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Posted July 24, 2008

Priest's meditations on CDs
aim to help people listen for God's voice

By Mary Ann Wyand
Catholic News Service

INDIANAPOLIS (CNS) -- A popular saying reminds people that "good things come in threes."

That saying could apply to "Pathways to Prayer," a three-volume set of CDs featuring guided imagery meditations by Father James Farrell, the new director of Our Lady of Fatima Retreat House in Indianapolis.

The recordings of Father Farrell's soothing voice are set to background music elements with nature sounds to enhance the listener's meditation experience.

They were created to help people grow closer to Jesus by spending quiet time listening for God's voice, Father Farrell explained in an interview with The Criterion, Indianapolis' archdiocesan newspaper.

Since October of 1975, the Indianapolis archdiocesan priest has been a frequent retreat presenter at Our Lady of Fatima Retreat House and has conducted a number of parish missions. Through the years, his guided imagery meditations have become popular with retreatants.

A note on the CD jacket suggests that people "try to create a space for solitude" while listening to the CDs, whether at home or during walks in nature.

"Do not use while driving a car," the jacket information recommends. "Have some tissues nearby if you are prone to tears."

Each guided meditation concludes with calming instrumental music to give listeners time to slowly return to the present moment after their virtual spiritual journey.

"In 'Pathways to Prayer, Volume I,' you meet with Jesus on the porch and have a little conversation with him," Father Farrell said. "He wants to know how things are going in your life right now. It's an opportunity to talk to Jesus directly about issues and concerns -- things that may be weighing on you -- and an opportunity to listen for Jesus' response to your needs and petitions."

The second CD features Father Farrell's narrative of Jesus visiting a person at home.

"Jesus comes to your home and you give him a tour of your house," Father Farrell explained. "Then you take Jesus to your favorite place in the house and have a conversation with him there about your life and your family. It's an opportunity to grow in love for Jesus and realize that he really is a part of your life."

The third CD, released earlier this year, focuses on getting to know Jesus in this life and spending eternal life with God.

"'Pathways to Prayer, Volume III' is built around the theme of a covered bridge," Father Farrell said.

"You meet Jesus on the covered bridge then do a little life review," he continued. "In the course of the conversation, Jesus tells you that he came from the other side of the bridge, that there is a time for life on both sides of the bridge, and that when it is your time to come to the other side of the bridge he will invite you and you will go with him."

The theme applies to "any kind of a rite of passage in our life," the priest said.

"Whether we are moving through an illness or moving through some other life change, we are letting go of some things and embracing something new," he said. "It's an opportunity to walk through that covered bridge and discover that Jesus is on the other side of that passageway just as he has been on the side that you are on now."

Father Farrell said all of the CDs were created to "first of all, promote prayer and invite people to deeper intimacy with Jesus." Proceeds from the sale of the CDs benefit the retreat house.

"That's been a great boon to us in the last several years, and we're looking for new ways to market them," he said.

Each volume of the copyrighted CDs sells for $10 at the retreat house gift shop or $12 for mail orders.

Recent improvements at the three-level archdiocesan retreat center include a new wheelchair lift and handicap-accessible restroom, associate director Sandy Pasotti said, to accommodate the special needs of visitors.

The retreat house staff also sponsors a monthly Mass and continental breakfast for visitors in addition to days of reflection and weekend retreats throughout the year.

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Editor's Note: To order the "Pathways to Prayer" CDs, call Our Lady of Fatima Retreat House at (317) 545-7681 or log on to the Web site at www.archindy.org/fatima.