Saturday, 4 February 2012
A school of prayer
I have had a beautiful couple of days in company with teachers and catechists. We've been taking part in a School of Prayer here at Leeds Trinity - the fourth such in as many years. It was organised by the diocesan Vicariate for Evangelisation. The format is simple and effective. Sister Anne Hammersley, cp began the day by leading us in imaginative prayer. Then we broke into prayer workshops: I attended ones on the spirituality of Blessed John Henry Newman, Passionist spirituality and journaling; other workshops explored prayerful contemplation of holy images (visio divina) the Stations of the Resurrection (via lucis). There were also a number of well thought-out "prayer stations" which were little areas in our chapel where there were particular objects or icons to help focus the mind on a particular gospel theme. We started the day with Mass and many participants availed themselves of Confession during it. Here's a picture of some of thos who took part.
It's edifying to be among a group of lay people who are so desirous of going deeper. I like the title "school." Prayer is something to be learnt, a skill to be acquired, a practice to be mastered over time as well as a gift to be received. Also, at such a school we meet others who are similarly motivated and their presence buoys us up, helps us to re-commit to the task of personal holiness. One head teacher I chatted with told me how she had dedicated a whole week to prayer in her primary school: the children had loved it. Catechists shared with me different ways in which they were animating the lives of their parishes and of various plans that they had for the future. Underpinning everything that was said was the surety that God is speaking to each of us, indeed (wonderfully) that he cannot refrain from doing so. We had to finish a little early because of the heavy snow fall, but one lady remained behind, sitting quietly in a pew, with a sheet from one of the workshops by her side. Clearly she sensed the importance of the moment and she did not wish to let fall what the Holy Spirit wished she should receive.