Monthly Spiritual Exercise Group

April 8, 2019 – Hope

A Video Message From Sr. Anne Marie Walsh about Facing Our Immortality

INSTRUCTIONS: Tonight’s topic is inserted below. Please read about our purpose and why we pray ahead of time, if you can. Thank you for joining us.

Conference Call Instructions: (720) 735-7025 before 6:30 pm MDT 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 Martha Bridgewater, Olga, Kyle Hunt and Sr. Anne Marie’s brother Greg.

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).

A: Opening Prayer

B: Spiritual Exercise Topic

 Silent time for reflection (5-10 minutes)
 Sharing of your personal reflection
 Say one “Glory Be…”

C: General Group 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.”

B. SPIRITUAL EXERCISE TOPIC: HOPE

“That which is corruptible must clothe itself with incorruptibility, and that which is mortal must clothe itself with immortality. And when this which is corruptible clothes itself with incorruptibility and this which is mortal clothes itself with immortality, then the word that is written shall come about. Death is swallowed up in victory.  Where O death, is your victory? Where O death, is your sting? The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But, thanks be to God who gives us the victory through Our Lord Jesus Christ.”

1 Corinthians 15: 53-57

Properties of the Resurrected Body

Sacred Scripture and Catholic theology teaches that our glorified resurrected bodies will experience four properties as an outflow of the beatified soul enjoying the vision of God’s essence:

1) Impassibility – the glorified body will no longer suffer physical sickness or death, as Saint Paul teaches regarding the glorified body in 1 Corinthians 15:42, “It is sown in corruption, it shall rise in incorruption.”

2) Subtlety, meaning that we will have a spiritualized nature in the sense of a spiritual body as did our Lord as we learn at 1 Corinthians 15:44: “It is sown a corruptible body, it shall rise a spiritual,” i.e. a spirit-like, “body.” We see that Christ’s glorified body was able to pass through closed doors. 

3) Agility – the glorified body will obey the soul with the greatest ease and speed of movement as we read in 1 Corinthians 15:43: “It is sown in weakness, it shall rise in power,” that is, according to a gloss, “mobile and living.” Saint Thomas Aquinas says, “But mobility can only signify agility in movement. Therefore the glorified bodies will be agile.” We discern agility, our Resurrected Lord’s ability to bilocate and travel great distances in an instant.

4) Clarity – the glorified body will be free from any deformity and will be filled with beauty and radiance as we read at Matthew 13:43: “The just shall shine as the sun in the kingdom of their Father,” and Wisdom 3:7: “The just shall shine, and shall run to and fro like sparks among the reeds.” Here clarity refers not being “clear” but to being “bright”.

St. Thomas Aquinas at Summa Contra Gentiles, IV, 86 summarized: “thus also will his body be raised to the characteristics of heavenly bodies — it will be lightsome (clarity), incapable of suffering (impassible), without difficulty and labor in movement (agility), and most perfectly perfected by its form (subtlety). For this reason, the Apostle speaks of the bodies of the risen as heavenly, referring not to their nature, but to their glory.”

It is worth noting that the Virgin Mary has already received her glorified and resurrected body. Hence, she has the four gifts of the resurrection. 

May we persevere so as to receive these remarkable gifts. 

(In case you need extra motivation, read Saint Thomas Aquinas description of the corruptible bodies of the damned.)

It is good to remember that for believers, the path to Resurrection goes through suffering and death. In the divine economy, Jesus even makes persecution one of the beatitudes. As Fr. John Hardon, S.J. writes, the beatitudes are “promises of happiness made by Christ to those who faithfully accept His teaching and follow His divine example.” The pattern of Jesus’ redemptive work passes by the Way of the Cross. So too will we, and our age be redeemed in the same way.

Closing thought:

Pope Francis: “Let us not stay imprisoned within ourselves, but let us break open our sealed tombs to the Lord–each of us knows what they are—so that He may enter and grant us life. Let us give him the stones of our rancor and the boulders of our past, those heavy burdens of our weaknesses and falls.  Christ wants to come and take us by the hand to bring us out of our anguish…May the Lord free us from this trap, from being Christians without hope, who live as if the Lord were not risen, as if our problems were the center of our lives.”

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.

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.

Questions for Reflection: Silence for 5-10 minutes.

1.What are the greatest obstacles to hope today?

2.What do we think our own resurrected body will be like? What do we look forward to most?

3.The desire for transcendence is built into our very nature. Where do you see signs of this even among unbelievers?

4.What does Jesus show us about the Resurrected Life? Consider his movements after Resurrection and before the Ascension.

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

D. CLOSING PRAYER

E. UPDATES

Our next meeting will take place Monday May 13, 2019. Please add this to your online calendar and/or save to your mobile phone.

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.

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

https://www.facebook.com/FacingOurImmortality/

© Facing Our Immortality Cancer Ministry Support Group All Rights Reserved

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