The Three Most Important Days of My Year


Jesuit Retreat House, Demontreville

You may think I am referring to birthdays, holidays or vacations, but that is not the case…..I am referring to the three days I go on a silent retreat at the Demontreville Jesuit Retreat House in Lake Elmo, Minnesota, a few miles northeast of St. Paul.

As I mentioned in my blog post last December (“Why December is My Favorite Month“), I started attending these retreats more than 30 years ago with my father-in-law, Tom Jansen. I fly or drive from Chicago to Minnesota EVERY YEAR — yes, every year. You make be thinking (or wondering), “Does Harry keep silent for three days?????…It seems he cannot keep quiet for 3 minutes!!!!”

Yes, I do keep silent….it is key to the process. This is what “self reflection” is really all about….turning off the noise and gadgets and taking the time to think about what is REALLY important in your life.

This year our retreat leader was Father Casey Beaumier, the Director of the Institute for Advanced Jesuit Studies at Boston College. He did an amazing job of getting us to truly reflect on what is really important in our lives…are we truly living the lives we are called to live based on our Christian spirituality?

While on the retreat, I had the opportunity to reread one of my favorite books, “Mere Christianity”, by C.S. Lewis. Many of you know him as the author of “The Chronicles of Narnia”.

“Mere Christianity” is based on a series of speeches that Lewis gave on the radio in London during the second World War: “Broadcast Talks” (1942); “Christian Behavior” (1943); and Beyond Personality” (1944). His goal was to “explain and defend the belief that has been common to nearly all Christians at all times.” I love this quote from the New York Times Book Review:

“C.S. Lewis is the ideal persuader for the half-convinced, for the good man who would like to be a Christian but finds his intellect getting in the way.”

Happy Holidays!


  • I discovered silent retreats at Bellarmine 2 years ago and am competely hooked. Such a gift.


  • Pingback: Time Again for a Few “Really Important Questions” | Harry Kraemer on Leadership

  • Harry, I knew in a minute what you were referring to — the 3 days! I was always impressed that you took the time, especially near Christmas, to do that devotion. And, when you returned and I found your notes in your “out” basket ready for filing, I made myself a copy (with your o.k.) I’ve been a life-long Lutheran and when my oldest son was in the youth group at our church and we were all very engaged with our kids, our pastor at the time quoted C.S.Lewis in his sermons many times. Small world — or not! Happy holidays to you and yours for now and all times!
    Betty Stewart


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