Contemplation and Collaboration

Lebh Shomea House of Prayer

By Andy Sensenig OMI

Oblate Fathers Jack Lau and Andy Sensenig

Since August, Jack Lau OMI and I have been settling in Sarita, TX at Lebh Shomea House of Prayer.  For Jack, he is coming from our Novitiate in Godfrey, IL as a formator and I was assigned to St. Gregory the Nazianzen Church in Sitka, Ak. Nevertheless, both Jack and I are making friends with the “silence” of Lebh Shomea.

“Silence” is scarce in this raucous world of ours, because when I drive up to nearby town called Kingsville, I am struck on how noisy it is.  Walking through a store and hearing a loud disembodied voice over the PA system call for a cleanup in an aisle or demanding for more cashiers to appear. Quite frankly, I am impressed how people go about their business amidst the clamor without wincing.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I am not one of those introverts, who live to complain about noise in our extroverted world. I am a died in the wool extrovert.  If you do not believe me, just ask Jack or any other Missionary Oblate of Mary Immaculate.  They will reassure you that I am an extrovert through and through. So why, would an extrovert want to minister at Lebh Shomea House of Prayer, where are the priority is to ensure silence for people to pray in?  Simple, I am passionate about Contemplation.

The Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate gave me my first taste of contemplative prayer, when I was a novice and it was amazing! For the first time, I did not have create anything on my own; actions, words, thoughts.  This prayer form gave me a rest from myself.  It was the ultimate vacation and quite frankly, I loved it.

Yet, over the years of practicing contemplative prayer, I learned another important lesson, which is how to listen with my mind, my heart and my soul.  Contemplative prayer taught me to be more empathic than just being sympathetic.  When the practice of contemplation takes hold in your life, you begin to see the world from different perspective. Hence, you are more effective being “collaborative” with others, because you can see the world through that person’s eyes.

Sacred Heart Chapel located on the grounds of Lebh Shomea, which was decorated for World AIDS Day by Jack Lau OMI.

Praying contemplatively is uniquely “Oblate,” when we do it together, which is known as “Oraison.” On Saturday, December 1, 2018, Jack and I practiced an intentional form of oraison in the Sacred Heart Chapel located on the grounds of Lebh Shomea by praying for the people, who have died from AIDS. December 1st is Worlds AIDS Day.

Even though, Jack and I practice two different forms of contemplative prayer, Jack is drawn to the practice of Mindfulness and I to the Jesus Prayer. Silence held us both in that moment and in that moment, Jack and I were collaboratively and contemplatively bringing our prayers together on the behalf of others.

If you are interested about learning more about how contemplation and collaboration intersect and interact, please consider coming to Lebh Shomea House of Prayer, where we silently together discover the good soil of Contemplation, where Collaboration thrives.