Light-Life Movement Retreats
Oasis retreas are an instrument that helps to achieve Christian maturity, the primary aim of formation in the Light-Life Movement. Such a retreat provides an experience of Christian life. Sometimes the term "experiential retreat" is used, however, the key notion here is an existential experience and not an emotional experience. The emotional experience is only one of the elements.
The fundamental form of retreats in the Movement are long 15-day retreats. Why fifteen days? Because that is the number of the joyous, sorrowful and glorious mysteries of the Rosary (when these retreats came into being the luminous mysteries had not been added yet). The "long retreats" have several "layers" in their horizontal dimension, and the most important one is the liturgical year. (one may say that it is the liturgical ywar in a nutshell). The Rosary helps organize and re-live in a way the fundamental truths of the Christian life. Each day the participants of the retreat contemplate another mystery concerning the life and deeds of Jesus. After such a retreat one treats the Church (and Church ceremonies) in a completely new way. Such an “instant course of the Church” is one of the aims of this retreat.
It is true that there is a lot of prayer during those two weeks. The Holy Mass (the Eucharistic Assembly) is the central point of each day. Each day begins with prayer (in more advanced groups it is often the Liturgy of the Hours) and ends with prayer (often a celebration of some kind) in order to deepen the relationship with Jesus. It demands time and sound spiritual training.
The latter demands intensive practice, entering a “spiritual gym”. The basic set of exercises includes a small group meeting during which the Oasis participants read the Bible and Church documents and share their faith and their thoughts. One should mention also the “instruction” in liturgy or music and the time devoted to personal Bible meditation (called the Tent of Meeting prayer). All this is aimed at knowing Jesus better, increasing one’s faith and understanding the beauty of the Church.
Certainly an Oasis participant does not lay prostrate before the cross in church all the time. Evenings are a special time for integration and building relationships with the others: camp fires, dances, joyful games. We spend time quality time together. It is very important in the world in which building relationships and bonding is increasingly difficult. These bonds may be developed not only during games and rest but also while working together because only then one can see how much joy may be found in trivial activities like washing up, cleaning or peeling potatoes…
And finally, one may find God in nature, but only when they keep their eyes wide open. The Oasis retreats are often held in the mountains as the mountains seem to be somewhat closer to God – either on the arduous way to the summit when one has to overcome their own weakness or, once at the top when one can ponder the beauty of the created world. We may also spend two weeks with the Creator at the seaside – and praise Him at sunrise and sunset while walking along the beach and listening to the roar of the waves. And who said that we cannot deepen our faith in the desert of a huge city, among its citizens and tourists; visiting churches and monasteries, and also people – both clergy and laity – who have influence on the spiritual atmosphere of the city jungle?
The fifteen-day retreat is a kind of a “spiritual spa”, and taking part in it strengthens our faith and can be compared to charging our spiritual batteries. The best way is to do it is step by step – first meeting God in His Word, then in liturgy and sacraments and finally in the community of the Church – that is why the movement has level three levels of participation. It is good to come back to retreats as an animator, a group leader or perhaps as a spouse. The program at each life-stage is similar, no matter for whom the retreat is meant. This program is Jesus and you.