F&F NYC - Urban Contemplative Spiritual Direction Pilgrimage - An Anglo-Catholic Pentecostal Ref

F&F NYC - Urban Contemplative Spiritual Direction Pilgrimage - An Anglo-Catholic Pentecostal Reflection

The purpose of this paper is to explore the practice of contemplation in Spiritual Direction in Urban Prayer locations through Interdenominational Spiritual Practices. This assignment will build on the author’s previous writing on the Song of Songs entitled “Introduction to the Song of Songs - An Anglo-Catholic Pentecostal Reflection” and will draw on the experiences of a pilot Urban Pilgrimage in New York City from three different prayer locations.

These locations included the Chapel at the Pauline Catholic Book Store, the Anglican Church and Chapel in the Transfiguration Church and the Pentecostal practice of open prayer, discipleship and meditation in a coffee shops in our final selected location, the Ace Hotel. The final location was chosen due to its ambience, environment and lighting which created a similar worshipping environment to a Pentecostal worshiping community. The author will reflect on these experiences, the theory from the core textbook and the author’s selected faith traditions and texts.

The Catholic text will be focused on the walking practice of pilgrimages including “the Way of a Pilgrim and the Pilgrim Continues His Way” translated by Helen Bacovcin and the “Philokalia, the Complete Text, compiled by St Nikodimos of the Holy Mountain and Saint Makarios of Corinth”. The Anglican text is the selected core text the “Spiritual Direction, Spiritual Companion: Guide to Tending the Soul” by Tilden Edwards and the “Heaven on Earth: A Call to Community in the Book of Revelation” by Michael Battle. Finally, the Pentecostal texts include the “Heavy Rain” book by Kris Vallotton and the teachings at “the Global School of Supernatural Ministry New York City” a poem and a reflection by the author himself.

For the Urban Pilgrimage practice, the author selected three locations in their Spiritual homes, representing unique faith practices and with friends who had historically experienced these traditions. Through this experience the participants were able to complete three Spiritual prayer practices. Firstly, in the Catholic practice prayer focused on repentance and remembering past families who had recently passed. In our Anglican practice the prayer time focused on lighting a candle, writing a prayer and completing noon day prayer either privately in silence or aloud in the Chapel. Then the Urban Pilgrimage finished with an open Bible reading, discussion and coffee prayer for the Pentecostal spiritual practice at the Ace Hotel. All four participants on the pilgrimage had previously been members in one of the three faith traditions. One was an Anglican from the Church of England, the second a Pentecostal from the Greater New Jersey area and finally a converted Pentecostal believer from the Greater New York area.

At the first location on the Pilgrimage the author purchased the Catholic text of the ‘Way a Pilgrim and the Pilgrim Continues his Way.” Through this text, as Spiritual Directors or Spiritual Directees, we can learn, through the translation from Helen Bacovin, to establish the richness of the art of Catholic Spirituality. The practice of praying through continually without ceasing, meditating and reciting liturgical prayer. The author of the book, who is anonymous, talks about how he was a seeker to discover the answer to one core question “how do you pray without ceasing.” This was in response to the scriptural text 1 Thessalonians 5:17 which reads “pray without ceasing.” It was in the pursuit to answer this question that leads us to our first reflection.

First Reflection – Catholic Tradition -The Way of a Pilgrim – Translated by Helen Bacovin

When visiting elderly people at Nursing homes the practice of Catholic mas, using the rotary and reciting liturgical prayer is very common. Catholics pray, recite, meditate and rehearse scripture as part of their Spiritual practice. The author of this text is seeking to go further than the practice of religion, but to seek a deeper, more authentic and immeasurable understanding of God’s peace. Primarily through seeking answers to praying without ceasing, remaining in constant contact with God despite what is going on around you and being on earth (Bacovin et al, 1985, Chapter 1).

The difference for our brother pilgrim is that he seeks not to serve the world, but to be drawn near to God and to seek no finance for fulfillment of his life, but to know God more and to establish a more faith filled, prayer filled and fulfilled life in his creator in poverty. The contrast between one who simply carries a Bible, travels from town to town and preaches the Gospel is different to the modern-day Christian of today. Take a nurse working on accident and emergency shift, a Firefighter responding to a call or an emergency first aid responder. Those are Christians on the front line serving in the battle field, fighting for God, seeking God and pursuing God in their work. They, like the Pilgrim, are also on Spiritual pilgrimages, but different vocational pilgrimages serving where they feel called to be serving God and waiting patiently for God to come into the midst of uncertainty and to grant perfect peace in their everyday lives (Bacovin et al, 1985, Chapter 1).

The author of the Pilgrims Way refers to the Jesus prayer to be both his answer, the nurses answer, the firefighters answer and the first aid responders answer as to how to pray without ceasing. To simply recite the words of the prayer continuously as follows: “Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me!” These words were instructed to be read by our brother pilgrim 3,000 times in one day so as to be at one with the prayer, to be at peace and to be able to return to it as a meditation, spiritual discipline and as a contemplation throughout challenging, changing and difficult transitions. This is imperative for all people’s in life, but especially in the walk of an urban city Christian (Bacovin et al, 1985, Chapter 1).

Therefore, the practice of reciting this prayer whilst walking on the streets of Manhattan, London, Paris or Madrid will help Christians the world over to find their peace in prayers and to not stop without ceasing when reciting this prayer. The belief is that by reciting this prayer, learning about it through the Philokalia and understanding its texts it will bring meaning, purpose, peace and an active prayer life, similar to that of a pilgrim, in urban dwelling places (Bacovin et al, 1985, Chapter 1).

The Father of the Catholic Church that the Pilgrim describes it like this “The sun – a great, shining and magnificent light-cannot be contemplated and looked at directly with the naked eye. An artificial glass, a million times smaller and dimmer than the sun, is needed to look at the great king of lights to be enraptured by its fiery rays. In a similar way the Holy Bible is a shining light and the Philokalia is the necessary glass (Bacovin et al, 1985, Chapter 1).”

In order to process our true inner peace, the ability to pray without ceasing, we must see the Lord not with our eyes, but in our hearts, in our minds, in our emotions and in our inner most deepest thoughts. To be at one with God is the Pilgrims and every city dweller’s goal. Our next reflection will appeal to meet this goal and to set us as Spiritual Directors, Spiritual Contemplatives and as practicing Spiritual Christians of all faith traditions to a deeper understanding of contemplation and to explore how to navigate through the Jesus prayer. Plus build on the practices of Catholic meditation, recital, liturgy and prayer (Bacovin et al, 1985, Chapter 1).

Second Reflection – Catholic Tradition - The Philokalia – Translated by G.EH. Palmer, Phillip Sherrand and Kallistos Ware

The texts selected in the original Philokalia are taken from the fourteenth and fifteenth century and were written by monks from the Orthodox Christian tradition, not the Roman Catholic tradition. However, for the purposes of prayer, practice and meditation these texts have been used by Catholics throughout the history of the Church to inform prayer, build liturgy, practice meditation and for the Spiritual Christian reader to seek after God. Indeed, the version selected for this text has been based on the original Philokalia and translated from the Greek Septuagint translation, not the original Hebrew biblical texts. However, instead of leaving the texts without numbering, the translators have referred to the Hebrew protocol for numbering, labelling and appropriately providing the relevant verse and chapter when referencing the Bible and specific scriptural references (Palmer, 1782, Chapter 2).

The first key to using the Philokalia is how we go about using it in practice. The key to pray without ceasing is to do exactly that, to pick up your cross and follow Jesus. The anonymous author of the Pilgrim book in our previous reflection sets a great example. Through his struggles, in not having food or belongings, he embraces poverty and seeks to go deeper in his faith specifically in the pursuit of praying without ceasing. The authors, translators and editors of the Philokalia encourage the same response. Spiritual Directors, Directees and companions are all called to the wonder and majesty of intuitive prayer and to pray without ceasing. Yet, the practices of removing our intellect, our flesh and emptying ourselves completely so that we can be completely open to God and the movement of the Holy Spirit are much harder to accomplish (Palmer, 1782, Chapter 2).

The Philokalia provides a great insight into the practice of a Monk, a Nun or any person following a deeper spiritual practice in daily meditation and prayer. However, as city dwellers, people of faith and living in the chaos and confusion of everyday life how can we find peace. If instead of scrolling on social media, texting aimlessly and seeking community through empty live chats or Facebook messenger we instead go into prayer and speaking to God. How much would that instill peace within us? Especially if there were a community of believers in fellowship for the practices of Spiritual sacrifice, both in time, in focus and in everyday life.

Like other faith traditions outside of Christianity Jewish, Muslim and Buddhist faiths demonstrate to us stronger, more rigorous and deeper prayer practices. The Philokalia is the Catholic response. The chapter by “Evagiros the Solitary” provides us with a great teaching, stillness and escape from our conceived flesh like passions, thoughts and desires. The author of this paper wishes not to define these feelings or emotions as evil, but rather contrary that our flesh responses maybe contrary to our love for neighbor, abusing people with lust rather than love. Hating family or friends rather than loving them sincerely. Also, desiring things rather than the satisfaction of authentic community and friendships (Palmer, 1782, Chapter 2).

Through the one hundred and fifty-three texts provided for the reader to pray through “Evagiros the Solitary” provides us with a fantastic appreciation for the Holy Spirit and encourages us to pray for divine intercession. Through removing self we are not seeking to expand our own intellect, we are seeking instead to challenge our subconscious and fundamentally interrupt our everyday routine and thought patterns. For example, text 63 reads “The Holy Spirit, out of compassion for our weakness, comes to us even when we are impure. And if only He finds our intellect truly praying to Him, He enters it and puts to fight the whole array of thoughts and ideas circling within it, and He arouses it to a longing for spiritual prayer (Palmer, 1782, Chapter 2).

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