Wednesday Words- The Alumni Lenten Mini Retreat

Hello Blog Friends,

Just popping in with a little extra post about our recent Mini Retreat, held on Saturday March 23rd. Several months ago I was watching an episode of the “Artful” series and was very interested when one of the featured artists was an iconographer, originally from The Ukraine but now living and working in High Wycombe, UK.

My dear friend, Michelle, a Team Alumnus, grew up in Montreal but now lives, with her family in Devon, UK. Her husband is an Eastern Orthodox priest and professor of Theology at Exeter University. Michelle is very involved in her church and sings in the choir. She also sings in a local CofE choir (she was brought up Anglican) and her youngest daughter is a chorister in the Exeter Cathedral Choir . All of this led me to think that it would be extremely interesting to learn more about how Lent is observed in the Orthodox Tradition. I approached Michelle and asked if she might consider being our Speaker, she graciously agreed, and so the Theme for this year’s Alumni Mini- Retreat was born 😊.

After a preliminary online meeting we settled on the title –

“Going to His Voluntary Passion”

                                  -a Journey through Holy Week in the Eastern Orthodox Tradition

It transpired that Icons are a particular focus ,during Lent, in the Orthodox church and so the Retreat included the aforementioned video , many images of different icons and we even had an opportunity to spend blocks of personal time reflecting  on and copying an icon that illustrates Mary and Jesus’ followers grieving over his body after it was taken down from the cross. Below is the original icon followed by copies made by some of the retreat attendees.

Michelle focussed especially on Orthodox Holy Week practices as the Western churches were just entering Holy Week, although, this year, the Orthodox Easter falls on May 5th.We also had time to reflect on the Prayer of St. Ephraim, said throughout Lent, to listen to recordings and watch video clips illustrating highlights of Services that take place from Palm Sunday through all of Holy Week.

Following the retreat, Michelle generously shared her notes, along with links to the clips she had used and I was able to send a comprehensive “follow-up” email to all who had participated.

The feedback was very positive as we learned about the Faith traditions from a branch of Christianity.

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