Meeting Christ in Prayer Before and During Covid-19 | January 30, 2021
Paul’s First Epistle to the Thessalonians instructs those of the faith to “encourage one another and build one another up.” In my several years as a journeyman through various Christian denominations, I can attest that I have never seen a better application of this than what I experienced at the Meeting Christ in Prayer retreat. I most passionately recommend Meeting Christ in Prayer to all believers, regardless of how deep you are in your faith or wherever you may be in your walk with Jesus Christ.
I had long desired to learn the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius, and Meeting Christ in Prayer provided an opportunity to learn an 8-week small group variant. We started meeting in January of 2020 without imagining that, beginning in March, our City and world would dramatically change with the Covid-19 pandemic. The atmosphere at the meetings was very peaceful and encouraging: the facilitators were respectful and welcoming, modeling how to receive each participant’s contribution as a gift. The participants themselves varied in age, gender, and individual experiences in their spiritual journey. Some were lifelong Catholics; others relatively new believers. Some had read the Bible often; others had rarely experienced the readings outside of Mass. Yet we all came together as one body and one community, equally engaged with the readings and equally inspired by each other’s sharing experiences of Christ’s presence through them.
As for the Exercises themselves, they were incredibly inspirational. I have studied the Bible for many years, and I was able to uncover new layers to Bible passages I had read several times. Meditating on these familiar readings brought the scenes to life in a new and exciting way whenever I encountered them in a Mass or while praying a Rosary. I also found clarity and resolution in many issues I had when the retreat started. I unearthed bad habits I never knew existed and discovered many ways to live as a better person and a better witness to Jesus. I learned several techniques that fostered a deeper relationship with Christ and the Gospel, and I continue to use them today.
Midway through the retreat, all public places in New York City abruptly closed, including our church and our meeting space. With a slight delay, we reconnected via Zoom; paradoxically, the value of the Exercises and the community intensified a hundredfold, as they provided a consoling refuge throughout a Lenten season tragically void of the Sacraments and in-person Mass.
Many of us found unique solace in the daily Exercises and weekly meetings during a unique time of widespread panic and despair. The Exercises profoundly motivated me to pray often for the many who were afflicted by this disease.
I wholeheartedly invite you to join Meeting Christ in Prayer and pray that you will experience the consolation of Christ through these still uncertain times.
— A St. Ignatius Parishioner
Meeting Christ in Prayer is offered in two sessions, beginning Tuesday, February 2nd at 9:30 AM or Wednesday, February 3rd at 7 PM via Zoom. If you are ready for this 8-week commitment, register at [email protected] and pick up materials before Sunday, January 31st.