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Let’s go down to the river to pray … you could really benefit from this!

Thank you to all who attended the Jan. 8 Taizé prayer service in the Church of the Immaculate Conception at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods, Ind. The next service is 7-8 p.m. on Feb. 19.

Thank you to all who attended the Jan. 8 Taizé prayer service in the Church of the Immaculate Conception at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods, Ind. The next service is 7-8 p.m. on Feb. 19.

After the January Taizé prayer service at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods, we learned that one of the participants made the following report to members of a committee on which he serves: “You all should go to the next one. You could really benefit from this.”

These monthly services in the Church of the Immaculate Conception were created as one of the contributions of the Sisters of Providence to Terre Haute’s celebration of the Year of the River. The Providence Center team that created the Taizé services has chosen a “water” theme for each month. January’s focus was the lack of potable water in the world; the February service (Feb. 19, 7-8 p.m.) will center on thirst and our insatiable thirst for bottled water.

So back to our friend who prayed with us in January. I want to ask him and maybe you who are reading this as well: What is the benefit of praying about water or lack thereof? Will this bring more water to those most in need? Will this stop you or me from wasting water or consuming more water than we really need? Will I lessen the frequency with which I wash my clothes? Will I remember to turn off the water faucet when I brush my teeth?

If I go to the February prayer service and learn that the oil needed to make the plastic for all the bottles of water sold in the U.S. is equivalent to the fuel needed to keep one million vehicles on the road for 12 months, will I stop buying bottled water?

And what does all of this really have to do with the Year of the River anyway?

Do you know the Spiritual, “Down to the River to Pray?”

Each verse enjoins another group — brothers, sisters, mothers, fathers — to go down to the river to pray.

Why? ….to ask our good and Provident God to “show me (us) the way.”

Our 2013 monthly Taizé prayer services are lit primarily by candlelight as shown here at our Jan. 8 service.

Our 2013 monthly Taizé prayer services are lit primarily by candlelight as shown here at our Jan. 8 service.

Benefits of prayer

I believe that is the benefit of an experience like the Taizé Prayer, of any prayer really. Sometimes I need to be shown again (and again) the way to live that will enable others to live more fully. As expressed in one of the readings used for the January service: “But the scales are falling from our eyes and we see what we must do. We must change how we think about ourselves and we must act on that new knowledge.”

It is a wonderful benefit to gather with other seekers on this journey, to go across the river to Saint Mary-of-the-Woods, to gather amidst the candlelight and music that is the Taizé prayer and to ask our God to:

Guide us to our truest selves, co-creators with you of this environment. Persuade us to be worthy inheritors of the astonishing evolving reality in which we live: appreciators of the daytime in all its colors and aromas, admirers of the heavens at night, reverent caretakers of our generous green earth, respectful of everything alive — especially of our fellow humans in all their bewildering diversity. May it be so.

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Sister Dawn Tomaszewski

Sister Dawn Tomaszewski was elected General Superior of the Sisters of Providence in 2016. She has been a Sister of Providence since 1975. Previously she ministered as a teacher, as communication and development director for the sisters and their ministries and as a member of elected leadership on the general council of the Sisters of Providence.

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