Tuesday, October 23, 2018

SAINTS ALIVE! Companions in Memory, Companions in Hope: online retreat Oct. 31-Nov. 21, 2018 *

We are approaching November, the month of memory in many Christian traditions. It  begins with the feast of All Saints and, in Mexico and many other parts of the Américas, the Día(s) de (los) Muertos. Not entirely coincidentally, our first online retreat offering after a long hiatus will offer a reflection with and about the saints in Christian traditions.  

Companions in Memory,
Companions in Hope

a three-week online experience
October  31 to November 21 *

a retreat 
(time intentionally set aside for meditation and prayer)
with a little extra theology thrown in

* The original start of the retreat on October 30 has been pushed back a day,
as has the originally scheduled ending November 20.

He Qi, "After the Resurrection"

SAINTS have been in the news because of the recent canonization of Archbishop Oscar Romero and several other holy people, including some of whom you may have never heard, like Nunzio Sulprizio. The calendar of the Episcopal Church commemorates traditional saints and ancient saints as well as holy people who lived more recently or whose fields of endeavor were diverse.

But saints are not just religious celebrities. Saints are with us every day. The theologian Elizabeth Johnson calls the feast of All Saints "That Feast of Splendid Nobodies."

Archbishop Oscar Romero, his people, and their cathedral.
"If they kill me, I will rise again in the Salvadoran people."

What's in this retreat?

Every day of this 21-day retreat will bring you a saint, with the saint's story and either an image, an icon, a quote by the saint, or a piece of music -- often at least two of these in addition to the saint's short bio.
If you wish, you can just focus on this part of the retreat and focus on the saint of the day, or on a saint every two days if one a day feels like too much, as an inspiration for your meditation and prayer.

There will be a spiritual exercise to go with every saint. By "spiritual exercise," I mean not just prayer or meditation practice, but also concrete actions in daily life.
You may also choose to participate in an additional "track" to enhance your knowledge of and reflection on the saints:

At least twice a week, we will have some reflections and conversations related to the saints, on a theme or a cluster of themes:
What is holiness? What's the "communion of saints" all about? What are saints for, anyway? Do Protestants have saints? Why (and how) do Orthodox Christians venerate icons of the saints? Are only individuals saintly or also communities? What was the earliest meaning of "the saints" in Christian tradition? What kinds of practices have been associated with saints in different parts of Christianity and different parts of the world? Do you have a favorite saint? Who and why? Are there any saints that irritate or repel you? Who and why? What does that tell you about who you think God is? Can saints help us in this crazy world?
For each theme or cluster of themes, we'll have questions and short readings. The readings will be short, usually about the length of one blog post. We'll also have a chance to discuss the readings together (in writing, online; you can write and respond anytime).
You don't have to have a degree or want a degree in theology to participate in this part of the retreat. (Though if you have done specialized study in theology, this may still be if interest to you!) Prayer, practice, ethics, theology, and spirituality are interrelated. Though it is in one sense an academic field of study, theology is not a discipline apart.

Statue of San Martín de Porres
St. Dominic's priory church, London. Photo by Lawrence, O.P.

An online retreat? Really?

The retreat offers its daily resources (the texts or quotes, images, music, spiritual exercises, and prayers mentioned above) 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) has signed in. In other words, it 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.
This format is ideal if you are busy. The retreat requires only 15-20 minutes a day. (Or even every two days.) You may, of course, devote more time to the retreat every day or every two days, but the choice is yours and even a short time on a regular basis can be refreshing and beneficial. And it doesn't matter whether you are a night owl or and early riser. The retreat has a structure and a schedule, but is flexible enough to integrate into your daily life.

Once you register for the retreat (see below), I will send instructions for the sign-in mechanism. After you first sign on to the retreat blog, the blog will always recognize you when you visit it.


You can register below via the PayPal secure link below, which takes credit and debit cards in addition to PayPal. (It will NOT show me your credit card number.)

You don't have to have your own PayPal account to use this online payment method. (If you prefer paying by check, please e-mail me.)

Some discounts and scholarships are available for those in financial hardship. If you are too broke for the discount rate in the drop-down menu below, write me.

The benefactor rate helps offset costs and makes scholarship aid and sicounts possible. 

Payment is non-refundable and due upon registration.

Register here!

Retreat fee (choose one)

Note: Many of the world's rich religious traditions have observances and practices of honoring ancestors and recognizing holy people both dead and alive. This retreat's focus on Christian observance and spiritualities does not presume that the only holy people on the planet were or are Christian. There will be some spiritual-theological reflection related to that, too, though a multireligious approach to holiness in broader perspective is a topic for another retreat, class, and/or book!

Reredos of women saints (with Jesus in the middle), Lindsey Chapel, Emmanuel Church, Boston.

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