In April a small group of young men from the Hallam Diocese joined together with other like-minded men from around the country to help form what is becoming known as ‘The Prodigal Sons Movement’. Here is one of their reflections.
The Prodigal Sons Movement is a group of men, who meet to spend time in the outdoors, interspersing this time with some teaching on the Spiritual life. However, we believe that hidden within this structure is a theme that is broad enough to be inclusive, but specific enough for a Catholic man to build his life around. Our focus is an attempt to enable men to live out their graces bestowed upon them at their Baptism.
Our first retreat, named ‘On the Mountain’, took place at Castlerigg Manor in Keswick, Cumbria. Drawing together approximately twenty-five men we took our first tentative steps into the subject of identity and sonship. During the weekend, we were able to set out time for a three-hour hike taking in some of the surrounding scenery before ending off with some abseiling; interspersing this time with prayer and talks. Our next retreat ‘Into the Wild’ built on our first as we delved deeper in the mystery of the sonship bestowed on us at our Baptism. Basing ourselves in a mountain club in Snowdonia, Wales we made exploration of the surrounding hills a big component of the retreat, but still left time for the more prosaic activities of a barbeque fish dinner on the Friday and some social time around the campfire on the Saturday.
However, our main reason for coming together on both weekends was to spend time with the Father. This, we also accomplished. In Wales we made use of a disused Chapel allowing us to attend Mass courtesy of the two priests accompanying us, including a Palm Sunday procession through a sleepy Welsh village. Also, Confession was available throughout the weekend, along with Eucharistic Adoration and the opportunity to pray for and with each other. This simple format is what we hope to base all of our future retreats on.
Looking forward, we are keen to discern the call to what exactly we are attempting to offer; this group is still very much in its infancy. When we started, we knew we had to do something and left the details to gradually evolve. This approach appears to be bearing much fruit. However, we are not simply adding another male spiritualty group to a clustered calendar of Catholic events. There is a focus. We believe that many men are hampered by an identity crisis. As old certainties pass away and as the foundations on which a man had previously staked his identity slowly crumble, the Catholic man is faced with a crossroads. Either he heeds to the world and allows its fashions and whims to dictate the most fundamental questions of his life, or he decides to step back into the arena and stakes his claim on the inheritance that was lost in the Garden but won back on the Cross.
Our aim is to free men from the spiritual bondage that can prevent them the living out the fullness of the Christian life. We therefore focus on spiritual warfare, acknowledging there is an enemy and that one of the many strategies he employs is to blind us to the extraordinary power we have as adopted sons of God, partakers of the Divine nature and temples of the Holy Spirit (CCC 1265). To counter this attack, we concentrate on the five keys of repentance, faith, forgiveness, renunciation and taking authority in the name of Jesus. Through the building up of identity we hope to move on to tackle the big questions of life, helping men formulate a life vision that provides answers to the questions of what am I being called to do, where does my mission fit within the Church and how can I keep growing. By developing within a group of men, we hope to be able to hold each other accountable to this vision, encouraging and building each other up to produce fruit, fruit that will last.
There is much work to be done. The fact that ever increasing numbers of men have shown up for our retreats indicates that there is a demand. The specific nature of what this group will grow to or how exactly it will serve the wider Church is something we do not have hold of at this time. At this moment, all we have is the palpable excitement to be at the birth of something that is, we hope, in some small way, bringing about the Kingdom on earth and advancing us, one step at time, home, into the life of the Father.
We require joiners not followers. If you want to participate somehow in our group, attend our retreats, help us financially or logistically, you can contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Our website will hopefully be up soon, as will our new more developed social media presence but, for now, email communication is the best way to get in and stay in touch.