My unexpected inner-healing journey- questions and activities

Rebecca Lerve 24 November 2021

Read My unexpected inner-healing journey (from the Summer 2021 edition of Australian Catholics) and take part in the following questions and activities. 

Read My unexpected inner-healing journey (from the Summer 2021 edition of Australian Catholics) and take part in the following questions and activities. 


  1. What is a ‘religious retreat’?
  2. How would you describe the author’s attitude at the start? The end?
  3. What was the author feeling ‘conviction’ about?
  4. Which saint’s works influence the Vincentian Congregation?
  5. Does the author recommend attending a religious retreat? Why?



12 days of Christmas self-care
What does self-care mean to you? When we consider whole-self-care, we can consider the emotional, social, physical and spiritual aspects of our being. Set aside some time, maybe 15 minutes or an hour for the 12 days leading up to Christmas. What kind of self-care activities could you plan for yourself in this lead-up to Christmas? How are you going to address all the parts of your being across these 12 days?

Here are some ideas to get you started:

  • Emotional self-care: do a Christmas-themed colouring in, make some Christmas craft, listen to your favourite music or carols, stick encouraging notes around the house for you and your family, take a long bubble bath.

  • Social self-care: start a secret-Santa group with your friends and organise a lunch to swap gifts, invite a friend over to help you cook and eat a meal, host a games night (online or in-person), have a theme night (book club, poetry reading, improv drama, historical document discussion, art-making), go for a walk or a bike-ride in nature with a friend.

  • Physical self-care: set yourself a holiday bed-time and prioritize sleep, follow along an online Pilates or stretch routine, try some new vegetables or a new balanced meal you haven’t tried before, make your own dance routine to your favourite Christmas carols.

  • Spiritual self-care: read some articles about the spiritual side of Christmas and Advent, pick a favourite saint and research their life or read their biography, spend time reaching out to God while sitting in silence, spend some time kneeling in Adoration before the Tabernacle or the exposed Eucharist at your local church, say a prayer for each person on your Christmas present list.

(Alternative excercise: Develop a 'Summer holidays' self-care list, outlining 12 things people can do during the December-January summer holiday break in order to care for their emotional, social, physical and spiritual wellbeing). 

Find a retreat for your summer holidays:
Research religious retreats near you. What kind of retreats can you find? Are there any retreats you could attend over the summer holidays? Do you feel called to any retreats or to spend some time with a religious community? Perhaps there is a day program happening at a local well-being centre, youth centre or parish near you that could be a retreat for you?

Imagine inner-healing:
Imagine this author’s experience. What kind of experiences do you think she had on the retreat? How do you think she has changed? How do you think you would change if you encountered inner-healing? What would this kind of inner-healing look like in your life? Write a first-person account of her journey, or write an account of your own inner-healing journey – real or imagined.

Christmas forgiving
It can be hard to forgive people who have hurt us. Like our author found, forgiveness led her to inner-healing. When we have unforgiveness, it is like drinking poison to hurt the other person – it only hurts us. Here are a few Bible verses to read to think over whether there is anyone you would like to forgive, to turn the Christmas giving into Christmas forgiving as a gift to yourself.

  • Ephesians 4:32 “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you."

  • Matthew 6:14 “For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.”

  • Matthew 18:21 “Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, 'Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?' Jesus answered, 'I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.'”

  • Mark 11:25 “And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.”

  • Hebrews 8:12 “For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.”

  • Proverbs 17:9 “Love prospers when a fault is forgiven, but dwelling on it separates close friends.”



Self-care activity slips
Bring students together and explain that God wants us to take care of our whole selves, and when these get out of balance, we can feel sad or lonely or bored or have too much unused energy bouncing around inside. Have a basket of activities written on slips of coloured paper at the front of the room – one colour for physical, emotional, social and spiritual. (For an advanced class, students can help you make the activities). Ask students to take one activity, and when they have finished to take another one of a different colour until they have completed an activity from each colour. Bring students back to the circle and lead a prayer to thank God for all the great ways we can take care of ourselves.

Some activity ideas:

  • physical – jump on the spot five times, do three push-ups, skip in a circle around the room.

  • emotional – tell someone how you feel today, choose the picture that represents how you feel today, sing your favourite song.

  • social – have a conversation at the conversation table

  • spiritual – sit quietly with your eyes closed for two minutes, say a prayer, do some quiet colouring in

A letter to God
Explain to students that even though we can ask Santa for Christmas presents at Christmas, we can ask God to help us and our families with things we need. Explain that sometimes these things aren’t physical, but might be help in difficult situations, to bring more people into their lives if they are lonely, or to feel loved. Invite students to sit in silence for a few minutes and think about what they would like to ask God for their lives and for the life of someone they care about. Get the students to write this in a letter to God, and have a post-box for the letters to go in.