Learning Spiritual Practices with Episcopal House of Prayer
Sixteen members of St. Matthew’s had a blessed day on Saturday, March 19. We traveled to the Episcopal House of Prayer in Collegeville to learn and engage spiritual practices. For over 30 years, the Episcopal House of Prayer (EHOP) has been welcoming groups and individuals into its living and sacred spaces for retreat, contemplation, and a time and space apart.
One member of our group, Gwen Odney, said, “When we gathered in the oratory for Centering Prayer at the Episcopal House of Prayer during our retreat, something changed. I don't know if it could have been the preparation given by the director, the prayerful community of which I was part, the beauty of the environment, or maybe the Holy Spirit. The minute the gong sounded, I was restful, totally focused, and so at peace. Along with the Jesus Prayer and being aware of my breathing (two suggestions prior to prayer), the 20 minutes ended way too soon for me! It was the highlight of my day, and such a blessing to feel so connected to our Lord!”
Another St. Matthew’s parishioner, Rosa Uy, shared, “I was so frustrated with the Ukraine war and no one can do anything with Putin, I lamented to God every day. But on Saturday, it was quiet time to turn off all the news. I asked God for mercy to grant Ukrainians hope and peace. The chanting helped calm and set my mind and heart to create space for God. It was amazing how a short 20 minutes of silence can bring you peace and [allow you to] listen to God.”
Karen Pfeifle added, “The time of silent prayer took me to Jerusalem where there was that same bright sky that we had yesterday. There was a quiet and a stillness in that space. Really valuable qualities for prayer."
After lunch at the EHOP went to tour The Saint John’s Bible on the St. John’s campus. In 1998, Saint John's Abbey and University commissioned a renowned calligrapher to produce a hand-written, hand-illuminated Bible. This work of art unites an ancient Benedictine tradition with the technology and vision of today, illuminating the Word of God for a new millennium. The college provided a docent-led tour at no charge.
We finished the day at St. John’s Pottery where the founder, Richard Bresnahan, taught us about pottery and spoke movingly about the spirituality that is integral to their work. In an unexpected treat we were invited to join them for the Japanese tea ceremony. What a great day!
Other faith communities can have this experience. It is as simple as calling Dr. Christine Luna Munger, Director of the Episcopal House of Prayer at (320) 363-3293 or emailing her at CLUNAMUNG001@csbsju.edu and finding a time that works for your group. If you wish to tour The Saint John's Bible, the gallery is located on the lower level of Alcuin Library on the Saint John’s University Campus. Guided tours are available by reservation only via e-mail at email@example.com. Tim Ternes, the Director can be reached at (320) 363-3351. Saint John’s Pottery is reached at (320) 363-2930. Prepare for a blessed day and enjoy.