PEP Newsletter

Ideas For Your Parish

___________________________________________________                                                                                         September, 2021

A Relationship

            Over the last few years, I have been offering staffs and leaders a Day of Renewal and Reflection, both through in-person visits and online via Zoom.  During these one-day mini-retreats, the participants spend three periods of individual prayer, each lasting 20 minutes.  For the first one, those attending are given a prayer by Fr. Joe Whalen, SJ, former provincial of the Maryland Jesuit Province, which he wrote in 1979.  It is often referred to as the Pedro Arrupe Prayer after the Jesuit Superior General in the ‘60’s and ‘70’s.  The second prayer period is based on the Scriptures.  People choose one of three options, either from the Gospel of John or Luke.  The third prayer time has as its focus one’s personal commitment to ministry as a member of the parish leadership. The focus for all three periods of prayer is to strengthen one’s personal, intimate relationship with God, whether it be God Father/Mother, Jesus the Risen Christ, or the Holy Spirit.


Pedro Arrupe Prayer

            “Nothing is more practical,” the prayer begins, “than finding God, that is, than falling in love in a quite absolute, final way.  What you are in love with, what seizes your imagination, will affect everything.  It will decide what will get you out of bed in the morning, what you do with your evenings, how you spend you weekends, what you read, who you know, what breaks your heart, and what amazes you with joy and gratitude.  Fall in love, stay in love, and it will decide everything.”  As the retreatants go to their Sacred Place of prayer, they are asked to respond to these two questions: “What speaks to me in this prayer?” and “What is my response?”  As they reflect on the prayer, one word or one phrase might catch their attention or give them pause.  “Stay there and don’t move on,” they are told.  “Talk to God/Jesus/Spirit about it and listen intently.”


Praying With Scripture         

 For the second prayer time, the retreatants choose one of three passages.  The first is from John, 1:35-42, regarding the invitation offered by Jesus to Andrew and his companion when they asked, “Where are you staying?”  “Come and see,” replied Jesus.  The two were forever changed by the experience.  The second passage is from Luke 10:1-9 which contains the commissioning of the seventy disciples.  “Whatever town you go into and the people welcome you. . . ,” Jesus instructed. “Tell them, ‘The kingdom of God is very near to you now.’”  The third choice is at the end of Luke’s Gospel, Ch 24:36-45, when Jesus appeared to the disciples on the night of his resurrection.  “It is really I myself,” he assured them.  “Touch me and see: ghosts have no flesh and bones as you can see that I have.”  For this time the suggestion is to “put yourself into the scene.  Become one of the persons in the story.  Pause and rest wherever you feel drawn or moved.”  At the end of the prayer, people pair up with one other person, sharing with each other which passage they chose and why.  If the two chose the same scripture, what were their different takes on what drew them in and how they reacted.

A Commitment

The final prayer period focuses on the person’s ministry, whether as a staff member or a parish leader.  Each was asked four questions on which to reflect and then share their answers with a partner.  The first question asked people to consider one key aspect of their ministry, “What am I doing now?”  Given that area, they were asked, having had this time to speak with the Lord, “Am I being called to do this one thing differently?”  The third question, having had time to pray, “Is anything new being asked of me?”  If yes, the final question is “What do I need to let go of to make this new thing happen?”  Obviously these questions need more time for reflection and discernment later, but the prayer and the discussion with another could be a start in perhaps a new direction.  The answers to these questions are not made alone but only with a grounding in personal prayer and the help and insight from others.