Father James Kurzynski has been on retreat in the Arizona desert. Here are his reflections on his return to parish duties and the new world(s) he is invited to enter through astronomy, his retreat, and Pope Francis’s Laudato Si’.
After 10 weeks, my prayer has become very physical, meaning paying close attention to both the movements of God in my prayer and the warning signs that the physical waters of my body were getting dry. Am I inserting wry humor at this point? Partially. I am also making a point of one of the greatest gifts this sabbatical has given to me – Prayer is a lot easier when you are well hydrated… or better put, my physical health is intimately and inseparably tied to my spiritual health.
This insight shouldn’t be terribly shocking to the Christian. We often speak of total participation in the celebration of the Eucharist in which every aspect of who we are is brought to prayer. We speak of this odd co-mingling of two different worlds, The Earthly Liturgy and the Heavenly Liturgy, happening simultaneously. This is all well and good and should be at the tip of every Christian’s worshiping tongue.
Do follow the link and read on! Maybe we all need to question that which was in no need of being questioned, in our lives and in our hearts.
Good morning and hope this finds you well, as we are here at the Rectory. One of the things I find difficult about this lockdown, is remembering what day it is! Those of you watching Morning Prayer know where I am coming from…is it Wednesday or Thursday, and then the reassuring sound of the rubbish Lorry (thank you keyworkers) alerted me to the fact that it’s Thursday – but what does differentiate our days?
Several people have mentioned that this rhythm of prayer (Morning Prayer & Compline), work (paid work or clearing cupboards/gardening), exercise, and rest is very monastic, and something that I have reflected on myself. Last night I caught up with a friend of mine, a sister in a closed convent, and we chatted on Zoom (yes is possible), and how this rhythm to our days was not that dissimilar to their way of life.
May years ago I was introduced to something called Rhythm of life, how each day one should have a quiet time, each week a quiet time (Sabbath), every month maybe a quiet day, every year maybe a retreat – and what this feels like at the moment is a global ‘retreat’, everything has been paused – a chance of reflection, of asking some of the bigger questions, of giving our planet that opportunity to breathe….of action and contemplation. That rhythm of alternating between meeting with God in the quiet place, and then the meeting of God in the busyness of the market place.
Rev Jo Richards, Rector, Benefice of St Dunstan, St Mildred and St Peter, Canterbury.
Fr James Kurzynski of the Vatican Observatory Website recently wrote about his coming sabbatical retreat. Follow the link to read his reflections before he proceeds to the desert of Arizona. Here is part of his article.
I felt a deep peace about what I would call “detachment Wednesdays.” Wednesday will be a day of silence, encouraging us to not speak verbally, unplug from anything that could distract us, and take a day of restful prayer.
Two weeks age, I gave a presentation about my sabbatical to St. Olaf’s youth in our Faith Formation Program. When I got to the part of explaining Wednesday Unplugged, I told them, “Don’t bother trying to get a hold of me on Wednesday, but do know each one of you will be prayed for that day as I prayerfully take St. Olaf Parish with me into the desert.”
Wednesdays and Fridays are traditionally the more concentrated days of the week in Lent; ‘Spy Wednesday’ in Holy Week seen as the day when Judas went to betray his Lord; Good Friday when Jesus, his Lord and Ours, died for all our sin. All our sin, as the Sculptor of Strasbourg Cathedral makes clear.
We cannot all dedicate our Wednesdays to restful prayer, any more than Fr James can do during most of his working life, but let us try to find a desert moment to be restful and open to prayer, even if it’s sitting on the bus home, or a quiet cup of tea before going to get the children from school.
I am writing this post in July, not a Lenten month at all. People in England are looking forward to the summer holidays, to relaxation rather than to rigorous fasting and spiritual exercise. But there is also a market – I use the word deliberately – for spiritual activities. Here are a few random web ads for yoga experiences; we could look at other sorts of spiritual experience, but yoga seems popular among those who can afford it.
What about a yoga immersion course – is the hint of baptismal initiation deliberate, I wonder?
Or a restful and rejuvenating yoga retreat, with mindfulness vegetarian food? The Cistercians are vegetarian and eat in silence, but is it the food or the shared nature of meal that contributes to ‘mindfulness’?
What about a Japanese yoga retreat mixing body-transforming jivamukti yoga with hikes through forests peppered with ancient temples. Could you not get the transformed body from the gym and hikes through the local countryside?
What are the purchasers of the top 30 yoga retreats going into the luxury desert to seek? Classical yoga and ‘divine’ spa treatments? Notice the Christian religious language that creeps into these ads, even the ‘transformed body’ has resonances, especially at the time you are reading, the season of preparation for Easter, when life is changed, not taken away.
Our desert this Lent makes no claim to be luxurious, nor will a few minutes of reading with us transform your earthly bodies, but we do hope the Spirit is leading us into the desert where we can receive a renewal of our baptism, the original and best divine spa treatment. And as for mindfulness food: must I spell it out?
Here is a hymn by Lucien Deiss that draws on 2Timothy2 and other texts: Keep in mind.