Prayer and Contemplation
As seen in the Fall/Winter 2016 issue of Abbey Magazine (pages 18-19)
The Norbertine Center for Spirituality and St. Norbert Abbey offer various ways that people can reflect upon God in their lives—through intentional prayer services and contemplative practices.
For months the staff of the Norbertine Center for Spirituality (NCS) had grappled with the challenging question, “What in the world can we offer people in times of great tragedy and inconsolable grief?”
On June 15, the St. Norbert Abbey Church was opened to those struggling with and wanting to pray for the victims (and their families and friends) of the Orlando shooting—one of the largest massacres in the history of the United States. Abbot Gary Neville, O. Praem., welcomed the participants to an hour-long service filled with prayer, rich silence, candles, and music (performed by flutist Keith McGillivray and the Abbey Singers of St. Norbert College). Soft rain and gentle thunder heard throughout the service seemed to be nature’s way of entering into prayer. Whatever was taking place in the souls of the participants, the abbey provided a means for them to encounter God amid tragedy—together, in prayer.
“When a tragedy occurs, the abbey should be one of the first places where people come,” shared Fr. James Baraniak, O. Praem. “This is what an abbey is called to do—provide a place of refuge in times of great pain.”
St. Norbert Abbey and the NCS continue to find ways to open the doors of the abbey church after tragedies occur: the monthly Taizé service held on July 17 honored the slain Dallas police officers as well as all who have been touched by violence.
Given the noise and excessive activity within this world of ours, silence—real silence—can be difficult to find. We are usually plugged into something, be it our computers, smart phones, tablets, or TVs. However, it is often the silence and serenity for which people express their gratitude upon entering the NCS and St. Norbert Abbey, which host numerous prayer spaces and offer these contemplative practices.
Prayer spaces abound within the Norbertine Center for Spirituality and St. Norbert Abbey. Men and women of all ages stop in, sometimes only for a few minutes, to spend time in prayer. Click here for more information. Please stop in the NCS main office and you will be directed to a prayer space that meets your needs.
Centering Prayer is a method of silent prayer which helps us open our minds and hearts to God beyond thoughts, words, and emotions. It is a way of consenting to God’s presence and action within. While Centering Prayer does not replace other kinds of prayer, it can cast a new light and depth of meaning on them. Weekly Centering Prayer, facilitated by Kathie Tilot, is held every Tuesday morning in the Killeen Room at 7:10 a.m. All are welcome.
On the north side of the NCS is a lawn labyrinth, based on the design within the floor of Chartres Cathedral (AD 1220). The labyrinth is an ancient symbol of life’s journey—a path of prayer. As a tool of integration between mind and body, it can be experienced as a personal pilgrimage, helping one find new insights and inner peace. Open during daylight hours, directions can be found inside the entryway of the NCS.