"All members must seek the same end, have the same objectives, use the same
means, teach the same doctrine and hold the same rule of conduct."
"There are two things which make a person holy, knowledge of the truth and goodness. It behooves us to strive toward these if we want to be sanctified, i.e. to become holy. But you will not attain a knowledge of the truth, which is God, except through self-knowledge, nor achieve a love of goodness, i.e. of God, except through love of neighbor. You can attain self-knowledge through frequent self-reflection and a knowledge of God through pure contemplation." - St. Edmund of Canterbury
Though he himself was not a vowed religious, Saint Edmund would have likely found that his idea of an ideal life of prayer fit well into the structured setting of a monastery. Having been a teacher for so much of his life, he valued the relationships he found in the "real world," finding the love and truth of God in those daily interactions. As a result, Edmund lived in such a way that his life of prayer was structured and geared towards a contemplative spirituality, while living and ministering daily in the secular world. So, too, do we, the Society that bears his name, live our spirituality.
A Lived Spirit of Contemplation
The community comes together in prayer whenever possible, particularly in the public liturgy of the Church (the Mass and the Liturgy of the Hours). Each house sets this schedule in keeping with the pastoral responsibilities and commitments that members have elsewhere in their ministry. Edmundites are busy people, but in the experience of formation our candidates learn the importance of a structured personal life of prayer to serve as nourishment for the days work.
Besides the Edmundites being involved directly in a ministry of Education at Saint Michael's College, the academic world is never far from our view. At Enders Island, residents of the Recovery Program are working towards their own academic achievements in their newly found life in sobriety. In Selma, young people are being educated through the services of the New Possibilities Youth Program, which operates Learning Centers that serve Selma and other rural communities throughout the Deep South. These centers provide after school and summer enrichment programs as well as G.E.D. Assistance. In some places, our after school homework and tutoring programs are the only academic based after school or summer programs available to young people. Equity in education is one of the many ways that we live the call to love our neighbor in a contemporary world.
Reaching out to the disenfranchised and marginalized, and those who live beyond the embrace of the Church is also an important part of Edmundite life. This is lived each day through the pastoral care that we provide to anyone who comes to the door of one of our ministries or Parishes. In the Recovery Residence at Enders Island, young people find the reconciliation and healing embrace of God through their Step Work, and their ongoing discovery of 12 Step Spirituality. The African American Community in the Edmundite Southern Missions a place where they are celebrated and their community deeply valued. Our retreat facilities at both Enders and Saint Anne's Shrine offer dynamic and diverse programming that welcomes and celebrates all God's people. All of our ministries bear in mind the preferential option for the poor, "In a nation so driven towards material wealth, who is more marginalized then the poor?"
At the end of the day, the Edmundite Community gathers again around the Lord's table for Evening Prayer, and then at the dining room table for dinner and fellowship. This notion was of great importance to our founder Jean-Baptiste Muard, who assured the blessings of Saint Edmund to all visitors to Pontigny who helped in the kitchen and at table. In the evenings, for many of our members, pastoral work continues through meetings, liturgies, or study. Father Muard felt that in a religious community members should work "according to their respective capacities, some in prayer and study, others in manual labor, all, however, applying themselves to the observance of the same rule for their own sanctification and the edification of their neighbor."