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Living Prayer Lecture Series
One Saturday a month. Online (Jan/Feb) and In-person (from Feb). 10am-12 noon.

We invite you to join us in person for our Living Prayer Lecture Series.

One Saturday each month from November to July 2022 from 10am til 12 noon you will hear from different speakers advising on how to deepen your experience of prayer and practice contemplative living according to your lifestyle.

<strong>Course Schedule</strong>

Date

Saturday 6th November

Saturday 4th December

Saturday 8th January

Saturday 5th February

Saturday 12th March

Saturday 2nd April

Saturday 7th May

Saturday 4th June

Saturday 2nd July

Theme

Awakened by the Beloved

Letting Go and Letting God

Receiving True Life from the Tree of Life

Resting in God and from Self

Simplicity and Contemplative Discernment

The Contemplative School of Mary

Forgiveness and Healing in Relationships

Spiritual Commitment and Soul-Care

Transformed by the Beloved

Speaker

Fr Matt Blake, OCD

Fr Liam Finnerty, OCD

Fr Alex Ezechukwu, OCD

Fr Kelvin Ekhoegbe, OCD

Fr Yamai Bature, OCD

Fr Jerome, OCD

Fr Tony Parsons, OCD

Fr Theo, OCD

Fr Iain Matthew, OCD

Course Content

Saturday 6th November – Awakened by the Beloved – Fr Matt Blake, OCD

Truly God was in this place and I did not know it (Genesis 28:16)

If the soul is seeking God, so much more is God seeking the soul. St John of the Cross

This weekend’s theme is an introduction to contemplative spirituality in the Carmelite tradition. It acknowledges the profound yearning of the human heart for something more which is the theological basis of contemplative living. The theme will explore images of God’s transforming self-disclosure favoured in Carmelite thinking; ‘God’s Omnipresence’ which paradoxically can be experienced as ‘God’s absence’; the Carmelite attitude of attentive listening to the sound of the God who approaches us- in other people, in the events happening around us, in our ourselves and in what is happening within us. And, through all these means respectfully inviting us to deeper intimacy of friendship and belovedness. The wisdom of Brother Lawrence of the Resurrection will illuminate our exploration of this theme.

By the end of this weekend you will have an understanding of the Carmelite response to our inner restlessness and search for intimacy and how this is rooted in biblical spirituality (cf. Matthew 11:24; a greater awareness of our need for sacred times and spaces which facilitate an attentive seeing and listening to signs and sounds of God’s invitation to intimacy and love.

Saturday 4th December – Letting Go and Letting God – Fr Liam Finnerty, OCD

                    It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. (Galatians 5:1)

              How will a person brought to birth and nurtured in a world of small horizons rise up to the Lord, if you do not raise him by your hand which made him. St John of the Cross

During this weekend, we will explore the resistance which we put up, consciously and unconsciously to the loving inflow of God which alone can set the heart aflame with love. Our resistance can be in the form of the things – even good things, lesser loves – that enslave us no matter how insignificant they may appear. For St. Teresa they are like creatures that take over spaces that are not their own natural habitat (snakes and reptiles in the second dwelling place). For St. John of the Cross, the image he provides is that of a bird which as long as it is held down whether by a string or a rope, will remain unable to soar into the skies. This theme of enslavement and the need for freedom runs through Scripture. In the Gospels Jesus would use the metaphor of the grain that dies in order yield a rich harvest (John 12:24).

During this weekend you will learn how Carmelite saints have answered the questions central to human resistance to grace, that enslavement to lesser loves, and how these loves can be left behind; you will appreciate the role of prayer in severing the bonds of enslavement; you will learn how with the help of the Holy Spirit who inflames the willing soul with love for God, we can experience the greater love that empowers us to leave lesser loves behind.

Saturday 8th January – Receiving True Life from the Tree of Life – Fr Alex Ezechukwu, OCD

I have come that they may have life in all it’s fullness. (John 10:10)

     Your very beauty will be my beauty; and therefore, we shall behold each other in Your beauty. St. John of the Cross

The theme for this weekend will focus on the secret of fruitfulness of contemplative prayer and life. This fruitfulness is a biblical theme typified in the image of the beautiful Garden of Eden and the Tree of Life as it’s centre whose fruit is beautiful to behold. Christian tradition from earliest times have identified Christ as the true Tree of Life in the Garden of the heart. From him comes the true nourishment that the soul needs. This imagery will be explored in the light of Carmelite understanding of total loving attentiveness to Christ as a “gazing” on Christ the source of the soul’s life which at the same time is a process of transformation in beauty.

Exploring this theme will help towards a greater appreciation of the deep desire of God to see the divine beauty reflected in us; being inspired to strive in letting ourselves be enthralled by God- the Beauty ever ancient and ever new – and having allowed ourselves to be seduced by such beauty as Jeremiah the prophet would put it (cf. Jeremiah 20:7), continue to be transformed in beauty.

Saturday 5th February – Resting in God and from Self – Fr Kelvin Ekhoegbe, OCD

Come to me all you who are tired and are carrying heavy loads and I will give you rest (Matthew 11:28)

        When night comes and you look back over the day…. Just take everything exactly as it is, put it into God’s hands and leave it to Him…then you will be able to rest in Him, really rest, abd start the next day as a new life. St. Edith Stein

This weekend’s theme will explore the idea of ‘rest’ and it’s importance for a way of life that is attentive to God. This idea is rooted in the spirituality of the Sabbath in the scriptures and which is essential for the self-disclosure of God as well as growth in self-knowledge which St. Teresa defines as living in the truth. It will address the reality of the ‘restlessness’ of the human heart and the remedy revealed in scripture and in the Carmelite tradition.

You’ll discover that God wishes to be totally involved in our lives as much as he wants us to be completely involved in his; that this is the basis of the first covenant of the Spirit and of the new covenant in the blood of Christ; that our ‘restlessness’ is a response to the invitation to return to where we can find true rest (cf. Songs 2:10&12), Carmel’s own response to the call by way of pondering the Word of God which in Carmelite spirituality is the place where we get to know God and as such is vital for developing intimacy with God whose voice addresses us personally through the pages of the Bible; appreciate the need for a ‘Sabbath time’ in your weekly schedule as a special time for the renewal of our love relationship with God.

Saturday 12th March – Simplicity and Contemplative Discernment – Fr Yamai Bature, OCD

Oh, how fortunate are the pure in heart for they shall see God! (Matthew 5:8)

      O living flame of love that tenderly wounds my soul. St. John of the Cross

For this weekend, the theme will explore the dynamics of spiritual transformation. Carmelite spirituality as articulated in the teaching of St. John of the Cross has made an important contribution towards an understanding of this process which can be confounding. As growth in the spiritual life corresponds to simplicity of life or in biblical language, purity of heart; a necessary stripping off and purification from all in all for the soul, understanding the process is vital as it could lead to discouragement due to the experience of God’s ‘Absence’ – suffering, dryness and confusion – that does accompany it. The important theme of freedom at night time in the scriptures will also be explored.

This weekend’s theme will help towards a deeper appreciation of the imagery of the ‘Night’ or ‘darkness’ which symbolizes this process of freeing the soul for God alone; an understood of the importance of detachment in the spiritual life; a greater awareness of the process involved in the Carmelite teaching about the ‘Dark Night’; and an understanding of the nature and rules of Contemplative discernment.

Saturday 2nd April – The Contemplative School of Mary – Fr Jerome, OCD

The devotion of Mary is one of the most delightful flowers in Carmel’s garden. I should like to call it a sunflower… It is characteristic of this flower to turn itself towards the sun and moreover it is an image of the son….

              The flower itself represents the soul created after God’s image in order to absorb the sunlight of God’s bounty… Such a flower was Mary. Blessed Titus Brandsma.

The scriptures and Christian tradition have always proposed particular individuals as models to emulate (cf. Matthew 11:29, 1 Corinthians 4:16, 11:1,1 Peter 2:21). Mary, the mother of Jesus, is one figure in biblical history and in Christian memory who is revered as a model of the contemplative. In Carmelite spirituality, she is the archetypal figure who engaging with the word of God and docile to the Holy Spirit allows God to transform her in divine blessedness and beauty, the marvels, for which she magnifies God (Luke 1:49). This weekend’s theme will explore the figure of Mary as ‘Blessed and Beautiful’ who’s life can be a model for those who seek a deeper relationship with Christ through praying in the spirit of Carmel. Reflection from the Gospels that highlights Mary’s experiences in the life and ministry of Jesus will help towards a deeper appreciation of our own blessedness; give insight on how to pray like Mary the perfect contemplative; and help us understand God’s unrelenting desire that will be reflections of divine beauty.

Saturday 7th May – Forgiveness and Healing in Relationships – Fr Tony Parsons, OCD

             Faithful friends are life saving medicine. (Sirach 6:16)

             All must be friends, all be loved, all be held dear, all be helped. St. Teresa of Avila

This weekend’s theme will explore the Teresian prayerful response to the crisis of unity which beseiged the church of the sixteenth century Europe. It will engage important question of forgiveness and healing in relationships. The place of friendship in the Teresian Carmel essentially characterized as a prayerful community of friends; it’s rootedness in scripture and it’s relevance for our flourishing as individuals and communities will also be discussed. Key dispositions for giving forgiveness and receiving it will be proposed.

By the end if the weekend, you’ll explore the questions: How do we learn to forgive? Where do we learn about forgiveness; How can be empowered to forgive? It will also lead to an understanding of how true prayer brings about healing and wholeness in our own lives and in our relationships; the importance of spiritual friendship for growth and wholeness.

Saturday 4th June – Spiritual Commitment and Soul-Care – Fr Theo, OCD

Make your home in me, as I make mine in you. (John 15:4)

         Flame, living flame, compelling, yet tender past all tell