Credits to: Author, Episcopal Priest and a current leader of The Centering Prayer Community; Dr. Rev. Cynthia Bourgeault (see google “Fall Triduum” and book "Wisdom Jesus."). Author and Dr. Elizabeth Johnson from the book, “Abounding in Kindness” (see chapters on The Communion of Saints and Communio Sanctorum.)
For three years, I have dreamed of creating a retreat to celebrate; The Fall Triduum. I discovered the idea from a blog entry by Contemplative Teacher, Cynthia Bourgeault. I have wanted to share this ever since. I brought the idea to my Heart of Compassion Pastoral Team and they graciously helped me to make it happen. The following is the bounty of our collective genius! Please enjoy and have a Blessed Feast of All Hallows’! Thank you especially to: Michele Birch-Conery ARCWP, Sydney Condray ARCWP and Marianne Bernard from Michigan Call to Action.
Our Beloved God blessed our mini-retreat with a beautiful afternoon for October 29th in Michigan! The Mini-retreat went from 1:00 to 4:30 in the afternoon. Everyone was asked to bring; a potluck dish that a loved-one, now passed, loved to eat and a depiction of a favorite saint as well as a picture of a loved-one that they would like to remember.
There were six parts to the retreat: The Gathering at The Sacred Fire, Celebrating The Eve of All Hallows, Celebrating the Eve of All Saints, Celebrating All Souls’ Day, With Thanksgiving Celebrating Eucharist and finally sharing potluck supper.
The First part of the retreat began outdoors with a prayer service around a bon-fire.
Welcome to Our Celebration of The Fall Triduum. This is a special and sacred time, celebrated by my many cultures. We are halfway between the Fall Equinox and The Winter Solstice. In the Christian Liturgical tradition, this time is remembered as the three-day festival of All Hallows’ Eve, All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day. Especially, in Celtic and Mexican Christian Cultures, these days are a liminal and threshold time where the veil between ourselves and those who have gone before us is very thin. So, I invite you, into this mysterious time.
Insert Fire Blessing Photo
Sacred Fire Blessing
1. Our Abba- Mother, Hallowed be your name. We know you are with us, This Hallows’ Tide and always.
2. We are asking for the Presence of our holy companions, as we walk together on our spiritual journeys.
3. We cannot go forward without your Grace. You know our need before we see it.
4. Help us to surrender what we carry within us that is no longer useful.
5. Go forward with us as we embrace a realization event. Let us find anew the empowerment of our true self.
6. Commission us to act for the good of ourselves and others.
Pour out your blessings as we welcome the mystery of this sacred time.
Sitting around the fire we sang:
After 5 minutes of silence to savor the fire, I invited everyone to gather at the door to our gracious hostess’ house. Before entering the house, I asked people to pause to let go of the cares for the day that they brought with them and to experience crossing the threshold to this “thin-space” and “luminal-time” of The Fall Triduum.
“At the intersection of the timeless and time we come to: “All Hallows’ Tide”
We gathered in the living room for the rest of the service:
To Transition into our All-Hallows’ Tide Celebration we sang:
Standing on the Shoulders
The Second Part was, to honor The Eve of All Hallows’, we were invited to do; “profound inner work: to face our shadows and deep fears.” I created a centerpiece of Halloween Masks and each person was given a private journal to do this inner work.
After singing our song, I used the following as our first reading:
Leader 1: The three readings for today’s liturgy, represent each day of the Fall Triduum. The first reading recognizes the Eve of all Hallows. During this time we will look for the false, small or illusory self, who lives, in each of us. This false self is the one who hides behind the mask. There are some masks that we are ready to discard. Others, need to be kept. I invite you to use this exercise for the masks you feel ready to discard.
I invite you to wear your mask as we read this reading.
Reader 2: A Reading from Thomas Merton's description of his conversion at fourth and Walnut.
"At the center of our being is the point of nothingness which is untouched by sin and by illusion. This is a point of pure truth. It is a point or spark which belongs entirely to God. It is never at our disposal. From this point God disposes of our lives. A Divine Act which is inaccessible to the fantasies of our own mind or the brutalities of our own will. It is like a pure diamond, blazing with the invisible light of heaven. It is in everybody. And if we could see it we would see these billions of points of light coming together in the face and blaze of a sun that would make all the darkness and cruelty of life banish completely. I have no program for this seeing. It is only given. But the gate of heaven is everywhere. "
Each person was given their own journal (see picture below.)
Journaling with the reading for The Eve of All Hallows.
Now that we have read, Thomas Merton’s story it’s time for reflection. What is your story? Imagine that you and the Divine are looking upon some aspects of your small self or false self.
What do you and Our Beloved God see as you look upon these masks? Do you notice any places where you wish to let go of smaller and false parts of yourself? (pause)
I invite you to find a comfortable place, by yourself and spend the next 15 minutes journaling on these questions
What are the small self, false self ( ___________: Your way of naming this) parts of me that I am ready to let go of?
After 13 minutes of private journaling work. I asked people to return to our living-room gathering place. I let them know 2 minutes before I wanted them to gather. While our retreatants were journaling for All Hallows’ Tide, I changed our centerpiece to display, All Saints’ Day. The display included the statues and other depictions that people had brought.
This was our; All Saints’ Table.
The Third Part was to honor, The Feast of All Saints. When they returned from journaling, I gave people time to share what they had brought. I also had a mirror, I invited them to take a moment to gaze upon themselves the way that God sees them.
I used the meditations on The Beatitudes from The Gospel Matthew as paraphrased by; Cynthia Bourgeault. I added the idea of calling ourselves; “Saint” and including the Saint that we were using before each person read one of The Beatitudes entries for example:
Leader: Before you take your turn to read your beatitude, think of a saint or someone deserving to be a saint, that you would like to have companion with you on your Journey. Let us pause to think of your saint. (Pause)… When you read your beatitude say your name with the word, "Saint" before it. Then say "and" the name of the Saint who is your companion. Please remove your mask before you read your beatitude. I will go first for example.
Karen is Reader 3: Saint Karen & Saint Brigid of Kildare are Receptive and open.
"Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. "An inner attitude of receptivity and openness.” Thomas Merton once wrote, "at the center point of our being is a point of nothingness which is untouched by sin and illusion, a point of pure truth, a point of spark which belongs entirely to God."
Reader 4: Saint (your name) and Saint ( ) are Vulnerable and flowing.
"Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. "Vulnerability and flow. Mourning is a deep form of emptiness. If we can stay open, We discover that a mysterious "something" does indeed reach back to comfort us.
Once again, we were invited to journal on these ideas for 15 minutes.
Take some time with these Beatitudes the way they are written. Welcome the “Saint” you chose as your companion. Which of the 8 Beatitudes, engages your imagination and heart at this time? Invite your “Saint” to tell you how she/he experienced the challenge of moving beyond limiting belief systems? And how they have acquired clarity? Ask your Saint to companion you in re-membering yourself to how God sees you as a Beloved Saint.
While my retreatants were journaling, I changed the centerpiece to convey; All Souls’ Day.
When they returned to the living room we transitioned into celebrating, “All Souls” by singing:
When the Saints Go Marching In, Instrumental Holiday Music, Patriotic Songs of America 2012
The All Souls’ Day Table Centerpiece:
The Fourth Part was to honor, The Feast of All Souls! I invited everyone to share the picture or object they brought to remember their loved one.
For our reflection on The Feast of All Souls, this is what we read:
The Feast of All Souls, The Day of the Dead.
Leader 1: We are reading the Gospel of the Transfiguration for this day. As we remembered all Saints Day, we had a peak experience of; realizing ourselves as, already One in The Communion of Saints. But, now we are coming down the mountain. We will find the mask of our false selves again. We will find the mask of the false self on one another again. But this time it is different because we take our memory of ourselves, where we saw ourselves as God sees us with us. We are not alone, because we are deliberately bringing our Saint and this loved one we remember with us. Think of this as you hear the reading.
For one last time, I invited my guests of journal on All Souls’ Day…
Take a moment to do some prayerful imagining with The Transfiguration Gospel. Place yourself in the position of Peter. Tell, The Transfigured Jesus how wonderful it is to be here with ________________(your loved one’s name), Moses and Elijah. Allow yourself to imagine this scene for a moment.
(pause about 2 minutes).
Let yourself hear, “the voice from out of the cloud: "this is my beloved, my own; listen to this one." Write about this idea.
While my retreatants were journaling I changed the centerpiece for Eucharist. We used a modified version of our regular worship aide. We closed our Eucharist with the following prayer. After, we enjoyed a delicious potluck supper with great conversation.
Closing Prayer and Grace for the Potluck Supper.
Our Abba- Mother, Hallowed be your name. We know you are with us, This Hallows’ Tide and always. As we move forward from our Fall Triduum celebration, we take a moment to be grateful. We bring forward our special realization events with ourselves and our dear companions. They are with us now as we face the shortest days of the year. The leaves have fallen and the earth draws once again into itself. But before we greet the weeks before advent begins, we ask that we may linger a while with our dear companions. Bless us O Beloved Abba-Mother and these thy gifts which we are about to receive. For we are with this Great Cloud of Witnesses who accompany us into The Future. Amen
Closing Song: O Sacred Fire
Have a Blessed All Hallows’ Tide & Thank you!