Saint Meinrad Archabbey

A catholic monastery devoted to the teachings of St. Benedict

November 2012

(1) On this Solemnity of All Saints, we followed our "Sunday Schedule." Father Abbot Justin presided and preached at our 9:30 Conventual Mass, and we enjoyed a fine meal with colloquium at noon.  +++  Later in the afternoon, Father Abbot blessed "The Ravens," the just-completed, newest construction project on our hill. This three-bedroom house, complete with living / dining room, kitchen, laundry room, and screened-in patio, will be used by the families of monks who come for a stay of several days, as well as by those monks who may wish to use it for part of their vacation or for a day of recollection. The house is located roughly on the site of the old "Ritter" and "Esser" houses (about 500 feet southwest of our Guest House and Retreat Center), which were torn down earlier this year. We're most grateful to a benefactor who surprised us all by generously funding the entire project.  +++  We welcome 37 eighth-grade students and staff from St. Pius X in Indianapolis, here for a two-day retreat. 

(2) We celebrate Mass on this Commemoration of All Souls as an O.A.-ranked feast, and so Father Abbot Justin again presided at our Conventual Eucharist at 7:30. After Mass, we followed our age-old custom of processing to the monastic cemetery, where Father Abbot blessed the graves-over 280 of them-with holy water and some prayers. Our seminarians made their customary procession to the cemetery after their Night Prayer yesterday; some of the candles they had placed on the headstones were still flickering as we conducted our remembrances.

(3) Brother Martin is halfway through offering his weekend retreat, "Living Monastic Values in Everyday Life," to 19 participants at our Guest House and Retreat Center.  +++  Father Vincent led 80 members of our Abbot Martin Marty Guild in a morning and afternoon retreat; he spoke about "Being Christian." This year the Guild is 20 years old. Its namesake, Martin Marty, was the first abbot of Saint Meinrad (1870-1880); its members are known for their leadership in offering financial support for our work.  +++  And also this year, this day, Brother Benedict turns 93! Following our custom, he was seated at the abbot's table for our main meal this evening, and we had cake and colloquium in his honor. With the aid of a walker, Brother Benedict continues to join us faithfully in choir and in the refectory. We admire his perseverance, and wish him ad multos annos.

(4) Father Eugene, our Mass Heb, presided and preached on this Thirty-first Sunday of Ordinary Time. He was assisted by Deacon Julio Barrera, a seminarian studying for our neighboring diocese ofOwensboro.

(5) After Compline this evening, the monastic community processed to the Chapter Room to discuss and vote on some internal business of the monastery.

(6) Father Eugene presided and preached at our Conventual Eucharist this morning and, in consideration of this National Day of Election, used the prayers the Roman Missal provides for "our country."  +++  Throughout the morning and afternoon, Brothers Dominic and Angelo were available to shuttle monks back and forth to the St. Meinrad Community Center "downtown," the official voting site for our township. A few stout and sturdy souls, anticipating ultimate results only in the wee hours of the morning, had declared their intention to stay up throughout the night. By 10 o'clock CST and President  Obama's electoral count nearing 250, however, most had acknowledged his re-election was probable. We ask God's blessings on President Obama, and upon all those re-elected and newly elected throughout our land.

(7) Father Vincent is halfway offering a week-long retreat to seven priests at our Guest House and Retreat Center; his topic is "Manly Strength: Priestly Virtues, Servant Virtues."

(8) Many of our alumni will remember Rose Ranno, the "dear elderly woman from New York" (Chestnut Ridge,NY), who took a sabbatical at Saint Meinrad from 2000 to 2009! In her 90s, Rose died this past Saturday, November 3. Rose was a Saint Meinrad Oblate; Father Meinrad, our director of oblates, will be representing us at her funeral.

(9) This feast of the Anniversary of the Dedication of the Lateran Basilica (the "Mother and Head of all the Churches in the City of Rome and the world") is an O.P.-ranked feast and so Father Prior Kurt presided at our Conventual Mass. Father Eugene preached.  +++  Beginning this morning, the health of Father Simeon began to take a decided turn for the worse. Shortly after Compline, Father Abbot Justin, assisted by Father Prior Kurt and Father Julian, anointed Father Simeon, and we began our custom of "visitation" - the volunteering by various monks to spend an hour with our ill confrere in what may be his final hours.  +++  Father Gregory was admitted to St. Mary's Hospital in Evansville this morning, suffering from internal bleeding. That has, apparently, been treated successfully. Father Gregory continues to undergo tests, and we expect him to remain in the hospital at least through Sunday. We retire this evening keeping all our aged and ill confreres in our prayers, especially Father Simeon and Father Gregory. 

(10) Father Simeon died this evening, just after eight o'clock. Fathers Prior Kurt, Julian, and Cletus, and his niece Theresa, were with him as he breathed his last. By all standards, his death seemed peaceful, and it was indeed a blessing that Theresa had arrived from St. Louis only a few hours before. May Father Simeon, and all the faithful departed, rest in peace!

(11) Father Timothy is our Mass Heb for this 32nd Sunday (and week) in Ordinary Time.  +++  About 25 seminarians of our seminary's St. Matthew Formation House joined us for Vespers, and then supper in our refectory, this evening. Father Patrick is the dean of the house, and Deacon Kevin Hurley of the Diocese of Lafayette-in-Indiana is the house prefect.  +++  Father Jeremy concluded offering the weekend retreat "The Eucharist and the Church" to eight participants at our Guest House and Retreat Center.  +++  About 50 students of our lay degree program took part in another round of weekend courses. Courses and teachers were "Eucharist," taught by Fr. Thomas Richstatter, OFM; "Christian Ethics," taught by Fr. Mark O'Keefe, OSB; "Listening in Pastoral Ministry," by Dr. Tom Robbins; and "American Catholic Identity: Catechetical Perspectives," led by Dr. Thomas Walters.

(12) A "New Pastors, Year 2" workshop, sponsored by our Institute for Priests and Presbyterates, began its five-day program today for four participants, two of whom are recent alumni of our seminary.  +++  John, the 90-year-old father of Father Jonathan, died this morning. Father Jonathan's mother, a few years older, preceded him in death earlier this year. Both had been in a nursing home for some time. The funeral liturgy and burial will be this Friday in Mishawaka, Indiana. May his parents, and all the faithful departed, rest in peace!

(13) After Midday Prayer, we received the body of Father Simeon at our entry way. A monk is brought through these "great doors" only twice during his life: at his novitiate, as he is led into the monastery by his novice master, and after his death, as six of his confreres walk his coffin into our house. The brief ceremony includes the blessing of the body with holy water and the placing of the monk's vow chart on top of his coffin. In place of Compline this evening, we prayed the Office of the Dead, which included a personal "remembrance" of Father Simeon, prepared and offered by Father Harry.

(14) The Archabbey Church was filled this morning with the family and friends of Father Simeon, as we began his funeral liturgy at 10 o'clock. Our seminarians also joined us, and a number of them assisted by serving as cross and candle bearers, and miter and crozier bearers. Ann Rohleder, our director of health services, proclaimed the first reading. Father Abbot Justin presided and preached. As the Mass concluded, we processed to the cemetery: crossbearer, monastic community, coffin carried by six monks, ministers and guests. At the cemetery, Father Abbot blessed the grave and, after the monk-pallbearers lowered the coffin into the ground with ropes and hooks, emptied a shovel of dirt onto it. Once the prayers were concluded, Father Abbot and the ministers, and then the monks and guests, sprinkled Father Simeon's coffin in a final gesture of blessing and farewell.

(15) A quiet day outside; a very busy day inside, as many of our seminarians scrambled to get papers and projects completed before the Thanksgiving break begins. It is a generous break indeed, beginning tomorrow and ending the Sunday after Thanksgiving!

(16) A number of us attended the funeral Mass and burial of Virginia Ringeman, the 80-year-old mother of Donna Balbach, whom many of our (especially) recent alumni will know from her (still continuing) work as the seminary's administrative secretary and registrar.  +++  This evening at The Unstable, Father Abbot Justin and Father Prior Kurt, in the name of the monastic community, hosted our infirmary and health care co-workers and their spouses (or a guest) to a pizza buffet. Fathers Prior and Patrick and Brothers Martin and John Mark prepared the pizzas. Brother Martin also presented each of our co-workers with an original print of his, and each co-worker and guest returned home toting a loaf of our Abbey Bread. It was a fun evening with fine people. We appreciate our co-workers in all our departments, and we will have another celebration with those departments this Sunday.

(17) About 20 monks enjoyed "Monk Lunch" at The UnStable, with Fathers Prior Kurt and Patrick picking up in the oven department from where they left off last night. They were joined by "associate" pizza maker Brother Silas (still in his "pizza internship") and Novice Bradley who, well, began his pizza novitiate. We believe he has a promising career.  +++  Brother Zachary is halfway through his weekend retreat "The God of Mercy," which he is offering to 13 participants at our Guest House and Retreat Center.

(18) On this 33rd Sunday of Ordinary Time, Father Joseph, our Mass Heb, presided and preached at our Conventual Eucharist. About 120 of our co-workers joined us for Mass, after which we adjourned to the Alumni Commons for conversation and refreshments. We are grateful to the fine men and women who work with us, for us, alongside us. We are proud-and humbled-to consider them part of our Saint Meinrad family.  +++  Several groups were here on the hill this weekend. Six guests were taking part in the Tell City Women's Retreat, and 30 young boys and girls from St. John Catholic Church in Loogootee, Indiana, were making their retreat in preparation for Confirmation.

(19) We had our customary special Monday desserts this evening. After Compline, we processed to the Chapter Room, where Father Abbot Justin offered us his monthly conference.

(20) This Thanksgiving week promises to be a quiet one on the hill. Only a handful of our seminarians remain on the hill. Our novices and juniors did some shopping for our Thanksgiving eve celebration tomorrow….

(21) After supper we adjourned to the calefactory, our "common room," and enjoyed a table of special wines, cheeses, pastries and sweets. Continuing our custom of the past few years, we also took time to recall and reflect upon the blessings we, as a community, and a number of us as individuals, have experienced during the past 12 months. Brother Silas led us in a reflection that included books and articles published, renovations completed, new members-young novices and jubilarian monks from Blue Cloud-welcomed, three seminary halls fully occupied….

(22) Father Joseph, our Mass Heb for the week, presided and preached on this Thanksgiving Day. We followed our Sunday schedule, and so enjoyed a slightly later-than-usual rising time and the praying of Vigils and Lauds. A number of guests, including the family members of several monks, joined us in the Anselm Dining Room for the midday meal, which featured turkey and all the traditional trimmings. We know we have much for which to be thankful, and many to whom to be grateful. May God bless those who support us, and may we always know how to share our resources and gifts with those in need.

(23) It's been said that in the monastery the day after Thanksgiving is the quietest day of the year. It does seem to be the case. Familiar sights during these days: monks reading books, taking walks, dozing discreetly in the calefactory…. Norman Rockwell would love this scene!

(24) Peace and quiet continue to reign on the hill. There are no objections!  +++  We began our celebration of the Solemnity of Christ the King, the last Sunday of the Church year, with I Vespers, with Father Prior Kurt presiding.

(25) Father Prior Kurt presided and preached on this O.P.-ranked solemnity of Christ the King.  +++  Evansville Bishop Charles Thompson, also an alumnus of our seminary (Theology '87), presided at our Eucharist in the Infirmary Chapel this morning. He continued his visit with Archbishop Daniel and with us by joining us for the midday meal in our refectory. Father Abbot Justin is enjoying the last of a short vacation he began Thursday afternoon, but all six places at the abbot's table were occupied: in addition to the "usuals" (Archabbot Bonaventure, Prior Kurt and Subprior Guerric), Archabbot Lambert (home for a week), Archbishop Daniel and Bishop Charles enjoyed being first in the serving line!

(26) The Most Reverend Joseph Tobin, who will be in installed as the Archbishop of Indianapolis a week from today, arrived last night to make a private retreat this week. He has a room in our house, is joining us in choir and is taking his meals in the refectory with us. This evening after supper, we invited him into our calefactory for a mutual introduction, and enjoyed some brownies and cordials. We certainly offer our prayerful support to Bishop Tobin, as he prepares for his ministry as our diocesan shepherd.

(27) It's been a rough day for some monks, medically speaking. Brother Benedict fell in his cell today; fortunately, x-rays revealed no broken bones. Father Godfrey was having some procedures to remove kidney stones, so he'll be taking it a bit easy at St. Mary's Parish, Huntingburg, over the next few days. And Brother Simon, a Benedictine from St. Benedict's Abbey, Atchison, Kansas, is in the hospital for a few days, getting an old toe injury looked after. We're grateful for the expert care our infirmary staff give us. They have no trouble keeping busy, and they've almost always a smile on their face, no matter how busy they are!

(28) Brother Peduru, our junior monk in his first year of profession, has taken up temporary residence in our infirmary. Brother comes from Sri Lanka-a fine place, but a place where he never had a chance to develop immunity to chickenpox. He's paying the price now! Temporarily quarantined, he's maintaining contact with the rest of us through visits with his nurses and, of course, voice- and e-mails.

(29) Archbishop Tobin is spending his last evening with us; he'll be heading up to Indianapolis tomorrow, taking care of the final preparations before being installed as Archbishop of Indianapolis on Monday, December 3, the feast of St. Francis Xavier, co-patron of the archdiocese. He seems to have enjoyed his days of retreat with us; we've certainly enjoyed getting to know him a bit. We wish him well, and a number of us will be traveling to Indianapolis on Sunday and Monday for his installation.

(30) Our Mass Heb, Father Germain, presided at our Conventual Mass on this feast of St. Andrew the Apostle, and Deacon Brother Victor, a monk from Conception Abbey, Conception, Missouri, offered the homily.  +++  About 23 students from Greenville College, Greenville, Illinois, will be arriving today to begin a weekend retreat at our Guest House and Retreat Center.

See you next month! We close with a reverent nod to some of St. Benedict's practical, down-to-earth advice about matters both sacred and secular:

The brother who is the weekly reader should receive some doctored wine before he reads. This is because of the Holy Communion and because he may find it difficult to endure the fast…. The brothers are not to read or sing in order, but only those who edify the listeners.

Chapter 38, "The Weekly Reader"
Translation by Fr. Terence Kardong, OSB, monk of Assumption Abbey

Each day the monks of Saint Meinrad Archabbey write another page in the long history of Benedictine monks throughout the world. Here Father Prior Kurt reports on some of last month's events at Saint Meinrad.