Saint Meinrad Archabbey

A catholic monastery devoted to the teachings of St. Benedict

October 2012

(1) Today was the day of the great "internet outage," the reason why the posting of September's "About the House" was a few days late. Our IT crew worked throughout the night to fix things. A day without email and Internet: frustrating from one perspective, peaceful from another!  

(2) Thanks to the perseverance and professionalism of our IT team (and a good deal of patience from their Hill-full of clients), email was restored this morning and by mid-afternoon the entire system was back up and running. Most of us are relieved, but there are also those who now complain they have no more good excuses as to why a project didn't get done!  +++  Father Jeremy, our Mass Heb, preached at the Conventual Mass this morning.  +++  The 22nd annual John S. and Virginia Marten Lecture in Homiletics was presented this evening, one of the first major events to be held in the newly renovated St. Bede Hall (which, along with Newman Hall, will be blessed and dedicated this Saturday). Our speaker was Dr. Lucy Lind Hogan, the Hugh Latimer Elderdice Professor of Preaching and Worship at Wesley Theological Seminary. Her talk was titled, "To Teach, Delight, and Move: Preaching and Rhetoric in a New Age of Evangelism."

(3) Father Vincent is offering the midweek retreat, "To Pray as Jesus Prayed: The Psalms in Prayer and Worship," to about two dozen participants at our Guest House and Retreat Center.

(4) After Midday Prayer today, we invested Kevin Hurst of Columbus, Indiana, as an oblate novice. Congratulations to him, and prayers for all our oblates.

(5) The Board of Overseers are here for their fall meeting. Reports from our school and its various departments are splendid for the present, most encouraging for the future! We're most grateful for the work of our Overseers. These three dozen men and women support us--and inspire us--in so many ways. They are always quick to say they love returning to the hill, even for a few hours. Likewise, we know we are blessed by their presence.

(6) After three-plus years of planning, revision and hard work, the renovation of Newman and St. Bede halls was celebrated in fine style today. Father Abbot Justin presided at a 9:30 a.m. Mass (and Father Denis, president-rector of the Seminary and School of Theology preached), after which the monastic community, seminarians, members of our Board of Overseers and special guests--about 350 people in all--processed to the "canyon area" between Bede and Newman. There the blueprints and the ceremonial key to the buildings were presented to Abbot Justin by Pat Clark, our director of physical facilities, and representatives of the primary contractors. After Abbot Justin blessed the water and then sprinkled the assembly and the main doors of each hall, a dozen teams, consisting of faculty and staff, co-workers, students and Overseers, went to their assigned rooms in the buildings to bless them with water and hang a crucifix on the wall. The weather certainly cooperated: it had rained quite a bit the night before, but throughout the morning the skies were clear and the temperature was brisk but not uncomfortable. The ceremony concluded at 11 o'clock, and all adjourned to the Newman and Anselm dining rooms for a buffet luncheon. This was a most special day for all of us here at Saint Meinrad, one of those special days that bring together the values of "tradition and momentum." In repairing and restoring buildings that have served us so well and for so long in the past, we have done what we can to assure that we will continue to serve God and the Church in the days and years to come. We give thanks to those who have made this renovation possible: our many benefactors, friends, co-workers and monks. And, always, we remember that, as the psalmist says, "If the Lord does not build the house, in vain do its builders labor."  +++  In the midst of all this activity, Father Meinrad, our director of oblates, invested Cathy Moriarty of Columbus, Indiana, as an oblate novice, in a simple and quiet-yet graceful-ceremony in the Archabbey Church following Midday Prayer. May Cathy, and all who associate themselves with the people and the place of Saint Meinrad, know God's guidance and blessings in all they do!

(7) Father Julian was our presider this morning on this 27th Sunday in Ordinary Time, taking the place of Father Brendan, who is in a parish offering a "Saint Meinrad Sunday." He was assisted by one of our seminarians, Deacon Todd Nance, of the Diocese of Tulsa. Deacon Todd joined us in the monastic refectory for lunch after Midday Prayer.  +++  This first Sunday in October is the first of four Monte Cassino Sundays. We had clear, crisp weather for the procession and rosary this afternoon, and Father Meinrad preached on "Our Lady of the Table:  Mary and the Eucharist."  +++  Shortly before Midday Prayer, Brother Zachary concluded the weekend retreat at our Guest House and Retreat Center he was offering to two dozen participants, "Be Angry But Do Not Sin."

(8) Father Brendan assumed his duties as Mass Heb, including the preaching of a homily on today's Gospel, the parable of the Good Samaritan.  +++  After supper this evening, Father Abbot spoke to the community, offering a description of and some reflections on his recent trip to Rome for the Abbot's Congress.

(9) Our Alumni Board concluded a meeting here on the Hill yesterday. We're grateful for their work in continuing to elicit support from--and offer support to--our alumni throughout the country and, in fact, the world!

(10) We welcomed two Benedictines from other monasteries this evening. Brother Christopher Start, from St. Benedict's Abbey, Atchison,  Kansas, and Brother Bernard Denson, from St. Bernard's Abbey, Cullman, Alabama, are here for a few days, considering Saint Meinrad as a possible seminary for their priestly formation and education.

(11) About 80 priests and personnel from the nearby Diocese of Covington concluded their several-day annual convocation here on the hill. We ask God's blessings on them and their bishop, the Most Reverend Roger J. Foys.

(12) We're expecting about 50 students for another round of weekend courses in our lay degree offerings. Courses this time around are "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," by Dr. Thomas Walters.

(13) We joined the women's Benedictine community at Monastery Immaculate Conception in Ferdinand today in sponsoring a Benedictine Hills Youth Pilgrimage. The afternoon march began at 1 o'clock at Monastery Immaculate Conception and proceeded along the six-mile route to Saint Meinrad Archabbey. The group stopped at the Shrine of Monte Cassino for prayer and a bit of rest. The pilgrims then entered in procession the Archabbey Church for Vespers, followed by the sisters and the monastic community. The pilgrims filled our guest section, and 13 sisters from Monastery Immaculate Conception joined us in choir. After Vespers all enjoyed a cookout in the seminary's Holly Tree Courtyard. Crisp, brisk weather for a pilgrimage, and the four dozen or so youth (as well as the monks and sisters) obviously enjoyed their spiritual and physical exercise!

(14) Father Vincent is our Mass Heb on this 28th Sunday in Ordinary Time.  +++  Father Adrian preached at Monte Cassino, following the traditional procession and rosary. His topic was "Vatican II, Mary, and the Church."  +++  A windstorm early this afternoon didn't bring any rain, but did split a huge branch off one of the trees in our inner courtyard. Many of us had a good view of the event, as we were in the refectory enjoying our midday meal when this happened.

(15) Every four years, every monastery in our Swiss-American Congregation has a visitation-a two-to-four day "review" conducted by an abbot and one or two monks from other monasteries in the Congregation. Last evening our visitation was formally begun by Abbot Gregory Polan of Conception Abbey, Missouri; Fr. Joel Rippinger of Marmion Abbey, Illinois; and Fr. Matthew Clark of St. Joseph Abbey,  Louisiana. The visitators previously received the pre-visitation report compiled by six different committees of Saint Meinrad monks, and this week will meet for personal interviews with each of our monks. The visitation concludes Thursday evening, as the visitators present an oral report to the community on their findings of their review of our report and their individual interviews.

(16) The second full day of our monastic visitation, and our three visitators are busy indeed. We have 65 resident monks at the moment, and each of them--in addition to a half-dozen or so of our confreres working in parishes--will spend at least a quarter-hour sharing with a visitator his assessment of "how things are" with the prayer and work of Saint Meinrad Archabbey.

(17) Visitation appointments continue, as do regular meetings of our faculty, school administrators and co-workers. As is the case on most Wednesdays during the school year, many of our seminarians are off the Hill during the day, working at various hospitals, parishes and service organizations.

(18) Pope Benedict XVI announced this morning that the Archdiocese of Indianapolis has a new archbishop! The Most Reverend Joseph William Tobin, who was the secretary of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life, will be installed as the sixth archbishop of Indianapolis on December 3, the feast of St. Francis Xavier, one of the co-patronal saints of the archdiocese. Before his work as secretary of the Congregation, Archbishop Tobin, a Redemptorist, served as head of his order from 1997 through 2009. Archbishop Tobin's predecessor, our confrere Archbishop Daniel, was able to travel to Indianapolis for the official announcement this morning, and he himself received long and loud applause at the news conference. Father Denis, president-rector of our Seminary and School of Theology, also attended. 

(19) Our monastic visitators left this morning, having given the Recessus--the report of their findings and observations--to the monastic community last evening. Archabbot Justin is required by our Congregation's statutes to respond formally to the report within three months, and so over the next few weeks his Council and the community will be reviewing and discussing the report with our verbal and practical responses in mind. Bottom line at this point: we are in a good place, have a strong community, and are capable of and committed to continued growth and improvement.

(20) We said farewell to 38 students from Seton Elementary School in Richmond, Indiana, who made a two-day retreat with us.

(21) Father Mark is our Mass Heb on this 29th Sunday (and week) in Ordinary Time, and so presided and preached at our Conventual Mass this morning.  +++  Brother Francis gave the homily at the Monte Cassino Shrine this afternoon; his topic was, "Mary, our Partner in Prayer."

(22) After Compline this evening, Mr. Matt Eckert, our business manager, and Mr. Greg Tate, the general manager of our Abbey Press, gave about an hour-long presentation of our financial status and the projections and plans of our Abbey Press. Both men are relatively new in their positions. Greg assumed leadership of the Abbey Press this past July 1, and Matt began his new work in our Business Office on August 31. "Not a beat was missed," as they say, and both presentations were thorough and optimistic.

(23) We have many guests and retreatants on the Hill this week. One of those groups includes 53 priests and personnel from the Diocese of Lexington, here through the 26th for their presbyteral assembly. Welcome to them and their bishop, the Most Rev. Ronald Gainer.

(24) Another group on the hill this week are the 38 priests enjoying Father Eugene's retreat, "The Biblical Prophets: What They have to Say to Priests Today."  

(25) We also have a half-dozen recently ordained priests participating in an Institute of Priests and Presbyterates workshop, "Gearing Up to be a Pastor." Among the participants are three alumni, Fr. Dustin Boehm of the Archdiocese of Indianapolis, class of 2011; and Fathers Anto Peterraj and Jegan Peter of our class of 2009, from the Diocese of Palayamkottai in India, now "on loan" to the Archdiocese of Indianapolis for several years.

(26) As several retreats come to an end today, another begins. This evening Brother Maurus begins offering the weekend retreat, "St. Benedict's Way," to two dozen participants at our Guest House and Retreat Center

(27) Today begins a very busy weekend on the hill for the Office of Group Accommodations and our housekeepers. Seven guests from St. Leo Catholic Church in Murray, Kentucky, are with us; six guests from Signature HealthCARE of Buckhead, from Louisville, are taking part in a "Spiritual Practices Retreat"; 32 women from St. Barnabas Parish in Indianapolis are making a retreat; and there are 25 guests from Nativity Catholic Church in Evansville attending a retreat given by Father Noël. This small sampling gives some idea of the diversity of groups we welcome to the Hill. And God bless our housekeepers!

(28) Father Meinrad is our Mass Heb on this 30th Sunday (and week) in Ordinary Time. He was assisted at our Conventual Mass this morning by Deacon Alan Carter, a seminarian studying for the Diocese of Lexington.  +++  The Archabbey Church was full, another group joined us; 50 students and staff from Bishop Chatard High School in Indianapolis will be with us through tomorrow.  +++  This afternoon we had the last procession and rosary of the season at Monte Cassino. Father Vincent gave the homily, titled "Mary, the New Eve."  +++  Finally, this evening the 27 seminarians from the St. John's Formation House of our seminary joined us for Vespers, and then supper in our refectory. Brother Peduru, who belongs to the "house," gave his classmates tours of the non-cloistered parts of the monastery thereafter.

(29) After Compline this evening, we adjourned to the Chapter Room, where Father Abbot Justin offered his reflections on the recent visitation of our monastery.

(30) Our confrere, Archbishop Daniel, is enjoying a three-day visit with his support and prayer group. We welcome Archbishop John Vlazny (Portland, OR), Archbishop James Keleher (emeritus, Kansas City, Kansas), Archbishop Daniel Ryan (bishop emeritus, Springfield-in-IL), Bishop Robert Banks (bishop emeritus of Green Bay), and Bishop William Higi (bishop emeritus of Lafayette-in-Indiana). The bishops will be here through tomorrow.  +++  Our junior monks and novices hosted a pumpkin-carving party in the calefactory after Compline this evening.

(31) On this eve of All Saints, we resumed at First Vespers the practice of wearing our cucullas for Vespers, Vigils-Lauds and Mass. Father Abbot presided at the First Vespers of this solemnity.  +++  Less liturgical and with a definite nod to the secular, our juniors and novices hosted a Halloween party in the calefactory after Compline. The freshly carved pumpkins from last night presented themselves, their grins and grimaces now glowing from the candles placed therein. Cheeses, crackers, pumpkin and apple pies, and roasted pumpkin seeds supplied nourishment, while conversation and a most esoteric "monastic quiz" provided entertainment. All figures, shadowy and substantial, were safely inside and, most likely, asleep long before midnight!

On this eve of the Solemnity of All Saints, we remember in prayer those who have gone before us, especially our parents, confreres, friends--and all who for us make up the heavenly cloud of witnesses to whom we owe much and for whom we are grateful.

 And now, from St. Benedict's Rule. . .

For obedience given to superiors is given to God, who said: "Whoever listens to you, listens to me." And it should be given gladly by disciples, for "God loves a cheerful giver." If a disciple obeys grudgingly and murmurs not only out loud but internally, even if he carries out the order, it will not be acceptable to God.

Chapter 5, vv. 15-18, "Obedience"

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.