Using Videos on Retreat
If you are using video as part of your retreat, it is helpful to do so with some particular preparation.
We are used to using video passively, watching for entertainment or for information. the video content presented on a retreat is in a different context and for a different purpose: you take some time of retreat so that you can carefully and deliberately pay attention to the present seduction of God’s Spirit. Before you watch or retreat video, take some time to prepare the setting and yourself.
Preparing Your Setting
It is often helpful, when on retreat, to pay attention to the surroundings chosen for prayer or reflection. Putting away of distractions, moving to a separate place, lighting a candle, turning off communications devices or putting them on airplane mode are among the ways we prepare ourselves to pay attention to what is really important. A retreat time best begins with an invitation to the Holy Spirit to be present to us, to help us to notice what God is doing.
For it is not so much knowledge that fills and satisfies the soul, but rather the intimate feeling and relishing of things.
Using a video as part of a retreat has all of the evident advantages but may require alertness and discipline not to be distracted by the other things your device can do for you. This following checklist may be helpful:
You will benefit by being prepared to take notes of what strikes you in the presentation; it may be something the presenter says or something of which you are reminded becomes the material for your reflection during your retreat. Your journal may compile your later reflections but your notes “as you go” may record helpful points for later attention.
Be ready to pause the video to allow yourself to consider what you have just heard or to pay attention to what has been prompted in you. if you find that you slip out of "retreat mode" and take issue with something the presenter might have said, a moment's pause will help you to see what is going on in you and what really deserves attention.
Take advantage of the opportunity that the video allows to go back and hear something again. Revisiting material that you have already used may help you to clarify something already understood, bring a new insight or prompt a new response in you. For Ignatius, repetition is an opportunity to pay attention to where you might have "felt has greater consolation or desolation or greater spiritual relish...attention always being given to any more important places where one has experienced new insight, consolation or desolation." (Spiritual Exercises 62, 118)
Although we are used to spending much time with video content, your retreat will be helped if you limit yourself to what is offered for that day. A good retreat is unlikely to involve moving ahead to get through more material or to find something more satisfactory.
Many of the retreat videos propose questions for reflection. You can be ready to choose from these to find one that seems helpful to you. They may be offered at the end of each section in a video or at the end and may be found in the notes accompanying the video - of the page where you watch it on ‘My Manresa’.
Just as going away to nice retreat house does not make a retreat, watching a video is not what it's about either! We hope that the content offered in our video presentations, and the resources and scripture references indicated will serve to bring you to the heart of your retreat – your meeting with God.
Some of our online retreats offer the option of meeting with others either during the time of retreat – if undertaken simultaneously – or occasional online meetings for others who have completed the same retreat. These meetings are often helpful by allowing you to hear how the spirit has moved in others which may reinforce or encourage you to pay attention to what has happened in you. Conversation with a spiritual director or friend may help you to unpack and receive the message that your retreat has offered.