By Elena Dini
ROME — The spiritual life is just as important as the academic life at The Lay Centre, where the community makes a commitment to share in daily moments of prayer and to understand each person’s life story and professional path through the lens of faith.
For The Lay Centre resident community, the month of June corresponds to the time of exams. It is also a favorable time to retrace the path that was walked during the year, not only as individuals, but as a community as well.
“God wants to shine his own light in your life, to have his illumination in your heart, but that does not work without the necessary purification represented by the cross,” said Father Felix Körner, SJ, during the last Mass of the academic year at The Lay Centre.
“The Lay Centre’s logo exemplifies it so well: the ‘t’ of ‘Centre’ is a cross, and within the ‘a’ of ‘Lay’ shines a light,” said Father Körner, a theology professor at the Pontifical Gregorian University.
Throughout the year, the resident community had many opportunities to stop during the busyness of daily life and take time to refresh the spirit. The Wednesday community evening Mass has been a key moment to gather in the chapel and pray together.
“The liturgical life at The Lay Centre reflects the very nature of this community: an academic, lay and diverse one,” said Tommaso Bacci, leadership scholar and liturgical coordinator.
“It is therefore organized around an academic community and its rhythm, and we mostly invite priests teaching at pontifical universities to underline the direct connection between academic life and apostolate,” he said.
“It also acknowledges the diversity of traditions and cultures at The Lay Centre, and we try to keep it sober and leave ‘empty moments’ in the liturgy, so that each person attending can fill that time and space in his or her own way,” he added.
The plurality of traditions that enrich life at The Lay Centre play an important role in the spiritual dimension of its community. The ecumenical retreats offered during the Advent and Lenten seasons, as well as the whole community’s support of a Muslim resident during the month of Ramadan, were important moments to live the ecumenical and interreligious mission that is part of The Lay Centre.
Each academic year opens with a spiritual retreat; this year, it was preached by Father Körner and invited meditation on the conversion of St. Paul. Moments to share in faith punctuate the year, such as attending celebrations together on high holy days.
Regardless of religion or denomination, the shared value of the importance of faith at The Lay Centre finds a powerful daily moment of expression in the blessing of the food before dinner and the Magnificat that is sung at the end of the common mealtime.
As the summer season approaches, the words Pope Francis spoke Aug. 6, 2017, are an invitation to all of us: “In this period, students are free of scholastic commitments and many families take their holidays; it is important that in the period of rest and disengagement from daily activities, we can reinforce our strengths of body and soul, by deepening our spiritual journey.”
We look forward to welcoming our resident scholars again, both those who are returning and new scholars, in September.