Tuesday, February 23, 2021

Lenten online retreats for you!

 Dear friends,

Here is an announcement from my "website" (in quotes because it's really a blog that functions as a website janeredmont.blogspot.com) about some online retreats I am offering this Lent. As you will see below, there are links to further information and registration.

Do join us for one of the retreats! There is a fee for the retreat, but on a sliding scale, and we can accommodate you, whether you can afford the "benefactor" level or you are in a situation of financial hardship.

art by Thomas Merton

What, you say? A second pandemic Lent?

Can Lent be life-giving, faith-deepening, full of meaning when, for many, the entire past year has felt like Lent?

How will we live Lent in 2021?

Ash Wednesday
, the first day of Lent in Christian churches of the Western traditions, was last week. Today is the first Sunday of Lent. Here we are.

Lent, the 40-day season preceding Easter, is the Christian church's annual long retreat.

We go on this retreat, not necessarily to a different geographical place, especially this year, but to a zone of mindfulness and practice that reorients our hearts and helps us to reconnect, deeply, with God, with Jesus Christ, with the Spirit at the heart of God's life and the life of the world.

We clear some space and time --even a little bit of each-- to  to make room for the God of comfort and surprises and to remember what is deepest and truest in our lives. Lent is for the sake of Easter. It is a time of renewal. It is a sober time, but not a gloomy time. It is a time of self-examination, but not a time of cruelty. It is a time of attentiveness and a time of turning --of conversion.  Transformation is not always easy, but it is possible. Grace is present. Always.

Will you join us on one of three online retreats this Lent?

The two longer retreats, which run for all six weeks of Lent, begin this week. The shorter one, which is three weeks long, begins in the middle of next week.

This six-week online retreat examines contemplation and struggle in the life, writings, and prayer of Thomas Merton, with guidance and opportunity for prayer and practice. Merton, a 20th century Trappist monk, was also a writer, poet, spiritual teacher, artist, social critic, and pioneer in interreligious and intermonastic dialogue. I have offered versions of this retreat before. For more detailed information and to register, click here.

A six-week retreat of prayer, practice, and reflection on the life-giving dimensions of this second Lent of the coronavirus pandemic. It will include a lot of  focus on the body and bodies: our own bodies, Earth's body, our neighbors' bodies, the body of Christ
. For more detailed information and to register, click here.

This one's for you who are struggling, or feeling overwhelmed, and who never quite got started on Lent on either Ash Wednesday or the First Sunday in Lent. Begins in the middle of next week, the second week of Lent. No guilt-trips, just reminders of grace abundant and of the Holy One's love for us as we amble or stumble along. For more detailed information and to register, click here.

All of the retreats have a structure and a schedule, but they are flexible enough to integrate into your daily life: you are the one who decides when and where to read and pray with the materials offered on the retreat and how to apply the invitations to practice.

All three online retreats will be operate on a hybrid model, by which I mean:

1) As in the past, all the retreats will include online resources you can tap into at any time of the day or night, on a private blog to which you will have access once you are registered for the retreat. Among the resources will be readings, meditations, images, a little music, and spiritual exercises to practice in your own time and in the context of your life.

2) Since many of us now have experience with video conversations, each retreat will also include some live online conversation in one or two specific time slots each week -- enough for you to touch base in person (with me and with your companions on the retreat) for some inspiration and support, but not so much that you will get "Zoom fatigue."

All of these online retreats call us to simplicity, mindfulness, and holiness. Like the season of Lent itself, they invite us to repentance and conversion, but also to joy. 

Peace be with you. Please join us on the journey of Lent.

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