A Day of Prayer and Reflection for VOTF
Members in Leadership
Genesis Story: Mary Ann Keyes of national Parish Voice approached
Prayerful Voice with a request for some type of prayerful renewal
for the PV coordinators. The days, weeks, and months of toiling
in the VOTF vineyard had taken its toll on these disciples. There
were many spirit filled moments of elation and communion, and also
many days of desolation and acrimony. Those helping to start Parish
Voice affiliates were sometimes greeted by negative voices, questioning
VOTF's motives and faithfulness. Hard days.
What struck us were the many similarities between what VOTF was
attempting to do and be - build up the reign of God and be faithful
- and the efforts of the first disciples as found in the Gospels
and Acts of the Apostles. And so, a retreat day was planned which
would allow us to visit our brothers and sisters in faith as they
met the challenges of discipleship by together reading and praying
What is provided here is an outline of our day in an effort to
provide a model for your own day of prayerful reflection and renewal.
Adapt this model as you need. If you have any questions, please
contact us at Prayerful Voice. We will do whatever we can to help
you set up your retreat. In addition, let us know of your efforts
and the spiritual fruits you discover.
Lectio Divina "Lectio divina" is one of the great spiritual
practices of our tradition. Quite simply and profoundly, it means
"holy reading." "Lectio divina" is the practice of using Scripture
as a basis for prayer and spiritual insight. This practice is valuable
for both individual and group prayer and reflection. Both of these
methods are used in our retreat.
The basis of "lectio divina" is Scripture. Four scripture passages
have been specifically selected to engender reflection on, and discussion
of, the faith experience which brings us together: the consolation
and desolation of discipleship.
"Lectio divina" is a specific spiritual practice, and therefore
specific guidelines are provided which will aid your prayer. Follow
these guidelines fully. The "process" is intrinsic to the fullness
of the prayer experience.
1. Gospel According to John 1:19-28 And this is the testimony
of John. When the Jews from Jerusalem sent priests and Levites [to
him] to ask him, "Who are you" he admitted and did not deny it,
but admitted, I am not the Messiah." So they asked him, What are
you then? Are you Elijah?" And he said, "I am not." "Are you the
Prophet?" He answered, "No." So they said to him, "Who are you,
so we can give an answer to those who sent us? What do you have
to say for yourself? He said:
"I am 'the voice of one crying out in the desert,
Make straight the way of the Lord,"
as Isaiah the prophet said." Some Pharisees were also sent. They
asked him, "Why then do you baptize if you are not the Messiah or
Elijah or the Prophet?" John answered them, "I baptize with water;
but there is one among you whom you do not recognize, the one who
is coming after me, whose sandal strap I am not worthy to untie."
This happened in Bethany across the Jordan, where John was baptizing.
2. Acts of the Apostles 4:5-16
Peter and John are brought before the Sanhedrin after healing a
On the next day, their leaders, elders, and scribes were assembled
in Jerusalem, with Annas the high priest, Caiaphas, John, Alexander,
and all who were of the high- priestly class. They brought them
into their presence and questioned them, "By what authority or by
what name have you done this?"
Then Peter, filled with the holy Spirit, answered them, "Leaders
of the people and elders: If we are being examined today about a
good deed done to a cripple, namely, by what means he was saved,
then all of you and all the people of Israel should know that it
was in the name of Jesus Christ the Nazorean whom you crucified,
whom God raised from the dead; in his name this man stands before
you healed. He is 'the stone rejected by you, the builders, which
has become the cornerstone.' There is no salvation through anyone
else, nor is there any other name under heaven given to the human
race by which we are to be saved."
Observing the boldness of Peter and John and perceiving them to
be uneducated, ordinary men, they were amazed, and they recognized
them as the companions of Jesus. Then when they saw the man who
had been cured standing there with them, they could say nothing
in reply. So they ordered them to leave the Sanhedrin, and conferred
with one another, saying, "What are we to do with these men? Everyone
knows that a remarkable sign was done through them, and we cannot
deny it. But so that it may not be spread any further among the
people, let us give them a stern warning never again to speak to
anyone in this name."
3. Acts of the Apostles 2:1
Coming of the Spirit
When the time for Pentecost was fulfilled, they were all in one
place together. And suddenly there came from the sky a noise like
a strong driving wind, and it filled the entire house in which they
were. Then there appeared to them tongues as of fire, which parted
and came to rest on each of them. And they were all filled with
the Holy Spirit and began to speak in different tongues, as the
spirit enabled them to proclaim.
Now there were devout Jews from every nation under heaven staying
in Jerusalem. At this sound, they gathered in a large crowd, but
they were confused because each one heard them speaking in his own
language. They were astounded, and in amazement they asked, "Are
not all these people who are speaking Galileans? Then how does each
of us hear them in his own native language? We are Parthians, Medes,
and Elamites, inhabitants of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia,
Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the districts
of Libya near Cyrene, as well as travelers from Rome, both Jews
and converts to Judaism, Cretans and Arabs, yet we hear them speaking
in their own tongues of the mighty acts of God." They were all astounded
and bewildered, and said to one another, "What does this mean? But
others said, scoffing, "They have had too much new wine."
Debates about the Sabbath
While he was going through a field of grain on a Sabbath, his disciples
were picking the heads of grain, rubbing them in their hands, and
eating them. Some Pharisees said, "Why are you doing what is unlawful
on the Sabbath?" Jesus said to them in reply, "Have you not read
what David did when he and those who were with him were hungry?
How he went into the House of God, took the bread of offering, which
only the priests could lawfully eat, ate of it, and shared it with
his companions." Then he said to him, "the Son of Man is lord of
On another Sabbath he went into the synagogue and taught, and there
was a man there whose right hand was withered. The scribes and the
Pharisees watched him closely to see if he would cure on the Sabbath
so that they might discover a reason to accuse him. But he realized
their intentions and said to the man with the withered hand, "Come
up and stand before us." And he rose and stood there. Then Jesus
said to them, "I ask you, is it lawful to do good on the Sabbath
rather than to do evil, to save life rather than to destroy it?
Looking around at them all, he then said to him, "Stretch out your
hand." He did so and his hand was restored. But they became enraged
and discussed together what they might do to Jesus.
MORNING SESSION: "Lectio Divina" (Sacred Reading)
A. Settle yourself into peace and quiet.
Accepting that God is revealed over and over in the words of Scripture,
pray that you may be open to the divine presence in what you are
about to read.
Read the passage to yourself. Be attentive to words, images, and
feelings that are particularly present in this moment, in this reading.
Sit in quiet for several moments.
Read the same passage once again. Listen to your inner self; note
your reactions, and especially note what you have at this moment
"discovered" for the first time in this passage.
Pray for the continued movement of the Spirit in your prayer.
Ask and answer these questions:
- What was the overall
sense that this passage evoked in you, e.g. feelings of pleasure,
disgust, apprehension, calm?
- Are there any words
or phrases that caught your attention, popped out at you?
- Where did your feelings
- What surprised you?
What was new?
- What changed from
the first to the second reading?
B. Small group sharing
Those who prayed with the same Scripture passage will form a group.
Led by a facilitator, you will be encouraged to share your response
to the particular passage. No one will be asked to comment on your
C. Return to individual peace and quiet
Considering all that has been expressed in your small group, reread
the passage. Note to yourself the ways you have been challenged,
reassured, led, in this prayerful openness to Scripture and to God.
D. Large group
This will be an opportunity for the entire group to share their
experience with the Scripture passage and with the faith sharing
in the small group.
Some suggested questions:
- Did you receive any
new clarity around any issue?
- Was your faith challenged
or made new in any way?
- How did it feel to
be engaged in this prayerful exercise?
- What were your feelings
around hearing other people's sharing of their experience?
- How was God present
to you this morning?
- How did this prayerful
excursion address your particular needs as you toil in the vineyard
known as the mission of VOTF?
At the end of the large group discussion, each member will be asked
the same question by the facilitator and asked to share their response,
the fruit of the morning's prayer.
The facilitator will ask, What image, word or phrase, and understanding
will you take away from this morning's prayer and use to "inform"
your spiritual needs while working for/with VOTF ? What will you
use from this morning to give you strength, when renewed strength