Joy Within Reach - Retreat


"Sometimes we are tempted to find excuses and complain..." To some extent this is because our "technological society has succeeded in multiplying occasions of pleasure, yet has found it very difficult to engender joy".  (Pope Francis, Evangeli Gaudium, 7)

The happiest people don't have the best of everything, they make the best of everything.  Anyone can be happy when things go their way.  As Jesus said, "...even Gentiles and sinners do as much."  And only being happy when I get my way is the worst way to go through life because it is so fleeting an experience. Joy is different.  For joyful people, the weather on the outside does not affect the weather on the inside.  Their source of satisfaction comes from some place deeper.  When I am en-joying life I am tapping an inner source for satisfaction.  At such times, very little can bother me just as the temperature at just a few feet underground never changes despite the weather or temperature above.  That is because the source of my comfort comes from deep within.

Joy is not reducible to physical or emotional satisfaction.  A life devoted to satisfaction of the externals is a self-absorbed life.  One of the most ecstatic moments in my life was at the birth of my first son.  It was after a very difficult pregnancy and the culmination of two days assisting my wife labor to give birth to my first child.  I have never been so exhausted, and never so joyous.

On the other hand, when I lack joy, it is as if I am suffering from a spiritual cold and the least change in temperature around me makes me feel chilled and the slightest irritation can make me restless, even miserable.  The smallest thing can disturb me.  People's behavior annoys me and I am not at peace unless I get what I want.  It is at such times that I waste significant energy and time, which is my only true possession, trying to control people and circumstances which are completely out of my control.   When I am that ill-at-ease (dis-eased), I am miserable, and I spread that discontent, and I inflict my suffering on everyone with whom I come in contact like a disease.

Being at peace even when things do not go my way, or I do not get what I want, is a sign of en-joying life.  This is a joy that is within reach for all people.

Participants in the Joy Within Reach retreat will:
  • Engage the Christian cause for hope
  • Encounter the presence of God in one's own life story
  • Expand one's sense of meaning, belonging and strength
  • Examine Pope Francis' message - The Joy of the Gospel

In short, participants will experience renewed faith.


Each session will provide time for - prayer, witness, reflection and personal direction and provide opportunities for continued spiritual growth online.  The retreat has three sessions.
  1. Meaning Within Reach - What on earth am I here for?  Consider the personal wants, needs, priorities and the non-negotiable that define our lives - in short our vocation.  Joy comes from meaning and happiness comes from joy.  Meaning is the fire within that is described so powerfully by Victor Frankl author of Man's Search for Meaning.  Meaning is a spiritual energy that generates joy.
  2. Belonging Within Reach - To whom do I belong?  With whom can I share my hopes and fears? Where does God really fit into my life?  What is the connection between a "Real" holiness and wholeness?  Giving oneself over to God is a choice for mercy, healing and spiritual wholeness. Belonging is a source of joy.
  3. Strength Within Reach - Christians are not better than anyone else but they do draw from a wellspring that is deeper than anyone else.  They simply enjoy greater resources for joy.  The lives of Catholics are marked by a paschal character which is renewed in the Sabbath.  A paschal life is guided, strengthened and transformed by the Spirit. The Spirit fills us with joy.


Joy Within Reach can be conducted on: three consecutive evenings during the same week, on the same evening for three consecutive weeks or an all-day Saturday session and ending with the first regularly scheduled weekend liturgy.   Sessions are typically 60 minutes, but it can be 90 minutes if time allows for a prayer service and personal witness.  The talents of parishioners are welcome and encouraged (e.g. lector, music direction, or even a personal witness).

For more information or to schedule a Joy Within Reach retreat,
contact: Office for Evangelization and Parish Life 
(716) 847-8393