Monthly Presentations, Monthly Spiritual Exercise Group

March 11, 2019 – Stirring Up The Waters Of Grace (Lenten Reflection)

INSTRUCTIONS:

Session begins at 6:30 pm, MDT. Please call (720) 735-7025 before 6:30 pm to join us via Uber Conference. We gather at Denver’s Our Lady of Lourdes Classic School in the 6th grade classroom. Please join us.

WELCOME:

Tonight our prayer intentions are for Amanda’s Tia Rosa and her mom Blanca, Annette Martinez, Greg Walsh, Don Lufton, we are also deeply saddened that Linda Johnson’s brother, James Rivera, passed away. Please pray for his soul, his wife Barbara and his son Michael.

PURPOSE :

The Facing Our Immortality Spiritual Exercise is an integral part of our monthly cancer support group. It is here where we form relationships with one another and in Christ.  We never walk alone.

We are a spiritual ministry, based on the principles of Catholic teaching, for those who are pained and aggrieved by cancer or serious illness. We meet once per month in a safe environment, which provides a loving atmosphere formed in the community of Christ. Mutual respect for the dignity, privacy and confidentiality of each participant is fully embraced. 

This Spiritual Exercise is designed to elevate conversation, understanding and support to a deeper faith-based perspective where our life-experience, especially at the present time, has God, and His plan/dream for us personally, at the center. This will involve working deeply with the mystery of suffering in our lives. 

The Holy Spirit will animate much of this unfolding and direction with each group. 

SPIRITUAL EXERCISE GROUP OVERVIEW:

We will begin with an opening prayer followed by the Spiritual Exercise. Our Spiritual Exercise was developed by Fr. James Flanagan of The Society of Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity (SOLT).Below is an overview of the process.

A: Opening Prayer

B: Presentation

 Silent time for reflection
 Sharing
 Say one “Glory Be…”

C: General Discussion

D: Closing Prayer

E: Updates

Cancer is not an individual experience. It is, generally speaking, a family experience, and so the family needs spiritual protection, healing, blessing, and just a general entrusting into the hands of God. Our Lives are relational. Cancer is something that intrudes into that, or is even sometimes, a consequence of long standing, unhealthy relationships. So it is never true that the person with cancer is the only one involved. There is always a context, and human relationships are always in deep need of the grace of God. Prayer is an essential way to bring that grace into these relationships and contexts. We are going to strive then to see things relationally, both in our human relationships and our divine relationships.

Why we pray.There are three elements involved in spiritual exercise: The Art of Listening, The Art of Reflection and The Art of Dialogue.

1. The Art of Listening

If we are to “hear” God’s Word it is essential that we learn how to listen to the Word, the Spirit, others and even ourselves.  We must be able to distinguish between these voices also. Most of your time spent in the Spiritual Exercise will be using this art.  We must not only listen to what is said, but we must learn to listen to what is not said. To really listen to one another we must empty ourselves of all prejudgments and biases. We must be open and receptive. We need, therefore, to enter the Spiritual Exercise with a spirit of humility. We must realize that we need others, and they need us to live the Trinitarian Life, which is a life of community.

2. The Art of Reflection

This second art is more directly related to the Spirit  In this art we learn to open ourselves to the Spirit who teaches us “all things”. The art comes in learning how to open yourself to the voice of the Spirit within you.  During the time of reflection we are not to think of very erudite things to impress people with our knowledge of theology or with our scholarship.  It is a time when we open ourselves so the Spirit can teach us Himself. He will take us at times back into the Word to the Person of Jesus.  At other times He will take us to our own life experiences, because in those life experiences He has been leading and teaching us. Therefore, a real relationship with the Person of the Spirit has to grow within you. The more you use this art, the more sensitive you will become to the Spirit and the more He will direct you.  

3. The Art of Dialogue

Because we are the Body of Christ, and because we have to grow to that oneness in the Body, which Jesus himself prayed for, we come to a time when we share our reflections of the Spirit.  This again is not an intellectual discussion, nor is it a psychological unburdening (although sometimes it will have that effect).  As this art develops, little by little this time will become a moment of humble and fraternal communion with God and others, a moment of attentive listening to God through the lives of others. You will find that where you were not open to the Spirit during the time of reflection, the Spirit can speak to you through someone else’s experience of Him.  We teach each other through our sharing because we are one in Christ.  The art is to give what comes from our hearts, not from our learning.  We must give what comes from the Lord to each other.  This art is really a sharing of the Lord with each other in praise, in thanks and in life.  This gift, therefore, is not for ourselves only, but for others which finds its roots and source in the community of the Trinity.

These three arts are skills that can be learned and developed, under, of course, the guidance of grace.  And like all skills the more they are used, the more proficient the person becomes in them.  The Trinity is community! And if you’re going to come into that Trinitarian life you must live as community.

A. OPENING HEALING PRAYER Led by Sr. Anne Marie Walsh, SOLT

“We humbly approach you O Most Holy Trinity as we beg for your healing. You are Our Father and we trust in your goodness as you draw us daily to become what you call us to be. We humble ourselves before you as we acknowledge your greatness and your infinite mercy. Please dispel within us any form of idolatry that we may truly worship you with all our being, as Mary our Mother did. 

Jesus, our eternal shepherd, we come to you like the many sick and the infirm that approached you. We beg you to fill our hearts and our souls with the faith of the Centurion who only asked you to say but the word, and he knew that his servant would be healed. Or like the woman, we come to touch your garments with great confidence that your healing power will flow through this cloth to the one it is placed upon now. For those of us who struggle with believing in your power to heal, we pray that you help our unbelief. 

Holy Spirit, we rely on the humility that you give us as we bring our request before your presence. We often do not know what to ask and how to ask. Often we struggle with knowing what God’s will is for one who is sick. Yet we know that it is your love that can enkindle the flame within our feeble hearts. Help us to accept the healing that comes from your love; so that we may praise the glory of your Name! 

We ask you Mother Mary to intercede with all the angels and saints for God’s healing of those who are sick. Cast your mantle of healing over them and restore them to wholeness and health.”  

“Our Father, who art in heaven…”

“Hail Mary, full of grace……….”

“Glory Be, to the Father ……….”

“Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity! Pray for us.”

“O Most Holy Trinity, Father, Jesus and Holy Spirit, we thank you for hearing our prayer. Help us all to be open to your healing, so that we may love you the more and have the strength to serve all those that you place in our lives. Give us the joy that once restored to health, we too may reach out to others and bring your healing power to them. We make this prayer through Christ Our Lord!  Amen. “  

B. PRESENTATION: STIRRING UP THE WATERS OF GRACE (LENTEN REFLECTION)

Now there is in Jerusalem at the Sheep [Gate]* a pool called in Hebrew Bethesda, with five porticoes. In these lay a large number of ill, blind, lame, and crippled.* One man was there who had been ill for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there and knew that he had been ill for a long time, he said to him, “Do you want to be well?” The sick man answered him, “Sir, I have no one to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up; while I am on my way, someone else gets down there before me.” Jesus said to him, “Rise, take up your mat, and walk. Immediately the man became well, took up his mat, and walked. John Ch. 5

One of the most intriguing stories in the Gospel is the story of the crippled man waiting for healing at the Pool of Bethesda.  The man has been suffering for 38 years but is unable to get to the pool fast enough when the angel comes to stir the waters.  Jesus sees him and asks if he wants to be well.  When the man expresses his desire for healing but his inability to reach it on his own, Jesus heals him on the spot.  But then, Jesus later seeks out the now healed man to warn him about sin.  He says: “Look, you are well; do not sin anymore, so that nothing worse may happen to you.” John 5: 2-18

This Lent, Jesus will approach us with the same question:  ‘Do you want to be well?  Do you want to know where sin has crippled you, paralyzed you? And do you want to know true freedom?’ Because, Jesus comes to destroy the sickness of sin and the deformity it causes in our lives.  We only have to desire it and choose it.

Many years ago, an older friend shared a dream that deeply disturbed him. He was walking through a lovely forest when he came upon a clearing with a house in the middle of it.  The house exerted a powerful pull on him. Everything within him wanted to go into that house. So he approached the screened-in porch, entered, and headed for the front door. As he walked up to the front door, someone came up to him and said: “Before you can go in you have to eat this.”  He looked down to see a plate of dog excrement being handed to him.

He, of course, was upset that he could have had such a dream, not knowing at first what it could possibly mean. But then, in a flash of insight it became clear. The dream was an attempt to reframe a deep struggle that had to do with an almost over-powering temptation to grave sin.  Everything within him wanted to give in to the attraction of this particular sin. Yet his faith told him that if he gave in to this sin he would so defile himself that it would be like eating a plate of manure.

Sin is really that ugly, and it’s an ugliness we give ourselves. We often recognize that something is wrong within us, in the deep recesses of our being. We are attracted to things that are not good, things that enslave us, make us feel ugly about ourselves, and keep us from true freedom. And once we are bound, immobilized as it were, it takes an intervention of God’s grace to free us. We cannot free ourselves.

Jesus wants to free us not only from sin but from the effects of sin in our lives. We are not alone in this need. Everyone who has ever been born needs this healing, liberating grace. The saints tell us that a soul in the state of grace is beautiful beyond compare. This is what Jesus wants to restore in us: our original beauty!

So how can we access the same healing Jesus so freely gives in the Gospels? Many ways are possible.  But we are given 3 special gifts during Lent which stir up the waters of grace in our lives. Prayer, Fasting and Almsgiving. Prayer stirs up the grace we need for deeper healing in our relationship with God.  Fasting brings the waters of grace down upon the disorder we have within ourselves. And Almsgiving opens up rivers of grace in our relationship to others.

Additionally, if you want to have the same direct encounter with Jesus that the crippled man had, start frequenting the sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation, and Holy Communion after that.  Every sacrament contains within it a personal encounter with the living God. Hence, every sacrament contains rivers of grace that can change us to the degree we let those waters flow.

Our deepest healing will always come first and foremost from eliminating sin in our lives. Sin always brings suffering, both personal and at the same time, upon the whole Body of Christ. There is no such thing as a private sin. As Our Lady of Fatima warned us over a century ago: war, something we often live in fear of, is a consequences of sin, both private sin and institutionalized, communal sin.

Lent engages the battle against sin, against judgment, unforgiveness, promiscuity, pornography, dishonesty, infidelity, blasphemy, greed, self-righteousness, gossip, slander, unworthy Communions, anti-life acts, apathy, and every other thing that mars the image and likeness of God in us. Jesus spent 40 days in the desert fasting and conquering every temptation you and I would ever have so we could more easily have victory over those same temptations in our own lives.  Our choice this Lent is: beauty over ugliness, freedom over enslavement, self-denial over sin, happiness over temporary pleasure, shame and guilt.  We too have to answer the question of Jesus:  “Do you really want to be well?”

Questions for Reflection: Silence for 5-10 minutes.

Jesus tells us that not all sickness is a result of personal sin.  Yet it is an undeniable truth that sin causes suffering, both personal and communal.

1. What are your observations of this in the world? In your own life?

2. Do you think there are actually people who don’t want to be well?  Why would that be?

3. How does Jesus heal?  And for what ultimate purpose?

4. Why does Jesus leave some people with their suffering?

C. GENERAL DISCUSSION: Allow the Holy Spirit to take the lead.

D. CLOSING PRAYER

E. UPDATES

Our next meeting will take place April 8, 2019.  Please add this to your online calendar and/or save to your mobile phone.

Sr. Anne Marie Walsh will be speaking at the Catholic Women’s Conference in Sioux City, Iowa on March 30, 2019.  For more information, go to their Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/homeofthetrinity/.

Catholic Medical Association: Richard and Denise presented to medical students from Colorado’s Catholic Medical Association (CMA) a few weeks ago about Facing Our Immortality. The emphasis was that we offer an opportunity for people of faith to be in communion with the Lord and with one another, creating a family that upon which we can share in our stories and our faith. We never walk alone. To learn more about CMA, please link here.

Watch Sr. Anne Marie Walsh’s brief video about Facing Our Immortality, which she created to share with the joyful students from CMA by clicking here.

Father Woody’s Haven of Hope Almsgiving Opportunity. Richard and Denise (more so Richard) go to their day-shelter every Monday from 11:00 am to 1:00 pm. This important part of our overall ministry offers individuals with serious illness/cancer an opportunity to pray and talk about their illness and circumstance. It is through communication and communion that there is hope for renewal in their lives, both personally and spiritually.  They are truly enjoying time in the chapel.  If you have time on Mondays, we could use your help.  It is a joy to be there.

Print our handout: For a copy of our Spiritual Exercise group flyer, please link here.

We have new business cards. Please ask for some in order to help spread awareness about our cancer ministry.

Our Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/FacingOurImmortality/ page will also show the upcoming events.  Please also follow our page to receive alerts.

Please remember to invite others who you feel may benefit from our monthly spiritual exercise group. They do not need to be Catholic. We welcome patients, survivors, spouses, caregivers and surviving spouses. All are welcome.

In Christ,

Sr. Anne Marie Walsh, Denise and Richard

© Facing Our Immortality Cancer Ministry Support Group All Rights Reserved

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