By Kirstin Sylvester
When I first saw the ad for the Committed programme, I did not consider signing up. I thought of others who might be interested, encouraged a few friends to register but eventually signed up along with them for the sake of camaraderie.
I had no expectations. Before the programme even got started, I was strongly tempted to drop out. I wrestled with this feeling and after some encouragement from close friends, decided to give it a try for at least a month and then re-evaluate.
We were introduced to the ‘Pray as you go’ app which guides the listener/reader through a meditation on one of the readings of the day and promotes imaginative prayer. Additionally, we were taught to pray the daily Examen. This was meant to be our daily commitment: Pray as you go on a morning and the Examen on an evening.
I began to try to incorporate these two prayers into my daily life and struggled. I have had periods where it has been easy, but also periods when I’ve fallen entirely off the bandwagon and lost all desire to commit.
Receiving feedback and encouragement from members of the ‘Committed Crew’ inspires me to restart. I have recognised my need for accountability and community to help sustain my spiritual life.
As I have continued to struggle, I began to see the fruit of commitment to the process. I have found the following quote (from our group session on prayer) to be undeniably true, “Community forms the mind and impacts personality. For a person from a faithless environment, it is an extraordinary grace for them to know God and to be able to commune with the true God.”
I learned of various forms of prayer and also discovered the beauty and necessity of silence through Christian mediation. Learning about emotional intelligence and beginning to put a name to my feelings increased my self-awareness and has positively affected the manner in which I interact with those around me.
One session that took me by surprise was learning about the Ignatian method of discernment. Not once before have I been told that the Church has prescribed methods for discerning.
‘Discernment’ often seems to be a popular buzzword. Everyone talks about it, but no one says how it ought to be done. A common suggestion young people hear is to pray. But if we have not been taught to pray, how can we?
Part of the programme has been attending therapy sessions. Through these sessions, I gained valuable insight and techniques to address some areas of stress in my life.
Between our Committed group sessions, therapy sessions and spiritual direction, it often felt as if God was trying to get my attention with a neon sign. Quite often, I would hear the same message from all three sessions in succession and there was always a link, or some overlap between the advice or techniques taught for prayer, meditation, and self-management.
Through this ‘Commitment’, I have noted increased gratitude and experienced a greater desire for relationship with God. I have been given tools to deepen my spiritual life. I learned to hear God’s voice more clearly through scripture, meditation, and those around me.
Thus far, the programme certainly has taken me by surprise. I look forward to the coming months.
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