The Chartres Labyrinth


#1

I’m not sure where to post this so forgive me if this is the wrong place. :o

A local parish has this on their grounds with a link to this site as an explanation. I’m going to do more Google searching on it but wanted to post the linked to site:

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Has anyone heard of this? I find this fascinating. I’m thinking of going over this morning (gotta go to that particular parish anyway…) and walking around it.

I’ve actually ALWAYS loved mazes (would do them as a kid) and labyrinths. So to find this is like a treat for me. (A fantasy I have is to be able to have a “hedge maze” in my backyard. Gotta get a backyard first! LOL! )

So! Has anyone heard of this? Have you walked this labyrinth? (Maybe not in France, but a likeness of it elsewhere.) Do you pray? What did you get out of it?

Like I said, I find mazes and labyrinth’s fascinating and so I’m really interested in this Chartres Labyrinth now.


#2

You might find this answer from the saint-mike.org’s Spiritual Warfare Q&A helpful:

**Q. There is a renewed interest in medieval labyrinths as found in some ancient European cathedrals, eg. Chartres. Some North American Roman Catholic and Anglican parishes are now building labyrinths for the use of parishioners to prayerfully “walk the labyrinth.” I noticed from viewing labyrinth web sites that there is also heavy new age involvement in this subject–sometimes even within the framework of churches. Should Christians be involved in this pursuit? Are labyrinths a legitimate tool for Christians to use for prayer and meditation? I would appreciate whatever insight you can give me on this. **

A. Yes, the renewed interest in Labyrinths is MOSTLY new age garbage. Unfortunately many of the parishes that are getting into this movement are not very careful about it and are promoting new age occultism and other things not Catholic.

Labyrinths can be useful if proper catechesis is done. For example:

  1. Labyrinths have NO power of healing or any other power, explicit or implicit. It is just a sidewalk.
  1. Labyrinths do NOT tap into the “power of the universe” like an antenna or have any other mystical power or significance.
  1. Labyrinths can be helpful in that walking the Labyrinths requires a person to slow down. Usually they cannot be walked quickly without getting off track. They may be useful in getting a person to “stop and smell the roses” and “to be still and know that God is God.”
  1. Walking through the woods, a bike path, a hiking trail can do the EXACT same thing as a labyrinth does. All the Labyrinth is suppose to do is provide a disciplined pathway for a person to take a contemplative walk – slowing, meditatively.

Frankly, the only ones who might “need” a labyrinth are those who cannot or will not take a walk through the woods or hiking trail for whatever reasons (such as not being an outdoor person, living in the inner city, not able to get away to the woods often enough, etc.), or those lacking in self-discipline and need a disciplined guide.

If the labyrinth is kept in proper perspective – seen as only a means to aid in taking a contemplative walk – then they can be useful. If anything else is put into it, some sort of power, spirit, mysticism, or whatnot, then we are engaging in superstition which is condemned by the Church.


#3

Beckycmarie,

Interesting! Well, since I do have my city location listed you can tell that this church is in Dallas. Here is the link to the church:

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On the left hand side, click on “Labyrinth.” There is a suggested prayer.

When I went to that parish this morning I decided to walk the labyrinth because I just like mazes and labyrinths. :smiley: And the answer in that Q&A you posted is correct in that it does slow you down, especially the inner circles. You can’t just walk it, you do have to slow down.

I didn’t get anything from that parish website that this was some sort of spiritual tap or antenna into the mystical universe, or anything else “new age-y.” Now, after I made my original post, I DID do a search for the Chartres Labyrinth on Google and I did find some new age websites that talked about it. Some even mentioned how it originated in cathedrals, almost as if to make it legitimate, but that it can be this “tap” into spirituality that the Q&A warns us about. So I can understand the concern for “using” the Chartres Labyrinth as a mystical means of power. I think that concern comes up for nearly any sort of thing on which a person can start to place superstition.

BTW, I firmly believe you can get quiet anywhere, as the Q&A suggests: the same contemplative walk in a forest or even a busy city sidewalk can produce the same effect. One does not need this labyrinth to do so. :thumbsup:


#4

I had a look at your link, and it looks good to me. :thumbsup: I think what this parish is promoting is keeping the labyrinth in the proper perspective as a contemplative walk - no new age mumbo jumbo included. Sounds like a worthwhile and unique way to slow down and converse with God, like a mini-retreat. :slight_smile:


#5

It was pretty cool. :slight_smile: I had walked to the center and when I got to the center I sort of played around with the echos I could hear as there is a columbarium surrounding it and the sound echoing off of it was interesting.

So on my walk back “out,” I prayed a Divine Mercy Chaplet. I started it while in the center and towards the end of the Apostle’s Creed I started walking. By the time I got “outside” I was at the last 2 “For the sake of his sorrowful passion…” and then the three “Holy God…”. Had I started walking when I started in on the decades and after the Apostle’s Creed, it would have been perfect timing of saying a Divine Mercy Chaplet while walking at a reasonable pace “out” of the labyrinth. I thought that was pretty cool in how the timing worked out! :smiley:


#6

I first walked a Chartres style labyrinth in Grace Cathedral where they had an immense woolen rug version. They have since replaced that with one set in stone in the floor. They also have one outside. Whenever I pass the Cathedral and there is parking, which amazingly sometimes there is, I stop and walk it. The Cathedral practically has a whole Labyrinth industry going there … I bought their DVD about the Labyrinth and found it was to new age for me. As I recall it did have some stories from people whose lives had been in quite bad shape when they began to regularly take time to walk the labyrinths at the Cathedral, and their lives had dramatically improved. The implication wasn’t that there was some kind of magical transformation but rather that taking the time to be in that sacred space and disconnect from the outside world and focus on something deeper allowed them to shift and be more trusting in what I would call grace. People usually walk them barefoot. This may have started when the indoor one was a woolen rug. Were people barefoot at the one in Dallas?

There’s an outdoor one at the Pacific Medical Center which I’ve walked a number of times while my daughter was receiving dental care in the special needs clinic across the street.

There are quite a few around this area. One I’ve very much wanted to go to and once tried unsuccessfully to find is this one at Land’s End at the Pacific Ocean beyond the Gold Gate bridge. I’m glad you’ve reminded me of this. Maybe after DL some time soon I’ll drive the extra few miles out to the ocean and try again to find this one.

I have usually prayed the Jesus Prayer. I like praying it while walking and find walking the labyrinth a good kind of walking prayer.

A few times I’ve prayed the Rosary and had the same experience. :slight_smile:


#7

I was the only one there. The labyrinth is made up of stones. In Dallas, it gets SUPREMELY hot during the summer. So it would not be prudent to walk barefoot anyway - at least during the summer.

I wouldn’t walk barefoot as I just don’t like being barefooted anyway. :stuck_out_tongue:

Isn’t San Francisco new age-y anyway?

There’s a website that is a labyrinth locator ([/FONT]) and I’ve found a few others in my area. However, they’re at unitarian and methodist churches and to be honest, I don’t feel like going there. This one is at a Catholic church and while I don’t necessarily care too much for that particular one, I’d rather go to a Catholic church.

I haven’t found any other labyrinths in Dallas in secular areas (i.e. hospitals, etc.) But then I haven’t *really *looked for one. It felt a bit silly though, to be walking in circles like that. But then I can be a terribly self conscious person anyway. :stuck_out_tongue:

I wondered about the Rosary. I suspect, however, that you were walking at a way slower pace than me. hehehe I do tend to rush things.


#8

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