Feeling spiritually discouraged? This workshop may help

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The Lanteri Center will be celebrating its 15th anniversary this year with a special workshop that could change the course of your life through deeper growth and personal restoration with God.

The Lanteri Center will host the “Overcoming Spiritual Discouragement” seminar Oct. 26-27, which will focus on the life and ministry of Venerable Bruno Lanteri, founder of the Oblates of the Virgin Mary, who lived his spiritual life based on the infinite mercy of God.

The seminar director will be Father Timothy M. Gallagher, O.M.V., who has dedicated many years to an extensive ministry of retreats, spiritual direction and teachings about the spiritual life.

“This seminar is intended for those who wish to engage in an atmosphere of fraternity and evangelical simplicity for a time of study, prayer, and social interaction, learning how to integrate Christian spirituality with their engagement with the world,” Father Greg Cleveland, Director of the Lanteri Center told, the Denver Catholic.

Lanteri preached and wrote about the infinite mercy of the Father manifested in Jesus Christ during difficult times when there was disturbance both in the Church and world. But more than that, he lived it in his everyday life, and taught the Oblates to do the same. Through reconciliation and spiritual direction, he connected with people along their personal journey to knowing God’s mercy. His writings offer hope and spiritual encouragement.

The Lanteri Center for Ignatian Spirituality, located in Denver, was founded in 2004 by Father Ernest Sherstone and Father Dan Barron, both Oblates of the Virgin Mary, a religious community dedicated to retreats and spiritual formation according to the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius.

“We offer spiritual direction to people throughout the Archdiocese of Denver and beyond, as well…We offer that service to people looking for that one-on-one guidance, helping deepen their relationship with The Lord. We also train people to become spiritual directors.”

The Lanteri Center is a place that fosters growth in holiness through the ministry of spiritual direction and prayerful reflection upon God’s Word in a welcoming and friendly environment. Spiritual direction is help given by one Christian to another, which enables that person to listen and respond to God and grow in intimacy with him.

“Engaging in spiritual direction allows the Holy Spirit direct you by moving you deeply and leading you to a closer union with God,” Father Cleveland said.

For more information on the Lanteri Center, visit www.omvusa.org/lanteri-center.

Overcoming Spiritual Discouragement
Oct. 26-27, 9 a.m. – 3 p.m.
Holy Ghost Parish
1900 California St., Denver
$25 each day, lunch provided.

COMING UP: A time to reflect on death

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November is a month when the Church asks us to pray for the dead. After celebrating those in heaven on Nov. 1, we pray for all the faithful departed who await heaven while undergoing purgation on Nov. 2, All Souls Day. The Church encourages us to pray for the dead by granting special indulgences in November to assist the souls in purgatory. A plenary (or full) indulgence can be received November 1-8 and then a partial indulgence the rest of the month when we “devoutly visit a cemetery and at least mentally pray for the dead” or “devoutly recite lauds or vespers from the Office of the Dead or the prayer Requiem aeternam”: “Eternal rest grant unto him/her (them), O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon him/her/them. May he/she/they rest in peace. Amen.”

November, therefore, provides an opportunity to reflect upon death. Even the readings at the end of the liturgical year and the beginning of Advent point us to the coming judgment and end of the world. We may not relish contemplating death but doing so constitutes an essential element of a life well lived, realizing that our life on earth will decide how we spend eternity. Socrates described philosophy as a preparation for death and the same has been made for monasticism.  “Remember to keep death before your eyes daily,” the great Patriarch of monks, St. Benedict, directed in his Rule (ch. 4). A French writer, Nicholas Diat, put this maxim to the test in his new book, A Time to Die: Monks on the Threshold of Eternal Life (Ignatius, 2019). Diat, known for his three interview books with Cardinal Robert Sarah, visited eight monasteries in France — Norbertines, Benedictines, Cistercians, and Carthusians — to talk to the monks about their experience of death.

He describes why he wrote the book: “The West has worked hard to bury death more deeply in the vaults of its history. Today, the liturgy of death no longer exists. Yet fear and anxiety have never been as strong. Men no longer know how to die. In this desolate world, I had the idea to take the path of the great monasteries in order to discover what the monks might have to teach us about death. Behind cloister walls, they pass their existence in prayer and reflection of the last things. I thought their testimonies could help people understand suffering, sickness, pain, and the final moments of life. They have known complicated deaths, quick deaths, simple deaths. They have confronted death more often, and more intimately, than most who live outside monastery walls” (13).

I found that Diat achieved his objective. Although the monks live very different lives, they still face similar human struggles, sometimes magnified by lack of distractions, including the dominance of technology in sickness and the last stages of life. The Benedictine Monastery of En-Calcat experienced many difficult deaths and the superior, Dom David, related how sedation can make it hard to die: “We no longer feel life. We no longer feel humanity. We no longer feel God approaching” (55). When death approaches more naturally (or should we say supernaturally), the monks can die the “most beautiful death.” Such was the death of Father Henri Rousselot, who died at 96: “His face in death was magnificent. He was supernaturally radiant. The monks had the impression that his features had been drawn by God. Everyone who entered this room was struck by his beauty. Each found the child that Father Henri had always been” (72).

Some monasteries experienced difficult deaths — young monks whose lives were cut short by cancer, or, in the case of the canon Brother Vincent, multiple sclerosis, sudden deaths, even in chapel, or cases of dementia or mental illness. It did seem, however, in my own assessment, that the more a monastery was withdrawn from the world and its cares the more peaceful the deaths of its monks. This was true especially of the Grand Chartreuse (see the film Into Great Silence), where the monks live like hermits in the silent seclusion of prayer. Here the monks, already anticipating heaven, seem to die miraculously by slipping away peacefully. “The beauty of Carthusian deaths, sweet and simple, seems to bear witness to the fact that the spiritual combat of the sons of Bruno is so powerful that, in the final hour, fears are abolished. In the last moments, the peace that dwells in them is so profound that the majority of them are not afraid to die alone. They have spent their lives in the silence of an austere cell that sees them leave this earth” (165).

The book does not treat simply the experience of monks, but a central question for us all: “No one knows how he will live his death. Will we be courageous, fearful, happy? Will we be cowards or heroes?” (114). It’s time to start preparing now!