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AHC G Group Meeting Place - Hebrew Catholics

Association of

Hebrew Catholics

New Zealand Branch

Group Meeting Place

A Hebrew Catholic Perspective

 

Distinct Privilege

We sometimes forget that it is a genuine privilege to come together in the Name of our Lord Jesus Messiah — Jesus Christ — to be with fellow members of the Church, as we enter into dialogue with God, through meditation on His Divine Word. Such a meeting is one of several gatherings of the faithful in a parish, all of which contribute towards active fellowship and a sense of purpose and direction. We say it often — as it needs to be said — that membership of the Church is membership of God’s own Household. To come together for His greater glory is always a special time with special blessings. We are family, and in that knowledge, we value each person for who they are, seeking always to show respect and kindness towards one another. Those are a few thoughts about the “spiritual space” in which we come together. Now let’s think a little about the “physical space”, knowing that each person or group will develop their own “culture”, as it were — their own particular expression of this sense of God’s presence within us, within one another, within the group, within the home or other meeting place — and ultimately our presence within God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Yes it is a time for reverence and respect — but it is also an occasion for us to relax together and help one another enjoy the delights of being members of God’s own family.

 

Choosing a Space

Some groups meet in a Church building or on Church premises — meeting rooms, etc. Three of the key considerations in this case would be:

●    layout which permits group members to see one another;
●    freedom from other people coming and going;
●    absence of noise from other groups, or people setting up for some other occasion.

If the group meets in a private home or similar situation, it would really just be a matter of making things as comfortable as possible and ensuring there is enough light for people to read. If you have an oratory or prayer space in part of your house, you may like to gather close to it — since in a way, it is your link with your local Church. There is no reason why a group shouldn’t sit around the dining table, especially if some members like to take notes. This fits perfectly well into our Hebrew Catholic practice of Lectio Divina. We don’t just gaze at the Sacred Scriptures in ecstasy and rapture; we carve them up, chew them over and consume them! Our Rabbi Jeshua said, “I am the Bread of life”. (John 6: 35). So the kitchen table is not such a strange idea — is it!

 

An Atmosphere of Reverence

Each group develops its own “culture” and, whether or not it recognises the fact its own rituals. The word “culture” comes from the Latin, cultus, colere — to worship. When a group gathers for its regular Lectio Divina, it is indeed assembling for a particular act of worship, informal though it may appear. It is therefore always appropriate to give some attention to promoting an atmosphere in which Jesus Messiah — Jesus Annointed One — Jesus Christ is encountered in the opening of the Sacred Scriptures.

We recommend, if the situation permits, a pair of candlesticks each with a candle which can be lit as part of the opening of the time together. Candles are an ancient symbol of the Presence of Christ who said:

“I am the light of the world. Whoever follows Me
will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

Since Lectio Divina is all about knowing and loving our Lord Jesus, a Bible near or between the candles — wherever they are placed — would be very appropriate should you choose. The Scriptures all point to Christ the Word (John 1: 1 — 14) and in that passage St. John wrote:

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God,
and the Word was God.

He was in the beginning with God.

All things came to be through him, and without him nothing
came to be. What came to be

through him was life, and this life was the light of the
human race;

the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has
not overcome it.                                                          
(John 1: 1 — 5)

We would add that the Bible may not be actually read from, as the text to be reflected on may be different. In this case the Bible acts as part of the group’s sense of reverence towards things holy; and for this reason we encourage you to have it blessed by a priest — as indeed also the candle sticks. The Church’s Teaching on Sacramentals is a treasure. (See links below).

If the place where the group assemble for Lectio Divina does not have a Holy Water font at the entrance, an appropriate container (preferably blessed) of Holy Water, again if you choose, could also be placed in an accessible position for members to use upon entry or joining the group.

Other items could be included according to custom, need or preference.

 

Internet Links:

●    Catechism of the Catholic Church: Sacramentals;

●    Catholic culture: The value of Sacramentals.

In Conclusion

Gathering for Lectio Divina is a time to relax and enjoy one another’s company. It is also a time to be focussed on listening to the Lord, to Whom all Scripture points. Thus the ideal atmosphere of the meeting place is therefore one which encourages each of these aspects. Experience will help establish this balance.

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