Do not refuse one another except perhaps by agreement for a season, that you may devote yourselves to prayer …

1 Corinthians 7:5

Saint Paul was an eminently practical man. Indeed, the Christian life itself is eminently practical. This is to say that Christianity is not a system of abstract beliefs, nor is it an idea or a philosophy. Rather, Christianity is a practice; it is a way of living and being in the world. Of course, this not only includes our thoughts and beliefs, but also our emotions, words, and actions. Further, it is a practice that grows out of, and deeper into, a relationship. It is like a marriage, a relationship of joy, for sure, but one that requires vigilance, fidelity, stability, and care. The aim of the Christian way is to synchronize our whole lives and selves with the life of God in Christ through the Holy Spirit. At the heart of this endeavor stands the beauty and verity of Eucharistic worship in the bosom of the Church. At the heart of the Eucharistic liturgy stands the vision of God, our unification with him in the secret depths of noetic or contemplative prayer.

 

While the Christian faith is tested and verified in the practicalities of daily life—most palpably so in our relationships with one another and all the other beings of God’s creation—we must at times withdraw from these practicalities if we are really to be practitioners of the Christian faith. Along with the mutual self-offering shared between husbands and wives, such periods of withdrawal are what Saint Paul had in mind in the passage cited above.

 

Withdrawal from the world, reigning in and cutting off our ties to the things of this world that are passing away, is not solely the task of monks and nuns. It is the duty of every Christian. For all Christians, the heart of our life is angelic. The spiritual must govern and guide what is fleshly; the eternal must govern and guide the temporal; the kingdom that is to come must govern and guide the kingdoms of this world. Saint Paul takes for granted that married couples, as well as celibates and widows, will withdraw from the responsibilities and pressures of their lives for periods of prayer. As householders living and working in the modern world, the responsibilities and pressures that we feel are immense. All the more does this give us good reason to break free of them for a time.

 

For a householder to carve out time to pray is not an easy task. It takes a great deal of ascetical fortitude to steal a little time to do so. It takes a great deal of finagling and sacrifice, especially for other members of the family, to get away on retreat.

 

Located in the beautiful Catskill Mountains of New York State, Cloud-Bearing Mountain Christian Retreat and Training Center is a place set apart to meet the needs of Christian householders who, within their own contexts, are fighting for their salvation and that of the whole world as Christ’s soldiers and disciples. The spiritual training that we provide is geared specifically towards their needs. We are a place where such people can enter into a deeper, more concerted practice of Christian prayer, honing the discipline necessary for a vital and active prayer life in the throes of the modern world, a prayer life that is not merely exterior, but contemplative at heart and that cuts to the spiritual sources of sin.

 

Cloud-Bearing Mountain Christian Retreat and Training Center has been established specifically to provide householders—that is, married Christians living and working in the world—with a place where they can come and enter into disciplined, sustained periods of prayer and withdrawal from the world. The context is safe and guided. At the same time, the teachings and practices exercised here are geared towards the specific needs of Western people who are not, and cannot ever be, a monk or a nun.

 

Taking seriously the eminently practical Saint Paul, we invite you to withdraw for a time to devote yourself to prayer, that you may grow into the fullness of Christ, and Christ may grow in you. To him be glory, unto ages of ages.