Folks, maskless and contemplative, dotted the grounds of sacred land up in the islands of Vermont last week. Some stood on the shore to breath in the fresh air of the calm waters of Lake Champlain, some sat at the feet of Mother Mary and prayed. Mass was offered by Father Marcel Rainville, S.S.E, after which Brother Frank Hagerty, S.S.E. reflected on “Emerging From the Pandemic: Restoring Our Spirituality” with a group of about 20 people.
This was part of a special Society of Saint Edmund summertime series that takes place in the Boucher Building each Wednesday after Mass at their beloved Saint Anne’s Shrine. Next week, Father Michael Carter will present, “Mohawk Maiden: The Life and Faith of Kateri Tekakwitha.” Lunch is offered after each reflection.
Brother Frank sat before an eager crowd in front of a stone fireplace donned with the Edmundite cross. He drew on his extensive work with the Restorative Justice program in this reflection. He is on a mission to heal the harm and hurt being experienced by many as we emerge from lock down. He asked how everyone was faring post pandemic. Some people agreed life was becoming better for the most part, but that there were still struggles after the prolonged isolation. Some spoke of losing track of days, of becoming lazy without structure and routine, and some were battling to get back the motivation they once had. Brother Frank called for us to dwell in a sense of wonder, and to listen for God in the world around us. “Let God’s love in and be transformed,” he said.
Restoring our spirituality could be the ticket to getting back up on our feet, Brother Frank confessed. He said spirituality is dwelling in our true self-identity, strengthening relationships, and bolstering moral values. To explain, he began with Psalm 130, a lament, and went on to read a “Prayer for Going Deeper” by George Appleton, which was the same in sentiment, yet something more. These two examples highlighted the contrast between crying out in despair, and praying to God from a point of pure truth. Brother Frank said it is from this deeper self that we find the gates of heaven are everywhere, as Thomas Merton wrote in “Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander.”
Benefits of the lock down during the pandemic include breaking through the hum drum work-a-day world into leisure, Brother Frank said. We all had a tremendous amount of time to be alone, or "at one," with ourselves.
Brother Thomas Berube, who was in attendance, said that only in retrospect can we see the kernels of Grace that were happening all through the pandemic. Brother Frank agreed and said we survived this with God’s help. It is all part of God being present in all of us—working through us, Brother Frank said.
Now that we are all getting out and about, it is important to rekindle relationships, Brother Frank said. He missed visiting with prisoners most. Prison ministry is an important and meaningful part of his vocation. “Just as God sends snow and rain, he sends his Word to move us,” he said. “God’s Word is actively working through all of us to help each other to get us through.” With an eye toward inner healing, Brother Frank urged everyone to talk to God, to rest with God, to restore their spirituality, to get back into prayer life, get back to Church, and the Eucharist.
Next in the Society of Saint Edmund Reflection series at Saint Anne’s Shrine in Isle La Motte, Vermont:
July 14: Father Michael Carter will present, “Mohawk Maiden: The Life and Faith of Kateri Tekakwitha.”
August 4: Father Richard Berube will present, “Not Just Heartbreaks and Honk-tonk: Country Music in Sacred Space.”
August 11: Father David Cray will present, “Praying with Saint Clare of Assisi.”
August 18: Father Michael Carter will present, “A Puzzle to Common Sense: The Conversion of Fanny Allen.”
August 25: Msgr. Peter Routhier will present, "The Mercy of God as Reflected in the Vision of Pope Francis."