Saint Meinrad Archabbey

A catholic monastery devoted to the teachings of St. Benedict

December 18-31, 2015

Buckle up; we're in for a long About the House. I took a week off writing the About the House as part of anticipating Christmas. So, here we go:

Friday (December 18) and Saturday, Fr. Eugene rounded out his Mass Heb'ing:

Friday homily: In Genesis 37, Joseph of the Old Testament is portrayed as an ideal wisdom figure who makes just and right decisions. Then, Joseph, Jesus' foster father, is portrayed similarly. No matter how strange things seem in the world, God is guiding our path. We are tempted to step in and take control like Joseph, who was tempted to leave Mary, but God helped him with his faith.

Saturday: The liturgy has interest in Samson's mother: her barrenness. Sometimes it was understood that barrenness was inherited. Hannah was barren and gave birth to Samuel. Elizabeth was barren and gave birth to John. We see that God can take barrenness and make it fruitful. Even more radical is Mary's virgin birth of Jesus. One of the things the Angel tells Mary is that nothing is impossible for God.

Fr. Eugene also gave a retreat that weekend titled "The Infancy Narratives of Matthew and Luke."

Fr. Bede served as Mass Heb December 19-26, except when the Abbot or Prior presided. On Sunday, he shared:

We do not hope alone. We hope with those who have gone before us and who are here with us. One of the hopes Micah expresses is for his neighbors to the north. He hoped these scattered tribes would be gathered again. There are many people and tribes around the world who have been dispersed. Many of these refugees hope to find peace and home and reunion with their brothers and sisters. Broken relationships weigh on us, and we hope for their mending. Hope always looks to the future. We have the Shepherd that Micah hoped for. We are united in his body where He brings us peace.

Wednesday: The birth of John elicited curiosity and not faith. We can go beyond the superficiality of fear and amazement. In a word, John's mission was to call people to conversion. Prophet after prophet called people to conversion as the birth of Jesus approached. We are faced with a question: Can we accept all that God wants to give us? John's call to conversion continues.

On Monday, December 21 we enjoyed a tree-trimming celebration, where we decorated our live Christmas tree in our calefactory (recreation room) and enjoyed Christmas cookies, egg nog and Christmas beer brewed by some of the novices.

During Christmas preparations, several of the novices helped in the bakery (yum!). And Br. André, giving relief to the kitchen staff, baked homemade pizzas for the monks on Christmas evening in addition to helping with other cooking and baking endeavors in the kitchen while home on break from culinary school.

We enjoyed a Christmas Cheer reception before our main meal on Christmas Day. It was an opportunity to joyfully celebrate Christmas with delicious hors d'oeuvres and conversation.

Archabbot Justin presided at our Christmas Night and Day Masses with mostly full crowds at both celebrations.

Christmas Night: We find prose and poetry in Luke's Gospel, which makes up Jesus' infancy narrative. Both prose and poetry are important in Jesus' narrative for both facts and mystery  make up his story and our story. The prose of Jesus' birth helps us connect with Jesus' humanity and our reality. The birth of Jesus in Luke's Gospel has a poetic side: the heavenly hosts appear and their message is for all on whom God's favor rests.

What we celebrate tonight is not only Jesus' birth, but salvation for all of time and our maturing of faith in time. We are drawn into Jesus' divinity. Our growth in faith carries on only what was begun in Christ's birth. Here, tonight, God offers us a gift more immense than the stars. He offers us himself: a gift of sheer grace and a gift we've only begun to know. Plainly and poetically, Christ plays out in the features of our faces.

Christmas Day: The Word Made Flesh is the word that breaks the ignorance of silence. St. Benedict does not say one word about Christmas, but he does say much about humility and obedience -- qualities we learn from the Word Made Flesh. Our invitation of Jesus' pattern has to move beyond mere words. They have to be acted out in our flesh.

We are called, too, to be receivers of God's grace, and that's hard for us because it's a passive action over which we have no control. Receiving Christ's gift allows us to see ourselves for who we are: children of God. On this Christmas morning, we are reminded of the gift God gave us and continues to give us: the Word made flesh and sanctified for us.

Fr. Prior Kurt presided at Mass on Saturday, the Feast of St. Stephen.

Homily notes: The feast of St. Stephen after the celebration of Jesus' birth may seem like a paradox. If we celebrate the birth of Jesus, we also must keep in mind his sacrifice. If we kneel at Jesus' crib to welcome Him into the world, we must be willing to climb the cross with Him. To be a martyr is to love someone to death. Love can take weakness and doubt and make it strong and secure. (Fr. Prior closed with a quote, and I think it was the following from St. Fulgentius):

Love, indeed, is the source of all good things; it is an impregnable defense, and the way that leads to heaven. He who walks in love can neither go astray nor be afraid: love guides him, protects him, and brings him to his journey's end.

My brothers, Christ made love the stairway that would enable all Christians to climb to heaven. Hold fast to it, therefore, in all sincerity, give one another practical proof of it, and by your progress in it, make your ascent together.

Fr. Julian began as Mass Heb on Sunday, December 27. My notes from his homilies:

Sunday, Feast of the Holy Family: This feast of the Holy Family presents to us another image of Jesus, Mary and Joseph. No one questions their holiness and their wholeness and the mission to which the Holy Family was called. We also recognize their humanity. They never lost sight of who they were. They persevered together despite hardship and, no doubt, prayed together.

What about us? We can get caught up in what a family is and is not. However we apply the term "family," we have God in our midst and that gives us purpose for living. We show concern and mercy toward one another, and we can accept with gratitude the mercy of others and, most importantly, that of God.

Monday, Feast of the Holy Innocents: The Holy Innocents were martyrs not by their choice, but by their being. This day has traditionally been marked as the feast day of novices -- though, the novices aren't always innocent. Today, we also remember the holy ones, young ones and innocent ones who die because of evil, war, terror, famine and violence. The mercy of God provides, sustains and empowers. Let us commend these innocent ones to God that they may shine in God's glory.

Br. Peduru led a reflection for the former college interns of "One Bread, One Cup" who were here for a couple days this week for their annual reunion.

Several monks have been involved with helping with the "One Bread, One Cup" interviews for the new college interns for the program. The candidates departed Wednesday.

Fr. Raymond, Br. Matthew and Br. John were able to join us for an extended period of time for Christmas and the days surrounding the big feast.

A little encouragement for the new year:

"No one who ever meets Christ with a good will returns the same way as he came." (Fulton Sheen, Vigils Reading, Monday, December 28)

May you meet Christ in your prayer, your work and in your interactions with others this year, and by doing so may you hasten to your heavenly home (Rule of St. Benedict, 73).

Each day the monks of Saint Meinrad Archabbey write another page in the long history of Benedictine monks throughout the world. Here are recent events chronicled at Saint Meinrad.