The Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola – Father Andreas Gösele, SJ, one of the spiritual heads of our community, gave us an introduction to the theory and practice of the Spiritual Exercises. This month-long program of meditations, prayers, considerations, and contemplative practices help Catholic faith become more fully alive in the everyday life of contemporary people.
“In Spite of Darkness: A Spiritual Encounter with Auschwitz“ – Every November an interfaith retreat is held at the notorious Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camps in Poland, where more than 1 million people, nearly all of them European Jews, were exterminated by the Nazis. Why would someone participate in such a retreat? How could anyone attempt to pray or meditate in a place that silences the heart and chills the soul? Filmed over a period of seven days, this film tells the story of five retreatants-among them, a Rabbi, an atheist, and a Catholic priest-and how they come face to face not only with their own vulnerabilities and complicity but with new strength, peace, and glimmers of hope. Our Day of Recollection included a screening of the film, discussion and our own personal reflections. The day was lead by Father Christof Wolf, SJ, producer and director of the film and one of the spiritual heads of our community.
Zen Meditation – In Zen Buddhism the purpose of meditation is to stop the mind rushing about in an aimless (or even a purposeful) stream of thoughts. People often say that the aim of meditation is “to still the mind”. Stefan Bauberger, SJ, provided insights and an introduction to this form of meditation and some of its practices, including focusing on our own breathing (concentrative meditation), counting breaths, concentrating on a candle flame, and walking meditation.
“Faith and Doubt at Ground Zero” – Where was God on September 11th? What is the nature of evil? Would the world be better off without religion? Or is religion our last refuge? These and other questions were reflected upon and discussed under the guidance of Jason Beyer, SJ, after watching the PBS documentary “Faith and Doubt at Ground Zero”. This film features interviews with priests, rabbis, an Islamic scholar, a professor of Middle East studies, an English professor, a British novelist, a psychoanalyst, and the photographer who documented Ground Zero for the City of New York.
Contemplative Prayer and Meditation – Fr. John Main OSB (1926-1982) believed that the contemplative experience creates community. His genius was to recover and to re-present a way into this experience for ordinary people from within the Christian contemplative tradition. In the teaching of the desert monks on pure prayer he found the practice of the mantra. This practice continues to be taught by his successor Fr. Laurence Freeman OSB, spiritual leader of the World Community for Christian Mediation, a community dedicated to teaching this way of prayer and assisting modern people in the search for a deeper spiritual life. This form of meditation has been the focus of the Day of Recollection several times now. They feature several periods of meditation using the practice of the mantra, interspersed with periods listening to recorded talks by Father Laurence on aspects of meditation and the Gospel, as well as times for personal reflection. These days are led by community members Sabina and Charles Perry.