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by Mac Clark - Friday, 17 November 2017, 7:35 PM

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Available courses

A course on the spiritual aspects of dealing with those people who trouble us.   How we deal with those who are difficult for us is a spiritual issue and this program will offer some ways to think about and respond to difficult people from the context of faith.

A second installment of this popular survey of prayer-forms.

Lectio Divina  — Paul Lang, Presenter

 Centering Prayer — Kit O'Neill, Presenter

Drawing, Mandalas (and other art-driven forms of praying) — Carol Prafcke, Presenter

Body-prayers (how the position and use of our body affects prayer) — Mike Wavra, Presenter

Confession — Paul Lang, Presenter

Guest Presenter: Rev. Dr. Cindy Schwartz.  Social media, college sororities, political affiliations, intramural teams, and other regular group activities can help us touch or glimpse our deep desire for real community. Every church tries to design them. Businesses have team-building exercises to make them more effective. When we have one, we usually recognize how special it is. But why is it so hard? Is it just luck that we happen upon good folks or can we practice community in ways that make it better? During our pilgrimage time, we’ll explore how “sacramental” or soul friendships are part of God’s plan for our true selves. We’ll consider how difficult people can grow us and how community practices can contribute to our everyday discernment and our joy! We’ll engage with 3 practices of community and share where we experience God’s life and abundance where two or more are gathered.

A course which explores:

1)     Old Testament/Hebrew spirituality

2)     New Testament/Greek spirituality

3)     The spirituality of Jesus (noting differences in each of four gospels).

A retreat intensive on the Camino de Santiago.  We will learn about pilgrimage as movement, examine the history of this particular pilgrimage, and hold a panel discussion and/or view films relating to the Camino de Santiago.  This course is team-taught with Kit O’Neill & pastor Paul.

One of the best ways to wonder about what God is doing in your life now and to guess about where the journey of your life is going to take you tomorrow is to write a spiritual autobiography.  By examining with care the history of your life with God - you can often find hints to help you think about what God is doing now.

An exploration of the particular aspects of faith-formation which found prominent expression within the Reformed tradition.

A new version of the popular course first offered in 2015.  

The theology which took root and thrived in the British isles in the 4th century and beyond has seen a remarkable revitalization of interests in recent decades.  For some this spirituality gone-feral after the collapse of the Roman empire which holds a reverence for the natural order is a pagan invention and is not orthodox Christian thinking at all.  For others it is a fresh oasis most-needed in the desert of our systematic theologies of the 19th and 20th centuries.  We’ll explore the theology of the Celtic tradition and note its strengths and weaknesses. I have continued to study and discover new resources for exploring the rich wealth of Celtic Spirituality and this course, while building on what was offered before, will be a revised and expanded Celtic Spirituality course.  It will also serve as an introduction to the places and saints associated with the 2019 travel-pilgrimage to England/Scotland.

This course will be an in-depth exploration of the book The Pilgrim's Compass: Finding and Following the God We Seek - by Paul H. Lang.  It will also review the classic movements associated with pilgrimage.

A course hosted in lovely Medora, ND and the National Parks nearby.  Taught by the Rev. Jeff Sockwell, this course will help anyone with any type of camera, from mobile phone to poitn and shoot to full-frame DSLR to learn to take photographs as a form of prayer and contemplation.

We return to this popular course which was first offered in 2013.

This course will house all the relevant materials for those going to Scotland in 2019.

Compassing Retreat from NC 2017

Includes information on pilgrimage, the compass, spiritual friendship. 

Also includes information on the points of the compass

Lent is "penitential," so how do we embody that penitence in our spiritual practices?  What does it mean for us to promise to "keep a holy Lent.?"

Advent is both a season of hope that Jesus is coming in the celebration of the birth of the Christ-child and a season of warning that "he will come again to judge the living and the dead."

Ordinary Time take nearly thirty weeks of the year – what does spirituality look like in "ordinary" time?

These and other questions are at the heart of thinking about spiritual disciplines which are particularly suitable for the various seasons in the liturgical year.

This is an abbreviated course designed for Shallowford Presbyterian Church.  It consists of two sessions:  one on Gratitude, and the other on Hospitality.

One outstanding feature of the book of Psalms, in Calvin’s estimation, is that they cover the whole range of Christian emotions and infirmities, exposing our hearts to the searching eye of God and drawing us to self-examination. “I have been accustomed,” writes Calvin, “to call this book, I think not inappropriately, The Anatomy of all the Parts of the Soul” (pp. xxxvi-xxxvii).  All of the great saints, ancient and modern, have been immersed in the Psalms.  We will explore the Psalms as a tool for spiritual formation and address some of the common and persistent questions about the usefulness of the Psalms for the work of (re)forming our spirits.

In this "Part-Two" course on Thomas Merton we will continue our study of this important voice from the 20th century.  We will look at longer works written by Merton which are more difficult to grasp and really try to look deeply into the life that Merton exhorts us to embrace.

The spiritual discipline of journaling can help you to reflect more deeply on the ways that you are encountering God in daily living.  This course will be a combination of learning about the practice of journaling as a discipline of spiritual formation and a study of the book of Jeremiah who was a prophet closely in tune with the presence of God in his life and in his world.

A Survey of 5 prayer-forms

St. Ignatius and the Examen 

Would you like an easy, practical, and very effective way to determine what God is trying to teach you in this life?  Look no further.  The simple and remarkably enlightening practice of the examen is for you!  We will spend a little time learning about Saint Ignatius and about his spiritual exercises - and then focus specifically on the daily examen as a tool for your own life.

Intercessory Prayer

We know that we are called to pray for others.  The task seems simple enough . . . And yet many struggle to do this in a disciplined and intentional way.  We’ll review the work of  Jane Vennard on this topic and other writers and thinkers in order to offer some suggestions about what it means to pray for others and how we might do that more faithfully.

Behold the Beauty of the Lord — 

“One thing I asked of the LORD, that will I seek after: to live in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the LORD, and to inquire in his temple [Ps. 27:4 NRSV].  Though the Western church has been influenced by an iconoclastic attitude (which we probably borrowed from Islamic faith), large portions of the Christian community (notably the Eastern church) have long-held that we can receive grace and come to know God more deeply not only through our ears, but also through our eyes.  This program will introduce us to the discipline of praying with icons.  So come and behold the beauty of the Lord!

Contemplative Prayer - A Quiet Consideration of Love 

Years ago I visited the Trappist monastery at Mepkin Abbey and spoke with father Christian.  After an hour or so - of trying to explain contemplative prayer to me and my group he started to leave and then, turning around as if he’d finally determined how to explain it to us, he said, “Think Love.”   This program will explore the tradition of contemplative prayer and will be a survey of some contemplative disciplines, notables, and attitudes.

Praying with Beads 

We Protestants have not always benefitted from the practice of praying the Rosary or other bead-based praying practices.  This program will be an exploration of the merits of praying with beads.  You will be given a number of ways to pray with beads and an opportunity to practice during the program.  I will have several simplified rosary bead-strings which you can use and take home with you if you like.

In this course we will explore the spirituality which formed in the deserts of the Thebaid and reflect on the unique spirituality which was fashioned by the mothers and fathers of the faith who fled from the Constantinian Church in the 4th to 6th centuries CE.

(A Required Course for those going on travel-pilgrimage to 

Ghost Ranch/ Christ in the Desert in the Fall of 2017)

Thomas Merton is, perhaps, the greatest author of the 20th century from within the contemplative tradition.  His works have profoundly shaped the thought of many and this course is aimed at introducing us to his writings.  We will read his autobiography as well as begin to survey a few of his more accessible works.  Merton is a rich author and he thinks deeply.  Many find him to be both provocative and helpful, but he requires more than the average commitment from the reader to engage with his thinking and to wrestle with his wisdom.  For that reason, this is the first part of a two-part series of courses on Merton in 2017.  Most people will benefit from taking both courses, but you may attend either independently of the other.  The second Merton course is scheduled in the September.