Monday, 27 August 2018

Prayer and Reflection at St Senan's Church, Iniscarra

As a small spiritual discipline, part of my commitment to the Community of St Brendan, I made a vow to make a post to this blog at least once every week, but I see that it is a month since my last post - Miserere mei, Deus!

St Senan's Church, Iniscarra - set among beautiful trees
Yesterday 26th August, with 18 others, I attended an afternoon of prayer and reflection in St Senan's Church, Iniscarra, facilitated by Robert Ferris, Associate Minister of the Carrigrohane Union of Parishes and founding member of the Community of St Brendan. 

Robert Ferris
Robert led us to reflect on how different spiritual disciplines can help us to grow as Christians. He used the framework of the seasons to illustrate how our need for a discipline changes in response to the cycles of our lives. And he introduced us to the spiritual growth planner devised by Adele Ahlberg Calhoun in her 'Spiritual Disciplines Handbook' (paperback, Inter-Varsity Press, 2015 - available on Amazon for £18.99). It is designed to encourage readers to reflect on their individual needs for spiritual discipline, and to select something appropriate.

One strong finding for myself is the difficulty I have following disciplines I would like to establish regularly - when something more pressing or exciting comes up, all my good intentions go out the window! I was asked to say a few words about my experience with spiritual disciplines. I spoke about my use of daily prayer following the form in the Church of Ireland Book of Common Prayer (now available as a smartphone app). And I spoke about this blog, God in the Garden. It is hard, I confessed, to establish regularity - but the fact that something is hard is not a good reason not to persist at it. God is merciful and our lapses will be forgiven.

As we met I was very aware that Pope Francis was presiding at the Mass in Phoenix Park attended by hundreds of thousands of brothers and sisters in Christ. At the end of the afternoon, I led our group in praying for all Christian leaders, especially Pope Francis, and in praying his prayer for our earth, taken from his encyclical Laudato 'Si, that great gift he has given to Christians of all traditions.

A prayer for Christian leaders
Hear us, O Lord, as we lift up before you 
all who bear the bewildering responsibility 
of Christian leadership among the churches of the world.  
Especially at this time we pray 
for Pope Francis and his visit to Ireland, 
for Justin, Archbishop of Canterbury 
and for His All Holiness Bartholomew, Ecumenical Patriarch.
Give them wisdom beyond their own, 
integrity in all their dealings, 
and a resolve to seek first your kingdom 
and your righteousness for all humankind.
We ask it in your name. Amen

A prayer for our earth
All-powerful God, you are present in the whole universe
and in the smallest of your creatures.
You embrace with your tenderness all that exists.
Pour out upon us the power of your love,
that we may protect life and beauty.
Fill us with peace, that we may live 
as brothers and sisters, harming no one.
O God of the poor,
help us to rescue the abandoned and forgotten of this earth,
so precious in your eyes.
Bring healing to our lives, 
that we may protect the world and not prey on it,
that we may sow beauty, not pollution and destruction.
Touch the hearts
of those who look only for gain
at the expense of the poor and the earth.
Teach us to discover the worth of each thing,
to be filled with awe and contemplation,
to recognize that we are profoundly united with every creature
as we journey towards your infinite light.
We thank you for being with us each day.
Encourage us, we pray, in our struggle
for justice, love and peace. Amen

I am glad I attended the day, even though it meant a 2 hour drive there and back. If I have one small criticism it is that we did not have introductions, nor any time to get to know each other - we left as strangers to those we did not already know. I hope that time will be allowed for this in future Community events.

No comments: