Thursday sessions ‘to look forward to’

St. Teresa of Avila

St. Teresa of Avila

by Ruth Frampton

I always looked forward to Thursdays! As  resident of The Lay Centre this past autumn, the weekly series of the Vincent Pallotti Institute there meant that I didn’t have to get up at the Passionists’ bell! Instead, a leisurely breakfast with the expectation of a morning, stretching my horizons among the group of friends, who included fellow worshippers from the Anglican Centre and the congregation at All Saints.

This past autumn the lectures focused on Women Making a Difference Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow. I was affirmed by my participation in the group and discovered the writings of Flannery O’Connor and Marilynne Robinson, of Leon Bloy and Pedro Arupe. I regret missing the final workshop and medieval banquet on 20 November, inspired by recipes from Hildegard of Bingen!

We began with Catherine of Siena, whose overwhelming sense of God’s love for us – pazzo d’amore – set the tone for the whole series. Teresa of Avila encourages us to cultivate a personal awareness of the reality of God’s love through contemplative prayer. Hers was a spirituality for tough times, but “he who has God finds he lacks nothing”. We too live in tough times, but the shock of grace, the shock of the reality of God acting in our lives will hit us, if only we open ourselves to it, as the stories of Dorothy Day, Flannery O’Connor and Teresa of Calcutta were to show.

The reality of divine intervention turned Dorothy Day’s life upside down after an abortion and suicide attempts. Hers was not the ecstatic union of Teresa of Avila but a matter-of-fact 20th-century appreciation of the cost of God’s love. I was comforted by Teresa of Calcutta who suffered the dark night of the soul in the dark holes of the slums and who, with Therese of Lisieux, speaks for all of us: “It is my weakness that gives me the boldness to offer myself … ”

The winter program for the Vincent Pallotti Institute begins 19 February and will explore the place of joy in the Christian life. Here is the schedule:

Winter Series 2015: February 19, 26, March 5, 12, 19, 26

“The joy of the Gospel fills the hearts and lives of all who encounter Jesus. Those who accept his offer of salvation are set free from sin, sorrow, inner emptiness and loneliness. With Christ joy is constantly born anew.” (Pope Francis, Evangelii Gaudium 1)

The purpose of this six-week series, that takes place during Lent, is to explore the place of joy in Christian life and especially to discover how to share that Gospel joy with others.  Diverse professors will explore various angles on how to discover and communicate that joy to others in the 21st century.

19 February: Forgiveness:  a prerequisite for sharing the Gospel of Joy

Led by Rev. Felix Körner, S.J.

26 February: St. Benedict’s Guide to Joy in Everyday Life

Led by Abbot Edmund Power, OSB

5 March: St. Augustine on Joyful Praise

Led by Rev. Joseph Farrell, OSA

12 March: Joy in Sorrow

Led by Rev. Martin Coffey, CP

19 March: The Joy of Christian Living

Led by Dr. Donna Orsuto

26 March: Joyful Missionary Disciples after Secularization

Led by Rev. Felix Körner, S.J.

For more information or to register, contact: info@laycentre.org

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