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State Chaplain 2018 - 2019

Picture of Rev Kenney St. Hilaire

Rev Kenneth St. Hilaire
June 2018

It was a joy to see many of you at the State Convention last month in Pasco and to celebrate the achievements of the fraternal year. Congratulations! I couldn’t help but notice the large number of councils that had no representation at the Convention;... I encourage you to make an effort next year to have every council in the Washington jurisdiction represented by at least one delegate. It is well worth the time, and you never realize what a “shot in the arm” the State Convention is until you experience it for yourself. 

Last month, I began a simple reflection on the similarities between gardening and the spiritual life. I’d like to continue along with that meditation, hoping that it might spark some ideas or provide an avenue for the Holy Spirit to do some nudging.

We left off with the soil having received the seed, which reminded us that God is always the primary agent in the work of spiritual growth. Just as the soil cannot grow anything on its own without receiving the seed from outside itself, so we can produce no good without the action of God’s grace.

Now the seed germinates and begins to grow. Most plants in the early stages of life are very fragile. They need protection from the dangers that could prevent them from growing to full maturity. A browsing rabbit could gobble the seedling in a single bite. Slugs or caterpillars could make quick work of a feeble stalk.

Similarly, the gift of faith is a fragile one. In this case, however, fragility is a permanent quality, not one that is only present toward the beginning of the journey. By this I don’t mean that faith is always weak and timid––not at all––but rather that faith is a gift that must be cherished, guarded and nurtured lest it be lost. When we’re careless about the gifts we’ve been given, chances are good that we might just lose them. This is true not only of the gift of our faith, but also the gift of our vocation. Staying grateful is one of the best ways to protect this invaluable gift.

 If you think about it, you’ll realize that there are a lot of dangers out there that have the potential to inhibit the deepening of our love of God. We live in a culture that is inimical to the kind of self-sacrificial love that God desires for our lives. It’s very “me-centered” out there (in case you haven’t noticed!). We find ourselves in the midst of a very materialistic ethos that makes a god out of money and equates pleasure with happiness. Needless to say, we must be on guard to keep our faith safe from these and other threats.

 If you’ve ever grown vegetables or flowers from seed, you may have used a technique called “pinching” to make the plants fuller or stronger. A lot of times, seedlings tend to get spindly. Pinching is a type of pruning that encourages the plant to branch out more. It seems counterintuitive to remove the part of the plant that seems to be growing the fastest, but in the end you have a much stronger and healthier plant.

 In the spiritual life, fasting and self-restraint are much like the pruning or pinching of a green plant. Through self-denial, we make space for greater growth in grace, and we build the “muscle” of virtue. It goes against our nature to deprive ourselves of goods, but in the end it serves us well.

 If you’re tending a garden this summer, be sure to tend to your soul, too!


Vivat Jesus!
Fr. Kenneth St. Hilaire
State Chaplain