“Everyday Holiness: New Growth”
Our first “Spirituality Saturday” gathering happened last Saturday here at St. Francis Retreat House. Twenty-seven of us began the morning with coffee, donuts, and Danish coffee cake; and it was delightful to see the conversations taking hold among all. We then began with prayer and a conversation about what our hopes were for this prayerful morning together. A consensus surfaced that we all were looking to draw closer to God, but we wanted to do this within community.
Thus we began to reflect on some of the new ways of picturing God, ourselves, and the cosmos we share by looking at some reflections by Fr. Karl Rahner, SJ, Fr. Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, SJ, and Dr. Alejandro Garcia-Rivera. We began by looking at Fr. Rahner’s insights about us as “human knowers and lovers,” as ones “questing” for greater meaning and understanding of our lives and of the world in which we live. We human persons are “spirit in the world,” finite creatures with infinite capacity and longing, who are “in the world and on the way to God.” We are made for communion with one another, with creation and with the One who is “Gracious Mystery,” the horizon of our searching and longing. As Meister Eckhart, a medieval theologian, says: “We are swimming in the presence of God.”
We then looked to the writings of Dr. Alejandro Garcia-Rivera, Professor of Systematic Theology, Jesuit School of Theology, Berkeley, CA, which build upon the work of Fr. Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, SJ. Dr. Garcia-Rivera offers us a new paradigm of “beauty” as a way to enter into understanding the meaning of our cosmos. He explains that our “cosmos” is more than an ordered universe, it is a beautifully shaped unity by our loving God. We live not just in a physical universe, but we live in an “enchanted place,” one where God is deeply present and at work. The “two hands of God” (Christ and the Spirit) are shaping an ever new cosmos, and we are invited to be co-creators with God to cultivate the beauty in our midst.
Following these reflections, we looked at various types of prayer like Lectio Divina, Visio Divina, Centering Prayer, Journaling, Sacred Walking, Sacred Gazing, the Rosary, and Spiritual Direction.
After this first hour, the second hour was a contemplative one open for the participants to go to spiritual direction, to pray before the Blessed Sacrament, to participate in the Sacrament of Reconciliation, or to walk on the retreat grounds alone or with a companion. We then re-assembled in the Upper Room to “gather the blessings” of this morning and to weave our reflections together. We all were taken by the grace of this morning, and we hope to do this again in the coming months.
Fr. Henry B. Beck, OFM / June 5, 2018
St. Francis Retreat House, Easton, PA