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2009 Lenten Retreat 
March 13-15, AD 2009 
at Our Lady of Grace Monastery near Antigonish

The Rector of Petite Riviere and New Dublin parishes led a retreat organized by St. George’s Round Church (Halifax) on the third weekend in Lent at Our Lady of Grace Monastery near Antigonish.  People from our parishes were welcome to attend.  Below are some pictures (thanks to Susan Harris) and below them a description of the retreat and the schedule.  Our gratitude goes out to Tracy Lenfesty and Andrea Lee for making all the arrangements for the retreat, to Fr. George Westhaver for planning, overseeing and leading us in worship, to retreatants who led worship, and to all the sisters who hosted us and made our stay so pleasant.




          The Refectory at lunch                                   Susan Harris and Doris House



    The Chapel where we worshipped and had some talks.              Entrance to the shrine.



Some talks in a classroom.                     A talking lunch in the Refectory.



               Martha Pratt and Andrea Lee                       The guesthouse where we stayed.

Beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord.


What is contemplation?  The Christian tradition has held that contemplation is the highest form of prayer.  When we think of prayer, often we think of the speaking of the thoughts of our heart – articulating our desires, our hopes – to God, and this is certainly a kind of prayer.  Another kind of prayer is meditation on God, such as thinking upon creation or some aspect of the life of Jesus and how it might relate to our life or repeating short prayers like the Jesus Prayer.  It involves discursive thought and can lead us into what is called acquired or active contemplation.  Contemplation is beyond discursive thought.  It could be described as the loving beholding of God and of all things in God.  It is, in a way, to be like God.  When we reach this state of prayer, we may also be lifted up by God and be shown new things - this is called infused contemplation.


This weekend retreat is meant to provide an introduction to contemplative prayer as it has been practiced by Christians through the ages.  The retreat will be interspersed with short talks on turning inward; being recollected; the prayer silence leading to contemplation; on how this fits into our understanding of our sanctification; and on the fostering of the interior life.  The talks will be illustrated with examples from Scripture and of the experiences of Gregory the Great, Mechthild of Magdeburg, Richard of St. Victor, Theresa of Avila and others.  Some practical advice will be given about how to enter into this kind of prayer, which is a gift of God.  Most importantly, participants will be encouraged to spend time at the monastery in silence, entering into God's rest, doing nothing but lovingly beholding God.

And I saw as it were a sea of glass mingled with fire...






Friday Night:


7:30-8:30pm   Social time

                          I  Introduction - The Inward Turn       

9pm                  Compline (sung)




8:45am           Morning Prayer

9am                 Holy Communion

 II  Being Recollected

10-10:30am   Breakfast (optional)



12pm              Lunch (conversation)

1pm                III  Prayer of Silence & Contemplation



5:15pm           Evensong

6pm                 Supper (silent with reading)

7pm                 IV  Cleansing the Mirror


9pm                 Compline (sung)




8-9am              Breakfast (optional)

9am                 Morning Prayer


11am               Holy Communion

 V  Returning to the World

12pm               Lunch (conversation)


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