Dear brothers and sisters,
The peace and joy of Christ!
The challenge of this COVID year is an opportunity for grace!
Quarantine gave several of us the chance to deepen our experience of living community life, service, and contemplation in the houses of the Community of the Beatitudes. At Emmaus, although we lost the Christian tourism which is our financial sustenance, we deepened our hospitality and outreach to Jews and Muslims.
We also had more time for manual projects. As you may have heard, a series of little disasters hit Emmaus at the beginning of the year. During quarantine, we were able to buckle down on numerous projects to maintain and repair our house and Holy Site.
UPS AND DOWNS
The run up to March was a steady climb as our missions, retreats, and pilgrimages continued to multiply. We deepened our foundation, forming an international board of directors that helped us draw up a charter articulating the pillars of our pedagogy and the parameters of our responsibilities. We expanded our staff and collaborators and worked on our communication and leadership.
The calendar, which we had prayerfully mapped out for over fifty pilgrims, was ruined by the travel restrictions. When COVID hit, we were in the midst of leading Benedictine College students in Israel and Nashville students in Peru. During that ominous week, we became so aware of the precious gift of being abroad, on mission, and physically present to each other.
"Living at Emmaus was an opportunity and gift. Immersed in Beatitudes spirituality and community life, I began to recognize old and new desires in my heart. Some were related to Eastern Christianity and Judaism, Icons and Mosaics, and liturgical song. These helped facilitate new depth into my relationship with God."
- Mark Wathen (pictured above painting fences at Emmaus), spent February through June living in Israel
We realized the void in which so many of our young people were left, not knowing when they could return to school or job or, even more important, the Eucharist. We launched into Zoom ministry. We led daily hours of Scripture meditation, Liturgy of the Hours, Hebrew lessons, spiritual direction, and even several retreats.
This time of restrictions has reminded us that our ministry runs deeper than the experience of travel or adventure. Our young people thirst for prayer, for faithfulness, and for fundamental steps toward holiness, interior peace, and the definitive gift of self in the vocation to religious life or matrimony. They know their weaknesses and their need for guidance and solidarity.
COVID has also given our staff and collaborators time to grow in our roles, relationships, discernment and team dynamics. After cancelling six pilgrimages, we planned six weeks of formation and ministry in the Rockies. The Lord is blessing this time abundantly. Now that the doors are opening, we’re going ahead planning our annual campus missions, immersions, and pilgrimages!
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