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Labyrinth: Are We Lost in the Maze?

"The Labyrinth is an archetype, a divine imprint found in religious traditions in various forms around the world. By walking the labyrinth, we are discovering a long forgotten mystical tradition. The mysterious winding path that takes us to the center becomes a metaphor for our own spiritual journey. Going in , we release the cares and concerns which distract us from our Source. The center is a place of prayer and meditation where we receive clarity about our lives. As we walk back out on the same path that brought us in, we are granted the power to act. The walk is a shared journey—an activity which communities can do together to coalesce and unify vision.

The labyrinth is a mandala that meets our longing—for a change of heart; for a change of ways in how we live together on this fragile island; and for the energy, the vision, and the courage to become agents of transformation in an age when no less will suffice to meet the challenges of survival.

The vision of Veriditas—the world wide Labyrinth Project—is to establish labyrinth in cathedrals, retreat centers, hospitals, prisons, parks, airports, and community spaces around the world by the year 2000, so they are available to walk in times of joy, in times of sorrow, and when we are seeking hope." (These words are on a poster of the labyrinth below.)

This picture is part of a poster of a labyrinth located outside the office of Sr. Mary Dumonceaux, OSF, Associate Director of the Archdiocesan Catechectical Center. The Catechectical center provides workshops to Catholic school and parish religion teachers. Catholic religion teachers need certification to teach religion to our children and grandchildren.

Research sources reveal that: labyrinths have been around for 4,000 years and are found in just about every religious tradition in the world such as Native American, Greek, Celtic and Mayan. The Hopi called the labyrinth the symbol for "mother earth". Like Stonehenge and the pyramids, they are magical geometric forms that define sacred space.

If all of this sounds rather pagan, then what is Sr. Dumonceaux doing with a labyrinth plastered on the wall outside of her office? The September 24, 1999 edition of Today's Catholic featured a Catholic News Service article which describes a 36 by 36 foot canvas labyrinth located at Prince of Peace Church in Plano, Texas, where people walk into and out of the labyrinth. "The labyrinth is divided into three parts. The walk to the center is the first part and is to be spent as a time of cleansing. One reaches the second part, the center of the labyrinth, to encounter God. In the center you realize that God is the center of your life; it is a time of illumination. The walk out, the third part, is a call to respond to what has been learned." The same article quotes Fr. Mitch Pacwa, a professor of theology at the University of Dallas, as saying, "You don't want to deny anybody's experience. The problem is the people who are writing about labyrinths are on the New Age side of things. Labyrinths may distract people from the core of Christianity. We need to focus on the person of Christ." Amen to Fr. Pacwa's insight.

Sr. Dumonceaux, pull down that poster! Promote placing Jesus Christ into the center of our lives! Replace the labyrinth with the stations of the cross and promote meditation on the passion and death of Our Lord, Jesus Christ. Promote praying the rosary and meditating on the lives of Our Savior, Jesus Christ, and His Mother, the Blessed Virgin Mary. Promote prayer and adoration before the Blessed Sacrament, the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Our Lord, Jesus Christ. Promote placing the Blessed Sacrament in the center of our churches so that all may worship Jesus together, instead of having to hunt down a small obscure room or chapel. How can Jesus be in the center of our lives if he is not in the center of our churches?

COMMENTS: We wonder why our children are leaving the Catholic Church for "bible-based" religions. Labyrinth proponents like to point to the labyrinth on the floor of Chartres Cathedral in France, but there is no evidence that it has been used for anything other than a decoration. Finally, the words found under Sister Dumonceaux’s poster do not refer to God, but only to "our Source"— why? We invite Sister to respond and explain why she promotes the labyrinth.

 

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