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Christmas Lights


A Restorative Advent Retreat

"Come..let us walk in the light of the Lord."

(Is 2:5)

"The season of Advent gives us the opportunity to practice waiting for the light of Christ's coming into the dark places of our world and our lives.

Advent literally means 'arrival' and the themes of this season sensitize us to the coming of Christ, not just way back in biblical times, but now-

in the places where we long for his presence and need his intervention.

Advent is a season for waking up all the ways Christ comes to us every day.  

This is the spirit of Advent- sweet longing,  joyful preparation, and loving expectation."

-Ruth Haley Barton/Advent Reflections

God is light, and there is no darkness in him at all. (1 John 1:5)

Join us and be ILLUMINATED as we explore the beauty and mystery of the Advent season - and the reality of God's amazing LOVE!  

 “Our spiritual life depends on his perpetual coming to us, far more than on our going to him.  Every time a channel is made for him he comes; every time our hearts are open to him he enters, bringing a fresh gift of his very life, and on that life we depend.  We should think of the whole power and splendor of God as always pressing in upon our small souls.”  - Evelyn Underhill


Restore us, O God;
   let your face shine, that we may be saved.

Psalm 80:3 (NRSV)

The retreat will begin at 6pm on Friday, December 2nd and go through Sunday, December 3rd, 2022 at 1pm.  It will be held at the Joseph & Mary Retreat Center in Mundelein, Illinois.  Open to both men & women. 

The Retreat will include:

  • Music and Nature Walks 

  • Reflections and Guided Meditations

  • Prayer Experiences, Artwork and a "Soaking Prayer Room" 

  • Time for Silence, Rest and Personal Reflection

  • Sunday Morning Worship with Scripture, Music, a Healing of Memories Prayer Experience

  • Saturday Afternoon group time of Holy Therapeutic Yoga

  • A One-on-One private prayer or Spiritual Direction session, if desired.

Why go on a retreat?

"In our increasingly complicated and anxious world,

we need more time to do less and be less."

-Brene' Brown, PhD

"Jesus invites us to be with him, offering our full and undivided attention to him. When we choose to retreat, we make a generous investment in our friendship with Christ. We are not always generous with ourselves where God is concerned. Many of us have tried to incorporate regular times of solitude and silence into the rhythm of our ordinary lives, which may mean that we give God twenty minutes here and half an hour there. And there’s no question we are better for it! But we need more.

Indeed, we long for more.

There has never been a time when the invitation to retreat is so radical and so relevant,

so needed and so welcome.

It is not a luxury, but a necessity of the spiritual life." 

-Ruth Haley Barton, Invitation to Retreat

 “If we don’t come apart for while, we will come apart after awhile.”
–Dallas Willard

(click here to read more on "Why go on Retreat?")









  1. to light up; brighten.

"the lamplight illumined her pale features"

2. enlighten (someone) spiritually or intellectually.

"he assures himself that he is illumined and not deluded"

-Oxford Dictionary

Again Jesus spoke to them, saying,

“I am the light of the world.

Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness,

but will have the light of life.”

John 8:12

"During the season of  Advent, the Church opens Scripture like a trunk stored with articles from her past.  We are asked to look back on the signs and wonders God has worked in order to draw the strength and courage we need while awaiting His return.  

But Christmas is not just the remembrance of something that happened in the past

but the celebration of the way of life to which each one of us is called. 

We bring ourselves before the child to discover the hidden God humbling himself before the human family- naked, weak, hungry, and in need.  If we can see the face of God in the child whose birth we celebrate, then we will see the face of God in the man whose death has set us free, whose blood inebriates our hearts and causes them to sing,

Glory to God in the highest

and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests."

(Luke 2:14, NAB)

-Fr. Gary Caster


Retreat Outline


            4-6pm Arrival, Registration & Relax / Two-Night Retreatants arrive

            6pm Supper, Fellowship & Welcome

            7pm Optional-Tour & History of the Building/Facilities

            8pm *Orientation, Expectations & Entering the Silence

                                    Meditation 1: PREPARE ye and make room, for The LIGHT of the world has come!

                                                              (preparing our hearts /the Invitation)

            9:30pm Compline Evening prayer


            8am Breakfast 

                  8-8:30am Arrival & Registration / One-Night only Retreatants arrive

                                       8:30-9am  *Orientation, Expectations & Entering the Silence / One-Night Retreatants

                   9:30am Meditation 2:  AWAKEN to The LIGHT 

                                                       (The importance of being awake)

                      -One hour Sign-ups for the "Soaking Prayer Room" available throughout the weekend.

   -Individual 45-minute Private Sessions available during the weekend. (Sign-ups will need to be made prior         to the retreat by reservation, and if there are remaining spots still available thereafter, those spots will be         offered during the weekend)

            12pm Lunch

            1pm Mediation 3: TROUBLED in the Light

                                              (the difference between doubt and unbelief)

                     An afternoon of rest, solitude, silence, nature and reflection.        

            4pm Afternoon Session of Holy Therapeutic Yoga - EMBODIED with LIGHT

                                                                                                      (The incarnational reality / God in us)

            6pm Supper

            8pm Meditation 4:  RECEIVING the Light               

                                                           (being vs. doing)

            9:30pm Compline Evening prayer


            8am Breakfast

                 9:30am Meditation 5: HEALING LIGHT

                                                         (His Holy healing Presence & heavenly Perspective)

                               Sunday Morning includes an extended time of worship through music and prayer

            11am *Closing Benediction: Our  "YES"  -Let it be unto me Gratitude & Re-Entry 

                                                                       (the invitation to be LIGHT)

            12-1pm Fellowship Lunch 

            1pm  Packing and Departure (stay as late as 3pm on your own)


All activities offered are optional and retreatants are encouraged to attend what feels life-giving to them during the weekend.  Although, attending the first* and last* sessions are highly recommended, so we do ask you to attend them.

 This retreat will include an extended time of silence.

(minimum of 8 required to hold the retreat, maximum of 12. 

Outline & times subject to change prior)

 Your word is a lamp for my feet,

a light on my path.

Psalm 119:105


A  Three day/two night Retreat - Open to both Men & Women

Reserve your spot today!  Retreat dates are Friday Dec. 6th to Sunday Dec. 8th, 2019 @ the Cardinal Stritch Retreat Center in Mundelein. 

Come unto me,

all ye that labor and are heavy laden,

and I will give you rest!

(Mt 11:28)


What to expect?

A retreat is a sacred time set apart for you to withdraw from worldly life to be with God. This isn't a conference or social gathering, but time away to deepen your relationship with God.  There will be time to stop, breathe, listen, experience the present moment, smell the crisp clear air and embrace more fully that God has sent His Son for you and He desires to abide with you today, even while we await His return.

This time away will be anchored in the Scriptural readings & themes of Advent; anticipation, waiting, longing, hope, wilderness and Presence. We'll look to see your story within God's story and how this can help orient us in a seemingly dark time of our own world history.  

Through times set aside for individual reflection, Scripture meditation, prayer, contemplative practices, walks in nature, music, rest, art and guidance (if needed) we hope to assist you in talking, listening and simply being with the Lord. 


 Our hope is this time away refreshes your soul, clarifies life choices and deepens your communion & love for the Lord.

For more on why go on a retreat? click here.

My sheep listen to my voice;

I know them, and they follow me

John 10:27


Option #1- This Full package includes everything: Two nights in a private room w/your own bathroom, all 6 meals (D,B,L,D,B,L), all materials, an Advent booklet to take home, a small journal, a beautiful art piece, a soaking prayer room experience and your fully guided retreat- complete with meditations, spiritual exercises and meaningful prayer times. 


This package also includes a One-on-One Prayer Session (or Spiritual Direction) with Cecilia, if desired & reserved prior and a group time Saturday afternoon of Holy Therapeutic Yoga.  

Your time away begins with Friday night's fellowship dinner at 6pm (but come as early as 4pm to skip the traffic, get settled in your room & start relaxing).  The retreat ends Sunday at 1pm after our fellowship lunch (but stay as late as 3pm to further enjoy the gorgeous campus).  

Total cost $350

(please don't let the cost prohibit you from coming, reach out and let us know what you are able to pay and also invite those that love you to offer some assistance as a Christmas gift! What could be a better gift then tending to your soul!)


This is the best way to go! - you won't regret taking advantage of this full weekend option, for most people it takes a good 24 hours to begin to unwind and quiet the mind.  Invest in yourself, your health, your spiritual and mental well-being.  Devote this time to your relationship with God, the giver of life. This option allows you time to really breath deeply, time to take a leisurely walk and enjoy the beautiful campus, allows time to clear the mental clutter -and with the guidance given- you'll receive help in hearing from and being with the only One that can heal & restore your soul, renew your mind, comfort your heart and bring you Peace.

Option #2- This package includes: One night in a private room w/your own bathroom, 4 meals (L,D,B,L), materials and guided retreat meditations, a soaking prayer room experience, a beautiful art piece, spiritual exercises and sacred prayer reflections. This package includes a One-on-One Prayer Session (or Spiritual Direction), if desired & reserved prior and a group time Saturday afternoon of Holy Therapeutic Yoga.  


 This option also allows time for a walk in nature, includes a small journal and take home Advent booklet to extend your retreat experience once you return home. 

Your time away begins Saturday Morning at 8am, (eat breakfast before you come) and ends Sunday at 1pm after our closing fellowship lunch (but stay as late as 3pm to enjoy the beautiful grounds). 

Total cost $250 

(please don't let the cost prohibit you from coming, reach out and let us know what you are able to pay and also invite those that love you to offer some assistance as a Christmas gift! What could be a better gift then tending to your soul!)

This is a great option if coming the whole weekend isn't available to you.  

 St John of the Cross said that "Silence was God's first language"

There is an extended time of silence all day Saturday for all retreatants. 

Yes, you're welcome!

Please contact us for more information.  You can register by emailing a commitment to  and by making a non-refundable 1/2 deposit.

(Half deposits are: $175 for the Full retreat, $125 for the One-night option, this will secure your spot - or simply pay in full. Fees are non-refundable.)

Registration is Now Open!

(to avoid paypal fees;

try Zelle/Chase Quickpay, Venmo or ApplePay

or mail a check)


Jesus said to them,

`Come away with me. Let us go alone to a quiet place and rest for a while.'

Many people were coming and going. They could not even eat.

So they went away in a boat to a lonely place by themselves.

Mark 6:31-32

The purpose of this retreat is to offer extended times of quiet, listening, and reflection to hear and experience a deepening of your relationship with the Lord; in a small sacred community of like-minded disciples of Jesus.   There is an extended time of silence requested and offered, to be received as a gift for all those attending.


A Refreshing Advent Retreat called -  "ILLUMINE" from Friday to Sunday, Dec. 6th-8th, 2019 (this retreat is open to men and women)

Sign up today! Make your non-refundable 1/2 deposit reserve your spot or pay in full above (use drop down arrow to see other options or avoid Paypal 3% fees by paying by check or Venmo, ChaseQuickpay or ApplePay)

WHERE: This retreat is held at the Joseph & Mary Retreat Center, Formally known as Cardinal Stritch Retreat House in Mundelein, IL on the beautiful campus of St. Mary's of the Lake.

To register simply email us your commitment and mail your deposit check or payment via Zelle/Chase pay, Venmo or ApplePay.


A New Year -Retreat Day for Reflection

Mark your calendars for Saturday January 11th, 2020

A Lenten Weekend Retreat (more info coming soon)

Mark your calendars for  Feb. 21st-23rd, 2020

Please contact us if the fee is an issue, we often have scholarships


We also graciously receive any donations for scholarships as well.

Thank you!

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