The Edmundites see Saint Anne's Shrine as a place of spiritual renewal for people of all faiths. Their annual Silent Retreat happened June 23-28 this year. I participated for a second time. Last year when Father David Cray initially suggested the idea to me, I immediately thought it was not the retreat for me. No talking for a whole five days? Then a small, insistent voice within me urged, “Come and see.”
Some of you might know me. I am Lynn Monty, the new communications manager for The Society of Saint Edmund. I have been back on campus for a few months now working with the Edmundites in Nicolle Hall, at their parishes and at Saint Anne’s Shrine. I am an ’07 alumna with a degree in journalism and mass communication. I went on to spend a few years at The Burlington Free Press after graduation. Or maybe you might know me from church! I am a member of Saint Jude The Apostle Parish in Hinesburg.
With all of the praying I do on a regular basis to get me through my busy days, this Silent Retreat is a much-needed time for me to slow down and to just listen. It's a time to shut off notifications and turn away from harried thinking. I quieted my mind by reading scripture, reflecting on the day’s liturgy, meditating and doing yoga in nature. Along with daily Mass we all had 45 minutes a day to talk alone with our spiritual directors. So, it was not completely silent. There were about twenty people on retreat this year who rested in cozy cabins, had their fill of wholesome comfort food, and walked the historic shores of Lake Champlain. Saint Anne’s Shrine has a rich ancient history. You should go check it out! Take a day trip! Learn more here: https://www.saintannesshrine.org/history
My silent retreats with the Edmundites have reminded me to slow down and pay attention. It's a game of extreme mindfulness and I love playing. -Lynn Monty
It was suggested that retreatants participate in The Ignatian Tradition of reflecting on scripture. This is where we actually imagine ourselves in a scene from the New Testament. Last year I was asked by my spiritual director to imagine Jesus washing my feet before The Last Supper as it was done for the disciples in John 13. I had no problem washing His feet, and everyone else's in the scene for that matter, but for some reason I could not do the mental gymnastics it took to let Jesus wash my feet. Leaving the retreat last year, I realized I had some work to do.
This year, nature helped us out with liturgy reflections. Father Brian Cummings told us a rainbow is the expression of God’s covenant with humanity through Noah in Genesis chapter 9. Coincidentally, the story of the renewal of this covenant with Abram in Genesis chapter 15 was the reading at Mass the day a double rainbow at the retreat appeared. Some of us had to break silence to spread the good news!
I opted to keep my smart phone in my cabin but my children did want to check in with me a couple of times. They like Snapchat, so I sent them one. It is important not to take the whole thing too seriously; otherwise we miss the joy Jesus came to give us. Right?
Taking time to explore the many facets of the gold-leafed Our Lady of Lourdes, the line of loving Saints all lit up, statues of Saint Anne and her beloved daughter Mary, the spectacular Way of the Cross, gardens and sacred outdoor chapel filled my week. I spent a considerable amount of my days watching the clouds and natural world around me. There I found hearts, crosses and so much synchronicity. This reminds me that what we are doing on earth is a playful reciprocation. My silent retreats with the Edmundites have reminded me to slow down and pay attention. It's a game of extreme mindfulness and I love playing.
On the last day, I said my rosary (my precious crystal one that has been in my family for four generations) at the water’s edge at sunset. The waves splashed at my feet repeatedly as I recited my prayers. It almost felt like a beautiful dance of some sort—rhythmic and methodic. As I held the metal cross of Jesus in the palm of my hand, it suddenly came to me that my feet were being washed. I closed my eyes and imagined my worthiness in His eyes. I felt deeply loved. It took a year, but I got there.
I am already excited for next year’s retreat! I wonder what walking with Jesus from this year to next will develop in me? Maybe I will see you there! If you would like to meet up sooner, catch me at The Summer Reflection Series at The Shrine on Wednesdays! We can talk about your own spiritual journey, Edmundite charism, silent retreats, or anything on your mind! Here is more information about this special Edmundite series of reflections: https://www.saintannesshrine.org/events
The heart of the Society of Saint Edmund’s mission is serving where the need is greatest, a credo that has led us to four core ministries: Social Justice, Education, Spiritual Renewal and Pastoral Ministry. It is through these core ministries that we live out a faith-based life of service and make a real difference in people’s lives by bringing them closer to God.