FATIMA RETREAT HOUSE

            Jeppu, Mangaluru, Karnataka 575002

 

What is a labyrinth?

A labyrinth is an intricately designed pattern composed of a single circuitous path that leads to the center and back out again. Unlike a maze, there are no choices, no dead ends, no chance of becoming lost.

Is the labyrinth Christian?

The labyrinth is a natural idea that dates from 2000 years before Christ. It was used by different cultures and religious traditions. Once the Edict of Milan in 313 AD ended religious persecution, the Church, as it has done with many other pre-Christian customs, adopted and baptized the labyrinth for its own use, but keeping its labyrinths almost exclusively on holy ground within churches, and transforming what was once a symbol of fear into a sign of hope.

The first Christian floor labyrinth we know of was in a basilica in Algeria, built in 324 AD, its center inscribed Sancta Eclesia (Holy Church). The first wall labyrinth, meant to be traced with the finger to quiet the minds of those who entered, is in the 9th century Cathedral of San Martino, Italy. In the 12th to the 14th centuries especially, labyrinths became fixtures in churches like the cathedrals of Chartres, Reims, and Amiens, and the abbey church of St. Bertin in Saint-Omer, France. One use of it seems to have been as a substitute Holy Land pilgrimage for those who were unable to travel.

The modern Christian revival of the labyrinth tradition began in 1991 at Grace Episcopal Cathedral in San Francisco, and since then it has grown in popularity at Christian institutions and retreat houses throughout the world.

Why Walk the Labyrinth?

  • To walk silently in and out at a prayerful pace is a centering prayer that will quiet the mind and heart.
  • As a metaphor for entering within or the journey of life or our pilgrim path to God, it may teach us we can walk with faith in a God who guides our steps on the one true way amid all the apparent confusion of life.
  • The actual experience of modern people walking this circuitous path has produced a wide variety of positive results. They say they have found release from stress, solace amid sorrow, calming of fears, resolution of problems, inner healing, deeper self-knowledge, clarity of mind, empowering of greater creativity, and the list goes on. You will bring your own material to your walk each time you come and you may find that you will at different times experience different blessings.

 

How to Pray the Labyrinth?
Walk at your own pace; if others are also walking you may quietly pass them or be passed in either direction. There is no right or wrong way to pray the labyrinth. Because of its simplicity you can approach its path on your own terms. But here are some ways you might find fruitful:

  • Simply recall that you are always in God’s presence, and walk in and out in quiet and silence, noticing what God may bring to your mind
  • Allow yourself to have a quiet conversation with God as you walk along with him.
  • Ask God a question upon entering and keep your mind open as you walk. Pray for yourself on the way in, experience God’s love in the center, and pray for others on the way out.
  • Recite the Our Father as you walk. Or recite some other prayer or prayer word or familiar scripture, repeating it as you go along.
  • As you move toward the center, focus on letting go of distractions or worries that keep you from God. In the center, reflect on your relationship with God and be aware of God’s presence. As you return give thanks and praise for all that God has done.
  • Finally, if a way of praying works for you, use it, if it does not work for you, then try something else.

 

Scriptural Phrases To Use While Praying The Labyrinth
Sometimes it is helpful to use a scriptural phrase to focus prayer on the labyrinth. Pick one or more of the verses listed below and let it orient your prayer as you move (All are taken from the NRSV unless noted).
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My hope is from God.” Psalm 62:5b
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“My soul finds rest in God alone” Psalm 61:1 NRSV
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“In the day of my trouble I call on you, for you will answer me.” Psalm 86: 7
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“God is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.” Psalm 103:8
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“God restores my soul.” Psalm 23:3
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“Worship God with gladness; come into his presence with singing.” Psalm 100:2
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“My soul clings to you; your right hand upholds me.” Psalm 63:8
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“I will remember your miracles of long ago.” Psalm 77:11b New International Version
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“God is the strength of my heart.” Psalm 73:26b
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“O God, you have searched me and known me.” Psalm 139:1
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“Take delight in God, and God will give you the desires of your heart.” Psalm 37:3
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“I praise you [God], for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your words; that I know very well.” Psalm 139:14
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“Lead me in the way everlasting.” Psalm 139:24b
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“There is surely a future hope for you, and our hope will not be cut off.” Proverbs 23:18 New International Version
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“God gives power to the faint, and strengthens the powerless.” Isaiah 40:29
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“Where two or three are gathered in my [Jesus’] name, I am there among them.” Matthew 18:20
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“I [Jesus] am with you always, to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:20b
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“The truth will make you free.” John 8:32
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“My peace I to give you.” Jesus quoted in John 15:27b
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“God’s love has been poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.” Romans 5:5
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“Be steadfast, immovable, always excelling in the work of God, because you know that your labor is not in vain.” 1 Corinthians 15:58
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We do not lose heart. Even though our outer nature is wasting away, our inner nature is being renewed day by day.” 2 Corinthians 4:16
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“My [Christ’s] grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.” 2 Corinthians 12:9b
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“Cast all your anxiety on God, because God cares for you.” 1 Peter 5:7 NRSV
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“If my father and mother forsake me, God will take me up.” Psalm 27:10
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“God is a refuge of the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble.” Psalm 9:9

 

 

 

 

 

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Fatima Retreat House
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