The Unsheltered Heart: An At-Home Advent Retreat

The Unsheltered HeartNew for Advent 2011 (Cycle B), this at-home, self-directed retreat follows the same widely praised format used in the initial volume published in 2010. Inspired by the author’s ministry with Portland, Oregon’s most marginalized people and based on the Sunday gospel readings (included), this Advent booklet is unique in its profound challenge to find Christ in the disarming presence of the poor.

In the tradition of Thomas Merton, Henri Nouwen, and Mother Teresa, Ronald Patrick Raab, C.S.C., writes from the depths of his own conversion experiences. Living and working among some of the poorest and most marginalized people of Portland, Oregon, Raab struggles with the meaning of the Incarnation in today’s fractured world and with his own calling to promote the Gospel message of justice. His narrative style unsettles, challenges, and enlightens, yet in the end offers the hope of Christ dwelling among us.

This retreat is based on the Sunday gospel readings for Advent 2011 (Cycle B) and the life-anchoring lessons Raab has gleaned from them. The Unsheltered Heart provides a simple four-step process for each day of Advent that includes the gospel reading, personal reflections, commentaries, prayers, writing prompts, and spaces to journal for each day. A guide for small-group use is available for free download.

Order your copy of Father Ron’s latest book today.

Review – The Unsheltered Heart: An At-Home Advent Retreat

by Linda Showman,
U.S. Catholic – November 29, 2010

At first glance, the title of this book is not the most enticing approach to a retreat: Does one not enter into a retreat with the purpose of finding calm and peace? Don’t we expect the results of reflection to be direction, comfort, protection, even answers from God? Shelter from heartbreak is the very thing we seek when approaching God.

Father Ronald Raab, C.S.C., works from the premise that the slings and arrows, the sufferings of life shut down the heart, cover it, close it to fend off further wounds. This all-too-human response, however, also closes it to love—love of God, love of neighbor. He suggests that through the difficult process of exposing the heart, we can recover our ability to receive the love of Jesus and others, and to give love in return.

This retreat is meant to move during Advent toward the celebration of complete Love revealed in the Incarnation, so that we might hope to obtain authentic direction, comfort, protection, and answers from God by assuming this intentional place of vulnerability.

Raab presents a workable structure. He sources the retreat in scripture and exhorts the practitioner to read and reflect upon the Cycle A gospel readings of Advent for a given Sunday. He assists the process with significant imperatives as steps for each day: “Welcome the Stranger Called Silence, Discover Your Story Within the Word, Connect to the Waiting World, Respond to the Cry of the Prophets, and Pray.

He offers assistance through his own thoughts, providing examples for honest self-reflection in light of the gospel. Raab contributes interpretations of the prophets, while offering prompts with specific directions for thought and action. Practically, the format is very clear, with space for writing for each day in response to his guidance. His instructions lend themselves to faithful daily practice and the “pamphlet” sizing makes the entire retreat self-contained and easily managed.

Linda Showman is the Associate Director of Pastoral Formation, Mount Angel Seminary in St. Benedict, Oregon.

Webinar – The Unsheltered Heart

The Unsheltered Heart: Exploring the Spiritual Riches of Advent with Fr. Ronald Patrick Raab, C.S.C.

Advent is a new beginning for all people. It is a time to awaken within us a deep desire Christ’s presence and to awaken our hearts to God’s faithfulness. Join Fr. Raab for an hour of guided reflection on how to prepare your own heart to be unsheltered, open, vulnerable, and free

In partnership with the National Association for Lay Ministry, the National Association of Catholic Chaplains, JustFaith Ministries, and the National Association for Catechetical Leadership, Ave Maria Press presents a series of free, live webinars on professional development for Catholic ministers. Take a break from the professional track this month with Fr. Ronald Patrick Raab, C.S.C., of the Downtown Chapel in Portland, Oregon, to refresh your own spirituality in preparation for the Advent season!

This webinar originally aired live on Tuesday, November 2, 2010 at 3:00pm EDT. To learn more about the Ave Maria Press Professional Development Webinar series please visit our website at