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Archives Advent event focused on prayer, slowing down

Dec. 25, 2019

By Eileen Greenwood
Contributing writer

LOWVILLE – The message at the “Day of Reflection” held Dec. 7 in Lowville was clear: The hectic pace of our lives is a challenge we must face daily during this season that calls us to slow down. During Advent, a time of peaceful anticipation for the coming of the Christ Child, we are called to recognize the joy in the gift that is coming soon.

Sister Bethany Fitzgerald, a Sister of St. Joseph, led a group of 19 in the “Day of Reflection,” themed “Nurturing Hospitality of the Heart.”

Sister Bethany noted that it is appropriate that the season of Advent occurs in winter. Winter is a season that also encourages us to take a break and to draw inward.

Sister Bethany also spoke of the importance of the Advent and winter seasons as times for us to grow in our spiritual lives and to experience the peace of Christ.

“During Advent God is calling me to be closer to Him,” she said. “Winter draws me inward and asks us to be quiet. Advent is also the darkest time of the year. It is at this time that Christ comes into the world.”
The event began with prayer and a reflection by Sister Bethany. Those in attendance gathered and listened to her explain how the season invites us to slow our lives and to focus on connecting with God.

“God is waiting for us to clear some space so we can encounter Him,” she said. “How do I open my heart and welcome God’s presence in?”

Different ways to pray were shared, including the Examen as developed by St. Ignatius.

“St. Ignatius reminds us to articulate our needs to God,” shared Sister Bethany. “God’s ways are not always our ways. The invitation is there to sit at his feet.”

Lectio divina was another kind of prayer discussed. Lectio focuses on reading a passage from Scripture, then reading it again, and meditating on one word or phrase that speaks to you. Participants in the Retreat took some time to practice this method with a passage Sister Bethany shared about Mary’s visit to Elizabeth.

After quiet personal reflection our group re-assembled and discussed what each person took from the passage.
“The calm and peace of the season is there if we slow down enough to grasp it,” Sister Bethany said. “Mary was blessed because she believed that what was spoken to her by the Lord would be fulfilled.”

This passage also reflected on the importance of feeling God’s presence in our lives, Sister Bethany noted.

“When we feel God’s presence, we can then know His will,” she said. “Our encounter with Jesus helps us to live with joy.”

Sister Bethany explained that when we focus on Jesus and let the Holy Spirit in, the way is somehow clearer. We are then more present with our relationships with others we encounter.

Sister Bethany also spoke of the importance of sharing the joy of knowing Christ with others. She highly recommended reading the “Joy of the Gospel,” by Pope Francis.

Sister Bethany also spoke of the importance of inviting someone into your home for a meal. Sharing the scripture example of Zacchaeus, who shared a meal with Jesus that was a life-changing encounter.

“When you are invited into someone’s home for a meal, you are also invited into their heart,” she said, noting Zacchaeus was changed forever after “Jesus saw his heart and desire for something more. Jesus invited him in and changed his life.”

The Apostles shared meals with Jesus as well of course, and the most famous one, the Last Supper, was certainly life changing for them and for Christians everywhere.

The host for the “Day of Reflection” was Deb Mullin, catechetical leader of St. Peter’s in Lowville. Mullin also provided a luncheon that was enjoyed by all who gathered.

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