An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church


A period of time, in a “place apart” from daily life and work, which normally includes silence, reflection, and may include some form of still, meditative prayer which may be combined with brief periods of activity and study. Retreats often focus on particular themes of the church year. Retreats may be communal, though they can also be individual and undirected or unstructured. The concept of retreat has its roots in the scriptural injunction to withdraw to a quiet, lonely place as Christ did periodically. The practice of making retreats is also based in the monastic tradition of structured time for silence and contemplation to balance the spiritual life between the contemplative way of life and the active way of life. The retreat movement reached a twentieth-century high point after World War II in the 1940s and 1950s. It became popular again in the 1990s with the growing interest in meditation, spirituality and the holistic health movements. Many religious orders sponsor retreats, as do diocesan retreat and conference centers.

Glossary definitions provided courtesy of Church Publishing Incorporated, New York, NY,(All Rights reserved) from “An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church, A User Friendly Reference for Episcopalians,” Don S. Armentrout and Robert Boak Slocum, editors.