Spiritual stroll in the heart of creation
The Ursuline community in Malet, France shares the experience of a spiritual walk to celebrate and find out more about Pope Francis' message for the Time of Creation.
As part of the Time of Creation (1 September - 4 October 2023), a spiritual walk in the gardens of the Convent and the Meeting Space was offered to parishioners, pilgrims and the community with a view to discovering the message of Pope Francis written for this occasion and making some symbolic gestures that commit us.
"Let justice and peace flow like a river" Amos 5:24 was the theme for this month. So we focused on water.
After greeting the participants at the spring near the reception area, we began our journey by singing a song - Source of Hope - "That in the beginning, God gave us creative water, the source of life". This is followed by a reading by two people from Genesis 2:4b to 17. The local priest said a prayer, then after drawing water from the fountain, a sister and two children set off with watering cans to water the albizia planted last year. The group followed them.
As we wandered through the gardens, we headed for a rather dry spot at the entrance to the inner courtyard, remembering, as the host reminded us, that "very often we don't take care of this gift (water); we waste it, or worse, we trade in it". With Psalm 84 proclaimed by two voices, we were introduced to a penitential step supported by intentions interspersed with refrains: Kyrie eleison or Oh, blessed are you Lord, blessed are you for water! The sprinkling of the assembly with holy water concluded this part, reminding us of our baptism.
We set off again and gathered around the fountain in the inner courtyard, where "Like the Samaritan woman, Jesus invites us to receive living water from Him, so that we too can become sources of justice and peace". The hymn "I have seen the living water" introduced the reading of John 4 (The Samaritan woman) by the priest, followed by a brief comment.
The two participants then offered a prayer of intercession for the care of our common home, in the words of Pope Francis, from whose message the moderator read out an extract: "Like a river basin with its many tributaries, large and small, the Church is a communion of countless local Churches, religious communities and associations that draw their nourishment from the same water. Each source makes its own unique and irreplaceable contribution, until they all flow into the vast ocean of God's merciful love". To give concrete expression to what Pope Francis is reminding us, we were invited to take a walk: we split into three groups, each given a container of water, and we set off along three different paths that led to the Sacred Heart.
It is the symbol of "a synodal Church that lives communion in its diversity". The water carriers were invited to pour the contents of their jugs into a single basin. Following in their footsteps, we said the Our Father together, joining hands: " Let's join hands and take courageous steps so that justice and peace can flow all over the Earth " (message from Pope Francis).
The whole assembly moved towards the entrance to the church, where the priest, standing at the top of the steps, gave a solemn blessing and then mandalas decorated by sisters from the community and pilgrims was distributed to each participant: an invitation to act with justice and peace in our daily lives, never forgetting the message of the Cross. We ended by singing a verse from "Source d'Espérance" (Source of Hope).
Sr Françoise Bonnaterre