The following serves to be an opportunity for a CLC group to grow in the CLC way of life as they deepen their sense of being a community of friends in the Lord, finding God in all things, and discovering and living out our personal vocation. This invitation is extended through the practice of spending the next few months sharing spiritual autobiographies.
The following points might serve to be helpful:
- First, it helps facilitate a more intimate knowing of all members of the group in light of their unique spiritual histories. With grounding in these rich histories, members are invited to more openly and gently receive the gift of each person in the group.
- Second, due to the nature of this sharing, it fosters the space for each member to cultivate greater trust, vulnerability, and honesty within the community.
- Third, it invites each member to reflect upon the various shaping elements of his or her spiritual life, perhaps in a way that has not been readily identified or shared previously.
This time of personal, deepened sharing of the group’s individual journeys with God will lay a stronger foundation to help each other cultivate a more discerning heart to pay more attention to how God is moving in our lives and how our personal vocations are unfolding. From this lens, a greater attunement to God’s faithfulness, care, and love over the course of one’s life may be illuminated. Grounded in these many graces, the group is invited to be a part of the present chapter of deepening grace in the lives of the individual members and in the growing life of the community.
After a general introduction of the exercise to the group, inquire as to the group’s desire to engage it. This should be an exercise that feels supported by the whole of the community in order for it to prove most effective. If it is not fully supported when proposed, engage a conversation with the group in regards to hesitancies and barriers to the exercise. As the facilitator, you may determine that it may or may not be an exercise that can be returned to at a later time.
Members will take turns in presenting their spiritual autobiographies over the course of subsequent meetings (See “How to Use this Resource” for suggested outline). General guidelines and points for reflection can be found on the subsequent page. Make sure to emphasize the importance of each autobiography being unique without possessing the ability to be qualified as “right” or “wrong.” The essence lies in the gift of each journey shared. After presenting general reflection points for their preparation, inquire if there are any lingering questions or concerns. After adequate time and space for discussion, invite members to sign up for a particular week when they will be sharing their spiritual autobiographies so that they can prayerfully prepare in the meantime.
*Please note: Spiritual Autobiographies may be spread out and may prove most effective if implemented on alternate meetings. It is fine if the process takes up to 9 months but it should not take longer than 1 year. As always, be attentive to the Spirit and open to the shifting of meetings in order to more fully respond to the needs of the group.
- Copies of Spiritual Autobiography Outlines
- Calendar with meeting dates for sign-ups of Spiritual Autobiography
- Scripture passages
- Meditative Music
Grace: to recognize our shared journey as pilgrims “on the way.”
As always, spend a few minutes allowing group members to check in after a week apart. Click here for some ideas on how to facilitate this time.
- Introduce the Spiritual Autobiographies in your own words. Feel free to use the “Facilitator Notes” for guidance. Distribute the Spiritual Journey hand out and review with group.
- Read or view one of the following biographies of St. Ignatius, the pilgrim:
Upon engaging Ignatius’ story, invite members to reflect on the following:
- What stands out to you upon hearing Ignatius’ story?
- Are there parts of your own journey that find resonance with that of Ignatius’? What does this stir in you?
- What arises for you in regards to the idea of “journey” or “pilgrimage?”
- As we look upon the sharing of our own spiritual autobiographies, what excites or frightens us?
Invite members in a brief second round of sharing, reflecting upon the following themes:
- What has struck you as you have been listening to others share? Do you notice any patterns or commonalities in our shared journey?
- Is there anything you would like to share after listening to another person share?
- Is there anything you would like to return to in prayer later in the week?
Look back through some old pictures from your life and enjoy the memories.
Include the following Scripture in your closing prayer:
I will lead the blind on a way they do not know;
by paths they do not know I will guide them.
I will turn darkness into light before them,
and make crooked ways straight.
These are my promises:
I made them, I will not forsake them.
Our Spiritual Journeys: Points for Reflection
Please prepare to share around 15-20 minutes your spiritual history up to now, either verbally and/or with aids such as written outlines, pictures, or diagrams. It is not necessary to cover all significant experiences or to make everything fit together. Just try to give everyone a good, honest sense of your spiritual journey thus far.
You are invited to begin the sharing with a song that illustrates your spiritual journey, if you think it would be helpful. Or you might choose to use the song for a concluding prayer instead.
Find a quiet space or a favorite prayerful place where you might have some uninterrupted time. Imagine God gazing upon you with tenderness. Allow yourself to rest in God’s very presence. Begin with asking God for the gift of seeing your life as it is, through God’s eyes and “heart.”
There are no adequate criteria to describe one’s spiritual journey. Hence there are no “right” or “wrong” ways. The following questions can serve as starting points in preparing your sharing. You need not cover all the questions. Rather, focus on the ones most relevant to you. Be open to what these might be. While initially some experiences do seem the most obvious, allow God to lead you to what surfaces as significant experiences of growth. However, please address the last two questions.
- What has been your religious upbringing (during childhood, young adulthood, etc…)? What have been your experiences of church, retreats, ministry, outreach to the poor, justice work, etc.? You might want to focus on several significant spiritual or religious experiences.
- Who has been influential in your faith life and how?
- How do you imagine God/Jesus? Has it changed at various times in your life and how?
- What are your favorite Scriptures passages and/or prayers? What are some of your habits in living the spiritual life? How do you pray?
- Do you notice any reoccurring threads or patterns in your life? If you were to choose a motif or image that describes your spiritual journey up to now, what will it be? (e.g. a road, hike, hanging bridge, river, plane trip, etc.)
- What are your unique gifts and talents? Looking at your life thus far, what makes you truly happy? In the words of Pedro Arrupe SJ, what consistently “gets you out of bed in the morning” or “what breaks your heart?”
“Inspired by the Holy Spirit, we respond with gratitude to God for this gift of Jesus in every circumstance of our lives.” (CLC-USA General Principles #1)
“God creates me out of love and desires nothing more than a return of love on my part. So much does God love me that even though I turn away and make little response, this Giver of all good gifts continues to be my Savior and Redeemer.” (Spiritual Exercises )
“I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore I have continued my faithfulness to you”
“Oh God, you have probed me, you know me….You formed my inmost being; you knit me in my mother’s womb.” Psalm 139