Meeting Christ in Prayer Essay: “So, Did You Meet Him?”
There are certain things in life that get better with repetition. Some fond memories become fonder when remembered over and over among friends; we realize how present we have been to one another over time. Such is the memory of my daughters’ funny quip after returning from each Meeting Christ in Prayer session: “So, did you meet Him?”
I have been privileged to facilitate Meeting Christ in Prayer for many years now. Yet only in this pandemic — where any social interaction is momentous — have I stopped to even formulate a real response to my daughters. “So, have I met Him?”
Pope Francis constantly reminds us: our faith in God is not agreeing with a philosophy, but a real encounter with God. Our kerygma, our good news, is Christ. My daughters’ casual question strikes at the heart of my faith. Have I? And if so, whom?
Meeting Christ in Prayer invites us to live and repeat our encounters with Him over eight prayerful weeks. Based on St. Ignatius’ gift to the world, the Spiritual Exercises, we live different experiences each week. In Week 2, we encounter a loving God who created this beautiful universe for each of us – meaning for you and me. Yes, dear reader — for you! We then encounter Jesus during His early life; during His ministry; painfully during His Passion and death; joyfully in His resurrection; and through doing His work prayerfully in our daily lives. And yes, we repeat these encounters, seeing how God has been present to us through our lives and each week of the retreat.
Practically, we meet Christ through our reason and hearts, by learning the ancient prayer of Lectio Divina; through our imagination, by learning imaginative prayer; and, importantly, through our spiritual dialogue. Pope Francis teaches us in Evangelii Gaudium, that this dialogue is so much more than the content we communicate. Spiritual conversation means our souls are open to one another in communion. We do experience this.
In the reading about the Magi’s visit, I invariably marvel at Mary, trying to quiet and feed Jesus when these strangers show up. She calmly keeps “all these things, reflecting on them in her heart.” Many of our conversations do remain in my heart: one retreatant describes her patio vine, noting how it insistently reaches each branch, like Jesus with us; another declares it’s hard not to find God in her daily encounters; another states that she does not have anything this week but still shows up in companionship; another reveals a recurrent braid image and realizes that it is God being braided into her life.
And whom have I encountered? That benevolent mystery present among us through Scripture and one another, incarnate in our daily broken, messy, and hope-filled lives. I invite you to encounter Him and one another in the communion of Meeting Christ in Prayer.
Please register at [email protected] before September 26th, 2021.