09 May 2017

New Service Role: Spiritual Director!

On Monday evening, my classmates and I were commissioned to the service of Spiritual Directors, or, as they’re known in the Celtic Christian world, soul friends. We graduated from the HeartPaths Spiritual Center in Oklahoma City, an ecumentical center that recognizes the diversity of religious expressions that God has called into being.

It was a three year process based in the Ignatian Spiritual Exercises:

  • Year 1: Spiritual Formation—There were about a dozen or so of us when we started out. We met once a week and practiced various prayer styles. We also start meeting with our own spiritual director (some of us had different directors throughout the 3 years). We read and discussed key books in the field of spiritual formation, spiritual disciplines, and prayer. We wrote reflective papers, and prepared and presented a closing project to demonstrate proficiency in organizing and leading a prayer workshop. Mine was on, you guessed it, Celtic Christian Spirituality.
  • Year 2: Spiritual Exercises of St Ignatius—Our group dropped to about 9 or so. We continued to meet weekly as a group and went through the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius. We focused on a primary text, participated in daily prayer exercises and reflections, discussed our experiences with the Ignatian Exercises, and met monthly with our spiritual directors.
  • Year 3: Practicum—Our final year comprised of an even smaller group. We continued to meet weekly and with our spiritual directors monthly. This year we focused on actually doing spiritual direction work—we read and discussed books related to the practice of spiritual direction as well as articles from the journal Presence: An International Journal of Spiritual Direction. Lastly, we prepared and presented a final project to demonstrate our understanding of spiritual direction principles. Mine was Anamchara: Spiritual Direction and Celtic Christian Spirituality.

Our little group has grown pretty close over these last three years and we plan to continue to meet quarterly to talk and help each other.

Congratulations, my friends! May God-All-Loving guide us and walk with us as we listen to the Spirit in the stories of those with whom we sit.

In the Love of the Three in One,

Br. Jack+, LC

16 April 2017

Easter Evening—2017

On that same day, two disciples were traveling to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem. They were talking to each other about everything that had happened. While they were discussing these things, Jesus himself arrived and joined them on their journey. They were prevented from recognizing him.

He said to them, “What are you talking about as you walk along?” They stopped, their faces downcast.

The one named Cleopas replied, “Are you the only visitor to Jerusalem who’s unaware of the things that have taken place there over the last few days?”

He said to them, “What things?”

They said to him, “The things about Jesus of Nazareth. Because of his powerful deeds and words, he was recognized by God and all the people as a prophet. But our chief priests and our leaders handed him over to be sentenced to death, and they crucified him. We’d hoped he was the one who would redeem Israel. All these things happened three days ago. But there’s more: Some women from our group have left us stunned. They went to the tomb early this morning and didn’t find his body. They came to us saying that they’d even seen a vision of angels who told them he is alive. Some of those who were with us went to the tomb and found things just as the women said but they didn’t see him.”

Then Jesus said to them, “You foolish people! Your dull minds keep you from believing all that the prophets talked about. Wasn’t it necessary for the Christ to suffer these things and then enter into his glory?” Then he interpreted for them the things written about himself in all the scriptures, starting with Moses and going through all the Prophets.

When they came to Emmaus, he acted as if he was going on ahead. But they urged him, saying, “Stay with us. It’s nearly evening, and the day is almost over.” So he went in to stay with them. After he took his seat at the table with them, he took the bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. Their eyes were opened and they recognized him, but he disappeared from their sight. They said to each other, “Weren’t our hearts on fire when he spoke to us along the road and when he explained the scriptures for us?”

They got up right then and returned to Jerusalem. They found the eleven and their companions gathered together. They were saying to each other, “The Lord really has risen! He appeared to Simon!” Then the two disciples described what had happened along the road and how Jesus was made known to them as he broke the bread.

While they were saying these things, Jesus himself stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” They were terrified and afraid. They thought they were seeing a ghost.

He said to them, “Why are you startled? Why are doubts arising in your hearts? Look at my hands and my feet. It’s really me! Touch me and see, for a ghost doesn’t have flesh and bones like you see I have.” As he said this, he showed them his hands and feet. Because they were wondering and questioning in the midst of their happiness, he said to them, “Do you have anything to eat?” They gave him a piece of baked fish. Taking it, he ate it in front of them.

Jesus said to them, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you—that everything written about me in the Law from Moses, the Prophets, and the Psalms must be fulfilled.” Then he opened their minds to understand the scriptures. He said to them, “This is what is written: the Christ will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, and a change of heart and life for the forgiveness of sins must be preached in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You’re witnesses of these things. Look, I’m sending to you what my Father promised, but you are to stay in the city until you have been furnished with heavenly power.”

All-loving God, through your Son Jesus the Christ you overcame death and opened to us the gate of everlasting life; grant us so to die daily to sin, that we may evermore live with him in the joy of his resurrection; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit one God now and forever and unto ages of ages.

A New Zealand Prayer Book, Easter Day; adapted

Easter Morning—2017

Early in the morning of the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb. She ran to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said, “They’ve taken the Lord from the tomb, and we don’t know where they’ve put him.” Peter and the other disciple left to go to the tomb. They were running together, but the other disciple ran faster than Peter and was the first to arrive at the tomb. Bending down to take a look, he saw the linen cloths lying there, but he didn’t go in. Following him, Simon Peter entered the tomb and saw the linen cloths lying there. He also saw the face cloth that had been on Jesus’ head. It wasn’t with the other clothes but was folded up in its own place. Then the other disciple, the one who arrived at the tomb first, also went inside. He saw and believed. They didn’t yet understand the scripture that Jesus must rise from the dead. Then the disciples returned to the place where they were staying.

Mary stood outside near the tomb, crying. As she cried, she bent down to look into the tomb. She saw two angels dressed in white, seated where the body of Jesus had been, one at the head and one at the foot. The angels asked her, “Woman, why are you crying?”

She replied, “They’ve taken away my Lord, and I don’t know where they’ve put him.” As soon as she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she didn’t know it was Jesus.

Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you crying? Who are you looking for?”

Thinking he was the gardener, she replied, “Sir, if you’ve carried him away, tell me where you’ve put him and I’ll get him.”

Jesus said to her, “Mary.”

She turned and said to him in Aramaic, “Rabbouni” (which means Teacher).

Jesus said to her, “Don’t hold on to me, for I haven’t yet gone up to my Father. Go to my brothers and sisters and tell them, ‘I’m going up to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’”

Mary Magdalene left and announced to the disciples, “I’ve seen the Lord.” Then she told them what he said to her.

Living Christ, you are risen from the dead! Love reigns! You are life stronger than death; raise our eyes to see you as the new day dawns.

A New Zealand Prayer Book, Easter Day