Cathedral extends ‘The Invitation’ this Ash Wednesday

A woman receives ashes during an Ash Wednesday service in 2015 at St. Aloysius Church in downtown Detroit. This year, the Cathedral of the Most Blessed Sacrament is offering a special, one-day interactive reflection called “The Invitation” from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Ash Wednesday, March 1. (Mike Stechshulte | The Michigan Catholic)

Interactive journey invokes the senses in Lenten reflection

DETROIT — Staff at the Cathedral of the Most Blessed Sacrament are inviting people to go on a spiritual journey this Ash Wednesday.

In cooperation with Freely Given Interactive Christian Programs, the cathedral is hosting “The Invitation,” a one-day, interactive reflection of the mission, ministry and purpose of Jesus.

Similar to the Holy Door pilgrimage at the cathedral last year, The Invitation will encourage participants to walk to different “pods” around the cathedral, each focusing on a certain aspect of Jesus’ presence on Earth.

“It’s a program where people will walk through the journey of Christ’s Incarnation, life, death and resurrection,” said Marian Bart, social media manager for the cathedral. “The participants will be wearing a headset, with an MP3 player playing readings from Scripture and what Jesus’ life meant at the different stations.”

Bart said the experience is meant to help people kick off their Lenten journey in an intimate, and interactive, reflection on Jesus’ time on earth, engaging participants’ sense of sight, hearing, touch and smell.

“It’s supposed to be very personal, intimate,” Bart said. “People will receive a journal after, where they can write down their reflections about the experience.”

The tours begin at 9 a.m. Ash Wednesday, March 1, and run through 6 p.m. and should take 30 minutes, provided there is no wait or line.

Participants will come in the side door of the cathedral and will be greeted with a piece of writing to reflect upon before beginning the pilgrimage.

Volunteers will then escort the pilgrims to one of the “journey’s pathways,” giving them an individual MP3 player and headphones and ushering them to the first “station.”

The pilgrims will hear a reading from Scripture and experience a sensory component to the station, each designed to add to the emotional and spiritual impact of the station.

“The goal is creating that personal encounter with the Our Lord and Savior, understanding how very much we are loved,” Bart said. “We did it at St. Anastasia (in Troy) two years ago. St. Anastasia and St. Thomas More (in Troy) will be doing it this Lent.”

The cathedral staff has sought volunteers to assist with the reflection, from pouring water on individual participants’ hands, ushering participants to the various stations.

The cathedral is hosting Mass at 8 a.m., a Liturgy of the Word at noon in the Eucharistic chapel in the cathedral’s south wing, and Archbishop Allen H. Vigneron will preside over Mass at 7 p.m., each a chance for people to receive ashes. Additional Liturgies of the Word and ash distribution may be scheduled as the need arises.