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Cathedral to host three-night retreat on prayer

Will be held March 19-21 in evenings; open to the public

“Carry words with you and return to the Lord” (Hosea 14:2).

By Rhonda Miska
Witness Correspondent

DUBUQUE — This Lent, St. Raphael Cathedral and St. Patrick Church in Dubuque will be offering a three-evening retreat on three distinct ways to “carry words” in prayer.

Reimagining the Word

On Sunday, March 19, Father Alan Dietzenbach, the associate pastor of St. Raphael Cathedral and St. Patrick’s, will present on “reimagining the Word.” Father Dietzenbach will invite participants into a prayer style developed by St. Ignatius of Loyola known as “imaginative prayer.”

Imaginative prayer is a way of placing oneself in the scene of a Scripture passage, especially from one of the four Gospels. Jesuit Father Jim Martin describes imaginative prayer as asking yourself, “What do I see? What do I hear? What do I feel, taste and smell?” in that scene. Martin says imaginative prayer is the primary way he prays, and that it leads to “a profound encounter with the living Christ.”

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Praying the Word

On Monday, March 20, Dr. Amanda Osheim, professor of theology at Loras College and St. Raphael parishioner, will present on “praying with the Word” through lectio divina.

Lectio divina – Latin for “divine reading” or “sacred reading” – is a spiritual practice of reading and reflecting on the words of Scripture. It has roots in early monastic tradition, but has become a popular form of prayer for not only religious but also lay Catholics.

“Lectio divina has capability to help up savor the words of Scripture and learn how to dwell in them,” said Osheim. “When I pray this way, the words of Scripture take a deeper root in my heart. What I find beautiful about lectio divina is the richness of silence in which I allow God to speak through Scripture.”

Singing the Word

On Tuesday, March 21, Brenna Cussen Anglada, a member of St. Isidore Catholic Worker Farm and a cantor at St. Raphael Cathedral, will guide participants through “singing with Word” with an exper­ience of Taize prayer.

Taize is a community in eastern France founded by Brother Roger Schutz in the 1940s. A style of sung prayer developed there that involves chanting refrains of short phrases of Scripture. Many find Taize prayer centering and deeply meditative, whether or not they are skilled singers.

“The words and music are so simple,” said Anglada. “Anyone can do it, not just expert singers. Perfection is not the goal. It’s about prayer and letting the words seep over you.”

“Praying through singing is using our full body,” Anglada said. When we talk about God or theology, we’re asked to use our heads and intellect, but using our body as a form of prayer is beautiful. That’s what I love about sung prayer.”

For each of the evenings, “the goal is to introduce the spiritual practice and then have people actually practice it. If you already know these forms of prayer, great, it’s another chance to come practice,” said Anglada.

“Our hope is that this would be something anyone seeking a new way of praying can come and have practical take aways. At the end of any one of these nights, you have not only learned about but have also experienced this prayer with Scripture,” said Osheim.

The presentations are free and open to the public.

“If folks are able to come to all three nights, fantastic. But people have busy schedules, and that’s OK,” said Osheim, stressing one need not commit to coming to all three evenings.

Each of the presentations will run from 7-8 p.m., followed by a social with refreshments afterwards. Childcare is available for those who call the cathedral rectory at 582-7647, extension 221 to request it. The Sunday and Tuesday evening presentations will be held at St. Raphael Cathedral at 231 Bluff St, and the Monday evening presentation will be held at St. Patrick Church at 1425 Iowa St, both in Dubuque.


Photo of Father Alan Dietzenbach, the speaker on the first night of the three-evening retreat.