This article has been reprinted with permission from Catholic News Herald, the newspaper of the Diocese of Charlotte, N.C., where it originally appeared in the May 23 issue.
STONEVILLE, N.C. — A Marian garden and labyrinth were blessed in tribute to the Blessed Virgin Mary, and to all women, at the St. Francis Springs Prayer Center May 10.
Mary serves as an example to every Christian because of her “fiat” — because she heard the word of God and she was willing to say yes to God’s plan for her, and because she was the first and most perfect disciple of Jesus Christ. The labyrinth and garden are meant to help visitors to the retreat center meditate on Mary’s example of fidelity and cooperation with God’s plan, and thus to find inspiration in responding to their own baptismal call to follow Jesus, said Louis Canino, OFM, director of the prayer center.
Mary’s Garden, located in a wooded area adjacent to the new outdoor chapel of the St. Francis Springs Prayer Center, was built through the generosity of Cliff and Eunice Barr and their family.
The labyrinth, built of stone and pavers in the medieval style made famous at Chartres Cathedral in France, is about 42 feet in diameter — making it among the largest labyrinths in North Carolina. Its 815-foot paved path has 34 turns, and it is purposely narrow so that walkers upon it are forced to slow down and focus on what they are doing, Louis noted.
“The many turns remind us of the turning points of our lives, both good and bad, and our need to continue our spiritual pilgrimage with steadfast fidelity,” said Ann Bauer, assistant director of the prayer center, during the blessing ceremony.
Inlaid in the wall encircling the labyrinth are 12 small rocks from the property, symbolizing the Twelve Tribes of Israel as well as the 12 apostles. In the center of the labyrinth is a stone “trinity bench,” held up by three boulders also from the prayer center’s property. It is meant to symbolize the Holy Trinity, the source and focus of all spiritual life and which is reflected in all of God’s creation.
Rosali Rivera, who oversaw construction of the labyrinth, received heartfelt thanks from Louis and warm applause from everyone gathered for the blessing ceremony May 10. Also helping in the labyrinth project were Joe Bauer, William Alexander Benitez, Ray Butrang, Dan Camia, Santos Orando Fuentes, Jeff Juliano, Dan Lonnquist, Frank Massey, Feliberto Ortiz, Luish Rylang, Buish Y and Tuish Y.
At the conclusion of the blessing ceremony, Louis led everyone in prayer: “Mary, Mother of Peace, we entrust our lives to you and to your Son. May we, too, be pregnant with hope, trusting that the reign of your Son will one day dawn and spill its radiance even in the darkest corners of our world. Teach us to live in unity. Shelter us from despair. Inspire us to act justly, to revere all God has made. Root us ever more firmly in the peace of Jesus. Amen.”
— Patricia L. Guilfoyle is editor of Catholic News Herald. The above image was reprinted with permission from Guilfoyle.