When I went to John Carroll University to do my MA in Religious Studies, I naively entered into studies thinking that I would dedicate myself wholly and unreservedly to my studies. I was totally wrong. I played for feiseanna pretty much every weekend of the year - including my own graduation weekend!
So why would I assume that I'd dedicate myself solely to studies here at Fordham? Yesterday, the feast of St. Robert Bellarmine (my vow name and the patron of catechists) I began to assemble my thoughts in regard to my latest project: I will be working with a small group of students (along with Kyle Gautreau, SJ) on what has been titled "Three Cheers for Catholicism." This seminar-style course will (hopefully) make use of Robert Barron's wonderful "And Now I See...A Theology of Transformation" as well as another small text.
So here's my basic approach: the first thing we will work on is learning to recognize that God is actively at work in our day-to-day lives. How do we do this? By what erudite means to I intend to help students realize that the wholly ineffable God has ANY desire to be in relationship with them? How do we come to know the God-of-our-lives, the Word made flesh, the Spirit that cries out from within the depths of our hearts?
Well, we're going to pray.
My thought is to begin with the Examen of Conscience (or Consciousness, if you prefer). Instead of explaining it right here (I'll work up a proper explanation for another time) click here and experience it for yourself. Sometimes at night, when I'm very tired, I use this to structure my day's closing prayer. My ultimate goal is to have a wise Jesuit (like Howard "Abba" Gray, SJ) record a version of this that would speak directly to students, but for the time being I'll make use of what's available.
Barron's book begins, "Christianity, above all, is a way of seeing." Through prayer I hope to help students develop a "spirit's eye" that will catch and muse upon the various ways God is present in their lives. The text itself follows the traditional tripartite path of spiritual theology contributed by the Psuedo-Dionysius: the purgative path wherein we see ourselves as sinful and in need of redemption, illuminative path wherein we come to know a God who wills our salvation and desires to be in relationship with us, and the unitive whereby the Word of God becomes "God With Us" and unites human and divine nature.
It should be an interesting semester and I'm confident there will be much to report back on. If anyone has comments or suggestions about what would be helpful to address in this little seminar, I'm all ears!