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10.13.19 Invitation to Stillness (part 2)

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Sunday night, we continued our five-week journey of stillness and response. There is a temptation with the journey of formation to focus inward and remain there, but a wholistic experience of spiritual formation will always include an outward expression. Our formation is stunted if it does not result in us joining God’s redemptive work in the world. Jesus invites us to join this kingdom work, but he does not invite us to a life of constant activity and burnout.

How might we be present to God’s invitation to join the work of the kingdom and remain present as we join God’s work? This week, Phileena Heuertz shared the importance of an inner stillness as we respond to an invitation to join God’s kingdom work in the world, and she guided an abiding contemplation to help us cultivate a spirit of stillness in God’s loving presence.

Kingdom Practices
This week, let’s continue to practice this abiding contemplation daily. As we practice becoming still in set aside times of prayer, may the Lord give us an abiding stillness as we join the kingdom work God is doing in our midst. You may use this podcast to continue practicing with Phileena’s guidance.

9.15.19 Invitation to Find Solidarity with Jesus

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Kingdom Practices
In our time of practice, Adele offered twelve questions to consider how we might interpret our experiences through the lens of Jesus’ life. This week, let’s keep these questions with us and continue to notice how what is happening in our lives fit in the life of Jesus. We may choose to send time with a new question each day. Perhaps we might reflect on moments when we experience a strong emotion and ask, “How was I in solidarity with Jesus?” or “How was he in solidarity with me?”

1. What narratives and slogans have shaped my life?

2. What fears have authored my story?

3. What is the deeper Exodus story behind my roles, titles, degrees, successes, losses, joy, etc. How did I get from somewhere to somewhere else?

4. Where have I had moments when I felt the Spirit descend on me and affirm me in a calling or direction? (Matthew 3:13-17)

5. When was I in a time of testing and tempted to take control of my life rather than trust God? (Luke 4:1-13)

6. What are my wilderness seasons? How did God work in these for my good? My growth? And His glory? (Luke 4:1-13)

7. Where have people figuratively tried to throw me off a cliff? (Luke 4:14-30)

8. What are my mounts of Transfiguration? (Mark 9:2-10)

9. Where have I experienced betrayal? (Matthew 26:14-16, 47-50)

10. When have I had mini-gardens of Gethsemane? (Matthew 26:36-46)

11. When have I died on my own mini-crosses? (John 19:16-37)

12. What are resurrection moments in life? (John 20:1-18)

6.9.19 Invitation to Retreat

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Sunday night, we were led by Gail Donahue and Joan Kelley as we continued to discern how God is inviting us into a rhythm of retreat this summer. In the stillness of retreat, Gail taught, God reminds us of our identity as God’s beloved children and what God intends for our lives as we reflect Christ’s image to the world in which we live. She then offered helpful and practical guidance for how we engage this spiritual practice. How do we transition into retreat? What should we be aware of on retreat, and how do we transition out of retreat?

Then we were guided by Joan Kelley in a practice of listening for God’s invitation. This wonderful practice is one we can use anytime we sense an invitation from God, and you can find the handouts here and here. If you couldn’t be with us last night, would you please make time this week to listen and engage this practice?

Kingdom Practices
As we move into the summer, let’s continue to discern how God is inviting us into a rhythm of retreat. How might the practice of retreat remind us of our belovedness and help us engage the activities of the summer as God intends? How will you retreat this summer? Where will you go and what practices will you engage? If you are still discerning, that’s okay. (I certainly am.) You might choose to read some more about retreat or listen to some podcasts, or you may consider including someone in what you are hearing. As our invitations from God become more clear, let’s choose to respond and see how God intends to move in us this summer. Last night, we shared a list of helpful resources that includes books and podcasts, resources for retreat, and places you might go on retreat. You can find that list here.

5.5.19 The Beauty of Your Identity in Christ

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It is always a joy to have SIbyl Towner with us at The Practice. On Sunday, Sibyl helped us lean into God in our brokenness. In Psalm 139, David acknowledges God that God knows him intimately. God knows David better than he knows himself, and still he has the courage to ask, “Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life.”

Our practice Sunday night was a way of joining David’s prayer. How have we been shaped by our wounds. What false narratives have we adopted in our brokenness, and how might we lay them down and receive the beautiful truth of our identity from God?

Kingdom Practices
This week, let’s continue to lay down the false narratives of our brokenness and remain in a posture to receive the beautiful truth of who we are in Christ. Sibyl often says that this journey often involves “deep, empathetic listening,” so would you be willing to find someone this week to invite into your journey. It may be a close friend or a spiritual director. Would you ask someone to listen, and would you be on the lookout for opportunities to listen to someone in your life?

A Prayer Examen

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Introduction
Our last two Practice gatherings have focused on practices of prayer, specifically the practices
Of the Examen and Listening Prayer. Regularly engaging spiritual practices of prayer is absolutely essential for anyone committed to following Jesus.

A spiritual practice is any intentional activity that cultivates deeper communion with God’s
presence in our everyday lives. Spiritual practices may help us grow in awareness of God’s loving presence. They may help us develop ears to better hear God’s voice or help us to surrender obstacles to deeper communion with God.

Dallas Willard wrote, “In the progress of God’s redemptive work, communication advances into communion, and communion into union.” As we cultivate a life of prayer we grow into deeper communion with the Lord so we might join in more fully in God’s redemptive work in the world. The Examen, listening prayer, silence, breath prayer, and intercession are just a few examples of spiritual practices of prayer. In this particular Examen, we will examine our spiritual practices of scripture. Let’s hold our practices in God’s presence and listen for what the Holy Spirit might reveal to us this week.

You can download and print a copy of this examen here.

Step 1: Acknowledging God’s presence
Settle into a comfortable space without distractions. Take a deep breath. Wherever you are in
this moment, you are in God’s loving presence. Take another deep breath. Remember that God
is closer than the air you breathe.

For the next few moments, invite God to speak. Hold your hands open as a sign of your willingness to receive from God. Express your desire to listen. You may use your own words or echo the words of Samuel, “Speak, Lord. Your servant is listening.”

Step 2: Review your spiritual practices of prayer in gratitude
Now, remaining in God’s loving presence, consider the specific practices of prayer you have engaged in this season. Name these experiences, you may even choose to write them down.
How have you experienced communion with God in prayer during this season?

Take a moment now to thank God for these experiences. You may write a prayer of gratitude in the space below.

Step 3: Examine your spiritual practices of prayer with God
Consider the spiritual practices of prayer you identified a moment ago. Take a moment to examine your experiences with the following questions. Listen for anything the Holy Spirit may be calling to your attention.

How have you experienced God drawing you into His life of love through prayer?

How have spiritual practices of prayer fallen short, felt dry, or
failed to invite you in God’s life of love?

Step 4: Respond
Is there a particular experience that stands out from your examination? Was there a strong emotion, positive or negative, that stands out? Is there one experience you feel the Holy Spirit
is drawing you toward, one you are being invited to hold a little longer in God’s loving presence?

Use this time to respond to God. Is there anything you want to say to God about this experience, anything you would like to ask? Speak to God, and listen for God’s response.

Step 5: Looking forward
In our final movement, let’s turn our attention forward. As you consider spiritual practices of prayer in the future, what emotions arise? Do you sense an invitation from God? Close your
time in prayer by holding your future practices in God’s loving presence.

A Scripture Examen

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Introduction
Our last two Practice gatherings have focused on practices of scripture, specifically the practices
of sacred questions and Lectio Divina. Reading scripture as a spiritual practice is essential for anyone committed to following Jesus. The Bible is more than a story. It is more than a set of commands or principles by which to live. It is an invitation to an interactive relationship. It is God’s inspired word, which means God is present with us as we read.

A spiritual practice is any intentional activity that cultivates deeper communion with God’s presence
in our everyday lives. Spiritual practices may help us grow in awareness of God’s loving presence.
They may help us develop ears to better hear God’s voice or help us to surrender obstacles to deeper communion with God.

Engaging scripture as a spiritual practice cultivates deeper communion with God through the Bible. Memorizing or meditating on scripture, praying scripture, Lectio Divina, or sacred questions are a few examples. In this Examen, we will examine our spiritual practices of scripture. Let’s hold our practices
in God’s presence and listen for what the Holy Spirit might reveal to us this week.

You can download and print a copy of this Examen here.

Step 1: Acknowledging God’s presence
Settle into a comfortable space without distractions. Take a deep breath. Wherever you are in
this moment, you are in God’s loving presence. Take another deep breath. Remember that God
is closer than the air you breathe.

For the next few moments, invite God to speak. Hold your hands open as a sign of your willingness to receive from God. Express your desire to listen. You may use your own words or echo the words of Samuel, “Speak, Lord. Your servant is listening.”

Step 2: Review your spiritual practices of scripture in gratitude
Now, remaining in God’s loving presence, consider how you have engaged scripture as a spiritual practice. In this season, what spiritual practices involving scripture have you experienced? How have you experienced the presence of God in the Bible in this season? Name these experiences, you may even choose to write them down.

Take a moment now to thank God for these experiences. You may write a prayer of gratitude in the space below.

Step 3: Examine your spiritual practices of scripture with God
Consider the spiritual practices of scripture you identified a moment ago. Take a moment to examine your experiences with the Bible using the following questions. Listen for anything the Holy Spirit may be calling to your attention.

How have you experienced God drawing you into His life of love through scripture?

How have spiritual practices of scripture fallen short, felt dry, or
failed to invite you in God’s life of love?

Step 4: Respond
Is there a particular experience that stands out from your examination? Was there a strong emotion, positive or negative, that stands out? Is there one experience you feel the Holy Spirit
is drawing you toward, one you are being invited to hold a little longer in God’s loving presence?

Use this time to respond to God. Is there anything you want to say to God about this experience, anything you would like to ask? Speak to God, and listen for God’s response.

Step 5: Looking forward
In our final movement, let’s turn our attention forward. As you consider engaging scripture as a spiritual practice in the future, what emotions arise? Do you sense an invitation from God?
Close your time in prayer by holding your future practices in God’s loving presence.

A Community Examen

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Our last two Practice gatherings have focused on community, specifically the practices of spiritual direction and listening groups. Community is an essential element of following Jesus. Jesus did not invite us into a solitary journey, this road was always intended to be walked together. This week, we would love to invite you to make room to reflect on your spiritual practices of community in the presence of God.

A spiritual practice is any intentional activity that cultivates deeper communion with God’s presence in our everyday lives. Spiritual practices may help us grow in awareness of God’s loving presence. They may help us develop ears to better hear God’s voice or help us to surrender obstacles to deeper communion with God.

Spiritual practices of community are simply disciplines that directly involve other people to cultivate deeper communion with God. A few examples of these practices might be spiritual friendships, spiritual direction, small groups (including practice tables and listening groups), and spiritual mentors. In this Examen, we will reflect on our spiritual practices of community in prayer. Let’s hold our experiences of community in God’s presence and listen for anything the Holy Spirit
might reveal to us this week.

You can download an print a copy of this Examen here.

Step 1: Acknowledging God’s presence
Settle into a comfortable space without distractions. Take a deep breath. Wherever you are in this moment, you are in God’s loving presence. Take another deep breath. Remember that God is closer than the air you breathe.

For the next few moments, invite God to speak. Hold your hands open as a sign of your willingness to receive from God. Express your desire to listen. You may use your own words or echo the words of Samuel, “Speak, Lord. Your servant is listening.”

Step 2: Review your spiritual practices of community in gratitude
Now, remaining in God’s loving presence, consider your spiritual practices of community. In this season, what spiritual practices of community have you experienced? How have you experienced the presence of God in relationship in this season? Consider both the community you have intentionally engaged as a spiritual practice, and the community that you did not seek intentionally but God brought to you. Name these experiences, you may even choose to write them down.

Take a moment now to thank God for these experiences. You may write a prayer of gratitude in the space below.

Step 3: Examine your spiritual practices of community with God
Consider the spiritual practices of community you identified a moment ago. Take a moment to examine your experiences of spiritual community with the following questions in mind. Listen for anything the Holy Spirit may be calling to your attention.

How have you experienced God drawing you into His life of love through practices of community?

How have spiritual practices of community fallen short, disappointed you, or failed to invite you in God’s life of love?

Step 4: Respond
Is there a particular experience that stands out from your examination? Was there a strong emotion, positive or negative, that stands out? Is there one experience you feel the Holy Spirit is drawing you toward, one you are being invited to hold a little longer in God’s loving presence?

Use this time to respond to God. Is there anything you want to say to God about this experience, anything you would like to ask? Speak to God, and listen for God’s response.

Step 5: Looking forward
In our final movement, let’s turn our attention forward. As you consider engaging spiritual practices of community in the future, what emotions arise? Do you sense an invitation from God? Close your time in prayer by holding your future practices in God’s loving presence.

11.19.17 The Mercy of God

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Last night, we rested firmly in the mercy of our good God. The opening liturgy led us deep into the Kyrie Eleison. This ancient prayer is based on those in the Gospels who cried out to Jesus, “Lord, have mercy.” I was reminded that Frederica Mathewes-Green taught us the Biblical cry for mercy is a prayer for healing.

Then our very own Ashlee Eiland led us with a teaching on God’s great mercy and our invitation to respond by letting go of selfishness, pride, and superiority in order to truly forgive one another. She guided us through four steps of forgiveness: naming the offense, seeing our own sin, experiencing God’s great mercy, and seeing the offender as God sees him or her. Then Lori led us in the practice of centering prayer as a way to rest in God’s presence before we turned to the table, the ultimate picture of God’s loving mercy.

Have a listen to the full teaching and practice.

Kingdom Practices
This week, let’s continue to pray the be-loved breath prayer and allow it to lead us into a time of centering prayer. As we rest firmly in God’s presence, the love and mercy of God takes root deep in our souls.

11.5.17 Human Sinfulness

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Last night, our community was blessed with the gentle guidance of Phileena Heuertz as we continued our journey through the themes of Ignatius of Loyola’s Spiritual Exercises. This week, we entered into a reflection on our sinfulness. While most of us would rather not engage our personal sin, it is an incredibly important part of our journey. If we are not in touch with the depth of our personal sinfulness, we will not be able to grasp the great depth of God’s personal love for us.

Phileena’s wise teaching helped us move beyond a shame-based view of sin into a vulnerability-based model. God does not require us to be cleaned up in order to be loved. We are loved us just as we are, and God demonstrated love in an extravagant gesture of self-giving, self-emptying love on the cross. “God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8)

If we are going to be formed into the people God created us to be, we must move beyond sin as bad things we do and begin to identify the desires behind the activity. Phileena shared the Ignatian perspective of sin as disordered desires, and she incorporated the teaching of Thomas Keating and Henri Nouwen as a helpful way to identify our disordered desires. (You’ll want to listen to the podcast to get the full teaching.)

We were then led in a new practice for our community, welcoming prayer. Welcoming prayer is a practice that invites God’s healing presence into the ordinary activity of daily life. Phileena helped us practice this discipline as a way of growing in our ability to identify the disordered desires that lead to sin and welcoming God’s loving, healing presence into our disordered desires.

Kingdom Practices
Phileena beautifully shared that love is the foundation of our whole journey. So let’s continue to practice the “be-loved” breath prayer at least 15 minutes a day.

In addition to the breath prayer, let’s also be intentional about noticing this week.
Let’s notice when we find ourselves emotionally triggered, and in our noticing, let’s be curious about what is behind the emotion. Is there a disordered desire at the root of the emotion, and if so, will you pause and practice the welcoming prayer Phileena shared with us?

Additional Resource
Gravity, a Center for Contemplative Action
Pilgrimage of the Soul by Phileena Heuertz
Sacred Enneagram by Chris Heuertz

9.17.17 Created in Love

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It was wonderful to be together again last night to kick off the next season of The Practice. For the majority of this year, we will be walking through the themes of Ignatius of Loyola’s Spiritual Exercises. Ignatian spirituality has had a significant influence on The Practice from the beginning, so we are really excited to dive in more intentionally this year.

I cannot think of anyone I would rather have launch us into this season than Father Michael. Last night, he introduced us to the themes of the Spiritual Exercises. The Exercises begin, Father Michael explained, with an understanding that we are loved simply because we are God’s children. I find it so interesting that Ignatius would wait to guide someone through the Exercises until they had an abiding sense of their belovedness.

Father Michael then led us in a practice to help us rest in God’s love. We began with a reflection on the sign of the cross, and then practiced a simple breath prayer, “be-loved.”

Kingdom Practice
Because this foundation of being grounded in our belovedness was so important to Ignatius, we want to really sink into this prayer. Our kingdom practice for the entire journey through the first movement of the Spiritual Exercises will be to pray the simple breath prayer Father Michael taught us last night. As you inhale, “be,” and as you exhale, “loved.” As we journey through this first movement of the Spiritual Exercises, let’s commit to practicing this prayer at least fifteen minutes each day.

If you would find it helpful to begin your daily prayer time with the reflection Father Michael led last night, you can find it here.

 

Additional Resources
Putting on the Heart of Christ by Gerald M. Fagin, SJ
The Ignatian Adventure by Kevin O’Brien, SJ
Inner Compass by Margaret Silf