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State Chaplain 2017 - 2018

Picture of Rev Kenney St. Hilaire

Rev Kenneth St. Hilaire
May 2018

Happy Easter! Christ is risen! Alleluia!

Yes, it is still Easter for a little longer, and still prime time for reflection on the newness of life that God offers us through the Paschal Mystery and our incorporation into it through baptism. Perhaps with the arrival of spring—and summer just around the corner—a few gardening metaphors will do us some good. There is a lot of insight for the spiritual life to be gained by looking at the common experience of gardening.

One of the first things a gardener has to do in the spring is to prepare the soil. Over the winter, the ground may have hardened and become impenetrable. So, the gardener has to loosen the soil so that new seeds or plants can be introduced and begin to grow in it.

Sometimes human beings can be like the soil coming out of winter. We get firmly stuck in our usual ways of doing things, and it does us some good to break up the monotony. There’s nothing wrong with having (good) habits and a sense of routine in life. However, when our patterns of behavior prevent new initiatives of the Holy Spirit, it’s time for change.

Even when working a piece of ground that has been worked in previous years, the gardener sometimes comes across stones that need to be removed. Depending on the size and shape of the stone, it can make growing plants in that area difficult or even impossible.

Likewise, when “digging deep” in the spiritual life, we may come to the realization that there are elements that need to be removed—elements that impede the fruitfulness of our spiritual life. These can be sinful thoughts, words or behaviors that need to be left behind. This is the work of conversion! Here’s a tip: start with the big “stones” and then worry about the little ones later.

Before seeds or plants are brought in, it’s a good idea to add material like compost or fertilizer to the soil so as to make sure that the ground is suitable for growing and that it will be able to nurture the plants that will eventually grow there.

This can be likened to a period of preparation for prayer. I suspect that most of us, when it comes time to pray, launch immediately into talking to God about what we need or what we hope He will do for us. Similarly, most people get to the church just a brief moment before Mass is to start—in just enough time to get settled into a pew and open the hymnal to the processional song. We would do well to prepare for any time of prayer or liturgy by spending at least two or three minutes in silence, pondering what we are about to do and making sure that we are disposed to receive the graces that God is about to offer.

Finally comes the time to plant the seeds or starts. The soil doesn’t have the capacity to produce plants on its own. It can only receive what is placed in it and provide an environment in which the new life can grow and take root.

So we should always remember that the graces given to us by God are nothing that we produce on our own. We can only do our best to provide a cooperative heart in which those graces can “take root” and flourish. If we do that, the Lord will make our efforts fruitful.

More on gardening next month!

Vivat Jesus!
Fr. Kenneth St. Hilaire
State Chaplain