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July, August, September 2002
An Invitation to Sabbath Rest
by Mary Parker, AFP Executive Council Member
"Sabbath Rest" became the special theme for the Spirituality Institute's Winter Retreat at the Canterbury Conference Center in Florida this February. The leader was Father Keith Hosey, the Director of the John XXIII Retreat Center in Hartford City, Indiana, and a popular retreat leader in both Roman Catholic and Protestant groups in the Southwest. His theme was a model of the Sabbath Rest in which Jesus participated as a rabbi, and which Father Hosey adapted for us a challenge to our modern day culture - where rest and times of quiet are almost totally counter-cultural.
Sabbath Rest in the Jewish tradition of Jesus' era meant preparation before the sabbath for a major meal for family and friends; it included a time of worship and study and also a time of quiet. It has a very clear beginning and ending.
In inviting us to participate in such a sabbath, Father Hosey began by reminding us of our need to come with "a beginner's mind" and a childlike spirit of wonder and expectancy. He reminded us how for us as Christians the Eucharist becomes our joint meal with our Lord and community; but he also pointed out how, as Jesus' followers, our community has been stretched to an inclusiveness of even the kind of unsavory friends Jesus often dined with.
When Father Hosey described the Jewish time of study of the scriptures and worship he described how the Jews were always reminded of the deliverance from the slavery of Egypt by their Lord. Even so must we take time with the Scripture to recollect our deliverance through the Cross by the same Lord. He also recommended that in this present culture sabbath rest probably means enlarging our idea beyond a weekly day to taking a yearly time (if possible) of retreat to study and reflect on scripture and other holy readings.
Father Hosey challenged us to take the time of quiet most seriously. On the retreat he not only gave us a block of time for meditation and then of sharing insights, but a night committed to silence and mornings begun with centering prayer at the chapel. He effectively invited us to move into an experience of silence and contemplation.
Our participants were about thirty in number but from many difference places, including the far west, Canada and the Bahamas. I believe all felt a special unity and bonding as we joined in experiencing God's peace and a blessed "Sabbath Rest."
A set of five cassette tapes of the retreat is available through the AFP Bookshelf for $30.00.
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