Sunday, June 28, 2009

Collegium: Prayer and Contemplation

To say that Collegium was far more than reading and discussing the changing Catholic culture in America would be an understatement. Sure, we explored how we maintain our Catholic identity and what that meant. We explored our own journeys and what worked for others. We discussed the changes in Catholic academic culture following Vatican II. However, we did not simply stay in our heads, this was not simply a cerebral week. We prayed, reflected and listened and for that we had guidance.

We have been blessed by great leadership. This was true for both Mission-Values and Planning through Tom Landy, and in making sure EVERYTHING was in order thanks to Joyce Gawlick. We had great Small Group leaders and our retreat leaders helped blend the intellectual with the practiced spiritual.

However, the one group that kept all of us focused everyday were the Ministry Leaders. Megan Fox-Kelly and Marty Kelly were our spiritual directors. They did their jobs with authority. They were sensitive, creative and fun. The provided us with guided worship in the morning and evening, they taught us styles of prayer. They organized Eucharist.

Some of our lessons and techniques included:

Praying with Scripture
Centering Prayer
“Rummaging for God”
Remembrance and Spirituality
Imagination and Prayer

The sessions often flowed seamlessly into the next activity. The Sending Forth ceremony was a wonderful integration of the Small Groups and the larger Collegium of 2009.

Place becomes important. We are at a Benedictine Monastery so of course place should be important. We have so many places here that touch us. There are multiple chapels, many in the Saint John Abbey Church. However, there is also the Emmaus Chapel that we use and love. There is the chapel at the College of Saint Benedict that rises up in all it’s white splendor in contrast to the strong cement walls of St. John Abbey Church. There is the chapel across the lake we all walk to individually. There are statues, the grotto and we all can describe our own personal favorite places to listen and pause. There is the Great Hall and there are gardens.

So, among all of the formal learning, all the laughing and joking and all the budding friendships there was prayer.

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