After a Via de Cristo weekend, participants are encouraged to form or join an accountability group. In this group, we meet on a regular basis to discuss our plans for growing in God’s grace. Since a balanced Christian life includes piety, study and action, group members take turns talking about how they are doing in each of these areas. To mature as a Christian, we must practice spiritual disciplines. Disciplines that increase our piety include:
- Congregational worship and communion
- Morning offering/evening thanks
- Devotions, meditation and prayer
- Examination of conscience
- Altar or chapel visits
- Family prayer
- Blessings before meals
- Spiritual direction
Maybe you’re not even sure what some of these mean. I didn’t before my weekend. (That may be the topic for another post). Maybe you think it sounds a little mechanical, or even legalistic (Those are dangers, for sure. It is possible to become a “routine Rita” simply doing Christian things without really thinking about what they mean). However, like any other support group, banding together with others who want to go in the same direction helps us keep on track. Knowing I have to “weigh in” next week encourages me to complete the task/s I’ve assigned myself. It is also an opportunity to hear what works for others, and it’s helpful to learn all the creative ways my friends have learned to pray, to get recommendations for devotionals and just be held up in prayer.
At the end of the piety section there is a question to answer: “What was the moment you felt closest to Christ?” Maybe it was during a worship service; maybe it was listening to a favorite hymn or song; maybe it was an insight that seemed God-sent during prayer; maybe it was a simple feeling of gratitude for time with family. Sometimes I wonder if I would even notice these moments of grace if I didn’t have my reunion group meeting to make me think about them each month.
You don’t have to go on a Via de Cristo weekend to practice piety. You do need others, though. It’s too hard to go it alone. Find a friend or friends. Pray together; study together; talk about our Christian walk; laugh and cry and vent when you need to; do ministry together. You won’t regret it, and you’ll look back years later to see where all that practice has led. It will be higher ground.
God loves you and so do I!