Wednesday, May 20, 2009
Once Upon a Time, When I was a Methodist. . .
In the 1990s I went on a Walk to Emmaus Women's Retreat in North Georgia. On that first day of the three-day retreat, we learned that this United Methodist retreat had sprung from a Roman Catholic retreat experience called Cursillo.
I was suprised. Shocked. Confused.
There have been moments in my life when I have come face-to-face with my anti-Catholic bias. This was one of those moments.
The Walk to Emmaus Retreat was fantastic, powerful and a potentially life-changing retreat. I could hardly believe that we had "borrowed" the concept from the Catholics.
Had the retreat leaders told me that this experience came out of the charismatic or evangelical movements, I wouldn't have been surprised, but I had an idea of the Catholic Church back then, and it didn't fit with this incredible encounter with grace.
I am ashamed I ever felt like this because, the truth is, every good gift we have from Our Lord Jesus Christ has been entrusted to His Church in such an abundance that it has spilled over into other faith communities. The keeper of the Faith has always been the Catholic Church - from the moment of that first Pentecost day when the Church was born. Any honest read of history proves this. She has given all believers the powerful teachings on the Trinity, the Incarnation and the Redemption.
When I became Catholic, I frequently heard a prayer that I first learned on that retreat. To this day, when I hear that prayer, I think of my old bias, and I am humbled but I am also in awe of a God who would shower the Catholic Church so richly that her treasures spilled over and enriched so many other faith communities.
What is the prayer? It is the Prayer to the Holy Spirit.
I attended the North Georgia Women's Walk to Emmaus where I sat at the table of Deborah. . . and this is the Catholic prayer that has filled my life with good things:
Come Holy Spirit, and fill the hearts of your faithful, and kindle in them the fire of Your Divine Love. Send forth Your Spirit and they shall be created, and You shall renew the face of the earth. Oh God, Who by the light of the Holy Spirit instructed the hearts of the faithful, Grant, that by the same Spirit we may be truly wise and ever rejoice in His consolation. We ask this through Christ Our Lord.
What made me think of the prayer today? The Gospel reading for today's Mass is from John 16 (12-13):
I still have many things to say to you
but they would be too much for you now.
But when the Spirit of truth comes
he will lead you to the complete truth. . .