Do you ever spend time with an old, favorite memory? Maybe something from your childhood, a particularly fun night with friends, or something around the holidays that is a custom in your family? When you spend time reflecting on that memory, you can sometimes almost feel the way you felt then, or notice things that you didn’t see before. In reflecting on the memory, the memory can take on a new meaning, offer us wisdom about our current life, or become more and more a touchstone, solidified in our thoughts for years to come.
St. Ignatius frequently invites people praying the Spiritual Exercises to make a “repetition.” Repetitions mean repeating a particular prayer, contemplation, or meditation even after you have already done it. At first it may seem tedious to repeat something that has already taken place, but in practice, it can often be a special time to explore the fruits of a previous prayer experience and deepen in understanding for the way that God is working. “Repetition” means more than repeating; it also means “re-petition,” to petition God anew.
This meeting offers time for the group to sit more deeply with the graces that have been received in the past section of meetings. Perhaps you may simply invite everyone to spend time reflecting on and sharing about the main grace(s) they have been given in this time, using the questions provided below as a guide. Exploring these graces again and sharing them with others can help them take deeper root in our hearts. It may also be helpful to encourage the members to affirm or clarify what others share as a means of listening more deeply, both individually and communally. Closing with a sacramental or embodied expression of the graces as a way of giving thanks will further allow the graces of the past months to grow.
It may be fruitful to repeat this meeting (or some variation) at the end of each phase of meetings in Caminos or at a natural break in the scheduled meetings, like a pause over the holidays or summer. It will be helpful for the facilitator to spend some time thinking through the different meetings that the group has shared. If you can recall, even jot down the list of meeting topics that were explored over the last period of time. You may even want to have someone assigned to be “group historian” to record the topic of each meeting and bring it to these “Gifts and Graces” sessions.
- music player & soft instrumental music
- list of meetings the group has shared over the past period of time and any other significant shared experiences
- paper and pens
As a group, you may want to begin by praying for the grace to see with God’s eyes and to feel with God’s heart to become more attentive to how God has been moving in the past few months.
Where have you seen God active in your life this week?
Jesus explicitly gave instructions to reenact what he did at the last supper in remembrance of him. We use the same formula – take, bless, break, and share – here, to reflect on the last period of time we have spent together as a community.
Invite everyone to be quiet and still. Ask the Spirit to guide our memories and draw our attention to the ways that God has graced our meetings together. Invite people to gaze upon these meetings in their memory, seeking to be open to where their gaze leads. Then, slowly list the different meetings in the last series by topic. You may even want to describe a little about the context by describing the context (“that time was when we all ran through the rainstorm and were dripping when we arrived” or “that was the time that we met in Sarah’s living room instead of the chapel”). Use these reminders to help prompt people’s imaginations to remember the journey we have been on together.
After you have reminded everyone of the different topics we have explored together, invite them to spend some time in silence, offering these to God in prayer. Encourage people to notice which memories, feelings, or images surface strongly as they remember these meetings. It could be something we realized in a meeting, it could be something we remember someone else sharing, or it could be something that didn’t even seem very significant at the time. What is God saying in that memory? How was God at work in that moment for me? Listen for God to nudge.
Invite people to spend a little time journaling about the prayer experience they just had. Maybe they even want to write a letter to another member of the CLC in whom they’ve witnessed God at work. Maybe they want to write a letter to God explaining how they see God’s grace – or even how they may feel if they do not sense God’s activity in these CLC meetings. They can write about whatever is on their mind. It may be helpful to play some quiet music during this time.
Come together for the “Listening” and “Listening Deeper” questions below to share this experience with one another.
- Is there anything you want to share with one another about this experience?
- What is a way that you feel that God has been active in our CLC experience recently?
- Did anything surprise you in your reflections?
- Do you have anything you want to share with the rest of the group about your experience in this CLC?
- As you listen to others share, how do you find yourself feeling?
- Do we see any common themes or patterns that point to a way we’ve been growing and experiencing CLC together in the past few months?
- As we hear these reflections from one another, what are our hopes for the future of our CLC? Is there anything we need to change or commit to in order to move in that direction?
Make time to share a meal together as a community sometime this week outside of the usual meeting time to enjoy each other’s company and celebrate your friendship.
Invite each member of the group to share one word that is on their hearts or minds at the conclusion of this meeting. Then, pray a prayer of gratitude to God for the graces that you have all discerned, both during this meeting and these last weeks.
“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)
“I will consider how all good things and gifts descend from above… as rays come down from the sun and rains from their source.” (Spiritual Exercises )
“For I received from the Lord what I also handed on to you, that the Lord Jesus, on the night he was handed over, took bread, and, after he had given thanks, broke it and said, ‘This is my body that is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.’ In the same way also the cup, after supper, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.’ For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the death of the Lord until he comes.” 1 Corinthians 11:23-26
“And Mary kept all these things, reflecting on them in her heart.” Luke 2:19