OPENING PRAYER/RITUAL AND SCRIPTURE
Before we begin, does everybody have a prayer book?
DOWNLOAD PRAYER BOOK HERE
What is prayer for you? I’m sure prayer can only be defined by what your experience of attempting to pray has been. My guess is that when you pray, you hope to communicate with God. Do you feel God’s presence when you pray? Do you wonder if He is listening? In the bible in the book of John 1:1,14 it says:
“In the beginning was the Word…and the Word was God….
Became flesh and made His dwelling among us…
and we saw His glory full of grace and truth”
So, I invite you to use the prayer book this weekend to engage in prayerful conversation with Christ your Savior. Spend time before the Blessed Sacrament in the tabernacle or in exposition. Open a bible and read and meditate on a story or two. Talk with Christ about how that story is part of your life story.
Open your book to the “Friday” page so you can see the format as I describe how to use it.
This prayer book will be a sacred space where you can record your conversations with Christ this weekend. On the left-hand pages you can write the story of what is going on in your heart. You can offer your worries to Christ, tell him for whom you are praying, ask for what you need and thank Him for blessings you have received.
On the right-hand pages, record what you hear Christ saying to you: through what you hear in the witness talks being shared, through the scriptures that are read, from encounters with your sisters in your small groups or at the dinner table.
Through this give and take of your thoughts, feelings and prayers and Christ’s response, He reveals His presence and His love for you as His Beloved.
At the close of each session, we will have a few minutes for quiet reflection before we head to small groups. That quiet time will be your opportunity to begin writing in your prayer book. So for now, set your book down and just rest and listen as we begin our opening prayer.
Let’s begin our retreat with a deep breath and a moment of stillness to just center ourselves and help us break away from the world.
THREE DEEP BREATHS.
If you were asked “Who are you? what you would you say? What labels would you use to define who you are? Would you use labels that identify the roles you play, what you do for a living or list yourself as part of a social group, like “I am a mother, a nurse, an insurance agent, a Girl Scout leader or a choir singer.”
We live in a world that is constantly telling us who we should be…if we do this or that or buy this product, we will be more beautiful or worthy of love and acceptance. We may choose to take on some labels because significant people in our lives tell us things about us, of which they approve. But what if people tell us negative things? What if we are guilty of behavior that is not considered acceptable? What if your husband is abusive or your boss thinks you are lousy at your job? What if you have an illness or have an addiction? How does that change how you define who you are? These may be things that cause you to feel badly about yourself and fearful. Going through life, we carry with us, everything that we experience, the joys and the sorrows. We get plenty of messages of judgment and expectations. We can feel burdened by the things that the world tells us we are supposed to be and that we don’t measure up. There is a lot in our suitcase of memories. But we don’t have to keep carrying the HEAVY baggage. Hurt and pain, illness, betrayals, un-forgiveness, regret, shame, addiction, rejection, abuse, and indeed fear are all very heavy weights that hold us back and weigh us down. Identifying ourselves with labels like, “victim”, “responsible” or “unworthy” are not who we are.
Take a moment and ponder these questions:
~In what way has fear or some other burden played a part in my life story?
~What label have I won that I most dislike or that diminishes my self-worth?
~What is going on in my life that makes me feel like I’m drowning?
~What do I fear most?
~What heavy weight do I keep carrying?
~What do I need to let go of right now to take the first step toward resting in God’s presence?
~Am I ready to surrender all that baggage?
MOMENT OF SILENCE (THREE DEEP BREATHS/ SILENTLY PRAY HAIL MARY
~Why are you here?
~What do you want to ASK God to give you this weekend?
~What is the desire of your heart?
MOMENT OF SILENCE – (THREE DEEP BREATHS/ SILENTLY PRAY HAIL MARY)
Now take some to write in your prayer book. (10-15 min.)
Heavenly Father, we ask for your blessing upon this place, and upon each of these women. Protect our families while we are away. Help us know that we are your Beloved and you do want to give us the desires of our hearts. Help us claim who we are in the Body of Christ. We ask you to come to our aid in overcoming our fears and give us the courage to be vulnerable, truthful, and open in sharing our stories and our needs with one another. Please fill our hearts with the love of Christ. Empowered by the gifts of the Holy Spirit, may we come to a fuller understanding that our stories matter and that you write them on our hearts with extravagant grace. Help us to give thanks for our brokenness and burdens, because when you restore us, through that grace, Christ is revealed to the women in this circle and the world. Amen