What the Spirit is Saying to The Church

rosary diagram

Cultivating Christian Spirituality, Part 2

Anglican Life thanks the Rev’d Fred Marshall, Officer of the Anglican Joint Committee, who has been a guest columnist for the last six months with his column, “What the Spirit is Saying to The Church.” This is the final installment. Thanks, Rev’d Fred!

“They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.”  Acts 2:42-47 (NRSV)

In the last article we learned the first six pastoral practices of Bible time: Contemplation, Honesty, Introspection, Journaling, and Meditation, from David Canales’s article, “A noble quest: cultivating Christian spirituality in Catholic adolescents and the usefulness of 12 pastoral practices.” In this article we look at the next six.

Music—“Singing is praying twice” (a saying from Augustine of Hippo, 354-430 AD)

A 2017 survey found that on average Canadians listen to 32 hours of music per week with millennials (ages 22-36) listening up to 40 hours per week. Music is a large part of culture and a significant part of personal expression. Music is more than entertainment; music is influences and informs. A study “Listening to Religious Music and Mental Health in Later Life” suggested that “the frequency of listening to religious music is associated with a decrease in death anxiety and increases in life satisfaction, self-esteem, and a sense of control. Christian music speaks to our personal pain and life circumstances, the issues of the world and has the power to transform and move. Christian music inspires our spiritual lives and our relationship with God. What kind of music do you play during your 32 hours per week?

Prayer—“Pray always and in all ways”(a modern slogan)

St. Paul wrote “pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17). Jesus was a person of prayer and modelled prayer for his followers. “Prayer is a language of the heart, and prayer in its simplest form is a human being communicating and interacting with God. Teaching young people to pray and offering a variety of prayer opportunities and experiences empowers their spirituality and allows them to enter into a more personal relationship with Jesus,” writes Canales.  Prayer involves reflection and allows young people to perceive the work of the Spirit in their lives. Grandparents and parents have great opportunity to be a witness to prayer.

Retreats—“Let go and let God” (a popular Christian slogan)

Jesus retreated often. Retreats offer the opportunity of taking a break from the rhythm and routine of daily life.  Canales perceives that retreats are perhaps the greatest vehicle to help cultivate spirituality as they help to cultivate spirituality in the lives of young people as they encounter God. Retreats have the power to touch hearts and change lives. Have you considered a retreat?

Rosary—“Of all prayers, the Rosary is the most beautiful and the richest in graces.”  (St. Pius X)

While a 1,000-year Catholic tradition, many Protestants also pray the rosary. Did you know there are Anglican prayer beads?  “The use of beads or other counting devices as a companion to prayer has an ancient history. “There is a great deal of symbolism woven into the design of the Anglican rosary. There are thirty-three beads representing the thirty-three years of Jesus’ life. The Cruciform beads form the cross and can also represent the four compass points of the earth. The seven beads of the Weeks can represent the seven days of creation, the day of the Sabbath, and the number seven is often used in the Bible as symbolic of perfection. To enter into prayer there is an Invitatory bead much like we say a collect at the beginning of our services to invite us into worship. The rosary can be prayed alone or with a group. Imagine introducing a young person to this form of prayer!” writes Trinity Episcopal Church in Reno Nevada.  (Anglican prayer beads are available at the Anglican Diocesan Resource Centre, 19 King’s Bridge Rd., St. John’s; or call 576-6697)

Spiritual Direction—“If you love to listen you will gain knowledge, and if you pay attention you will become wise.”  (Sirach 6:33)

Spiritual direction is an age-old practice between students and spiritual guides in practicing holy listening. Spiritual direction with young people is an urgent endeavour. Canales quotes an article which states “One of the greatest needs of young people today is spiritual direction. Never before have I seen been more young people seeking to better understand the faith, yet at the same time I have never sensed a greater lack of spiritual direction available to them.” Spiritual direction happens when one person helps another to understand what God is doing and saying in their life through listening, reflecting and praying. Could not any of us find time to give spiritual direction to a young person who is searching?

Time Usage—“Time, is on my side” (the Rolling Stones)

Young people are busy. In addition to school, sports and other activities, “screen time” takes a huge chunk of their time; all of which interferes with seeking and developing their spirituality. Just like you and me, young people are looking for a break and to have some balance in their lives. “The use of time is a factor that must be managed effectively and efficiently if it is going to help cultivate spirituality in young Christians.”  

Using time as a virtue means learning to live in harmony with time constraints and balance time with activities, school, relationships, part-time work, and spirituality. Young people need to find time to be in communion with God. What could a young person learn if you introduced them to Ecclesiastes 3:1?  “For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:” (NRSV) All time belongs to God. Shouldn’t we encourage a young person to spend some time with God?

What do Scriptures say?  “We will not hide them from their children; we will tell to the coming generation the glorious deeds of the Lord, and his might, and the wonders that he has done.” Psalm 78.4 – NRSV

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