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  • The Very Reverend Rod MacDonald

“Just a moment” – with The Very Reverend Rod MacDonald

Unlike some words we find in the church lexicon like the service, the “Churching of Woman”; or the feast called the “Manifestation of Christ to the Gentiles”; or a term such as “Prevenient Grace” - unlike these the word Retreat conveys exactly what it means! And also, unlike the other terms (and quite a few more) it doesn’t need to be ‘unpacked’ a bit for a basic understanding. A Retreat is a deliberate ‘going aside’ like Jesus did, at least for several days in the modern tradition. Some older traditions, such as making an Ignatian Retreat, last longer and in that particular example, deliberately span 28 days.

And they can well be held at a sea-side location, or at a mountain lodge, at least along the Eastern sea-board of Australia.

With a good view, open spaces, and catering organized for you.

Ah yes! He/she is going away, and taking a break in lovely surroundings, no household chores, and leaving all ‘job’ contact such as emails and mobile phones behind! Yes - they may call that a ‘retreat' professionally, but I call it a holiday, if it comes my way!

Welcome to my world this week. Or any other clergy or lay person going on ‘retreat’. After 6 lectures in 3 days on deeper and more meaningful prayer (as much for others as for ourselves), nearly a dozen small group discussions with reporting back, then evening ‘spiritual companion’ groups with relative strangers, nine formal prayer services, four eucharists and then a journal to keep ………. yes, I have found it both professionally and personally very enervating. The leadership of Dr Robyn Wrigley- Carr, Associate Professor in Spirituality and Theology from Sydney Diocese, together with presentations on Holiness, individual and corporate from Archdeacon Dr Rosemary Dunn (retired lecturer at JCU in medieval spirituality) was challenging to say the least, but very carefully directed at active and busy parish priests.

And like a good holiday for 3 days at a coastal resort or mountain lodge at $1000+, it was very good value for money. But Bishop Murray has the last word, when he affirmed in front of some parishioners, that this was ‘work’ not just ‘going away’ but some of the most important that a priest can do. Not just for themselves, but most importantly for the community of faith that they lead.

I am glad I went.

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