Welcome to this short Advent Half Day Retreat, on what is the Fourth Sunday of Advent (Sunday 19th December), a time when we light the 'Angel's Candle' in anticipation and preparation of the coming of Jesus Christ into this world and, with it, the prospect of a more peaceful and a more harmonious future.
This has been another very difficult year for many people across nations, communities and families. Through the course of the next six hours or so we hope to offer some sense of spiritual joy and optimism, an opportunity to put aside those very real uncertainties and anxieties we may hold and to appreciate the importance of just 'waiting, resting and returning'.
As many of us have been subject to shielding, to restrictions and limited movement over recent months, we might have felt some sense of being 'trapped' by time and by the timeframes that dominate our thinking and our current pattern of life. Daily routine has been a major feature throughout the pandemic and we might be feeling the intensity of this on our hearts and minds. There is much 'friction' and 'dislocation' as we adjust once again to an uncertain period ahead with new variants of the Covid virus beginning to surface. We come to this retreat, recognising that all is not right within our world and within ourselves.
We shall focus, in these half hourly reflections (from approximately 12pm to 6pm) , on some of the challenges that Advent presents to us in terms of the way we view time. Try to regard the next six hours as a gentle opportunity to explore Advent afresh and to step aside from what is happening within our wider society - in terms of general anxiety, Christmas consumerism or TV schedules!!
In the words of the AECI Prayer below you are looking for that 'quiet compassionate presence', in a safe space of your own, for the rest of this afternoon. We are journeying together without the overriding pressure of worldly time , of days and months and years, upon us. We are journeying more in the timeframe of 'angels' and the 'divine'. Thanks for joining us!
The Ami Elisabeth Catez Institute Prayer:
O’ Spirit of God Guide us in the triumph of humility Over competing worldly identities Steer us towards the joys of trust Away from indiscriminate and recurring fears Direct us to a quiet, compassionate presence To know the gifts of love Free from the noise of blame and of strife There to abandon anger, confusion, frustration, restlessness Before the light of each dawning day Amen
St. Elizabeth of the Trinity Pray For Us!