Four elements make up a retreat: preaching, personal meditation, the counsel of the priest, and the sacraments.
The preaching, or the “conferences” permit an understanding of doctrine. Their primary role is to nourish the faith.
The meditations follow the conferences. Their role is to nourish the virtue of charity.
Invocations are provided to help retreatants enter into this conversation with God which speaks quite easily into the free time of the retreat, into reading time or walks and which will become a good habit after the retreat is over.
The counsel of the priest. The third element, quite personal and adapted to each individual, is the conversation of the retreatants with the priest who are at their disposition though the retreat. Whether in the role of counselor or physician, the priest is always a father. With his help, the retreatants works through his difficulties, makes a resolution, discovers the wisdom of divine Providence, or is quite simply reassured that everything is on the right tract. This is where the virtues of prudence comes into play: each one must discover God’s will and make resolutions in order to do that will.
Finally, the fourth element is the sacraments. First and foremost is Holy Communion, the wealth of which is incalculable and even infinite since it contains not just grace, but the Author of grace. We actually enter with Him, with God, Into a common union, into “communion.” What great wealth it is to have five days of complete intimacy in which to strethen that union. We begin to understand better what is the importance of the sacrament of penance, which opens our heart to such wealth and enlarges it that we may better share with others.