Community Prayer with Sisters of Bon Secours

Friday, June 23, 2023

BSVM has three spiritual retreats in a given year, and they’re hosted at the Bon Secours Retreat and Conference Center in Marriottsville, MD. Many of the Sisters of Bon Secours, USA are based in Maryland, so we try to make connections when our Richmond Ministry Volunteers are in the area. This June, when we gathered for our third and final retreat, we ate dinner with some local sisters and shared in a prayer format we have experienced weekly in Richmond: our community night prayer. Using the resource from which we build our communal prayer times, our Ministry Volunteers led sisters and BSVM staff in a collective time of prayer and reflection. You can find the outline below – what’s missing is the rich conversation that the reflection questions inspired!

Opening from Common Prayer: A Liturgy for Ordinary Radicals
Leader: O Lord, let my soul rise up to meet you
All: as the day rises to meet the sun.
Glory to the Father, to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit,
As it was in the beginning, is now, and will be forever. Amen.

Opening Song: “Canticle of the Turning”

“My soul cries out with a joyful shout
That the God of my heart is great
And my spirit sings of the Wondrous things
That you bring to the ones who wait
You fixed your sight on your servant’s plight
And my weakness you did not spurn
So from east to west shall my name be blest
Could the world be about to turn?
My heart shall sing of the day you bring
Let the fires of your justice burn
Wipe away all tears for the dawn draws near
And the world is about to turn!
Though I am small, my God, my all, you
Work great things in me
And your mercy will last from the Depths
Of the past to the end of the age to be
Your very name puts the proud to shame
And to those who would for you yearn
You will show your might
Put the strong to flight
For the world is about to turn
My heart shall sing of the day you bring
Let the fires of your justice burn
Wipe away all tears
For the dawn draws near
And the world is about to turn!”

Scripture Reading: Acts 2:37-47 (NRSV)

“Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and to the other apostles, “Brothers, what should we do?” Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ so that your sins may be forgiven, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you, for your children, and for all who are far away, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to him.” And he testified with many other arguments and exhorted them, saying, “Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.” So those who welcomed his message were baptized, and that day about three thousand persons were added. They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. Awe came upon everyone because many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. All who believed were together and had all things in common; they would sell their possessions and goods and distribute the proceeds to all, as any had need. Day by day, as they spent much time together in the temple, they broke bread at home and ate their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having the goodwill of all the people. And day by day the Lord added to their number those who were being saved.”

Leader: “Twentieth-century spiritual writer Henri Nouwen prayed, “Dear Lord, I will remain restless, tense and dissatisfied until I can be totally at peace in your house. There is no certainty that my life will be any easier in the years ahead, or that my heart will be any calmer. But there is the certainty that you are waiting for me and will welcome me home when I have persevered in my long journey to your house.” (in Common Prayer: A Liturgy for Ordinary Radicals, 309)

Reflection Questions / Collective Sharing
1. What word / phrase / verse is speaking to you right now, and why?
2. What are some daily wonders that have filled you with awe? What do these daily wonders teach you about God, others, and/or creation?
3. What does “breaking bread” look like to you? How does “breaking bread” remind you of the certainty that God is “waiting for [us] and will welcome [us] home?”

Prayer for Others and Closing
Leader: “Lord, meet us wherever goods are held in common for love and justice, wherever bread is broken for worship and praise, and wherever life witnesses to repentance and reconciliation. Amen.” (Common Prayer, 309)

All: “May the peace of the Lord Christ go with you : wherever he may send you;
may he guide you through the wilderness : protect you through the storm;
may he bring you home rejoicing : at the wonders he has shown you;
may he bring you home rejoicing : once again into our doors.” (Common Prayer, 309)

Ministry Volunteers joined Sisters for a time of communal prayer

Anna played flute during “Canticle of the Turning”