Spiritual freedom is not a “thing” that can be obtained and then hung on to. It’s an inner condition of the spirit that requires continual cultivation and re-tuning.
Spiritual freedom could be described as the ability to think and act without external or internal compulsions. Some examples of what that means:
* freedom from those habits of thought and action that hold us in chains
* freedom from our ego-centered activities and ambitions
* freedom from various forms of sexual acting out, eating disorders, workaholism
* freedom from being controlled by jealousy, envy, sloth, anger, pride
This is the true freedom of heart for which we yearn. It is a gift of grace. It is the liberation offered by Jesus’ death and resurrection and the gift of his Holy Spirit. But we have been set free for something and not just from something. We have been set free so that we in turn may help to liberate others from those things which bind them both externally and internally.
We have been set free so that we can continue the work of Jesus in the world, of giving concrete expression to God’s reconciling, healing, life-giving presence and reign. We have been set free for praise and thanksgiving, ultimately free to be ourselves: fallible, forgiven, confident of God’s love, growing in the harvest of the Spirit which is “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control” (Galatians 5:22).
This freedom is something for which we have to work and struggle. It is not the work of a month or year, but it is a long and beautiful road that leads to life. This spiritual freedom is marked by a sense of well-being, self-identify, and inner serenity. “Who am I?” “What is my calling?” and “Where is it leading?” are questions that the spiritually free person can answer peacefully.
This is not just freedom from (leaving things behind), but freedom for discovering the person of Jesus and becoming so consumed with love for him that we are moved to commitment, and to discover in that commitment a new freedom.
Check-in for this silent retreat begins at 3pm. Dinner will be served at 6pm and then the retreat will begin afterwards. Silence will begin at that point also. Dinner on Saturday will not be in silence though, as well as the last meal of the retreat, which is lunch on Sunday. Fr. Tom will celebrate Mass on Saturday and Sunday during this retreat and also hold a time of morning prayer. The rest of the retreat will include a mix of presentation, group dialogue and personal reflection time.
Paulist Father Thomas Ryan, CSP, leads retreats internationally. He is the author of 18 books relating to the spiritual life and marked by a holistic spirituality. He directs the Paulist North American Office for Ecumenical and Interfaith Relations out of Boston, MA.
Born and raised in southern Minnesota, Fr. Tom did his graduate studies in theology at the Washington (D.C.) Theological Union and the University of Geneva. He was ordained a Paulist in 1975, and served in campus ministry at the Ohio State University (Columbus) and at McGill University (Montreal, QC.), prior to directing the Montreal-based Canadian Centre for Ecumenism for 14 years and working in all ten provinces of Canada. Perceiving the need for places where Christians of different traditions could gather to share faith and life with each other as well as with members of other religions, he spearheaded the founding of Unitas in Montreal, an ecumenical center for spirituality and Christian meditation co-sponsored by eight different denominations. He served as its director for five years prior to answering the call of his community in January of 2000 to set up and develop the Paulist Office for Ecumenical and Interfaith Relations. You can read more about Fr. Thomas Ryan here: www.tomryancsp.org