Jesus asks us to spend time with each other

2 mins read
retreat
Summer retreat at Malvern Retreat House. Godsplaining/Facebook screengrab

For several years now, “Godsplaining” — the podcast I co-host with several of my Dominican brothers — has been hosting a summer retreat. The most recent weekend at Malvern Retreat House outside Philadelphia saw over 100 listeners joining us, each adding unique experiences to the mix. This year we focused on the role of the Holy Spirit in Christian life, reading together Archbishop Luis Martinez’s spiritual classic, “The Sanctifier.”

I’ve grown to love these retreats. They’re exhausting and demanding weekends. But all the hassle is well worth it.

“We need each other. And not only that, we need to be with each other. It’s not inefficient. It’s not unproductive. It’s the only thing.”

I’ve gotten to know a number of participants quite well since they’ve returned year after year. These annual check-ins with listeners from all over the United States (shoutout to the Houston crew!) are a special expression of community and friendship. We share not only the weekend’s moments of prayer and programming but also the important catch-ups about life, sharing our joys and hopes, our griefs and anxieties.

An invitation to fraternity

I also love the weekends because they’re time with my Dominican brothers. We have a few team members who help us out — without them, this project wouldn’t be possible — but most of the weekend is on us. We serve Mass for each other, introduce each other’s talks, get to hear one another preach and jump in to set up hospitality, just to name a few things. It’s not fancy, but it’s ours. It’s a shared work. It’s a labor of love.

Godsplaining/Facebook screengrab photos

And I think our friends see that. They see our friendship on display. We laugh and tease and cruise around in golf carts and sit by the fire. They’re invited into our fraternity. Our friendship is not just something they see and revel in but something they’re invited into.

And what’s so interesting is that the people who come, come from all walks of life. Some are young adults, some are much older. I really think Pope Francis would love the sight of the young and the old praying and sharing life together.

Some are cradle Catholics, but many are converts. In fact, each year, we meet people who have entered the Church and were helped in their journey by the podcast. It’s a humbling thing. Last year, one retreatant made his second Communion ever during our retreat. He had just been received into the Church a week previously. This year, a young man came who will be confirmed this fall. He’s not even Catholic yet, and he spent the weekend with us in prayer and conversation.

The Gospel’s message

All of this is to say that perhaps the thing we do best as Christians is simply to spend time together. There are many ways that Jesus could have made his ministry more efficient. In Our Lord’s own time, the Romans had structures and systems for getting messages out. He’s the God of the universe. He could have used those if he wanted.

But instead, what he wanted was for us to come together. In one of my favorite passages from “The Dialogue of St. Catherine of Siena,” God the Father says to Catherine, “I could well have supplied each of you with all your needs, both spiritual and material.” Particular gifts and virtues are given to some but not others. The Father concludes, “But I wanted to make you dependent on one another so that each of you would be my minister, dispensing the graces and gifts you have received from me.”

We need each other. And not only that, we need to be with each other. It’s not inefficient. It’s not unproductive. It’s the only thing. We might well sum up the Gospel by saying, Jesus asks us to spend time with each other, to love one another.

Father Patrick Briscoe

Father Patrick Briscoe, OP, is a Dominican friar and the editor of Our Sunday Visitor. Along with his Dominican brothers, he is host of the podcast Godsplaining and a co-author of "Saint Dominic’s Way of Life: A Path to Knowing and Loving God." He is also the author of the OSV seasonal devotional, "My Daily Visitor."