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Advent Retreat Registration Now Open: Contemplating Mary in History, Music, Art and Liturgy, December 7-8

Advent Retreat at Rock Point: Contemplating Mary in History, Music, Art and Liturgy – December 7-8

This year’s Advent Retreat at Rock Point will begin on Friday, December 7, at 5:00 PM (registration and dinner at 6:00 pm) and will conclude on Saturday December 8, at 4:00 pm. The event will commence at the Bishop Booth Conference, 20 Rock Point Road, Burlington, VT 05408. Please mark your calendar now. To register, plase click here: There are single occupancy, shared occupancy and commuter options available.

You are welcome to arrive in early afternoon for the retreat if you wish to walk the ground. (Please note that the Rock Point Intentional Community’s Monthly Eucharist is typically scheduled for noon on the second Friday of each month, which is December 14 and not the 7th as previously announced.)

“Contemplating Mary in History, Music, Art and Liturgy”

Retreat Description: Mary the mother of Jesus figures prominently in Christian tradition. In this retreat, we will explore the figure of Mary from several perspectives. We will begin by putting Mary and the other Marys of the New Testament in the social, historical and archaeological context of the early Roman Empire. We will then explore how the mother of Jesus is portrayed in later Christian literature, Western art, icons, convents and monasteries, and how she was viewed by some as a goddess. The Magnificat – Mary’s powerful words as recorded in the Gospel of Luke – is prominent in the context of Evening Prayer, so we will chant a few settings of the Magnificat from the 1982 Hymnal and listen to several beautiful recordings of the text from among the hundreds of settings that have been composed since the earliest days of the church. Finally, we will discuss the visionaries of Medjugorje in the former Yugoslavia; these young people, now adults, were investigated medically and scientifically as they experienced life-changing visions of Mary, and the results of the tests were astounding. Participants will come away with a deeper and richer understanding of the strong, inspirational figure that is Mary. At the end of each of the four retreat sessions, there will be an opportunity for questions, and the silent breaks between sessions will lend themselves well to contemplation. A packet of materials, including suggestions for further reading and Marian devotions, will be included in the cost of the retreat.

Retreat Leader: Valerie Abrahamsen, ThD

About Dr. Valerie Abrahamsen

Dr. Valerie Abrahamsen holds Master of Theological Studies and Doctor of Theology degrees in New Testament and Early Christian Origins from Harvard Divinity School. She is the author of over three dozen peer-reviewed articles, reviews, and book chapters in New Testament archaeology, early church history, women in antiquity, and ancient goddess religion, and she has published two books in these fields: Women and Worship at Philippi (1995) and Goddess and God: A Holy Tension in the First Christian Centuries (2006).

Dr. Abrahamsen has taught at the college level and in adult education settings and has given scholarly presentations at regional, national and international meetings of the Society of Biblical Literature and other professional societies. In 2015, she self-published Paranormal: A New Testament Scholar Looks at the Afterlife, and she blogs on the afterlife and other topics at WisdomWordsPPF. Dr. Abrahamsen serves on the Board of the National Coalition of Independent Scholars, sings in the choir of St. Michael’s Episcopal Church in Brattleboro, Vermont, and is an Associate of the Sisters of St. Margaret in Duxbury, Massachusetts.

Featured image: (PORTO, PORTUGAL – July 31, 2015) Virgin Mary by graffiti artist Hazul Luzah. Licensed from


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