RALEIGH, N.C. — On Sept. 3, amid the activity of the September back-to-school season, parishioners filled St. Francis of Assisi Church here to spend an “Evening with God.”
Those who gathered for the first monthly prayer service shared their faith, prayed, listened to the Word of God, and spent time in quiet reflection. At the conclusion of the prayer service, people were asked to share the fruits of their contemplation, by writing a short letter to a prisoner on death row.
The ebb and flow of action and contemplation is a deeply-rooted Catholic tradition that St. Francis practiced with his followers, according to Megan Nerz, parish director of pastoral ministries. “The St. Francis of Assisi Pastoral Ministries group hopes that the new monthly prayer service will encourage people who attend to take time to contemplate both their relationship with God and with the world,” she said.
“A big temptation working in ministry is to become so concerned with meetings, issues, actions and programs that we forget the spiritual roots of our witness. This is a sure-fire prescription for burnout,” added Nerz. “We need to remind ourselves that the source of our work is Christ’s gift: ‘Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you.’” (John 14:27)
Julian Jagudilla, OFM, associate pastor and pastoral care coordinator, said: “Prayer opens us to receive this gift. We will be most open to the Spirit if we take time for prayer. We are not secular activists and social workers but believers trying to be channels of God’s passion and compassion.”
The program takes place on the first Thursday of every month. Mark Reamer, OFM, is pastor of St. Francis of Assisi Church.