In this month’s issue we present the concluding part of Fr. Saa’s article on his home and and former field of apostolate, the Philippines. Father has now settled down to his very different work among our faithful up in Zimbabwe. Part of the work there is giving of Ignatian retreats. Due to the generosity of a benefactor the prior in Harare was able to build a retreat house with rooms for those following the retreat as well as a room for the instructions and meals and a pleasant courtyard complete with fountain.
Down here in the Republic we do not as yet have our own facilities for giving retreats and have to rely on venues more or less suitable. This is a great shame insofar as it deters many from not making what in fact should be a regular retreat.
It is true, of course, that before the Council personal retreats (as opposed to parish missions – themselves another excellent work for the conversion of souls) were by no means common. But it is wrong to see the Society of St. Pius X as merely a nostalgic organisation that would like to pretend that the 1960s didn’t happen and live in our parishes as if we were still under Pius XII. We have to bear in mind that if a crisis occurred in the Church in the 1960s, surely it was being prepared for before that by a certain sentimentality, complacency and simple backsliding in the religious life of both clergy and faithful.
That is why the Society would like to not so much put the clock back but rather restore the practice of the faith to a timeless ideal not just a fossilised one. The retreats are an excellent means for doing this. And though the hiring out of premises makes the cost rather higher than we should like, nonetheless a price cannot be put on the value of these spiritual exercises, particularly in this time of crisis.
People are reluctant to lose money by taking time off work and then moreover to pay for transport to a venue as well as board and lodging (there is, of course, no charge for the essential work of the priests and brothers involved in giving the retreat itself). This means that for mere monetary considerations this indispensable means of sanctification is neglected by all but a few pious souls.
Yet if the fervour of our parishes is to increase it is difficult to see how without retreats playing a big part. Retreats are available in Johannesburg and this year in Durban too so please contact your nearest priory and take the time to prepare for eternity.