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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 with Scripture.

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.

Retreat Readings

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 cripple

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."

4.Luke 6:1-11
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 the Sabbath."

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.

Retreat Template

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:

  1. What was the overall sense that this passage evoked in you, e.g. feelings of pleasure, disgust, apprehension, calm?
  2. Are there any words or phrases that caught your attention, popped out at you?
  3. Where did your feelings lead you?
  4. What surprised you? What was new?
  5. 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 sharing.

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:

  1. Did you receive any new clarity around any issue?
  2. Was your faith challenged or made new in any way?
  3. How did it feel to be engaged in this prayerful exercise?
  4. What were your feelings around hearing other people's sharing of their experience?
  5. How was God present to you this morning?
  6. 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 is needed?




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