Skip to content

Tag: prayer

Go forth to the ends of the earth: Christian Life Community

The Christian Life Community World Executive Council annual meeting was held in Rome for Easter week of April 2022. On the plane home to Australia, somewhere between India and Indonesia, I penned these words in a prayer of thanks for the experience.

I reverence you, Lord, for bringing me to meet these people, spread across the distant reaches of the earth, united together in Rome, that ancient and eternal city. You blessed me through each one, you called me to trust that you would move among us. In our meeting in these days I felt your light embrace us as at your Transfiguration. I wanted to build three tents and stay at the Monte Cucco retreat house, thinking “it is good for us to be here”.

Christian Life Community World Executive Council meeting, Rome, April 2022

By now your grace is more clear than ever, a comfort in time of darkness and at all times an encouragement to keep going along the path of witness. We want to “go forth”, Lord, so show us the way*. Fan into flame our kindling twigs, be for us our heart’s desire. Help us discern the hope of your way, your truth, your life.

Send us forth, giving glory to your name. Give us courage to walk this path united with each other in prayer and service. Lead us and love us as we tread each step along the road. Make yourself known at the breaking of the bread!

Your Spirit moved for us each day at Monte Cucco. Your words of eternal life accompanied us when we did not know where to go. You brought forth laughter and heartfelt joy over meals. This community, this world community of friends, finds its life in you, in your presence and action, in your peace.

So send us out now to the ends of the earth for our lives at home, work and play await us. Send us out, Lord, to seek and find you in the ordinary moments of life in the city. May the light we saw at Monte Cucco send us out rejoicing, embracing your mission of renewal in a wounded world.


The next CLC World Assembly will be held in Amiens, France, in August 2023

*This line reflects the grace we will pray for at the World Assembly in Amiens, France in August 2023. The Convocation Letter outlines the following:

The grace we shall ask for: Lord, help us to go forth; show us the way.
The text from Scripture: You will be my witnesses… to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8)
The theme of the 2023 Assembly: Discerning paths for hope

CLC World Assembly 2023, Amiens, France

Christian Life Community Australia:

Update: My friend Peter wrote a reflection on this prayer on his website

Mass in the rooms of Saint Ignatius
Leave a Comment

The great Spirit moves hope among twenty one young women

I teach RE at a Catholic high school for girls. On Friday 11 March 2022, during period 1, my Year 8 students were to create a storyboard of key events from Holy Week and Easter. To centre the students in prayer before beginning their work, I introduced the Taizé chant “Jesus, remember me, when you come into your kingdom”. We sang the chant twice in a ‘call and response’ fashion. I wrote this poem during quiet reflection that evening.

Through the communal mingling
of voices, the great Spirit moves
among twenty-one young women,
kindling to fire their hopes for a new
world. In the quickening of call
and slowing of response, these singers
become carriers of joy, heralds
of freedom. This is the truth being
met, here are the people of God.
Look at them call out in unison
see them glance at each other
hear their enjoined words
and how can you not be moved?
In awe, open your eyes, lift up
your ears. These are the witnesses
to faith, these are the first responders
to suffering, these are the students
whose lives are to rebuild all things.

Image: Hans Vivek on Unsplash

Leave a Comment

New joy with the CLC World Executive Council

On 14 January 2022 I was appointed to the CLC World Executive Council. Co-opted alongside a fellow young person named Daniela (from Colombia/Netherlands), we will serve on the ExCo until the next CLC World Assembly is held in August 2023.

Christian Life Community is a world community of ordinary people who gather regularly to share faith and life. As members of small local communities, we become companions on the way. Animated by Ignatian Spirituality, we walk with each other towards fullness of life in God’s presence (see John 10:10).

CLC World Executive Council with two new members.
The CLC World Executive Council welcomes two new members, Daniela and James.

Discerning the way to Yes

During two weeks discerning the invitation, I spoke with wisdom figures and friends. I looked closely at saying no.

Ultimately I was very moved by the stirrings of joy and consolation which I felt when imagining saying yes, and especially when sharing the question with companions from the CLC Asia-Pacific Animating Team. There was a quickening of spirit and an energy and enthusiasm for our common life in CLC, where people on different paths journey together.

My Ignatian journey and CLC

My experience with Ignatian Spirituality began as an 11-year-old student at a Jesuit high school learning about “Inigo” Loyola. I now have a number of Jesuit friends.

CLC is a world community across 60+ countries.

Some years ago I joined a CLC community in Melbourne. We moved through different life seasons, encouraging each other to listen to the renewing presence of God among us. I believe this is the CLC way: to help one another respond to the Spirit at work in our experiences, friendships and choices.

In my work as a Religious Education teacher, I invite high school students to grow attentive to God’s presence in their lives. Thanks to CLC, I feel comfortable encouraging these students in their spirituality.

Young people and CLC

Australia is a pluralist and secularising society whose prevailing culture views religion with scepticism. Young people close to CLC in Australia may at times feel a certain hesitancy about engaging in church, yet there is a spiritual hunger below the surface which CLC helps us understand and meet. We are each on a personal journey to integrate our spirituality with our public-facing lives.

Feeling at home in a CLC local community, I came to feel at home in the world. Good and true friends are like diamonds.

Click here to read the letter sharing this news with the World Community of CLC.

Read more about CLC at the CLC Australia and CLC World websites.


The Lord of the Rings and the Spiritual Exercises

For ten years J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings (LOTR) moved in my imagination. I began to read The Hobbit when I was 12 years old, and then read each of the three parts of the main series, and then saw the films. The LOTR is a foundational text in my life’s library.

Lord of the Rings and The Long Retreat

When I prayed a thirty day silent retreat with the Spiritual Exercises of Saint Ignatius in July 2011, the Lord of the Rings life-world soon bubbled away in my consciousness. These exercises involve a recipe of “memory, imagination, and will”, and so a spiritual meal enjoyed in God’s presence.

Over the four weeks of the retreat I encountered my memories, hopes, longings, dreams and choices in relation to God’s desires for me. I heard God’s call: “because you are precious in my eyes, and honoured, and I love you” (Isaiah 43:4). I experienced in a felt sense God’s deepening life in me. God’s personal love enfolded me in the silence.

As the retreat progressed, I prayed with various scenes from the life of Jesus as told in the Gospels. I would prayerfully imagine a passage, with all my senses engaged, entering the encounter as a participant or observer. Walking with Jesus from his nativity through his hidden and public lives and into his passion and resurrection, I would stay with words, phrases and images which moved me deeply. In so doing I entered a pattern of relishing and savouring the movements God was bringing about within me. I felt drawn to “taste and see that the Lord is good” (Psalm 34:8).

Each day I entered the imaginative contemplations with my whole self fully engaged. Often my memories of scenes, characters, and journeys from LOTR moved in my heart’s response to the encounter with Jesus. I remembered Frodo’s quest with Sam to overcome The Ring. I remembered the integrity of Strider, on his way to become the future king Aragorn. I remembered Gandalf the Grey and his transforming journey into Gandalf the White.

Each of these three main characters played a role in my prayer. They emerged as part of the retreat dynamic. Frodo, Aragorn and Gandalf helped me meet Jesus the Christ.

Lord of the Rings and Jesus the Christ

In Lord of the Rings, the Fellowship of the Ring is a community of support for the courageous Frodo as he carries a great burden (the Ring). Jesus eases peoples’ burdens and so builds communities of human freedom and responsibility.

In LOTR at a time of deepest darkness the beacons of Gondor are lit. Jesus is “the light of all people”, the light which shines in the deepest darkness, “and the darkness did not overcome it” (John 1:4-5).

In LOTR, the journey of Strider from the edges of the known world to the centre of human life as Aragorn, king, is a profound one. Jesus is born in a backwater on the edges of empire, yet his kingship is revealed in the holy city of Jerusalem among great crowds of peoples. Aragorn is Isildur’s heir, and the last of the line to Elendil, High King of Arnor and Gondor. Jesus is the Christ, “the anointed one”, foretold by the prophets, and “the Lord God will give to him the throne of his ancestor David” (Luke 1:32) .

In Lord of the Rings, Strider/Aragorn wants goodness to emerge in the world, and yet is very aware that this slow work requires patience with self, others and life itself. Jesus lived a hidden life from ages 12-30, when he learnt a trade, went to synagogue, and participated in the life of family and community. Transformation occurs quietly without anyone noticing. The preparation is all.

In LOTR, Gandalf the Grey is transformed after defeating the Balrog deep in the mines of Moria. His wisdom journey involved suffering, but he can smile with delight now. Jesus dies on Good Friday. The joy of his risen life invites us to joy also. He rises with the wounds intact.

In LOTR Gandalf arrives at Helms Deep at first light on the fifth day, bringing hope. Jesus rises to new life on the third day, bringing peace.

Lasting renewal

Now a further ten years on from that retreat, spiritual exercises continue to offer me renewal. Ultimately the mythic journeys present in the Lord of the Rings were used by God to direct me towards what Saint Ignatius named as “the service and praise of the divine majesty”. And so to fullness of life in God’s presence.

Leave a Comment

That more urgent longing: seeking God in prayer

In this time of great change and challenge, as we stare down a pandemic, prayer seems all the more urgent and necessary. Many of us need God’s strength in these days. I believe that seeking God in prayer is indeed a more urgent longing than anything else. The God I long for is the One in whom I find comfort and consolation. This is a God in whom we can hope.

God of my longing

God of my longing,
I wait on your movement within:
draw me close to you
lead me to rest in your embrace.
God of my longing,
I cry out for your presence:
make yourself known to me
grant me your compassion.
God of my longing,
I seek your peace in the quiet:
the embrace of your Spirit
the joy of your life.
Photo by Umit Bulut on Unsplash
God of my longing,
I yearn for your tender love:
to renew my mind
to make music in my heart.
God of my longing,
I want your very self:
create fresh confidence within me
to reach out after your hand.
God of my longing,
I call on your name in the morning:
hear my voice, listen to my request
be with me in joy and distress.
God of my longing,
I sing of your goodness before the peoples:
gather us in solidarity and companionship
move great communion among us.
Photo by Caleb Woods on Unsplash
God of my longing,
I believe your light is the true north star:
shine brightly in the night of darkness
be the guiding hope of this age.
God of my longing, 
I ask for your invitation today:
send a new call to my ears
give me the grace to respond.

Prayer and discernment

The inner encounter in daily life renews us for what we are to do. In calling on God’s name, and resting in God’s presence, prayer opens the heart to experience God moving within and among us. So it is that the door may open into a deeper peace and a renewed sense of hope – and other gifts from the giver.

It is on the days of distance
that my heart expresses its deepest yearning.
It is on the days of darkness
that I seek the light with which to see.
It is on the days of distress
that my plea for comfort is heard.

We may in time notice a growing sense of ease in relating with God and an encouragement to keep going, both sure signs of God’s Spirit with us. We may also grow in our ability to recognise contrary movements for what they are – disturbances from the spirit of dis-ease and discouragement. Thus, we grow in our felt need for ‘discernment’ in daily life.

A prayer for these times

God of all goodness and consolation, be with our communities. Make us aware of your presence with us. Give each person the deep peace, comfort and patience needed to get through this time. Send life to our minds and joy to our hearts. May we see ourselves and each person as indeed precious in your eyes, honoured and loved (Isaiah 43:4). Send out your Spirit and renew the face of the earth. Amen.

Leave a Comment

Days of Pandemic, Weeks of Renewal: a hopeful prayer-poem

A hopeful prayer-poem in the midst of the pandemic:

God of all days
These days of pandemic are weeks of separation
Build new stretches of community across our cities
Draw forth relationships of mutuality and care
Move families and friends to balm each other’s sorrow.
God of all days
These days of pandemic are weeks of darkness
Renew the earth with the pattern of your light
Send new life to peoples, animals, plants,
Give fresh vitality to the soil, the waters, the sky.
God of all days
These days of pandemic are weeks of renewal
Send forth your Spirit upon us
Form steadfast hearts within us
Beating at the sound of your voice.
God of all days
These days of pandemic are weeks of challenge
Be the guiding presence in our communities
Be the animator of our plans
Be the breath of our hopes.
God of all days
These days of pandemic are weeks of invitation
Call us close to your very self
Draw us into supporting each other
Bless us with light and life.
An image made of this poem by CLC Philippines
God of all days
These days of pandemic are weeks of fear
Tend our hopes with affection
Walk with us in our darkness
Speak words of comfort and peace.
God of all days
These days of pandemic are weeks of waiting
Draw us to your Word as consolation
Give us ears to listen deeply
Move songs of grief and love in our hearts.
God of all days
These days of pandemic are weeks of upheaval
Hear our deep desires
Listen to our cries from the pit of frustration
Resound new music on our lips.
God of all days
These days of pandemic are weeks of quiet
Give our streets a sense of calm
Help our health workers in their time of need
Guide our leaders to reflect on their experience.
from United Nations Covid-19 Response on Unsplash
God of all days
These days of pandemic are weeks of mystery
Unfold the grace of tranquility in our minds
Unfurl the banners of your peace before the peoples
Give us the means to glorify your name.
God of all days
These days of pandemic are weeks of insight
Transform our hearts with your presence
Grant grace and peace to our spirits
Send us out as servants, finding joy day by day.

Update: this poem was republished by CLC Philippines on 20 August 2020
Leave a Comment