Friday, 25 January 2013

Another Kraków Retreat

There will be an Anielskie Single retreat in Kraków between October 25 and 27, 2013.  I will tell you the details when I know them. The retreat will be in Polish--although my talks will be predominantly in English, with a simultaneous Polish translation provided--and open to both women and men.

Last May there was one non-Polish speaker besides me at my first Polish retreat, an American girl living in France who speaks fluent French. I thought she was one of the bravest American girls I ever met. To spend a weekend at a religious retreat in Poland surrounded by Poles when you don't speak any Polish is very brave. Fortunately, there was also a Canadian girl there, fluent in both English and Polish, so the American girl had someone to hang out with. Most Polish girls in Krakow speak at least some English, but they are sometimes shy about it. There was also a Polish woman who spoke French very well, so that worked out nicely, too.

Kraków (Cracow in English) is one of the most beautiful cities I have ever seen, so it is well worth a visit although I imagine, from October 25 and 27, we will all kept very busy in the retreat centre. If you do not live in Poland, it would make sense to make the retreat part of a week-long trip to Poland.  Early to mid-October is very beautiful, and November 1st, All Saints Day, is one of the most important holidays in the Polish calendar. Expats fly home to be with their families and decorate family graves. The cemeteries are beautiful, and you just might give up any lingering pagan attachment to Hallowe'en.  

It goes without saying that Poland is one of the nicest places in the world for a Roman Catholic to visit.   Poles tend not to understand this, but they are always happy when foreigners praise Poland. It is full of beautiful churches, and the churches in Kraków and Warsaw are packed on Sundays and Holy Days and First Fridays, although if you exclaim over this, the Poles will tell you that this is nothing and you should have seen them ten years ago, the congregations spilled into the streets, Catholicism in Poland is in decline, woe. They usually haven't a clue what it is like to be Catholic outside Poland.

Poland is also exciting to visit because it is in the EAST. Poles will tell you that it is not in the east but CENTRAL or even in the WEST because it is so westernized now, but once you get on a neglected highway east of Kraków, you will know you are in the EAST. (That said, Warsaw is a lot more EAST than Kraków is.)  

"Wait," I hear a voice cry. "Back up. You said something about the retreat being open to men."

Ah, yes. Ahem. Yes. Yes, it is. And this means poor Auntie has to adjust her thoughts to make them more specifically relevant for men, too, including any with SSA. It will not be like chatting to you girls with the men listening at the door. Presumably they will actually be sitting there and eating with the women and praying among us at Mass. The dynamic will be completely different from last May's retreat, but Father Paweł (whose idea this is) seems perfectly sanguine about it, so I guess it will be okay. I don't know why I am so nervous about it. Oh--just remembered.

Seraphic: And how is your mother?

Polish Man: Why do you want to know?

Seraphic: Um, because it's polite to ask?

Polish Man: British small talk is stupid.

As a matter of fact, a mixed retreat is more usual in Poland than a woman-only retreat, which was then an innovation for the retreat house. And I imagine there will be a good mix in age and circumstances--elderly widowed men, middle-aged divorced men, and youngsters who just don't want to or can't get married right now--so it will not be at all like an American Catholic Singles annual cruise ship party.

(Long pause as I try to imagine myself as a speaker at an American Catholic Singles annual cruise ship party. I bet they get paid hugely. Has anyone been on one? I am dying to know.)

Meanwhile, I plan to be in Poland for at least two weeks in October, so if any Polish readers would like me to come and speak to their group, just contact me. I can read Polish from a prepared text, but otherwise you would need someone to translate.


MaryJane said...

Am I the only one who finds the idea of a Catholic Singles Cruise a little weird? Like the whole thing would be one giant awkward moment since everyone knows that everyone else is *seriously* searching for a spouse? Almost like a never-ending speed-dating trip where everyone is weighing the possibility of everyone else... Of course I've never been, just speculating.

Seraphic said...

I think it would depend on what kind of person you were. If you are a confident, extroverted person it would be a hoot. If, however, you are frightened of meeting strangers, it could be quite painful.

I think the only way I could survive, if I were a young widow, for example, is to not take it very seriously but to be outwardly enthusiastic. I would be embarrassingly frank, too, about the whole husband-hunting aspect, and say many shallow and frivolous things, e.g. "Both my husbands were intellectuals, and now I have come to a stage in my life where I am looking for dumb but cute."

MaryJane said...

LOL - when you put it that way, sign me up!

Rachel said...

I have wonderful memories of the Anielskie Single retreat last May! I am stateside these days, but any of you who are in Europe should go.

M.E.G. said...

Is there any chance of a Seraphic Singles retreat on the western side of the pond? Grand Rapids, MI has some lovely venues (not that I'm biased, or anything).

Seraphic said...

So far nobody has sent me firm plans for Seraphic Singles retreats in the US, but that would be a cool idea.

Anonymous said...

That's great! Greetings from Poland :)