Saint Meinrad Archabbey

A catholic monastery devoted to the teachings of St. Benedict

February 2013


(1) Two days ago we had a high of 63 degrees. Today it's been in the 20's and 30's, with icy roads from yesterday's snowfall. Fortunately, most of the ice on the roads that caused many fender-benders in our area is now just messy slush. +++ Our Board of Overseers deserve a better welcome than this weather gives them, but these faithful men and women did show up, on time and ready to attend to the business at hand. We're grateful for their advice and their support.

(2) This Feast of the Presentation of the Lord is an O.P., and so Father Prior Kurt presided at our 7:30 a.m. Eucharist. We began with the traditional blessing of the candles on what used to be known as "Candlemas Day." Father Prior asked Father Pius, who had been saying our Mass for most of this week, to preach, since Father Pius had a weekend assignment last weekend and so missed out on the Mass Heb's ordinary opportunity to preach to the community. +++ Our Board of Overseers concluded their business by noon; our Board of Trustees met after lunch, and reported they also had a successful meeting. +++ We're still waiting to hear something from some of our seminarians, who are at the seminarians' basketball tournament at Mundelein….

(3) Father Eugene is our Mass Heb on this Fourth Sunday (and week) in Ordinary Time, and so he presided and preached at our Conventual Mass. +++ Forty-seven members of Good Shepherd Parish, Indianapolis, concluded their weekend retreat at noon today. Father Jeremy had been talking with them about "Vatican II: Rediscovering the Treasure."

(4) Father Abbot gave the community his "pre-Lenten Conference" this evening. In the past, this has usually been done the evening before Ash Wednesday, but Father Abbot suggested having it the week before this year, thus allowing time for a bit more reflection.

(5) Father Barnabas had his second knee replacement surgery yesterday, and all seems to have gone well. We hope to have him returning to the hill on Thursday or Friday.

(6) As it turns out, our seminarians' basketball team didn't fare too well at last weekend's tournament at Mundelein. But, a good time, safe travels, renewed friendships - not a bad way to spend a weekend.

(7) This evening in the Aquinas Chapel in our seminary, Indianapolis Archbishop Joseph Tobin installed 20 of our students as acolytes and 22 as lectors. We congratulate these men who take up new service for our Church and, as they continue their discernment, we assure them of our prayerful support.

(8) Several groups have arrived on the hill today, to begin weekend retreats. St. Malachy Catholic Church from Brownsburg, Indiana, has 20 parishioners here. Also with us are two dozen parishioners from St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross Catholic Church in Lawrenceburg, Indiana, under the direction of Indianapolis priest and alumnus (Theology, 2008) Fr. Aaron Jenkins.

(9) Arriving today and with us throughout the weekend are 20 young parishioners from St. John the Apostle Catholic Church in Bloomington, Indiana, who are making a retreat in preparation for their Confirmation. +++ About 15 monks enjoyed pizza at The UnStable for lunch today, prepared by Fathers Prior Kurt and Patrick and "pizza-intern" Novice Bradley. They were assisted by Indianapolis third-year theology seminarian Tim Wyciskalla and second-year philosophy seminarian John Honiotes from the Diocese of Joliet.

(10) Father Jeremy is our Mass Heb, and so presided and preached at our 9:30 Conventual Mass. +++ About 25 seminarians from our seminary's Saint Mark Formation House joined us for Vespers and then supper this evening. Father Brendan is the dean of the house, and seminarian Deacon Anthony Mullek of the Diocese of Mobile is the house prefect. +++ Father Noël concluded his weekend retreat, "Building Family Love," to 31 couples. +++ Joining our retreatants and the monastic community at Eucharist were Indianapolis priest and alumnus (Theology, 2002) Fr. Eric Johnson and seven of his parishioners from Our Lady of Perpetual Help Catholic Church in New Albany, who were participating in a parish staff retreat.

(11) Today Pope Benedict XVI announced his resignation as Supreme Pontiff, effective February 28. When something happens only once every 600 years or so, it is history in the making! We continue to pray for Pope Benedict, and now pray for the College of Cardinals who will elect his successor. +++ This evening Mike Ziemianski, our Vice President for Development, and five members of his staff presented the annual Development Office Report to the community in the Chapter Room after Compline. It was most encouraging to hear the report from such a competent and dedicated group of co-workers!

(12) Our Mardi Gras celebration in the monastery was most modest: pretty much an ordinary supper, with little fanfare or excitement. We are ready to take on the rigors of Lent!

(13) Father Abbot Justin presided at our Ash Wednesday Eucharist at 7:30 this morning. After his homily, he received ashes from Father Prior Kurt, and then they were joined by Father Subprior Guerric, and the three of them distributed ashes on the community and the three dozen or so guests who had joined us. The monks also submitted their Bona Opera-their good works for the Lenten season-to Father Abbot, who reviewed them and returned them with his approval in the afternoon.

(14) We have begun the practice of including a petition at Lauds and at Mass each day for Pope Benedict XVI. This will continue up to the time of the election of his successor.

(15) Father Adrian is giving the "Happy Hearts" Women's Retreat to about four dozen participants at our Guest House and Retreat Center this weekend.

(16) Thirty-eight alumni of St. Xavier High School, Louisville, Kentucky, began their annual retreat at our Guest House and Retreat Center this morning. Our Father Anthony will be directing them through tomorrow.

(17) Father Mark is our Mass Heb on this First Sunday (and week) of Lent. Our Archabbey Church was fairly full this morning, as we were joined by the "St. X." alumni and a number of other guests.

(18) Today was the thirtieth-day anniversary of the death of Father Harold. As is our custom, the Conventual Mass, Father Mark presiding today, was offered for the repose of his soul. May God grant eternal peace to all the faithful departed.

(19) Fr. Mark, our Mass Heb, preached at our 7:30 Conventual Mass. +++ Yesterday evening we had the first of our five Lenten Conferences, which this year will focus on a particular station of the cross. Father Colman was the first confrere to offer his reflections, and he chose the first station, "Jesus is Condemned to Death." The conference took place in the Chapter Room and, as will happen throughout the series, the appropriate station, designed and painted by Father Donald (RIP January 2012), occupied center stage.

(20) Always looking to make things better, several monks met with our Director of Physical Facilities and our electrician and a sound technician today to review the sound system in the Archabbey Church. It has never worked as well as we expected, and so we are again trying to remedy the situation, using St. Paul's "faith comes by hearing" as our biblical support!

(21) It was announced today that this summer Father Godfrey will become the rector of St. Benedict's Cathedral, Evansville. Father Gregory will continue to reside and work at St. Ben's as the pastor emeritus. He continues to receive his radiation therapy on a weekly basis and, fortunately, reports that usually the worst side effect he experiences is extreme fatigue following the treatments.

(22) Father Jeremy began his weekend retreat, "The Year of Faith: Rediscovering the Treasure," at our Guest House and Retreat Center. Fifty participants will be with us through Sunday noon.

(23) About 65 of our lay degree students are here for weekend courses, which include "Christology" with Dr. Keith Lemna; "Catholic Sacraments" with Fr. Thomas Richstatter, OFM; "Pentateuch and Historical Books" with Fr. Damian Dietlein, OSB; "Synoptics, Acts, and General Epistles" with Dr. Clayton Jefford; and "Early Church History" with Dr. Alexander Hwang. +++ They are joined by 37 guests who are part of the St. Martin of Tours Confirmation Retreat, as well as 30 guests from St. Joseph Catholic Church, also on a Confirmation Retreat.

(24) Father Vincent is our Mass Heb on this Second Sunday (and week) of Lent. The Archabbey Church was full this morning, as we welcomed our retreatants and lay degree students.

(25) Brother John Mark gave the second of our Lenten Conferences this evening in the Chapter Room after Compline. He chose as his focus the Fourth Station of the Cross, "Jesus Meets His Mother."

(26) Father Cyprian was the speaker at this year's Black History Lecture this evening. His talk was entitled, "No One Can Walk Alone: A Memoir for African American Month." Father Cyprian is professor emeritus of Church history in our seminary, and shows no signs of taking things easy. Recently, he has received the Distinguished Teaching Award from the American Catholic Historical Association and the Eli Lilly Lifetime Achievement Award from the Indiana Historical Society. Congratulations, Father Cyprian and, yes, ad multos annos!

(27) Twenty-one women from St. Aloysius Parish in Shepherdsville, Kentucky, are here through March 3. They've been coming to the hill faithfully twice a year for a number of years now, and enjoy their "Scrapbooking Retreat." We welcome them and all our guests. This time around, they are enjoying our new facilities on the fifth floor of St. Bede Hall-which is now accessible by elevator!

(28) We join the Church throughout the world in praying for his Holiness Benedict XVI, as he leaves the Holy See and begins the first "papal retirement" in six centuries. May God strengthen and sustain him as he continues his prayer for, and his witness to, us all!

And so, on this historic day, we close with the Opening Prayer for the Votive Mass the monastic community celebrated today, a Mass offered for the intentions and the well-being of our Pope these past (almost) eight years, Benedict XVI.

O God, who in your providential design
willed that your Church be built upon blessed Peter,
whom you set over the other Apostles,
look with favor, we pray, on Pope Benedict,
whom you called to be Peter's successor.
Grant that even now he may witness
to the power of your grace,
and so continue to inspire the flock he was called to shepherd.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.

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.