Today’s frenetic lifestyle undoubtedly extracts a toll on one’s physical being and psyche, as Americans are finding it increasingly difficult to maintain a healthy work/personal balance.

Mental health experts constantly stress the need to, in modern parlance, “unplug,” a reference to the torrent of modern gadgets consuming our daily lives.

Often lost in this dialogue is the spiritual health of our own souls, and how that can be nurtured, allowing for the fanatical pace we all try to maintain.

Fortunately, the Catholic Church provides an easy, relatively low cost answer, and that is a retreat of varying length at a retreat house or spirituality center. Traditionally, retreats are either two or three days, although some can be much longer.

However, there are also excellent one-day retreats that are available for those that are time-challenged.

The purpose of a retreat is for devotion, prayer and meditation to grow in one’s spiritual faith. Traditionally, retreats are silent, meaning no talking is allowed while in the retreat house, including at meals.

Silence is required to allow retreatants to spend quiet time with God and to reflect on the messages of the retreat. As part of the retreat, the use of electronic devices, including cell phones, is strongly discouraged, if not downright prohibited. After all, can one really hear God in one ear with the cell phone in the other?

Typically, each retreat includes a daily Mass, and the sacrament of reconciliation is almost always offered.

Some retreats do allow talking away from the main house, but others require silence at all times

Although retreats are relatively new in the church, not being introduced until the 16th century, the model goes back to the 40 days Christ spent in the desert.

The Society of Jesuits was the first religious order to introduce retreats into their practice.

During the 17th century St. Francis De Sales and St. Vincent de Paul heavily promoted retreats and by the 19th century they had become much more popular.

Today, many retreats are specialized, including those for married couples or those whose marriages might be in trouble.

There are several retreat centers in the Diocese of Baton Rouge, including the Bishop Robert E. Tracy Center in Baton Rouge, Manresa House of Retreats in Convent, Rosaryville Spirituality Center in Ponchatoula, Our Lady of the Way Spiritual Life Center in Tickfaw and the St. Joseph Spirituality Center in Baton Rouge.