Cenacle Aotearoa New Zealand had another of their monthly family gatherings in June 2019, which was on the Feast of the Cenacle. Michaela Stack led everyone into a wonderful sharing, inviting sisters and companions to table an item that energised them. The sisters and the companions also renewed their vows to their Cenacle commitment. Here is the introduction to the sharing by Clare Barrett:
Leading into prayer – Cenacle Family Aotearoa Gathering, 8 June 2018
(Feast of Our Lady of the Cenacle)
Veni Creator Spiritus – Come Holy Spirit, fill my soul with your heavenly grace, make my heart your home.
Anne said “keep it simple”. I thought, ok but what is simple about this time, this day – this Feast of Our Lady of the Cenacle?
Rose Hoover of the Cenacle in America says it is an in-between mystery, sandwiched between more spectacular ones, a mystery of absence, a mystery where nothing seems to be happening.* In Acts 1:12-14 it says that the apostles, together with Mary and assorted women, returned to Jerusalem and went up to the upper room where they were staying:
“All these with one accord devoted themselves to prayer.”
These times of waiting are full of presence – they are times when behind you is done and ahead is murky; where your aloneness is not fruitful, is an obstacle, where you have to seek help. And you pray.
You pray to and with God, with your friends, your community. That is your meeting place, your place at the well.
Our lives are full of this – it’s the journey bit, isn’t it? How often do we think “I should be this by now?”, “Why isn’t this happening?”, “Am I enough?” and if not (we always think “not”), what am I missing, what do I do, do I wait for or force what happens next?
Rose Hoover writes a very compelling piece about what happens next – about these “gestation” periods; these other times when seeming “in-between” occasions occur – they’re big things in the New Testament, these “in-between” occasions! The Annunciation, the Last Supper and here before Pentecost, steadying themselves for the birth, not of Christ but of the Church.
This prayer is the way for us, it is a powerful tool, a necessary one. Communicating with Our Lord, whether He seems to be listening or not, whether we are listening or not, is the game-changer. It is always effective. It’s not a passive thing, it’s not a nice add-on to action. Without prayer we’re doing it alone, we’re winging it.
How did those founding sisters of the Cenacle in Aotearoa do it? What were their thoughts? Those American Cenacle women – travelling all the way over here, the first ones – would it work, was it needed, would they manage, would they be alone with it all, would they cope without their family and friends and community? Meghan Markel’s Mum, Doria, when they were all at a launch of Together a cookbook that resulted from a powerful community pull-together after the Grenfell Tower fire in 2017, said “The power of women. We make things happen. We’re curious, we say yes, we show up”. For me that expresses, rather than the power of women, the power of Cenacle.
Anne was right. She knew there would be too much to try to encapsulate here and its depth and richness is something we are all part of and unravel all the time. It can’t be preached at you. Keep it simple, stay in touch with God constantly – feel the burn or don’t feel the burn – you are doing what He wants.
My Lord God,
I have no idea where I am going.
I do not see the road ahead of me.
I cannot know for certain where it will end.
nor do I really know myself,
and the fact that I think I am following your will
does not mean that I am actually doing so.
But I believe that the desire to please you
does in fact please you.
And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing.
I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire.
And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road,
though I may know nothing about it.
Therefore will I trust you always though
I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death.
I will not fear, for you are ever with me,
and you will never leave me to face my perils alone
* Rose Hoover “Nurturing the Mystical Body: Reflections on the Feast of the Cenacle” https://www.vocationquest.org/cenacle/2008/05/03/nurturing-the-mystical-body/.