Elegant and Contemplative
When we lived near Toledo, my dear friend Susan masterfully put together “Candlelight” events for Lent and Advent, in which women would come together for a night of prayerful meditation and a formation talk/presentation. Designed around fellowship and homemade desserts, these beautiful candlelit evenings grew to be popular for Catholic women in the community. Widely attended, many women volunteered to host a table which they would elegantly decorate with their own fine china and personal touches. Sitting at one of the most beautifully designed settings I had ever seen, my sweet friend Anita offered me a piece of a rich chocolate cake and asked “more coffee?” Brilliantly, the evening was doing it’s work; evoking in the women a uniting sense of being pampered and cherished; where the human meets the spiritual in an apex of God’s feminine creation. When I moved back toward central Ohio, I asked Susan if she wouldn’t mind me borrowing the candlelight event model and she gracefully guided me through the general process. I was determined to make other women experience their faith in the human fellowship of femininity I had felt those precious evenings.
Lively and Emotive
“Advent By Candlelight” and “Lent By Candlelight” events at my central Ohio parish quickly grew to a favorite women’s fellowship experience. The first year of the candlelight events looked like something similar to Susan’s model, with ladies hosting their tables, bringing dishes and desserts. Slowly, the women at this parish adopted the event and made it their own. Hosting wine and cheese tables, conversation was lively and joyful, and the speakers became moving and emotional testimonies of hope from spiritual survival of devastating situations. Four years and 8 candlelight events later, I moved on to my next apostolic adventure. Before leaving, I did what anyone in my situation should do; I taught someone else the ropes, and handed it over, assuring her I would be there if she needed me.
Third Time’s Just as Charming; Cultivating, Prayerful and Musical
Moving to Nashville, I was grateful to find that the candlelight events were taking place here as well (another one of my sisters in Christ had also previously lived in the Toledo area). Our events here in Nashville consist of a priest-lead formation talk, and then a lay person/woman’s formation talk, and the opportunity for confession. The candlelight “flavor” here in Music City naturally includes the added blessing of musical performances, because we are in ranks with some amazing singer/songwriters.
Privy to the experience of seeing such an event in different cities, I am amazed at the way God reveals Himself with such variation. Just as every region, Diocese and church has it’s own unique way of digesting and implementing the Holy Spirit’s workings, it became apparent to me that so too does every ministry, prayer group, book club, and of course, human soul. Down to the smallest gatherings, inviting God into our hearts in any set of circumstances, from whatever original seed they may have sprouted, will always be an amazing experience of distinction and beauty.