“An adventure is only an inconvenience rightly considered. An inconvenience is only an adventure wrongly considered.”
― G.K. Chesterton
Similar to many of you all, this fall has looked very different for Beatitudes Missions than we had anticipated. In a “normal'' year, our Fall Immersion program would spend one month doing campus missions in the States followed by three months living in the Holy Land. However, due to the inconvenience of continued travel restrictions, this year has been a different adventure.
As usual, we began our Fall Immersion program by coming together in Denver for a time of prayer and team building to prepare us for the coming months. We began a daily rhythm centered on prayer. This involved praying Lauds, Vespers, Adoration, and night blessing each day, and having daily Eucharist. In addition, we had times of study and formation, as well as recreation.
Fall 2020 Immersion Team
Left to Right: Veronica, Terra, Brendon, Dani, Michaela, Sean, Fr. Anthony
This time in Denver set a spiritual and interpersonal foundation that launched us into the rest of our Immersion. We hit the road with the goal of maintaining these habits we began in Denver as we traveled across the US for two months.
With the exception of two weeks with the Community of the Beatitudes in Denver, our Immersion Team spent the months of September and October on a road trip visiting college campuses all across the country. It was such a gift to visit each unique campus ministry, meet many incredible students, and rely on the Lord’s providence as we traveled from place to place. While on campuses, we had the opportunity to give talks on the beauty of the Liturgy and roots of the Church, give personal witness, and introduce students to Divine Liturgy, the Byzantine Catholic form of the Mass. For many, this was the first step in opening up to this diversity within the Catholic Church and experiencing the chants, icons, and Theology of the Eastern Rites.
Not only was this a beautiful time of mission and witness, but also our team had an incredible experience growing in prayer, community, and virtue. Despite changing location every few days, we maintained the rhythm of prayer that we had begun in Denver. We received incredible hospitality at every campus, and the Lord blessed us with many graces along the journey. Being on the road was not without its struggles. The challenges from inconsistency in daily life lead us to surrender more and more to the love and mercy of God, and living on the road with one another provided us with many opportunities to grow in selflessness, patience, and love. Each difficulty was a chance to deepen our intimacy with Christ, and through them, the Lord has poured out abundant blessings upon us.
While our daily schedule has not been very consistent on the road, we have continued persevering in our intellectual formation as often as possible. Our study times alternate between three main topics. The first is Hebrew lessons. As we aspire to more fully understand the Jewish roots of our faith and the depths of meaning in Scripture, we have been learning to read and speak the Hebrew language. This has definitely been a challenge, especially because the alphabet is completely different from what we are used to, but the fruits of this study have allowed us to grow intellectually, encounter aspects of the Jewish culture, and understand Scripture in new ways.
Our second topic of study is the geographical and historical aspects of the Gospels following a book by Bargil Pixner titled With Jesus through Galilee according to the Fifth Gospel. This book follows the life of Christ and His disciples as they travel around preaching and healing throughout Galilee. There is an emphasis on understanding the physical places where Jesus lived and visited in addition to learning about the various Jewish cultures present in Israel at the time. Studying this book has given a beautiful picture of Christ’s life and ministry in a historical context, and has been a big step in our preparation for traveling to the Holy Land.
Lastly, we have been studying various passages from the Catechism of the Catholic Church. This book is overflowing with wisdom, and although we have only been able to scratch the surface so far, the passages that we have read have had profound impacts on our interior lives. We have studied community, worship, liturgy, subsidiarity, prayer, and many other topics, all of which increase our ability and desire to live vibrant lives of faith and to grow deeper in relationship with the Lord.
With our campus road trip coming to an end, we will be returning to Denver and continuing our life of prayer, community, and formation for the remainder of Fall Immersion. At the end of November, our Immersion team will conclude our time together and return home to be with family for Thanksgiving.
In December and January, we are planning more times of retreat and evangelization for young adults in Denver, and we are hoping to make it to the Holy Land in the spring! Although Fall Immersion has looked different than expected, we are so grateful for the opportunities we have had throughout this entire experience. The dream of pilgrimage to Israel remains on our hearts, but no matter where we are physically in the world, we know that each of our lives is a pilgrimage to the Father in heaven and the interior journey is the most exciting adventure of all.
“Our real journey in life is interior: it is a matter of growth, deepening, and of an ever greater surrender to the creative action of love and grace in our hearts.”
― Thomas Merton