By Barb Arland-Fye
Warm golden rays seeped through the windows of the church where 30 or so of us prayed Liturgy of the Hours. To hear our voices, in unison, lifting our prayers to the Lord this Advent season provided me with a glimpse of heaven on earth. I felt that way several times during a retreat held the morning of Dec. 6 — the Feast of St. Nicholas — at Our Lady of the River Parish in LeClaire.
Our morning began with an exploration of prayer. What it is, why we pray, how we pray and what we take away from our encounters with God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. Father Corey Close, parochial vicar at Prince of Peace Parish in Clinton, guided us through an exercise on Lectio Divina (praying with Scriptures), a form of prayer he uses as a spiritual director. His soothing voice, personal examples and humor helped me to feel God’s love; to be still, to listen. We read, meditated on, prayed about and contemplated Isaiah 11:1-9 for this exercise.
“What word or phrase hits you?” Fr. Corey asked. All of us who volunteered a response had chosen a different word or phrase. For me it was: “They shall not harm or destroy on all my holy mountain.”
The phrase left me yearning to be on that holy mountain. But I also have a longing to make life better on this side of the holy mountain.
Fr. Corey, Deacon Jeff Schuetzle, also of Prince of Peace, and I shared a brief overview of Liturgy of the Hours. This prayer of the Church with Christ and to Christ serves to sanctify the day. The Second Vatican Council brought about renewal of Liturgy of the Hours and encouraged all the baptized to pray it. My hope is that our experience of Liturgy of the Hours during the retreat will encourage more of us to pray it in community — in the church and in our homes with family.
Following these presentations, Sandi Campie and Pam Drury of Church of the Visitation Parish in Camanche gave heartfelt talks on their experiences with prayer. I appreciated the insights they shared — and their presence. In July our two parishes began sharing a pastor, Father Joe Wolf, and I’ve personally wanted to get to know people from the Camanche parish. A retreat focused on communal and private prayer seemed like a great opportunity to make that happen.
Our Lady of the River parishioner Jennifer Hildebrand spoke of the importance of preparing ourselves for prayer by paying attention to where we pray, the posture that suits us best and meditation.
Our Lady of the River Choir Director Cheryl Brogla Krupke enriched our prayer experience with music, along with several members of our choir. Cheryl has a deep appreciation for liturgy and music’s role in it.
Madelyn Phares, also of Our Lady of the River, assisted with Liturgy of the Hours and helped keep the retreat on track.
Deacon Jeff brought us together after Liturgy of the Hours to reflect on that morning’s exploration of prayer. He encouraged people to reflect, to surface their thoughts and insights.
Behind the scenes, members of the Altar & Rosary Society created a beautiful, welcoming atmosphere for the retreat. Their thoughtfulness, care and love for their parish shone in the table they set and the hospitality they provided. They are a generous group of women who serve the Church so faithfully, day in and day out. For me, their actions were a part of our exploration of prayer.