for him. Instead he got married and had nine children).
When it came to the practice of his faith, Justice Scalia was convinced of the value of taking a periodic spiritual retreat. In 1998 he was invited to speak to a group of Christian students at his alma mater, Georgetown University, and he used the opportunity to describe his habit of taking an annual spiritual retreat. He encouraged the students to do so as well. At one point in his speech he told the students:
“Any person who believes in the transcendental has to go on a retreat periodically, because the world believes in the pragmatic rather than the transcendental, and you will lose your soul (that is to say, forget what and who you are) if you do not get away from the noise now and then to think about First Things. In the Gospels, of course, Jesus is constantly going off by himself; and he doubtless needed it less than we do.”
I agree with Scalia about the importance of a spiritual retreat to contemplate “First Things”, so we don’t lose our souls (forget who and what we are and what should really be most important in our lives.) A spiritual retreat can be as elaborate as a week or more in a remote Christian camp, or as simple as a day or two alone somewhere. A Sunday morning worship service can also serve as a form of retreat, in that it helps us to step away from the rest of life for at least an hour or two and to focus instead on what Scalia referred to as “First Things” and what you and I would probably term the things of God and heaven.
I encourage you to schedule a spiritual retreat for yourself in 2018. In the meantime, I hope to see you at church this Sunday.