In the Narthex of Good Shepherd Catholic Community you will see a Labyrinth made of stone tiles laid into the floor just past the Monumental Doors. In our fast-paced world, walking the labyrinth becomes a way to look at our lives in the search for God’s peace. Our labyrinth is in the shape of a Roman Cross. It is our hope that parishioners will come to experience this ancient tradition and while quieting themselves through prayerful walking, discover the presence of God.
WHAT IS IT?
The Labyrinth is not a maze. You cannot get lost. There is only one path in and out. With a labyrinth, there is only one choice to be made. The choice is to enter or not. The choice is whether to walk a spiritual path. A more passive, receptive mind set is needed. The path leads you to the center, to face the Cross of Glory, and then back out again. It represents our journey in life. At its most basic level the labyrinth is a metaphor for the journey to the center of your deepest self and back out into the world with a broadened understanding of who you are and how Christ works in your life. It helps us leave our self-centeredness and see our lives as centered on Christ. Christ lives inside of you. You walk with Christ on the path of your life.
WHEN DO I WALK THE LABYRINTH?
The labyrinth is available for you to use before, during or immediately after you attend adoration. Another opportunity would be before reconciliation, when you are examining your conscience or after reconciliation when you are saying your penance. You may find it helpful to pray in the labyrinth when you are facing a life-changing decision, or preparing for a sacrament, or when life is taking a turn. You may find time to walk the labyrinth when you are waiting for a friend or family member to complete their prayer, or a task, or a meeting, or an appointment.
Make use of these small amounts of time and they will turn into a great amount of prayer.
HOW DO I WALK THE LABYRINTH?
There is no right or wrong way to walk a labyrinth. Remember the Labyrinth is not a maze or a puzzle to solve and figure out. You only have to enter and follow the path. Just as the beads of the rosary, and the Stations of the Cross, the labyrinth is a tool, a visual aid to assist one in prayer before God. Some people may find it helpful to be in motion while praying, rather than kneeling or sitting still. It provides an opportunity to focus and contemplate whatever it is that we bring before God. Those who choose to walk the labyrinth can use any prayer or pose a question to God and listen for his response while you walk. The choice is made by each person.
However, your walk can encompass a variety of attitudes. It may be joyous or somber. It might be thoughtful or prayerful. You may use it as a walking meditation. There are 4 quadrants of this labyrinth. You may want to pray a different prayer in each quadrant, perhaps Glory Be, the Lord’s Prayer, the Hail, Mary, or the Jesus prayer, (Jesus, I trust in you).
Adults are often serious in the labyrinth. Children most often run in and out as fast as they can in a playful manner. When you walk a labyrinth, choose your attitude. From time to time, choose a different attitude. Make it serious, prayerful, or playful. Listen to music in your ear buds or walk in silence. Pray softly. Walk alone or with others. Most of all pay attention to your experience.
SOME GENERAL GUIDELINES FOR WALKING THE LABYRINTH
- Focus: Pause and wait at the entrance. Become quiet and centered. Give acknowledgment to the Cross of Glory through a bow, nod, or other gesture and then enter.
- Experience: Walk purposefully. Observe the process. While walking let your thoughts flow through your mind without latching onto any of them. Be open to hearing whatever God wants you to hear. You may use this time to pray for yourself and/or for others. When you reach the center, stay there and focus several moments. Leave when it seems appropriate. Be attentive on the way out.
- Receiving: At the center we become aware of the presence of God in this sacred place in the center of our being. The center becomes a metaphor for the indwelling of Christ. Allow yourself time to stand with your palms open and facing up, ready to receive anything that God wishes to give.
- Integrating: The path out is one of becoming grounded and integrating the insight and awareness received during the walk. You may wish to put your palms together in the prayer position as a sign of union with God, self and others.
- AMEN: As you exit the Labyrinth, turn back and face the center. You may wish to bow as a gesture of gratitude for all you have received. Say Amen to the journey as you step away with a willingness to walk each day of your life in the presence of Christ.