2022 DISCERNMENT RETREAT
| March 17th - 20th |
"Prayer, properly understood, is nothing other than becoming a longing for God.
In Mary this petition has been granted: she is, as it were, the open vessel of longing, in which life becomes prayer and prayer becomes life...The connection between the mystery of Christ and the mystery of Mary...is very important in our age of activism, in which the Western mentality has evolved to the extreme..and that means doing, achieving, results, actively planning, and producing the world oneself, refusing to wait for anything upon which one would thereby become dependent, relying rather, solely on one’s own abilities
This attitude characterizes our whole approach to the Church. We treat the Church almost like some technological device that we plan and make with enormous cleverness and expenditure of energy. What we need, then is to abandon this one-sided…outlook, lest we degrade the Church to a product of our creation and design. The Church is not a manufactured item; she is, rather, the living seed of God that must be allowed to grow and ripen…There can be fruitfulness in the Church only when she has this character, when she becomes holy soil for the Word. We must retrieve the symbol of the fruitful soil.
We must once more become waiting, inwardly recollected people who in the depth of prayer, longing, and faith give the Word room to grow.”
| Cardinal Ratzinger (co-authored with Hans Urs Van Balthasar), from Mary: The Church at the Source,
This year’s retreat is an opportunity for communal prayer, discernment, and fellowship, intentionally structured for community growth. We're looking for prayerful, thoughtful people with a heart for the Eden Invitation community; people open to God’s inspirations, with a desire to seek God’s heart for what’s next.
We're looking for you. Grace passes by way of nature. We think of this process like a church with stained glass windows. Light passes through the intricacies of colored glass to reveal a unique perspective. The Holy Spirit will move through your life and your experiences of Eden Invitation to reveal something to others.
“Corporate discernment is the capacity to recognize and respond to the presence and activity of God as a group…if we are not pursuing the will of God together in fairly intentional ways, what are we doing? Our own will? What seems best according to our own thinking and planning? That which is merely strategic or expedient or good for the ego? Discernment together…opens us to an entirely different reality—the wisdom of God that is beyond human wisdom and is available to us as we learn how to open ourselves to it.”
| Ruth Haley Barton, from Pursuing God’s Will Together: A Discernment Practice for Leadership Groups
| SEEKING GOD TOGETHER |
You’ve probably noticed that Eden Invitation is growing.
Not only are we growing in pure numbers, but we’re expanding in experiences. What started as a direct response to people experiencing same sex desires has expanded to include the broader LGBTQ spectrum. What started as a millennial mission now spans three generational groups. Our members also have diverse states of life—both that they’re coming from and moving towards. And people have always had unique interests, careers, and life goals! Some people want Eden Invitation to be a way station, a stop to process an experience and move on. Others see this community as a source of enduring friendships for the long haul.
Together we want to listen to how God is calling us in that growth:
- If we’re called to beloved unrepeatability, how do we receive the whole person as the community increasingly diversifies?
If we’re called to mutual belonging, how do we grow systems of support when people need different things in different seasons?
If we’re called to joyful hope, how do we empower for creative discipleship across states of life?
Keep in mind, there are two different aspects to Eden Invitation. Both grow simultaneously, and they serve each other in different ways. Here is a helpful distinction for our time together:
OPERATIONAL | Eden Invitation "is" the nuts and bolts of making sure this thing runs. It’s running specific programs, it’s fundraising and Church networking, it’s staying on the good side of the IRS. If you prefer a different metaphor, this is the “bones” of Eden Invitation, the institutional structure. We aren't praying about this. For example, we’re aren’t asking if Eden Invitation should become a for-profit corporation or how many retreats we should run a year.
ORGANIC | Eden Invitation "is" the people who populate the community, building friendships, asking questions, sharing struggles & glory stories, and spontaneously planning prayer & parties. This is the skin, the muscle, the beating heart. We are praying about this. You are praying about this. For example, you might bring curiosities about in what ways those of us in different states of life can better serve and love one another. You might wonder if (or how) God is calling us to evolve our "peer" mentality when our member's ages span 18-58. You might wonder to what degree we (as community) are called to bear witness to the wider Church or LGBTQ community.
See the difference? Operational Eden Invitation has a mission for community. Organic Eden Invitation involves the mission of the community to one another and the wider Church and world. The needs, concerns, and callings of organic Eden Invitation - that will arise on this retreat - will inform operational Eden Invitation, but operational Eden Invitation is not “on the table” for discernment per se.
We’re also not actively discerning questions bigger than Eden Invitation, specifically regarding evolving areas of ethics and pastoral approaches to same sex relationships, maleness & femaleness, transgender persons, etc.. While these topics clearly intersect with our community members - and may arise on retreat - we aren’t trying to categorically “solve” something the Church herself hasn’t spoken on.
And these are some foundational "givens" we'll build on:
Everything definitively proposed by the Catholic Church regarding teaching on faith and morals
Eden Invitation’s mission statement and core values
Eden Invitation's ideological foundation on Christian anthropology and whole person growth
Eden Invitation’s posture of receptivity and “holy ground” regarding other human persons, even those who disagree with us
Eden Invitation’s programatic focus on LGBTQ-experiencing adults
“I’m standing knee deep, but I’m out where I've never been. I feel You coming and I hear Your voice on the wind."
| Jenn Johnson & Bethel, from "In Over My Head"
| PREPARING OUR HEARTS |
This retreat is a time to receive.
Receive the Holy Spirit. Receive a deeper understanding of God's heart for the Eden Invitation community. Receive a sense of place and personal calling for individual members within the Eden Invitation community.
Receptivity requires preparation.
It isn’t passivity—it’s an active listening for the movement of God. Lots of important things in the spiritual life require preparation. Advent prepares us for Christmas, Lent for Easter. Christ gives us constant examples of prayerful preparation, from his forty days in the desert to his routine escapes to solitude on mountainsides. You probably know what it’s like to jolt out of your daily life and into a retreat or vacation. Settling in doesn’t come easy. How often does it take practically half the time to just chill out? We’re inviting you into a preparatory journey in advance. Quiet your heart, quiet your mind, discover new concepts for prayer and thoughtful communal prayer processing. There’s no assumption of mastery here. Everybody has something to receive from the Holy Spirit and to give as an offering to others.
Join us for an "Art of Living" module!
In the weeks leading up to retreat, all Eden Invitation community members are invited to participate in the “Art of Living” series, going deeper on topics related to prayer and discernment. This “Art of Living” module will follow a weekly format, similar to Book Club and first piloted in fall 2020.
DAILY PRAYER | Each week’s reading and prayer guide will be uploaded to a shared digital folder. We recommend that everyone participating in the “Art of Living” set aside 30mn each day for personal prayer. The weekly topics are intended to be incorporated into this daily prayer time 3-4 times per week.
WEEKLY COHORTS | All “Art of Living” participants will be sorted into cohorts based on weekly availability and time zone, as possible. This group will be self-directed, following the discussion prompts provided in the prayer guide.
The “Art of Living” is open to all Eden Invitation community members for personal growth, whether or not you attend this year’s retreat! Due to the unique nature of the retreat, all retreatants are expected to participate in “Art of Living” each week with limited exceptions (due to health, previous commitments, etc.)
Here's what we'll discuss and when:
LIKELY TOPICS | We'll make sure our bases are covered with the prayer methods used on retreat, as well as tips for the discernment of spirits, listening to one another and respectful discussion when opinions diverge, and reflections on the nature of community.
DATES | Week of Sunday, February 6th through Week of March 6th (the week of Sunday, March 13th will include prayer prompts, but no group)
“He who climbs never stops going from beginning to beginning, through beginnings that have no end.”
| St. Gregory of Nyssa, quoted in CCC 2015
| RETREAT DETAILS |
Are you ready for another weekend in the woods? This time you get your own room!
We’ll spend four days and three nights together at a secluded retreat site outside of St. Paul, MN. The days will consist of personal and communal prayer, discussion, along with times for fellowship and celebration! The cost for this event is $375, with optional airport transportation ($50).
Here's a sample full-day schedule:
| MORNING |
8am | Breakfast
9am | Communal Worship, Topic Summary
9:30am | Topical Personal Prayer
10:30am | Discussion (mixed groups)
11:30am | Break
| AFTERNOON |
12:00 | Mass
12:45 | Lunch
3:00 | Communal Worship, Topic Summary
3:30 | Topical Personal Prayer
4:30 | Discussion (mixed groups)
| EVENING |
5:30 | Break
6:00 | Dinner
7:30 | Evening Communal Prayer
8:30 | Evening Social
| NEXT STEPS |
Interested? The next step is to sign up for the "Art of Living" module.
Our location has limited capacity, thus too are sign-ups. Retreat registration will occur in two waves:
Wave 1 | Due to the accompanying experience of the roles, community members who have served on the Relational Support Team can immediately register. See the #relational-support-team Slack thread for the link!
Wave 2 | The third section of the "Art of Living" sign-up includes a retreat interest form. Staff will prayerfully review these submissions after January 23rd (that's the deadline) to fill up the remaining spots. Registration will close on January 31st to ensure that all retreatants can participate in an Art of Living cohort.