“Praying with Sr. Thea for a Cosmic Spirituality.”
Prayer Service Prepared By Michael P. Howard, M.A.,
Opening song (set up in a circle or “U” shape) “When the Saints go Marching In,” (Lead Me Guide Me # 729 2nd Ed.). “Jesus loves the Little Children,” (LMGM # 667 2nd Ed.). Or – “Gather your people, O Lord,” (Gathering Comprehensive Hymnal # 742).
(Opening prayer or the facilitator can create their own.) We gather here today to ask God to send us the joyful spirit that Sr. Thea, now “A servant of God” imbued as she expressed the need for all of God’s children to come together. Truly, as children of God, we must all learn to rejoice in being made in the image of God. God breathed the same spirit into each one of us giving us all red blood; five senses; and finally, because God is love, we can love each other. Therefore, in this spirit of love, let us pray the words Jesus prayed in John’s Gospel.
Group 1: (John’s Gospel 17:21-26)
“I pray not only for them, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, so that they may all be one, as you, Father, are in me and I in you, that they also may be in us, that the world may believe that you sent me.
And I have given them the glory you gave me, so that they may be one, as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may be brought to perfection as one, that the world may know that you sent me, and that you loved them even as you loved me.
Father, they are your gift to me. I wish that where I am they also may be with me, that they may see my glory that you gave me, because you loved me before the foundation of the world.
Righteous Father, the world also does not know you, but I know you, and they know that you sent me.
I made known to them your name and I will make it known, that the love with which you loved me may be in them and I in them.” Amen
(Volunteer Reader) A reading from the Book of Acts (Acts 2:5-12)
“Now there were devout Jews from every nation under heaven staying in Jerusalem. At this sound, they gathered in a large crowd, but they were confused because each one heard them speaking in his own language. They were astounded, and in amazement, they asked, “Are not all these people who are speaking Galileans? Then how does each of us hear them in his own native language? We are Parthians, Medes, and Elamites, inhabitants of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the districts of Libya near Cyrene, as well as travelers from Rome, both Jews and converts to Judaism, Cretans and Arabs, yet we hear them speaking in our own tongues of the mighty acts of God.” They were all astounded and bewildered, and said to one another, “What does this mean?” The Word of the Lord
(Suggested Reflection or the facilitator can create their own reflection on Acts 2:5-12) This event in the Book of Acts takes place on the day of Pentecost, the birthday of the Church when tongues of fire rested on the 120 apostles in the “Upper Room.” Our reading explains that when the Holy Spirit came, different cultures were able to hear each other in their native language. Astounded and bewildered, the crowd tries to comprehend how different cultures can understand one another. That’s why they asked this question, “What does this mean?” Peter responded to the crowd’s inquiry by reminding them that the prophet Joel said that God “will pour out my spirit upon all flesh” (Jl. 3:1). However, for us today, what does this mean for us as we pray with Sr. Thea’s spirit?
This reading encapsulates the bold spirit of Sr. Thea who looked at the soul of humanity as being made in the image of God. She always sought after a “Cosmic Spirituality,” which means, learning and accepting the Spirit of the “individual” regardless of their culture. Sr. Thea, suggested that “we’re going to have to learn new languages.” We have to step out of our comfort zones and worship God in Spirit and truth with all cultures. Let us all pray in the spirituality of oneness as each petition is proclaimed.
(Facilitator will write petitions to further the cause of Sainthood for Sr. Thea Bowman. Petitions should also focus on togetherness between cultures and the empowerment of justice for all of God’s creation. If other cultures are present, invite them to participate by reading the general response to each petition spoken in their culture language.)
The response to each prayer will be: “O Lord, hear our prayer, come and listen to us.” Or use (LMGM #217).
(Volunteer Reader) Listening to Sr. Thea’s Words: “Cosmic spirituality means we’re going to have to learn new languages. We’re going to have to learn [a] new rhythm. We’re going to have to learn new ways of glorifying the Lord. How can you teach folks back home if you can’t share a culture and spirituality that’s different and familiar? You can’t learn culture or spirituality by reading a book. If you could, we’d all be better informed. We learn cultures and customs and languages of faith; we learn cosmic spirituality by sharing, by sharing prayer and song and ritual and story, by involving ourselves and participating, by giving and receiving…”
Sharing amongst participants (10 Min.): What are some positive experiences that can come from interacting with different cultures?
Anointing / Blessing!
(Place three pitchers with water in a central location alongside three bowls, with paper towels. While instrumental music is played, invite participants to come by twos. Each participant will take turns pouring water over each other’s hands. Use paper towels to dry each other’s hands. When finishing drying hands, each person will say “I need you to survive” and then return to their seats in preparation for closing prayer and song.)
Closing Prayer together: “We have come together in Jesus’ name and we pray. Oh Father give us the spirit of transformation that the water of our lives may become the purest wine and that your glory may be revealed to all the brothers and sisters, to the whole cosmos, to the limits of the universe. God’s glory is revealed because we love one another across the barriers and boundaries of race, culture, and class. We love not just in words but in food and in prayer and in song and dance and in learning and working together. Let the Church say “Amen.” Sr. The Bowman.
Suggestions for the closing song, “Here I am Lord,” (LMGM #643 2nd Ed.), “I Need You To Survive” by Hezekiah Walker, (Lyrics found on the webpage: https://genius.com/Hezekiah-walker-i-need-you-to-survive-lyrics or “In Christ There is No East or West” (Gather Comprehensive Hymnal # 726).
Michael Howard, M.A., Founder of Eat the Scroll Ministry, Sadlier’s Speaker, “VLCFF,” Univ. of Dayton, Archdiocese of Wash. © 2019.
Thea Bowman Reference: Cepress, Celestine. Editor, “Sister Thea Bowman, Shooting Star: Selected Writings and Speeches,” Winona: St. Mary’s Press. 1993.