So, here I am – a Catholic, looking forward (almost) to yet another Lenten journey, wondering how to best enrich my deepening in faith, intensify repentance. It seemed rather logical to look first at the potential of local offerings. I started with “Centers” and the programs they are offering, and the Mercy Spirituality Center is as far as I got.
I hope others might respond in a comment about meaningful experiences that are going to be available locally during Lent, maybe in some parishes? Meanwhile, I can clarify what doesn’t interest me, because I can’t see how most of the offerings below will increase my “spirituality,” let alone lead me to better know and practice the Catholic Faith, or learn to evangelize others a little bit.
An Altar in the World
This 5-session ($25/session plus book) uses the writing of former Episcopalian preacher, Barbara Brown Taylor. Her book begins: “Welcome to your own priesthood, practiced at the altar of your own life.” Oh. That doesn’t leave much to the imagination! Nor does it sound like it will help me decrease, so Christ can increase in my life. A reviewer of her book says “One of her goals is to abolish the distinctions we make between church and world, sacred and secular, spirit and flesh, body and soul.” Oh. Oh. In a world religions class which she teaches, apparently the word “God” is interspersed with a “semantic range of synonyms” like “the Real, the Really Real, the Sacred, the Holy, and the divine More,” from the Buddhist 8-fold path to the Muslim notion of pilgrimage, to the Sufi mystic poet Rumi. More ‘Oh’. I pass.
There are some offerings in “Centering Prayer,” with a lot of silence, “contemplative sittings” and optional massage. I’m having a hard time seeing that strategy and the $40 (plus more for the massage) as fitting the “Prayer, Fasting and Almsgiving” of Lent. I’ll pass.
Into the Desert: A Lenten Journey
Aaah! Here’s one that sounded like it fit a Lenten Journey,” and for just a free will offering. Oh, it’s a “liturgy.” A one-hour liturgy, promising to deliver participation in “prayer and song, fostering an experience of the love of God with an awareness of brokenness, sinfulness, and the need for God’s mercy, forgiveness, and healing.” WOW! That’s a lot for an hour. That’s a lot for a liturgy that is not Mass or Confession. Guess not. Nice title though. Even without the massage.
In this 6-hour workshop (bring your own lunch and $35) “Participants will be invited to look inwardly and reflect on what they discover as a basis for deep awareness for spiritual and psychological growth, … comparing and distinguishing between “Depression, Desolation, Dark Night.” Ouch. The wrap up states: “The workshop will provide useful information to … people who guide others on their spiritual journey; e.g. Prayer Guides, Spiritual Directors, Parish Staff.” Oh, well I’m not in any of those categories, not meant for me.
Let’s Get Down to Earth
A description of this $10, two hour session reads: “Mother Earth is our home, our friend, our food. We are totally dependent on her.” Whoops right there – I’m totally dependent on God! Not on an earth-mother. This will be a presentation and discussion on “what is being done to heal and to help the planet and what is being done that wounds and wastes.” And guess who is the new authority to be cited on the environment, but I think not infallibly? Pope Francis, regarding the relationship of “environmental concerns to the quest for greater wealth.” I am thinking global warming, recycling, serving the created. Nope. I’m looking for something more about the Creator!
All Great Spirituality is about Letting Go
“Participants will place drops of colored inks on photographic paper and watch as beautiful, vibrant images and patterns emerge.” For 3 hours. For $30. For real? Yes.
Exploring the Enneagram Triads
The enneagram stuff has been hanging around in the DoR for a long time; pops up in various parishes from time to time. How sad to see it is still alive and kicking. Most of us don’t categorize people into nine types, figuring out how to manipulate others and avoid being manipulated ourselves. (Google ‘enneagram’.) This is a 4-week series “on the Triads, exploring issues related to the Instinctive, Feeling, and Thinking Centers, the Harmonic Groups (coping strategies when we don’t get what we want) and the Hornevian Groups (strategies for getting needs met.)” Oh, my. What a fascinating approach to personal surrender and self-sacrifice as a Lenten motif. I’m afraid I’d have to confess spending my Lent this way, and $100. No way.
Sensible Shoes by Sharon Garlough Brown
This is yet another book discussion organized around the writings of a woman pastor (this one in Western Michigan), co-pastoring with her husband, and a fan of labyrinths and a few other new-age practices. Her book is fiction; but the facilitators state they are “both experienced prayer guides and spiritual directors [who] will facilitate weekly discussion, give you daily readings, reflections and activities and teach you some of the tools….” for $100 over 4 sessions, plus $16 for the book. Another non-starter for me, for my objectives and for my wallet.
But the real cost of doing any of this, IMO, is the more serious soul work of Lent which wouldn’t get done if I took this direction. I’ll look for some real spiritual reading from among 20 centuries of saints, some real liturgy in the Mass, some Sacred Words from Scripture, some diminishing of my self-importance by seeking absolution and doing penance. I don’t think I need this kind of non-Catholic, or fictional, or new age stuff to find God. I just know He is looking for me.