| Time for a spiritual tune-up
Retreats can figure prominently as Catholics consider the three pillars of Lent — prayer, fasting and almsgiving.
San Damiano Retreat in Danville even offers a pre-Lenten day of renewal — a day of presentations, prayer, lunch and Eucharist — to prepare oneself for the 40-day journey.
Lent, which begins with Ash Wednesday on March 5, is a time "to stop and reflect and make resolutions," said Sister Regina Markert, OSF.
A retreat during Lent offers an "opportunity to really put the Lord first," said the member of the retreat team of the St. Clare's Retreat Center in Soquel.
A variety of options are offered at retreat centers around the Bay Area, ranging from daylong events to weekend retreats. Some retreats include presentations; others are days of prayer.
Lent's focus on sacrifice, discipline and prayer is reflected in the offerings at San Damiano Retreat in Danville.
Father Ray Bucher, OFM, director of the retreat center, notes that Lent provides the opportunity to explore varieties of prayer. While people of a certain age may continue to pray by rote, as they learned as children, other forms of prayer, such as imagery prayer, Scripture-based Lectio Divina and centering prayer might enhance the Lenten experience.
"God is gazing on me with delight," Father Bucher said, an example of contemplative prayer. "Who doesn't want that?"
Several of the retreats at San Damiano focus on the work of St. Francis, and on care of creation. Among the daylong retreats is one offered by Brother Mike Minton, OFM, on the story of St. Francis' visit to Egypt to meet the Muslim Leader, Al-Malik Al-Mamil.
If there is a greater emphasis on the do-something approach to Lent, Father Bucher said that credit goes to Pope Francis, who is "giving new life to the traditions," helping people to understand "the love that issued the commandments, and the love to fulfill those commandments."
Some Lenten retreats
San Damiano Retreat
710 Highland Drive, Danville
• Pre-Lenten Day of Renewal, Feb. 27
• Ash Wednesday Renewal Day, March 5
Nurturing Contemplation: A Catholic & Protestant Collaborative Look at Contemplation Amidst Busyness, March 8
• Prayer Check Up, March 8
• Lenten Quiet Day, March 12
• St. Francis & the Sultan, March 19
• Families With Young Children: The Hectic & the Sacred, March 30
• Exploring the Beauty & Joy of Lent Using the Labyrinth, April 1
• Franciscan Care of Creation: Lenten Practice, April 12
• Silent Lenten Weekend Holy Spring, March 14-16
Life Shift: Work & The Christian Journey, March 28-30
• Followers of The Way—The Way Of Hope & Joy, April 4-6
• Holy Week Retreat, April 17-20
St. Clare's Retreat
2381 Laurel Glen Road, Soquel
Silent Women: Lenten Sojourn with St. Francis, Feb. 28-March 2; March 7-9; March 14-16; March 21-23; March 28-30
Silent Women: Palm Sunday, April 11-13
Vallombrosa Retreat Center
250 Oak Grove Ave, Menlo Park
•"Psalm 46 Retreat: Be still & know that I am God!" (Lenten theme) March 21 and 28; (Holy Week Theme) April 11
2300 Adeline Drive, Burlingame
• Ash Wednesday Prayer Service, 1:30 p.m. March 5, Mercy Chapel
•Lenten Day of Prayer, April 4
•A Lenten Journey with the Psalms, April 11-13
Holy Week at Mercy Center: Private retreats and spiritual direction, April 14-20
El Retiro – the Jesuit Retreat Center
300 Manresa Way, Los Altos
Here in Lent, as Spring begins, a weekend in the light of Easter, silent retreat for women, March 21-23
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