Sunday, June 19, 2011

Fr Todd Boyce Reflects On Attending FiFNA Assembly and Our Lady of Snows Retreat Center

Fr Todd presents the first tithe check of Sts. Mary and Martha

Fr. Todd Boyce Meets Archbishop Robert Duncan

I arrived home from Belleville, Illinois (just across the Mississippi River from Saint Louis) tonight. I was at Our Lady of the Snows Shrine/Conference Center for the Annual Assembly of Forward in Faith (a group of Anglo-Catholics and a founding group of the Anglican Church in North America). I'd like to share with you (via my feeble words) what I saw late last night as I wandered the grounds of the Shrine...

A couple of years ago (during my first attendance at the Annual Assembly in Belleville), I immediately sensed the peace and joy of being in a place made holy not only by the miracle involving Our Lady, but by the fervent prayers and devotion to Jesus of those who flock to that special Shrine. Since I love walking in the quiet of the night, and since the Shrine affords ample opportunity for doing so, I set out that first year to discover.

What I discovered that year was a grotto (a replica of the one in Lourdes, France in which our Lady appeared), and an enormous fountain and sculpture dedicated to the Annunciation of Our Lord Jesus Christ to the Blessed Virgin Mary (the news given to our Lady that she was chosen to give birth to Messiah). In the pool attached to the fountain there are four “Angelus” bells that appear to be floating over the surface of the water! The bells are rung in the morning, at noon, and in the evening to call the faithful to remember our Lord’s incarnation (becoming human by taking upon himself our flesh).

You can’t imagine the peace and closeness that one feels walking around these grounds. While I’ve been deeply touched by the proceedings of each year’s Assembly, I think it’s these midnight walks on the grounds that I’ve come to look forward to most. Even nature itself seems to feel safe in those surroundings! That first year, as I walked near the Church of Our Lady of the Snows, a deer walked in front of me (no more than ten feet away) with perfect ease. I’m certain that she saw me before I saw her. Bach’s music, “Sheep May Safely Graze” suddenly popped into my head and, when she had passed from before me, an excited call was made to Emily!

This year, however, tops the previous two! I noticed something I hadn’t seen before: A statue of our Lord at prayer. I knew instantly what it depicts. He’s shown kneeling in agony, and the statue is placed in grove of trees. Seeing this figure (dimly but adequately lit) in that setting was more than a little unsettling. I went and sat with him. I kept looking at his hands. I don’t know why, but I wanted to touch them. Maybe it’s because his are the hands that made me, saved me, and healed me. So I did; I touched them.

As soon as I touched those hands, I had a healthy sense of how unworthy I am. My mind couldn’t begin to comprehend him or understand his love for me. I think that this must be exactly the point of that statue, because, as I moved out of the grove of trees, I looked to my left and saw a path I’d not noticed before. You know what happens next! I began walking it. Lining it are the fourteen Stations of the Cross, each of them beautiful pieces of sculpture set in protective booths and lit. The path winds down a hill and forms a half-circle around the grove of trees.

About half-way around the path something else struck me. In the midst of the chirping crickets and bullfrogs, a more silent witness was given to our Lord’s love and immense creative power: What seemed like millions of lightning bugs – more than I have ever seen in one place before!!! To my right there was an opening in the canopy of trees. It revealed a small valley surrounded by trees – almost like an amphitheater. From top to bottom came what seemed like millions of flashes of light! Astounding!

As I walked on (contemplating my own weaknesses and asking the Lord why I can’t seem to get past some of them), one more thing happened that took my breath away. There was a rustling in some bushes just in front of me, and out popped a deer! She stood in front of me for a moment and then walked into the deserted street. It was then that I could see that her front legs were malformed. I think that something of the spirit of Saint Francis must reside in that place! That makes sense, because, when I looked around, I remembered that I was standing in a place where outdoor healing Masses are often celebrated! Maybe the Lord was trying to show me something?!?


Father Todd

No comments:

Contact Information

11195 S. Grayling Rd.
Roscommon, MI 48653

Telephone: 586-264-6044
msjanglican "at"