Here in the U.S., many are reading his works again --or for the first time-- both because of the times in which we live and because of a couple of recently published biographies.
The Christian season of Lent begins tomorrow, Ash Wednesday, March 1, in the Western Christian churches. (The Eastern Orthodox season of Great Lent nearly coincides with Lent in the Western church this year and began on February 27.) Lent is in many ways a long retreat for the whole church, a six-week preparation for the celebration of Easter. It is a time of intensified or more intentional prayer, greater simplicity of life, and giving to others, especially those who are poor.
This year, we invite you to
Lent with Dietrich Bonhoeffer
An Online Retreat
March 5-April 21, 2017
March 5-April 21, 2017
The first full week of the retreat begins this coming Sunday, March 5, but there will be a "soft opening" tomorrow, March 1, for those who want to jump right in and get started on Ash Wednesday.
This retreat will place us in conversation with the life and writings of Dietrich Bonhoeffer. This is a retreat, not a class, though we will certainly learn from the retreat and from each other. Our lens will be a meditative one in which both prayer and critical thinking will be welcome and encouraged. There will be readings, but they will not be as long as they would be for a course. In addition to readings, the retreat will include some musical and visual resources.
The retreat will offer spiritual exercises based on Bonhoeffer's life and work and oriented toward the Christian season of Lent.
Read on for further details,
Focus and themes
Every week in the retreat will have an overarching theme or cluster of themes related to Bonhoeffer's life and work.
Prelude (Ash Wednesday and the next three days):
Why Bonhoeffer? Why this retreat?Week 1 (March 5):
With an introduction to Bonhoeffer's life and some Psalms
Bonhoeffer's context and ours (with an examination of the Nazification of Germany, but also of Bonhoeffer's family and formation)Week 2 (March 12):
Jesus Christ, discipleship, and graceWeek 3 (March 19):
Life together: community, church, resistanceWeek 4 (March 26):
Friendship, trust, commitment: Bonhoeffer and relationshipsWeek 5 (April 2):
Travel, ecumenism, inspiration: Bonhoeffer beyond German borders, from Rome to Harlem and Sweden to South AfricaWeek 6 (April 9, Palm Sunday/Sunday of the Passion, and into Holy Week):
Suffering, sacrifice, and the crossWeek 7 (April 16, Easter):
Heirs to Bonhoeffer, friends of Christ: living Resurrection.We will ponder each theme or cluster of themes through Bonhoeffer's writings and other resources and also reflect on and pray with these themes as they are manifest in our own lives.
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FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)
An online retreat? What's that?
It's a retreat in daily life with resources and guidance online. You'll need a computer or tablet and an internet connection. You'll be using the computer to make the retreat, but you won't be spending the whole retreat staring at the computer.
The beauty of an online retreat is that you can check in with the retreat on your own schedule, at whatever hour of the night or day works for you. You do need to devote some time to it, but if you have 20-30 minutes two or three times a week, you can benefit from the retreat. You can also spend more time on the retreat if you wish, or check in daily. The retreat is structured to work for a two or three times a week check-in as well as for daily participation. It's up to you.
How does an online retreat work?
The retreat offers daily resources online on a blog. More specifically, a closed blog.
What's a closed blog? It's a blog like this, but it is not public: it is open only to those whom the blog owner-administrator (that's me, Jane, the retreat facilitator) has signed in.
In other words, the retreat blog is not open to anybody wandering around the internet. It is not "searchable": random web surfers will not be able to view either the blog or our conversations in the comments. Conversations among retreatants remain private.
Do I have to talk to other people on this retreat? I'm a very private person.
See the answer to the next question.
Can I get some support here? I want some company.
Jane's online retreats offer you a choice; it is up to you to find your preferred balance between the solitary and the communal, between privacy and solidarity.
You can and may remain private and just read the blog and use the spiritual practices and meditations on your own. Nobody will force you to speak or disclose who you are.
Or you can and may take part in conversation with other retreatants. Conversation during the online retreat takes place in writing, through the comments feature on the blog posts of the retreat blog. Please be prepared to observe confidentiality and to respect other participants' diverse experiences and outlooks.
Use the retreat according to your personality and your circumstances. The online retreat is like a room in which you are welcome to sit in the company of others and to be either visible or invisible.
What's with the March 1 /March 5 double start date?
Lent begins on Ash Wednesday, which falls on March 1 this year. The first full week of Lent begins Sunday, March 5. We all get started on Lent in different ways despite (or because of) the calendar. Some of us are a little slower than others. Get started on the retreat any time from March 1 on. Try to be with us on retreat by March 5 at the latest. But if you're a day or two late, you can still join us.
And what about that theme for the first week of Easter? I thought this was a Lenten retreat.
It is. But the celebration of the Passion and Resurrection are one. Lent doesn't just lead to the Last Supper, the Cross, and the silent closed tomb. It leads to Easter, the open tomb, and the proclamation of enduring and risen life.
The retreat will continue into the first week of Easter for those who desire. This will give us an opportunity to celebrate Easter together and to reflect on the meaning of Bonhoeffer's life and writings in the context of Resurrection.
Also, it is likely that some of our participants will be clergy and lay leaders, for whom April 13-16 will be the most intense and demanding days of the church year. These ministers will need quiet and rest on Easter Monday (April 17) and some personal retreat time after.
What do you mean by "spiritual exercises"?
Spirituality --including Christian spirituality-- involves our entire life. It is bodily as well as mental. It involves our imagination and also our actions. It is about practice, not just thinking.
A spiritual exercise, therefore, may be a prayer or meditation, or a reading assignment or way of reading; but it may also be a piece of writing in a journal, a new or repeated way of interacting with others, a way of gazing or focusing, a practice of fasting or mindful eating, a new way of creating, a daily habit.
Retreat designer and facilitator
Jane Redmont is a retreat leader, spiritual director, pastoral worker, writer, and theologian who has worked in campus, urban, and parish ministries. An Episcopal Christian, she was also formed in the Catholic tradition and has Jewish and Unitarian Universalist family roots. She has been involved in work for justice and in ecumenical and interreligious relations all her life. She has read and taught the works of Dietrich Bonhoeffer for many years, including in a college course called "Radical Theologians of Europe and North America" and an online course called "Radical Hope in Hard Times." She began her academic study of Bonhoeffer in her first semester of Ph.D studies with a paper entitled "Preaching in the Storm: The Word from the Pulpit and the Word in the World in the Theology of Dietrich Bonhoeffer." She serves as a Congregational Consultant for the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts and is the author of When in Doubt, Sing: Prayer in Daily Life.
Questions? Concerns? Write Jane here.