Retreat is a term we do not like. We think of it as failing or quitting, with an accompanying sense of shame. Surrender, which of course is linked to retreat, is also very difficult.
But it is to the ideal of surrender that we are called in the spiritual life. We are called to retreat. We are not to be like Ulysses S. Grant, who famously wrote in May 1864 to the War Department of his plans to do anything but retreat against Lee's army. "I propose to fight it out on this line if it takes all summer," he said. Christ surrender on the cross. So too are we.
There are many inspiring examples of retreat in the history of the church. Look at Luigi and Marie Beltrame Quattrocchi, a married couple with four children, who were beatified in 2001 by Pope John Paul II.
Luigi and Marie were quite prominent. Luigi was the assistant attorney general of Italy and Marie, who volunteered with the Red Cross, lectured on behalf of Women's Catholic Action. In Marie's fourth pregnancy, she and her unborn child were given a five percent chance of survival. Marie surrendered to God. She made retreat to the Lord and made an act of trust, and her daughter, Enrichetta, was born safely.
The Quattrocchi's continued their posture of surrender during WWII, when they opened their apartment to refugees. The Congregation for the Causes of Saints wrote of them in the testimony for their canonization, "they made their family an authentic house church, open to life, prayer, witness of the gospel, the social apostolate, solidarity with the poor, and friendship."
Among the thousands of people at the beatification ceremony were the Quattrocchi children, three of whom had become priests or religious. God does provide.