on June 26th, by the time the Fall Break came around I was more than ready for time off from school. But this year I was doing something I had never done during my Fall Break- a religious retreat. Because of moving this summer from Sierra Vista to Casa Grande and beginning in school in June I had no time for my annual retreat of prayer and quiet. I just put it in my plans to do it during the Fall Break. Well, the Friday before Fall Break was Boss’s Day and my faculty surprised me with a pot luck luncheon. One teacher at the luncheon asked me if I was looking forward to Fall Break. I said No! She was surprised and I said I am going into a silent retreat on Saturday for six days. I was looking forward to doing something fun after working all this time. ‘
Saturday morning came and I had my suitcase in the car and my school book bag filled with spiritual reading books and off on I 10 East I went. Another first was – I was making the retreat at a Benedictine Monastery. Picture Rocks Retreat Center in Tucson where I usually go was totally booked. Another retreat house was way too expensive. So I called upon the Benedictine Sisters of Perpetual Adoration in Tucson and yes they had room for me within their monastery.
I was given a bedroom on the 2nd floor with very simple but adequater furnishings. I was given a copy of their daily schedule and invited to pray with them as often as I wanted to.
I did pray with them some of the time. They chant all of their “Office” as we call our Prayer of Christians. I tried hard to chant all of the psalms but they were much more experienced at it and better at it than I was. At times I just sat and listened and prayed with them quietly.
The meals were simple but delicious. At breakfast they eat in quiet on their own time. The other two meals they are allowed to talk so I usually sat outside on their patio with their pet dog Annie, who enjoyed my company.
I enjoyed walking around their spacious grounds. They have lots of orange trees, a small garden and over the parking lot of the monastery they have solar panels which provides shade for the cars but also power for the monastery.
The Mass was usually in the evening and many other people came to Mass as well. They have adoration of the Eucharist throughout the week and one Sister is always present in chapel for the exposition of the Eucharist but other people can also be found in their chapel.
The Sisters keep the spirit of quiet throughout the day except at two of their meals and their evening recreation. It was rather easy then for me to be quiet during my retreat. Some of the Sisters though looked out for me and spoke to me softly about perhaps a change in their schedule that I might not be aware of or they pointed out where extra food was kept and other very thoughtful tips. It was the making of a Franciscan and Benediction friendship.
One of the evenings I decided to enjoy a Tucson sunset from the rooftop of the monastery. The Benedictine Sisters were right when they told me it is an awesome site from their rooftop.
I often went on a walk in the evening around the monastery. It was beautiful with and very holy looking with its majestic architecture.
The Benedictine love bells!!! They rang throughout the day to call them to prayer. The 6:30am bells are quite the alarm clock. The bells are heard inside and outside the monastery so you know they really ring out.
At the end of retreat, I did take some time to have some fun before heading back to Casa Grande and to the pile of school work waiting for me. I went to Sabino Canyon with a few friends. I have often heard of this place but never went there in all the 11 years I have been in Arizona so far. It was time to see this natural beauty of Arizona.
We had a week of rain while I was on retreat so Sabino Canyon was flowing with water. There were lots of bridges we walked across that had water flowing over the bridge.
It was a perfect time to go barefeet through the water.
The beauty of God is everlasting!