The July Retreat at St Anns Hermitage


Our annual retreat at the Hermitage is over. It was a great success and if its spirit lingers with us throughout the coming rear, we shall be very happy, for there was plenty of goodwill and generosity.

The first three days were confined to the Novices and Postulants. Reverend Brother Provincial and Brother Master gave the instructions, which were aimed at helping the young Brothers for their future work in the establishments.

On the 19th of July, thirty-five of the Brothers of our province joined the exercises of the retreat, which then passed under the direction of the Reverend Father Green S. J.

The Reverend Father followed the order of St. Ignatius Exercises, applying them in his own original and practical way to the every day life of the Brothers. He ably dealt with the proper use we should make of creatures, showing us that they are to be used only in so far as they lead us to God, and that we are to abstain from them the moment they draw us away from our Creator.

The meditations, which we made with the Reverend Father, were augmented by heart to heart talks given us by Reverend Br other Assistant and by Reverend Brother Provincial. They brought home to us that the result of the retreat must include a better observance of the Constitutions and Rules. The watchword was "Ni plus, ni moins, ni autrement’’, ("Neither more, nor less, nor otherwise„). Especially when speaking of the Crusade „ of silence and the absolute necessity of our daily religious study, were they unmistakably in earnest.

The keynote of the whole retreat was ‘’Reform, Conform, Transform’’:

Reform and take out of our lives what has been inordinate in us.

Conform ourselves hereafter to the example of Jesus Christ and to the Rules of our Institute.

Transform our hearts by the true Marist spirit that we may be pleasing to the Great King whom we are called to serve.

Moreover, included in this common and general objective, there was given to each one. a most earnest exhortation to pray that God would show him wherein he was displeasing to the Divine Majesty and grant him the grace to see and do just the particular thing that God asked of him the special grace for him in this retreat.

God has singularly blessed our American province with a beautiful and retired property, most conducive to the spirit of recollection and just the place in which to make a good retreat. Each day we would make the outside Stations of the Cross, erected along a quiet road, which winds through our magnificent woods. We were free to select our own little shady spot and there, according to inclination, say our rosary, reflect upon the last conference, or read some pious book, and work earnestly on our election. But the greatest help we had was daily Mass and Holy Communion in our own Novitiate Chapel, and Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament every evening. So all in all, we could hardly fail to make a first-class retreat. Indeed, the zeal with which the Novices and Postulants made the spiritual exercises could, at the close, easily be read in the long, pale, though happy faces of a good many of them.

The time of the retreat passed very quickly, all too quickly, for, is not holy converse with God sweet indeed, and profitable?

At last, the 26th, the feast of St. Ann and the anniversary of our Venerable Founder's ordination, arrived, the great day on which was to take place the investing with the holy habit and the pronouncing of the first vows.

As a fitting preparation for this important action, we were privileged to hear three Masses on that morning. At the first Mass we all received Holy Communion. The second, of thanksgiving, was said immediately after by our Reverend Chaplain, Father Dillon S. J. Special music had been prepared for the High Mass at half-past eight, which was celebrated by Father Sheehan of St. Peter's, Poughkeepsie, whose parochial school is conducted by our Brothers.

The decorations of our Juniorate Chapel, where the ceremonies of the day were held, were out of the ordinary; beautiful natural flowers were in profusion, but what impressed us most was the inscription: ‘’Poverty, Chastity, Obedience’’ printed in large red characters and stretching on a white canvas background across the sanctuary entrance.

At ten o'clock came the ceremony of the reception of the holy habit and the emission of vows.

Father Sheehan, on the invitation of Reverend Brother Assistant, gave a clear and practical sermon showing the esteem and thankfulness we should feel for the grace of our noble and holy vocation to be Religious teachers and educators of Catholic children.

Then followed the touching ceremony of taking the holy habit After having publicly asked admission to the Institute and answered the questions put by Father Dillon, our beloved and zealous spiritual guide, the twelve Postulants retired, for a few minutes, to put on the habit. As the last notes of the psalm ‘’In exitu Israel’’, died away, they filed slowly to the sanctuary, clothed in the Marist cassock. How happy they must have been at this moment, for they earnestly have made up their minds that henceforth they are dead to the world and are to live now only for Jesus. They read in clear voices the beautiful act of consecration giving themselves entirely and for ever to God. It was said that some of their relatives wept. Well, surely there were tears of joy and thanksgiving, not of sorrow or regret.

Nov was the turn of the Novices to pronounce their first vows faking the place of the late Postulants, in the sanctuary, thirteen Novices knelt before the Altar, where dwells the Spouse of their souls, to whom they are about to consecrate themselves- unreservedly. Each one, holding a lighted candle, the emblem of his love and Faith, reads the formula of the vows, winch are-to bind him to God's holy service. As soon as he pronounced his vows, he went to the foot of Our Lady's Altar and kneeling at a table placed there, he signed determinedly, in the register of the Institute, the promise of his vows. That must have been a crucial moment, for just then, he is formally received as a member of the Marist Family. May God grant everyone of' them the grace to be inscribed one day in the true and final register of our deceased Brothers, so as to belong to that numerous Marist phalanx already enjoying the delights of Paradise.

The priest then girded each Brother with the cord. We may be sure that Mary and the whole court of Heaven were looking with tender love towards them, as Jesus showered clown upon them his choicest graces on that happiest day of their lives.

Then followed the renewal of vows by the professed Brothers. As the Director of our retreat styled them, they were veterans n going once more to renew their fealty to the Great King. Two by two, with lighted candle also they knell at the foot of the Altar and read the solemn formula of the renewal of vows. It was indeed solemn when those with perpetual vows and the few more advanced ones of the vow of stability, gave their promise to remain faithful till death to their Lord.

After the ceremony the priests, who had assisted, met the Novices and the newly professed Brothers, offering their congratulations and good wishes. Our Reverend Brother Assistant then received them, extending to each the kiss of peace and a kind word of encouragement, as did likewise our dear Brother Master of Novices. Brother Provincial after this mustered them in his room, which was almost too small to contain these new "Treasures of the institute as our Venerable Founder calls the young Brothers. How the fatherly hearts of our dear Superiors must have warmed at the sight of these their children, so Nil of youthful hope and energy, so filled on that morning with heavenly joy. We pray that God will give to each a long and useful career in our Marist Family, and that they may bring many souls to Jesus Christ through Mary.

A newly professed Brother.


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