In a letter dated 29 May 2020, the Provincial of the former Maryland Province of the Society of Jesus announced his decision to close the Jesuit Center for Spiritual Growth, effective August 2021. You may read the Provincial’s letter, accompanying FAQs, and Br. Derby’s letter of response here.
While we are sorrowful at the decision, we are focused on the remaining time of ministry here in Wernersville. The Jesuit Center will continue to offer retreats and other programs for spiritual renewal, and to host groups, through August 2021. You can see our 2021 program calendar here.
I am not a dancer. My body tends to be rigid and stiff. I am convinced that coordination and a sense of rhythm were not among the gifts that God bestowed on me at my creation. Yet I love to watch the fluid, graceful movements through which some people reflect in their bodies a certain harmony and oneness with themselves and with all around them. I am filled with wonder and joy as I observe a human body reflect the “Divine Dance” of the creating and ever-recreating God.
Because of this I find myself especially sensitive to any reference to dance in the context of things spiritual. I was especially intrigued on Easter Tuesday when I saw a reference to Jesus dancing in a depiction of the Gospel of the day (John 20: 11-18) by Fra Angelico entitled “Noli Me Tangere” (the Latin translation of the words of Jesus to Mary Magdalene, “Do not cling to me.”)
With that reference in mind, I looked closely at the posture of Jesus in the painting, especially at how his legs are crossed one over the other, and saw what I had never seen before: Jesus doing a sort of soft shoe shuffle before Mary. I understood his words as implying “Don’t hold me back. My joy is too great.”
In the Spiritual Exercises, St. Ignatius reminds the retreatant that Jesus comes to us in his resurrection as one who consoles: “Consider the office of consoler which Christ our Lord carries out, and compare it to the way friends console one another” (Sp. Ex. 224).
As we continue to “mourn and weep in this valley of tears,” the risen Christ comes to us in our struggle and pain to reveal to us the deeper movement of life in which love and suffering are intimately united. He reveals to us the full meaning of the Cross, inviting us to see that, in all that happens, God is continually pouring out grace and meaning where we only seem to be able to experience tragic discord.
The Lord of the Dance
Fr. Frank Kaminski, SJ
As Certain as the Dawn | April 29, 2020
The Lord of the Dance