New prayer garden

Jul 28, 2022
St. Mary Magdalen Parish celebrated the feast day of their patroness with the blessing of their new prayer garden, July 24, 2022. The Altamonte Springs parish continue its progress creating spaces of prayer outside reflecting Laudato Si. The labyrinth itself a 30 foot plaza modeled after the design of St. Paul Chartres in France. (GAIL RAYOS)

ALTAMONTE SPRINGS | A perfect day to honor St. Mary Magdalen, clergy and parishioners alike gathered in St. Mary Magdalen Parish’s new labyrinth prayer garden for its blessing and dedication July 24.

Although the saint’s feast day fell on July 22, the parish celebrated and recognized her at all weekend Masses concluding with the garden blessing.

Inspired by Laudato Si and Catholic Social Teaching’s tenet Care for Creation, Father Charlie Mitchell, pastor, dedicated the new labyrinth noting it is part of a broader initiative.

“We are systematically creating outdoor spaces of prayer to give all of our parishioners, and anyone who comes to this sacred place, an opportunity to engage in different forms of prayer in these beautiful different settings,” he said.

Designed and built by parishioners, the labyrinth is 30 feet in diameter and follows the St. Paul à la Chartres™ design. Different colored bricks mark a single path to the center. The first Christian use of the labyrinth dates to 325 A.D. A labyrinth has three movements. Winding around to the center, the “pilgrim” seeks to let go of worldly attachments. Or he/she may be pondering a question to lay before the Lord. The center is considered the “center of his or her relationship with God”. Believers often spend time there in reflection. As the “pilgrims” leave, they are returning to the world renewed, knowing God accompanies them.

Relocating the statue of Mary Magdalen last year, she now stands alongside the prayer garden, inviting the faithful to encounter the Lord as she did at His tomb.

Since the 12th century, Mary Magdalen has been called “The Apostle to the Apostles” by abbots, priests, and cardinals because she was the first to encounter the Resurrected Lord.

Father Mitchell hopes this new outdoor space will “inspire more prayer opportunities and unpack the beauty of God’s creation and the beauty of art that inspires the faithful to go, as St. Mary Magdalen, our patroness, did to share the Good News!”

By Glenda Meekins of the Florida Catholic staff, July 28, 2022