Monday, July 18, 2011

Collegium 2011: Prayer and Spirituality

We had daily worship and that was an important part of Collegium. However, we also had daily Prayer and Spirituality gatherings. They were led by Marty Kelly. Marty is the Assistant Chaplain and Director of the Immersion Programs of the College of the Holy Cross. The other leader was his very capable wife Megan Fox-Kelly. Megan is an Assistant Chaplain and Director of the retreat program of Holy Cross College. This was an experienced, high powered and nurturing duo. I am always happy to be in their company and I always know which one I like best. It is the one I am speaking to at the moment! They would introduce a different type of prayer or theological reflection to the participants. There would be a brief description, a hand out and then time for people to individually reflect or meditate. It was not unusual for participants to go outside or to other parts of the chapel for prayer and meditation.

The music was an important part of Collegium. The music reflected the Universal Church and was from around the world. I never videoed the services or spirituality classes, that would have felt intrusive. The videos I have here are simply downloaded from YouTube and are samplings of the songs we sang.

Jesus We Are Here - Valley Steel Drum Ensemble

The first night we gathered. This was the first time the participants entered the lower chapel, the Chapel of St. Mary. The place was quiet and beautiful. As we processed in I had the privilege of carrying in the Paschal Candle which was used to light the participants individual candles. The evening prayers set the tone for the week. We were told the chapel would be a place of silence except for the services. The chapel became a powerful place of refuge and retreat for many throughout the week.

We Are Marching In The Light Of God

As the week progressed we were introduced to a variety of prayer techniques and foci. This included “Remembrance and Spirituality.” This was a topic that fit in well with a week that would be lived sacramentally.

Open My Eyes, Lord - Preparation Hymn - 4/3/11

We were introduced to Christian Meditation or Contemplative Prayer. It is very different to change the focus of prayer from one of asking to one of listening. It is especially helpful in developing a pilgrim identity, of knowing we are only temporarily of this world. It is particularly powerful in learning to be humble. Perhaps most importantly, for a group of type A, task-driven folks it was important to simply stop, to pause and spend time with God.

Lord of All Hopefulness.MP4

We were introduced to Lectio Divina and formal forms of reflection. All of this prepared us for our Day of Retreat. All of this assisted us in our private journeys.
Finally, our last prayer service was one of sending forth. Each group came to the front of the chapel. The mentor spoke some private words to his or her group and then he or she lit the groups individual candles. The group would then face the participants who would raise their arms and bless the group. It was simple and powerful. Marty and Megan, you are a blessing!

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