Thursday, March 23, 2017
   
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CSJ Associates Retreat

Fifty-five CSJ Associates and Sisters arrived in Niagara Falls the evening of Sept. 8, 2006 for our annual retreat weekend at Mount Carmel Spiritual Centre. That evening, we enjoyed meeting old friends and greeting new ones at a reception in the lounge. Ann Mullan, on behalf of the Associates, presented Sister Roberta Freeman and Sister Grace Sauvé with a framed symbolic representation, done in lace, of the eleven associate groups coming together in an interconnected design. Our original associates (some of whom later became Sisters) were lace makers and the design showed how the present day CSJ Associates have evolved.

The retreat opened at 8 p.m. when Sister Grace spoke to us of prayer and the importance of silence, both interior and exterior, to communion with God during our retreat. The theme of the retreat was "Renew in us a Steadfast Spirit – in Prayer". Our focus was learning how to pray through guided prayer experiences.

Sister Grace led us through a Gospel contemplation where we choose a Gospel story, read it slowly once or twice, then imagine the scene and observe the characters, actions and words. We try to enter the story either as an observer or as one of the persons in the Gospel passage.

An important part of the prayer is to listen to our feelings and take note of any images, thoughts or desires that arise. Finally, we begin a dialogue with Jesus or one of the others in the story. At the end we review the prayer period and observe what has happened.

Father Chris Iredale instructed us in the practice of "Lectio Divina", a prayerful reading/listening to Scripture which flows through the stages of  "Meditatio" (meditation), "Oratio" (praying) and "Contemplatio" (contemplation).

We also experienced a Communal Reconciliation service, celebrated the Eucharist together and had an hour of Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament. Several other options were also available including a video on prayer by Father Groetschel and praying the Rosary together outside by the fountain (see the photo above). Our retreat concluded with everyone receiving a copy of the Holy Spirit Prayer as follows:

Holy Spirit,
My Light, my Life, my Love, my Strength,
Be with me now and always.
In all my doubts, anxieties and trials,
Come Holy Spirit;
In hours of loneliness, weariness and grief,
Come Holy Spirit;
In failure, in loss and in disappointment,
Come Holy Spirit;
When others fail me, when I fail myself,
Come Holy Spirit;
When I am ill, unable to work, depressed,
Come Holy Spirit;
Now and forever, and in all things. Amen.

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