Listen to the Spirit… adapt as needed…
stay longer where you are drawn…
“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…God not only gives gifts to me, but literally gives me the fullness of divine life in Jesus. God’s only Son is not only the Word in whom all things were created, but also the Word who becomes flesh and dwells with us…God loves me so much, even entering into the very struggle of life. Like a potter with clay, like a mother in childbirth, or like a mighty force blowing life into dead bones, God labors to share divine life and love. God’s labors are writ large in Jesus’ passion and death on a cross in order to bring forth the life of the Resurrection…” -Spiritual Exercises #234-236
Suggested Song: “Song of the Cross”
Grace to seek/ask: For a deeper awareness and heart-felt knowledge of God’s love for us through the life, death, and Resurrection of Jesus…to more deeply allow God’s love for us to fill us with love for others…
John 13:1-15 – “…Before the feast of Passover, Jesus knew that his hour had come to pass from this world to the Father. He loved his own in the world and he loved them to the end…Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet…’If I, therefore, the master and teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash one another’s feet’…”
John 15:7-17 – “…As the Father loves me, so I also love you. Remain in my love…I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and your joy may be complete. This is my commandment: love one another as I love you. No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends…”
John 21:15-19 – “…Jesus said to Simon Peter, ‘Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?’ He said to him, ‘Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.’ He said to him, ‘Feed my lambs’…”
1 John 4:7-21 – “…In this way the love of God was revealed to us: God sent his only Son into the world so that we might have life through him…We love because he first loved us…”
Invite members to reflect on how they come to the meeting. Try to keep this short, focused on how people’s hearts are as they come to the meeting. Pose one or two questions that encourage people to look back on their week and also help to set the theme for the meeting.
Begin by reading the handout “The Cross As Unconditional Love” Without discussing yet, move into Ignatian Meditation/Lectio Divina on one of the recommended Scripture passages above.
When people are finished voicing aloud the phrases and words that speak to them, allow 5-7’ for silence as the passages from Scripture and Ronald Rolheiser continue to sink in.
Listening and Sharing
- Does this article or scripture passage challenge my sense of God or the cross in any way? Why/why not
- When I allow myself to sit with the harshness and reality of the cross, what feelings emerge (sadness, disappointment, helplessness, hope, etc)? Without judgement, can I allow these perhaps conflicting or difficult feelings to flow through me?
- What might it mean to “seize” the love that emanates from the cross in my life, rather than just admire and adore it from afar?
These are questions that allow community members to listen to and share about what is moving within them after the focus exercise. Specific questions about the focus exercise can be included here, but facilitators may choose to approach it differently such as with more open ended questions.
- What has struck you as you have been listening to others share? Do you notice any patterns or similarities?
- 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?
- What is remaining with you? What do you hope to return to in prayer at another point in the week?
In the coming weeks, it may be helpful to return to this Rolheiser excerpt or the Scripture passages above again using Ignatian Contemplation or Lectio Divina.
If possible, go to a Church where you normally worship, or one where you feel most comfortable, and spend time just sitting in front of the cross. While bringing the readings with you may be helpful, try to spend 15 minutes just being in prayer with the cross, letting go of your own agenda. Simply allow Christ crucified to be with you.
Write a prayer that fits the meeting or ask if anyone from the group would like to offer a spontaneous prayer.