Sunday, July 17, 2011

Collegium 2011: Day Six

Tuesday was our Retreat Day. That meant the mentors had the day off. Most of them used the time to participate in one of the formal retreats or to create their own retreat. Catholicism is a pilgrim faith and the mentors knew how to be pilgrims and how to savor the journey. I was leading a retreat for the first time. Luckily I was feeling a little under the weather and tired and didn’t have the energy to be anxious!

The participants had many choices. Fr. Palmigiano led a Cistercian retreat, Dennis McAuliffe lead a retreat on Christian Meditation. I participated in his retreat in Oregon and found it simple, instructive and most of all powerful. Marty Kelly led the Ignatian retreat. I lead the Franciscan retreat.

After breakfast we started the day off with Morning Prayer. I did a Franciscan reading and I was moved by the reading. It was the same reading I had heard Father Andre give at St. Bonaventure’s home church in Italy. After the service we broke into our groups to begin a day of retreat.

I had a small group which was great for an initial retreat. We started with some history. I wanted them to understand how the persons of Francis and Clare influence Franciscan Spirituality today. So that meant having a discussion on living a Gospel Life and being willing to be a Fool for God. It included caring for the lepers of today. It included understanding what it meant to participate in peacemaking, not peace hoping. It also included learning the dance of Franciscanism, of being in the world but also of removing yourself to have time with God. That included an appreciation for the holiness of place starting with Assisi but encompassing the world.

Prayer of St. Francis,(Make Me A Channel of Your Peace) sung by Angelina, EWTN

Just as one of Brother Francis’ conversions was to embrace the leper we meditated on who our lepers were today. We identified the leper and in our meditations we embraced our leper. If we could not embrace the leper we explored what inside of us prevented us from embracing him or her. This we did in our small group in our classroom. It was the beginning of moving back and forth from the world to God and back again.

This was a retreat day, and not a class on Franciscan Spirituality. So the day included meditations, group time, and time alone. The retreat took place in our assigned room but also included using the chapel and the campus.

As we began our journey outside of the classroom we met at the Baptismal Font in St. Mary’s Chapel. There we blessed each others journeys.

Collegium 2011: St. Mary's Chapel, the Prayer Room

Using the skills we learned from Pelikan and having just learned about the connection of the Stations of the Cross and Franciscanism we then moved to the Stations in the chapel. The participants were asked to think about having a live Stations of the Cross performed in their community. In front of the Stations in St. Mary’s Chapel the members individually meditated on what parts of their communities most needed to have Christ’s presence known to them. They were asked to consider what that would look like, what difference would it make, what they could do to make it happen.

It was a good morning and it was time for lunch.

After lunch we did a theological reflection similar to lectio divina created by St. Clare. Finally they were asked to go out by themselves, in a spirit of gratitude to a generous Creator and sacramentally experience the campus. It was a day of peace, of learning, of doing and of connecting. I had never been a Retreat Director before and I was surprised at how much I enjoyed it and by how much I got out of it.

Collegium 2011: Brother Rabbit's Sanctuary

Finally, we all participated in a casual dinner. We had a picnic out of doors. Again, it was good food and a beautiful setting that was secondary to wonderful company. After dinner some participants went to a baseball game. Others gathered for a social and yet others participated in a “Poetry Smorgasbord.” It was a wonderful day of putting our work and studies into action.

Collegium 2011: The Picnic

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