A short recap
- Eucharist is for most of us a weekly spiritual practice. In the Eucharist the community gathers for worship and it’s into this context that God speaks most directly to us as a community of the Body of Christ in the world through the lectionary readings. Eucharist also offers a vertical as in transcendent connection to the spiritual dimension.
- The Daily Office is a daily spiritual practice. This is what we call the Common Prayer of the Church and when we participate in saying any part of the Daily Office – morning, midday, evening or night prayer from the Book of Common Prayer or another format for the Daily Office we can be likened to a lamp plugging into the electric current of worldwide prayer, that continues 24/7. Even when we pray the DO alone, we do so with others in our community and those throughout the world who will always remain unknown to us, very much in mind.
You can find more about our recent exploration of these kinds of spiritual practice at Lent Program details http://www.stmartinsprov.org/adult-formation/
- Spiritual reflection is a broad term that covers any form of personal spiritual practice – mental reflection, inner stillness -silence, and deep listening practices.In Anglican Tradition, spiritual reflection is referred to as habitual recollection, the practice of the continual awareness of God all around us in the world. This can be a moment when we are overcome by beauty of nature, a moment in time and place, or a moment when we are deeply aware of pain – another’s or our own. Habitual recollection uses our senses to become aware of God being present in such moments.
The cultivation of personal prayer, rooted in silence and listening involves:
- Exploring a relationship with self, using meditation and body based activity. Meditation is a practice of silence that focuses on fostering an awareness of how the elements of the mind and the heart support or hinder a sense of the coming together of our whole personality. Body based methods use the body as a focus for becoming aware of oneself in a similar way.
Prayer must involve the unifying of the personality, the integration of the mind, heart, into one center …. Without self-discovery there can be no further progress. In order to find of whom we can only find in and through the depths of our on soul, we must first find ourselves. Without self-knowledge our love remains superficial. Kenneth Leech, Soul Friend.
Exploring a relationship with God through scripture and spiritual guidance. Lectio Divina is the method Christians use to encounter a personal encounter with God communicated through meditating on a short passage of Scripture. In this way God seeks to draw our attention to something that needs recognizing in the immediate here and now.
- Exploring spiritual guidance as a relationship with another person who acts as a spiritual friend, spiritual companion or soul friend, a guide accompanying us as we discover those elements of our relationship with God that remain hidden from us, because we are too close to ourselves. Like Lectio Divina, spiritual guidance, traditionally referred to as spiritual direction can happen in one-to-one or in a group.
- Self-examination using the spirit of penitence, particularly through the sacrament of reconciliation (confession), which involves consulting with a priest as the sacramental sign of God’s presence for the purpose of working through emotional blockages and spiritual obstacles that hamper us on our path to a deeper awareness of God.
- At points in our life our spiritual exploration is well supported by a period of psychological therapy, often needed to firm up our emotional foundations so that they are strong enough to support our spiritual growth.
All practices that cultivate stillness, increase our toleration of silence, offer us a deep opportunity to listen to God speaking through the world around us, through the Christian revelation, through others in our lives, and from within our own mind and heart.
A fact of our lives is that we live in the presence of God … This is true whether we have an awareness of it or not. Conscious awareness isn’t even the goal. The objective is a subconscious reliance upon God as members of the Body of Christ, in the workplace, family, friendship, civic life, and congregational life. … This state is built up by grounding ourselves in Eucharist, Office, the community of the church, and particular methods of reflection and personal devotion. Robert Gallagher, In Your Holy Spirit: the parish through spiritual practice.
In short, to live with awareness and reliance on God is to live from our Baptismal Covenant.
Gallagher cites a comment by David Brooks, the NY Times columnist. Brooks speaks of two approaches to life. The first is the Well Planned Life –through which you search for your overall purpose and then make decisions about allocation of time, energy and talent – i.e. we are always in control. The second is the Summoned Life. Here life isn’t a project to be completed, it is an unknown landscape to be explored … guided by sensitive observation and situational awareness, not calculation and long-range planning. Gallagher notes that both can play a part in unifying the personality integrating heart and mind into one center. Pg 58
We run from silence in the modern world, fearing it, and so avoiding it with distraction. The spiritual practices grouped loosely as habitual recollection can help us in this struggle to run from ourselves It’s often an uncomfortable encounter but one necessary for spiritual flourishing.
Each of us possesses a temperament, which orients us to prefer some approaches, finding them helpful while accepting that there are other practices that won’t work well for us. As the great Archbishop of Canterbury during WWII, William Temple said: We pray as we are, not as we are not.