One of the scariest things I do as a priest is my annual retreat.
Canon Law requires that priests take a retreat once a year, and I always try to take mine during Advent. It helps me:
1) rest up for Christmas
2) get my homilies for Christmas, January 1, Holy Family, Epiphany, the Baptism of the Lord, etc. together
3) Advent is my favorite time of year and the perfect time for a retreat
That being said, it is also terrifying, and as it gets closer, I get really nervous.
It is really hard to go from 100 mph to contemplation/meditation/prayer.
It is very similar to what most of you all experience as well. Our daily lives keep us hopping, and "finding time for God" is hard.
I also think, however, that there is a big part of us that WANTS to be distracted because, at least subconsciously, we are AFRAID of what we will find when we encounter Christ in the silence.
There is the beautiful passage from Scripture about the Prophet Elijah in 1 Kings 19:
“Go out and stand on the mountain before the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.” Now there was a great wind, so strong that it was splitting mountains and breaking rocks in pieces before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake; and after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire a sound of sheer silence. When Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his mantle"
Silence is terrifying, and I always am nervous about heading into it.
I also know it is exactly what I need and the Church is wise to instruct Her priests to "head for the silence" and to be still with God.
Keep me in your prayers this week, and know of mine for all of you!
Fr. John Hollowell