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placeholder Parishes learning how to meet the challenges of
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Pilgrim statue of
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Latino Catholic leaders exhorted to 'lead society to conversion'

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placeholder September 4, 2012   •   VOL. 50, NO. 15   •   Oakland, CA
Parishes learning how to meet the challenges
of social justice

Joe Grant

At the heart of Engaging Spirituality, one of the programs offered by JustFaith Ministries, is what the program calls the "bearings letter." In these letters, participants hear how a person, often someone active in social justice, is challenged, and how their daily practices help them meet those challenges.

A one-day opportunity to sample Engaging Spirituality, which is a 21-week course, is available Sept. 29, when its founder, Joe Grant, presents a workshop at the San Damiano Retreat Center in Danville. In the past year, about 10 groups have completed the Engaging Spirituality course in parishes throughout the diocese.

"It attracts a lot of people because it's more than spirituality," says Meg Bowerman, volunteer coordinator for JustFaith in the East Bay. "To deepen your spiritual process, focus on the practical challenges of following Jesus."

In addition to the bearings letter, each 2½-hour session includes opening prayer, scripture and meditation.

Retreat
Still In The Storm:
Engaging Spirituality


Presenter: Joe Grant

Sponsor:
JustFaith Ministries and San Damiano Retreat Center

When: Sept. 29, check-in 9 a.m.; retreat 9:30 a.m.-4 p.m.

Where: San Damiano Retreat Center, 710 Highland Drive, Danville

Fee: $55

Register:www.sandamiano.org

Contact: San Damiano at 925-837-9141, ext. 315, or katerik@sandamiano.org

Classes forming

Engaging Spirituality and JustFaith classes are forming in:

Pleasanton: Catholic Community of Pleasanton/St. Raymond/Livermore area, from January to June

Walnut Creek: St. John Vianney, fall

Pleasant Hill/Concord: Christ the King/St. Bonaventure, fall/winter

Berkeley/Oakland: Newman Hall/St. Theresa/St. Mary Magdalen/Corpus Christi/St. Columba, fall/winter

Fremont: Holy Spirit, fall/winter
Information: Meg Bowerman megbowerman@gmail.com,
510-684-7139

 
 
"I've been waiting for this all week," is a common comment by participants, Bowerman said.

Retreats are also part of the program, with visits to observe social service organizations.

Completion of the JustFaith program is not a prerequisite for the Engaging Spirituality course, Bowerman said.

In the spirit of the "bearings letter," The Catholic Voice asked Joe Grant, retreat leader, a few questions.

What do you struggle with most, as you follow Christ in today's world?

There is within us all a hunger for ever deeper connection. This longing defines our experience of being human as well as children of God. In ancient times St. Augustine described our hearts as restless, "till they rest in Thee." That "inner ache," so exploited by our consumer culture, can cause us to run around trying to fill the void within. Simone Weil, writing in the 20th Century, described sin as any attempt to fill that void. But, when we stop running, make the time to pause, to pay attention and listen to our lives, to the needs of our neighbors, to creation and to the echoes of the Gospel; we are listening too, to that still, quiet, penetrating voice of our Maker.

What is your daily practice, how do you live out the precious days of your life?

The author of Psalm 90 describes the shortness of our lives and prays, "teach us to count our days that we may gain a wise heart." As we grow older, we meet our mortality in many forms. Illness and frailty come to visit, loved ones pass away, and our remaining days become precious. In their daily monastic lives Trappists live with the admonition "Memento Mori!"—Remember you will die. We choose life by choosing to live deliberately, patterning our daily routine around moments of wakefulness and enrichment.

What challenging wisdom have you gained in your living?

We live in an age that has confused wisdom with information. Having more information does not necessarily lead to deeper understanding. Information simply informs, and by itself, cannot transform us. Most of us are informed, on some level, about world hunger. But the fact that almost 16,000 children die from hunger-related causes every day does not necessarily lead us to change our relationship to food. Wisdom, on the other hand, offers meaning and direction to our lives. It is a gift of the Spirit, the fruit of listening with our hearts, letting the deeper questions shape our living and our relationships. And wisdom visits us whenever two or three gather and open our lives to the Spirit.

What do you hope people experience on the Engaging Spirituality retreat?

Christian spirituality is a wake-up call. The Holy Spirit has a definite mission in our world, as Jesus announced from his hometown synagogue — to bring good news to the poor, open the eyes of the blind, release the captives and announce God's favor (Luke 4:18-20). The Still in the Storm retreat offers a taste of the Engaging Spirituality, developed by JustFaith Ministries to integrate our thirst for justice with our hunger for prayerful presence. On the retreat we hope participants will share a palpable experience of the Spirit moving in our lives.

 
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