What's an E-Retreat?

 

If you’re looking for a new spiritual resource for Lent (and beyond) today is the official "pub date" of Together on Retreat: Meeting Jesus in Prayer, what my publisher and I believe (hope?) is the first-ever e-retreat. It uses the most up-to-date technology of the e-book to lead you through an actual guided retreat.  It's a bit of a plunge into the deep end of the "New Evangelization."

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Since it's a new form of spiritual resource, I thought I might explain something about this e-retreat. It begins with an introduction that describes a retreat; and then continues with a chapter on how to pray (introducing the reader to Ignatian prayer and lectio divina.) Next comes a chapter on what can happen in prayer (a big source of mystery for many) and then a chapter on some of the most common challenges in prayer (dryness in prayer, distractions, etc) and answering some of the most common questions about prayer.

Then the retreat begins. There are three passages from the New Testament, each focused on Jesus's ministry by the Sea of Galilee: The Call of the First Disciples, the Miraculous Catch of Fish and the Breakfast by the Sea. As on an actual guided retreat, I provide the Scripture text, offer a brief reflection and then invite the reader into prayer with a series of questions. (The e-retreat, by the way, is based on a real weekend retreat given at Eastern Point Retreat House in Gloucester, Mass., a few years ago.) After a time of prayer (I'm recommending 30 to 60 minutes) you return to the e-book for a series of questions designed to help you reflect on what happened in prayer. At the conclusion of the retreat there is a wrap-up chapter that asks "What next?" All throughout, I try to be your "virtual" spiritual director, anticipating not only what might come up in your prayer (emotions, desires, memories, insights, feelings) but also anticipating common questions about prayer and retreat.

The goal of this new type of spiritual resource is to help a wide variety of people, from the person who has never prayed before to the experienced retreatant, and particularly those who may not have the financial resources or time to go to a retreat house. You can do this retreat anywhere: at home over a few days, during the course of a weekend--or even at a retreat house.  And you can do it by yourself or in a group.   

There are two versions, a basic version for simple e-readers (like a smartphone or a basic Kindle) and an "enhanced version" for iPads and Kindle Fires and Nooks. The basic version includes not only text, but also photos of the area around the Sea of Galilee.  The enhanced version is a pretty amazing use of the latest technology and includes not only text and photos, and a lovely slideshow, but also many videos: videos where I answer questions about the retreat, prayer, spiritual direction, and so on, as well as videos of the Sea of Galilee to help you "compose the place" and more easily enter into each retreat period. The videos are embedded in the book, and appear right on the page.  Here's a video explaining more about the book.  

If you'd like to use Amazon here is the basic version and here is the enhanced version If you want to use Barnes & Noble here is the basic version.  And the enhanced version.  It's also available on iTunes, Books a Million, Kobo and Google e-books. Here's an overview on the HarperOne website. Currently there is a plan for it to appear in print, but for the foreseeable future it will remain an e-retreat.  (All of my proceeds, by the way, go to America Press!)

I hope that the new technology of Together on Retreat will help believers experience the graces of a retreat and enter more deeply into a relationship with God in prayer. May it be a blessing for you during this Lent and throughout the year.  

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