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Advent: A time for new beginnings

This November, Sacred Space the online prayer website, in collaboration with Pray As You Go, are running their Annual Advent retreat. As usual the retreat is available in both audio and text format. There are five sessions in total, with the ‘Introduction’ available on Thursday 28th November and a new session made available each week until Wednesday 2nd January 2020. Click here for the New Beginnings Advent Retreat ».

The theme of this year’s retreat is New Beginnings. It looks at how people’s lives can take a completely different path and direction when God enters the story. In the Introduction to the retreat, the example of St Ignatius is given. Referring to the decisive change in Ignatius’s life when his leg was shattered by a cannonball, it comments, “We remember St Ignatius of Loyola who was so convinced of his path in life until a ‘cannonball moment’ in Pamplona. Here God intervened in his story and his life took a completely different direction.”

During the Advent retreat reflections are offered on the lives of many people in the scriptures with similar stories. Like Mary there can be many “moments of visitation” in life where plans are turned upside down, for a greater plan. Also with Joseph, who struggled with his reality but awakened from a “dream” with a new clarity. And like the Wise Men, there are times when people are drawn to a new place, the dwelling place of God by the light of a “star”. During Advent people are invited to commit some time for stillness and to listening for the voice “crying in the wilderness”. Some time to become more aware of the opportunities for new beginnings in the walk with God and to consider God’s message from the prophet Isaiah “I am about to do a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?” (43:19)

This year’s retreat was written by Noreen Mackey, a guest Director and Presenter in Manresa Jesuit Centre of Spirituality. Over the five weeks she guides retreatants in stillness and reflection and offers many points of insight.

This year on the Sacred Space website, the team are inviting people to consider praying the Advent retreat with others. Maybe with some friends or family at home; people from the parish; neighbourhood; or with work colleagues? Praying with others this Advent could also be the start of a “New Beginning” for people who are seeking to share their faith with others or those who are searching for a faith community in their lives.