PEP Newsletter

Ideas For Your Parish


July, 2018

Contemplatives in the Midst of Action

            On March 19, 2018, Pope Francis published an Apostolic Exhortation entitled Gaudete et Exsultate (Rejoice and Be Glad).  The subtitle was, “On the Call to Holiness in Today’s World.”  “We are called,” he wrote, “to be contemplatives even in the midst of action, and to grow in holiness by responsibly and generously carrying out our proper mission.” [27]  He goes on to affirm, “This does not mean ignoring the need for moments of quiet, solitude and silence before God.  Quite the contrary.  The presence of constantly new gadgets, the excitement of travel and the endless array of consumer goods at times leave no room for God’s voice to be heard.” [29]  How can a parish help people find these moments of silence and solitude for prayer?


Begin With Liturgy

            The weekend Masses are where most of the parishioners come together for prayer and Eucharist.  One wonders to what extent this gathering offers much on learning how to pray.  Consider a homilist calling  every member of the assembly to spend at least some minutes each day in silent prayer.  This means turning off all cell phones, computers and other distractions.  First find a time where it is possible to be alone so as to enter into a personal conversation, one-on-one, with God, Jesus or the Holy Spirit.  Next, locate a place that is comfortable and available every day.  Make this place of “meeting God” special, perhaps by lighting a candle, adding a small picture, cross or keepsake.  At the beginning, ask God for help and then ask for one thing you want out of this prayer, such as gratitude, openness, perseverance, insight, support or understanding.  Use a Gospel passage as a resource, perhaps a reading from the daily liturgy provided in the parish bulletin or other helps for personal prayer offered online.  The “Little Books” from the Saginaw, MI diocese provide prayer guidance during Lent, Easter, Advent and Christmas (, as does “Living With Christ” or “Give Us This Day” booklets throughout the liturgical year. Besides homilies on personal prayer, there could be periods of silence during the Mass itself as a way of encouraging people to find their own moments for quiet reflection throughout the week.


Parish Prayer Circles

            For those who like to have more direction in how to pray, the parish might offer a Prayer Circle at various times throughout the month, morning, afternoon and evening, during the week or on the weekend, at which small groups of no more than ten people of all ages would gather to learn how to pray and to experience a short period of silent prayer as a way of getting started.  At the end, they would receive handouts with suggestions, possible scripture passages and links to resources available on the Internet.  Each new Prayer Circle would meet for a limited number of times to start with so that participants would be free to try another group or continue with personal prayer on their own.  The purpose would be to help people learn how to spend “a few moments of quiet, solitude and silence before God.”


Spiritual Direction

            Spending time in quiet prayer is only one aspect of being contemplatives in the midst of action.  Because of the messiness of people’s lives, it helps to have someone to talk with about the obstacles, distractions and choices one faces.  A parish can offer a great service if it has a group of trained volunteers available to be spiritual directors for those seeking help in how to pray and follow their call to carry out their unique mission in life.  A little research on Google will reveal places where people can be trained for this special ministry.