Cor ad Cor: Newcomers learn the Lord loves them beyond imagining
As previously noted on enews, Cor ad Cor or “Heart speaks to Heart” is focused on deepening one’s relationship with the Lord, the program begins with the Oremus video series and moves into the Spiritual Exercises developed by Saint Ignatius of Loyola in the sixteenth century. The retreat begins in October, has 90-minute weekly sessions, and participants are asked to commit to 20 minutes of prayer daily. Groups are available for both men and women.
Cor ad Cor began five years ago and the first year Dionne Eastmo was a participant in the pilot program. This year Eastmo will be leading her fourth group. “Accompanying women on their faith journey and watching what God does in their lives, that is walking on holy ground and has been one of my greatest joys,” she said.
Eastmo explained Oremus is a program introducing different ways of praying and encountering the Lord. The format encourages daily prayer and journaling, so that participants practice and cultivate a daily prayer habit. “It is a fantastic precursor to the Spiritual Exercises. I tell people it’s like going to driver’s education before you are handed the keys to the car!” she said.
Eastmo said she has experienced tangible encounters with the Lord throughout the Spiritual Exercises. “Once my heart was touched in that profound way, I was changed, I was different. I came to realize that he is always pursuing me. I developed a sincere desire to have an interior disposition to receive him, to allow him to work in me. It’s not about what I do, but what he does in me,” she said.
“I choose to continue to be a Cor ad Cor leader because I want others to have a similar experience, and to witness that happen in them is a sacred privilege. Participants come to know and fall in love with Jesus as a real, human person,” she added. “And that experience is surrounded by a group of people who may start out as strangers but develop into close friends. I witnessed this happen to dozens of people, and I personally had the same experience.”
Another participant, Emily Williams was invited by Annie Daniel to join a Zoom group for Cor ad Cor in 2020-2021 – the isolating years of the COVID-19 pandemic. She had heard of the program because her mother, Angela Weber, had been in the pilot group and has been leading new groups each year thereafter.
“I had been attracted to the idea and had often wished that there would be a way to participate. Since I was living in Minnesota at the time, I hadn’t been able to. I was so grateful to be invited to join the Zoom group and went through the Spiritual Exercises with a wonderful group of women from across the country,” said Williams.
“The first eight weeks with Oremus were such a blessing, because I had never been very comfortable praying with scripture outside of the Mass or the confines of the mysteries of the rosary. I was just intimidated and easily distracted. The Oremus program gave me structure and a lot of practice. It was like a roadmap for scriptural prayer which didn’t feel like diving into the deep end,” she said.
According to Williams, like Eastmo, the Ignatian Spiritual Exercises also made a tangible impact on her relationship with Jesus. She said, “What Ignatius prescribes in each exercise truly built a deepening ability for me to allow the Lord into my heart and provided a channel through which he poured his love into my life — and because of the exercises, my heart became soft enough to receive that love.”
Another important gift she received over the course of Oremus, and the Spiritual Exercises was the love of the Father. “I had always struggled to grow in relationship with God the Father because the idea of him felt so out of my grasp, unlike the Incarnate Jesus, or the Holy Spirit represented by fire and water. I grappled with images of an ancient man, beard flowing into cloud, more cartoon than God. But beginning each day in the Father’s love transformed my heart and continues to do so as often as I allow him to continue to love in such a way.”
In participating in the Cor ad Cor program, a newcomer offers the Lord a daily place in his or her life. It is an opportunity to follow the first commandment and place God before all else and it offers accountability for doing so. “I think what any newcomer will find, if they truly enter into the life of daily prayer prescribed in the Cor ad Cor program, is that the Lord loves them beyond imagining; and that knowledge can truly change a life,” she said.
To register, go to https://www.rapidcitydiocese.org/coradcor/.