August 16, 2016 Fr. Tony

Cultivating Spiritual Friendships

This past Sunday we emphasized the importance of having “spiritual friends”.  Our working definition is rooted in the writing of Aelred of Riveaulx, a 12th century Cistercian abbott.  A spiritual friendship is one rooted in love and the desire to Love God, Love Neighbor, and encourage the other to continue that same pursuit.

At Christ Redeemer we want to encourage our parishioners to consider forming intentional Spiritual Friendships.  These are groups of 3 rooted in a common purpose.  That purpose:

We join together to seek out, pursue and fulfill the command to Love God and Love our neighbor as ourselves.  This pursuit is informed by Scripture, inspired by the Holy Spirit, formed by repetitive practice, and rooted in a posture of love and mercy. We bring our fears, doubts, shame and anger, our joys and our sorrows into this place of Christ’s presence, for the submission all things to His Lordship, to be healed and formed so that we grow into men and women of God, followers of Jesus Christ.

To help us cultivate deep and abiding love of God and neighbor, we commit to the following practices:

  • Confession and Repentance: these two practices represent opportunities to experience forgiveness, restoration, and reformation of habit.
  • Discernment: this practice allows us to learn to trust God’s rule in our life and teaches us to lean on the wisdom and understanding of those we call spiritual friends.
  • Speaking Truth: this practice allows us to live in healthy relationships that are full of grace AND truth.  We speak the truth in love to help encourage our brothers and sisters towards greater love of God and neighbor.
  • Cultivating Imagination: this practice is an opportunity to cultivate an imagination for what God is doing in our own lives as well as well as helping others envision life transformed by Christ.

To shape new desires, we choose to use repeatable rhythms for each meeting.  It includes:

  • Gathering: Inviting God to enter into the midst of us as we seek to love God and neighbor
  • Listening: Submitting ourselves to the regular practice of hearing scripture
  • Confessing: Exposing those things we have done or failed to do which need to be forgiven and repented of
  • Discipling: Choosing to work on something we believe God is asking of us
  • Sending: Blessing and sending one another into a life on mission

Of course, there is much more to our Spiritual Friendships than what is outlined here, but this is merely and invitation to consider the relationships you currently have.

Do you have spiritual friends?

What practices do you engage in to cultivate Spiritual Friendships?

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