Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Time to Breathe

I once read, and I apologize that I don't have the source but it was a long time ago, that a religious community such as Saint Benedict's Monastery has the responsibility to provide  opportunities for growing and maturing in the spiritual life for its members so that their love of God and their sisters continue to grow throughout their lifetime, and that at the end of their journey on earth they will "run with expanded heart" into the arms of their loving God.

There are many ways that a community like ours fulfills that responsibility.  To list just a few:  the sacraments (Eucharist, reconciliation, sacrament of the sick), a monthly day of recollection, a monthly conference given by the Prioress, a library well stocked with theological and spiritual books and periodicals, times of silence, pauses during Liturgy of the Hours: a 1-minute pause between the psalms and a 2-minute pause after the reading. Of course, we do not forget what is at the very center of our life: Liturgy of the Hours and Lectio Divina.

A yearly retreat is a must for all consecrated women and men. In our community we are given the choice of one of four possibilities.  Partly because of our size and partly because a monastery like us cannot come to a complete halt for a week while the entire community is on retreat, there are two conference retreats held during the summer months.  During these same months in addition to the two conference retreats there is a directed retreat and a Centering Prayer retreat.

Last week we had the directed retreat and this week is the centering prayer retreat.  This is the one that I am making and I have been given the gift of being able to stay in one of our hermitages (pictured above) for the week. Our two hermitages are much in demand by both the Sisters and our guests so to have the opportunity to stay in one of the hermitages for five days is an unexpected gift. The hermitage gives us silence, time to read and reflect, and time alone with God. Centering for three hours a day for six days releases much of what one might tend to ignore or suppress in an everyday busy life. So spending quality time with the Divine Healer in between the sitting sessions is balm for the soul and gives strength to face the challenges awaiting us when we return to "normal" life. 

May you find during these weeks of summer time for your soul to take a breather. That is my wish and my prayer for you. 

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