If you live or have ever lived in a place that has seasons, you know the joy of the first buds of spring after a long, cold, and dark winter. There is something in the air that is not fully palpable, but people are happier, friendlier, and even in the face of many potential challenges, there is a sense of hope that all will be well. This meeting invites the group to engage in an Ignatian contemplation as they reflect upon the manner in which Christ is calling them to recognize new life amidst suffering, loss, and despair.
Resurrection is not a glossy optimism that covers over the reality of death and brokenness. Rather, Resurrection as people in the New Testament experienced it, witnesses to the power of God to reveal himself through the wounds, through locked doors and fears, through the tears, —not apart from them, not without them. In the same way, this meeting seeks to acknowledge members’ real and difficult experiences of grief and brokenness as you keep vigil for the glory of God to be revealed in and through these tough realities.
If it feels like your group would like to engage this topic further, here is an Ignatian Contemplation that may be useful.
- Meditation music
- Conversation Cards and Writing Utensils (optional)
Ask for the grace to receive the joy of new life that God desires for me.
“When it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and the doors of the house where the disciples had met were locked for fear, Jesus came and stood among them and said, ‘Peace be with you.’ After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, ‘Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.’ When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit.” John 20:19-22
Share one place in your week where you felt an unexpected joy or sense of hope.
TED Talk by Stacy Kramer: “The Best Gift I Ever Survived”
Stacey talks about her struggle with a brain tumor, drawing out the unexpected gifts that this frightening and traumatic experience gave to her and her family. It is a short but profound way of introducing the joy of “resurrection,” while not glossing over the fact that it was a painful gift to receive. Engage the group in a brief discussion utilizing these questions:
Questions for Discussion:
- What stands out for you from Stacy’s story? Can you relate with her in any way?
- Have you experienced any kind of loss or suffering that has turned into a gift in disguise?
- In Stacy’s experience of suffering and “resurrection,” she also experienced a profound call to share her good news with others. In every resurrection story in the Gospels, there is also this dynamic of being called and sent to share good news. How have you experienced your own sense of “call” or “being sent” to share your gifts with others as a result of an experience of loss or suffering?
Use the following questions for group members to briefly journal and reflect:
- Am I, or is anyone close to me going through a tough time, or experiencing loss or grief over a loved one, a relationship, or a dream?
- What is the “new life” that I am needing and desiring at this time in my life?
- Is there anything in my life that I am being called to let go of at this time—an expectation, an attitude, a relationship, a commitment? How do I feel about letting that go?
- What are the fears I have about receiving change into my life (whether it be changes I need to accept, or changes I need to make)?
Share on your writing reflection: what stands out to you? Any new insights or themes emerge?
- What has struck you as you have been listening to others share? Do you notice any patterns or commonalities?
- How have you been feeling throughout the meeting? Comfortable? Anxious? Curious?
- Is there anything you would like to share after listening to another person share?
Recall 5 things each day that you find yourself grateful for. Offer these things to God in gratitude.
After the reflection, pass out “Conversation Cards”- blank note cards. Invite members to spend time in conversation with God or Jesus. They are welcome to then write down their prayer and desire for God on one side, and to listen and write God/Jesus’ response and desire for them on another side. Invite members to share and/or offer their “Conversation Cards” to the center of the circle. Have them incorporate into their voiced prayer how this reflects their hope for the week.
“I ask for what I want, and it will be here to ask for grace to rejoice and be glad intensely at so great glory and joy of Christ our Lord.” (Spiritual Exercises )
“I consider how the Divinity, which seemed to hide itself in the Passion, now appears and shows itself marvelously in the most holy Resurrection by its true and most holy effects.” (Spiritual Exercises )
“Jesus answered them, ‘The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Very truly, I tell you, unless a grain of what falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.” John 12:23-24
“I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” John 10:10
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! By his great mercy he has given us a new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading…Although you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and rejoice with an indescribable and glorious joy, for you are receiving the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.” 1 Peter 1:3-9