Saint Meinrad Archabbey

A catholic monastery devoted to the teachings of St. Benedict

April 2011

(1) On this first day of the month, we welcomed 12 participants from Our Lady of Grace Parish, Noblesville, Indiana, making a weekend RCIA retreat at our Guest House and Retreat Center.

(2) Father Archabbot Justin and Father Denis visited Archbishop Daniel this afternoon. The archbishop continues his rehabilitation from his stroke a few weeks ago.

+++ The father of Brother Matthew died late this afternoon, following the difficult aftermath of an unsuccessful surgery. May his soul, and the souls of all the faithful departed-especially those of our beloved parents-rest in God's glory and peace.

(3) Father Cyprian, our Mass Heb, presided and preached on this Fourth Sunday of Lent.

+++ We received word that Ginger Seubert, a former professor in our College and the wife of former professor Dave Denz (College and Theology), died this morning after a long bout with cancer. May she rest in peace.

(4) Father Columba and Brother Luke offered reflections on their favorite psalms.

+++ This is the day when storms moved through a good part of the southeast, causing several deaths. We were fortunate in that, even though it was a very windy day, with some rather strong thunderstorms, we had no injuries or damage.

(5) Eight recently ordained (within a few years) priests are on the hill for most of the week, participating in a "Gearing Up to Be a Pastor" workshop sponsored by our Institute of Priests and Presbyterates. We welcome them, especially the five who are alumni of our seminary.

(6) A fairly quiet day on the hill-unless you're near one of the various areas under construction or renovation. The work on Newman Hall and Bede Hall is continuing-on schedule and, fortunately, with a minimum of disruption to the daily routine of most students and monks.

(7) The seminary held its semester "Around the World Party" this evening-an opportunity for seminarians falling under various designations (international, diocesan, domestic) to show off their particular (and sometimes peculiar) cuisines.

(8) This afternoon Brother Adam successfully defended his M.A. thesis at Georgia State University, Atlanta. We congratulate him on this major accomplishment, and hope he gets a bit of "time off" to just discard all the rough drafts and sit back and enjoy life a bit!

+++ We had some workmen in this morning to make some repairs to our "pantry," the small room adjacent to our refectory that contains freezers and coolers, grills, dishwashing equipment and the like. When repairs of this sort are necessary, it's a reminder that our house is growing old along with us! We're now into our 29th year of living in the "new" monastery!

(9) Father Abbot Justin led us in a Second Saturday Session this morning, in which we continued our work from our February session, dealing with the "vision, goals and purpose" of the Archabbey.

+++ The funeral of Br. Matthew's father was at St. Mary's, Evansville, this morning. Father Prior Kurt was among the half-dozen confreres representing the monastery.

+++ We received the oblation of Bob Tankersley Jr. of Versailles, Kentucky, in the Archabbey Church after Noonday Prayer. God's blessings upon him, and upon all our oblates.

(10) Father Adrian began his week as our Mass and Office Hebdomadarian on this Fifth Sunday of Lent.

+++ Weekend courses concluded in the late afternoon. Fr. Tom Richstatter, Dr. Clayton Jefford and Dr. Ryan LaMothe were the professors for this April session.

(11) It began raining before sunrise and continued pretty much throughout the day. Spring must be here!

+++ Father Vincent presented the last of the Lenten conferences to the community in the Chapter Room after Compline this evening, offering his reflections upon "The Psalms of Holy Week."

(12) As mentioned, the rain was constant yesterday. The fields across Highway 545 (toward Twin Lakes) are flooded. Several of the lock and dam areas along the Ohio River are under flood warnings. It's dry high on the hill, of course.

+++ Our first- and second-year philosophy seminarians begin their retreat this evening here on the hill; our first-year theology seminarians began their silent directed retreat ("Towards Jerusalem") Friday evening at Maple Mount, Kentucky.

(13) We welcomed 25 participants to our Guest House and Retreat Center for the weekend Brebeuf Jesuit Retreat; they hail from Indianapolis.

(14) Father Abbot Justin suffered a bad fall this afternoon, as he was walking outside. No broken bones, but a few chipped teeth, cuts on the chin and upper lip, and assorted bruises on hands and wrist. The accident happened around 2:30 in the afternoon. Father Meinrad drove Father Abbot to the Jasper Hospital; they made it back in time for the "second table" at the evening meal.

(15) Nine participants from the Archdiocese of Indianapolis are taking part in a Youth Ministry Studies Program this weekend on the hill.

+++ Six priests attending the second session of the "World Priest Workshop," sponsored by our Institute for Priests and Presbyterates, concluded their work this morning.

(16) A chilly and windy Saturday. Most of the hill's inhabitants are avoiding the outside.

+++ Our first- and second-year philosophy seminarians are on their last full day of their annual retreat. Our first-year theology seminarians have returned from their "Towards Jerusalem" retreat at Maple Mount, Kentucky.

(17) Palm Sunday of the Lord's Passion. Father Abbot Justin is still moving cautiously after his fall on the 14th, and so Father Prior Kurt presided at the Conventual Mass. The gospel, the Passion According to St. Matthew, was sung by Fathers Subprior Guerric, Columba, Jeremy and Tobias, and Brothers Jacob and John Mark.

+++ Brother Zachary concluded offering the weekend retreat "Conversations and Confrontations" to 16 participants at our Guest House and Retreat Center.

(18) Father Subprior Guerric presided and preached at our Holy Week penance service. Confessors were Fathers Columba, Meinrad, Sean and Adrian.

(19) The tornado sirens went off around 10:15 this evening. The weather outside certainly looked the part but, fortunately, we were spared everything but rain and wind.

(20) We celebrated the sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick during Vespers this Wednesday of Holy Week, with Archabbot Justin presiding, preaching and anointing. The ordained members of the community imposed their hands on several ill and aging confreres.

+++ Archbishop Daniel has returned to his home and continues to heal from his stroke.

+++ Holly McClara of Indianapolis was invested as an oblate novice in the Archabbey Church after Vespers.

(21) Holy Thursday of the Lord's Supper. Father Abbot Justin presided and preached, and washed the feet of 12 people-a mixture of monks and guests. As is our custom, the abbot, the prior and the subprior joined the regular table waiters in serving the monastic community and our guests in the Newman Dining Room.

(22) Good Friday of Our Lord's Passion. Father Jeremy, Father Tobias and Brother John Mark chanted the Passion According to St. John. Our liturgy began at three o'clock with the solemn prostration; we concluded right around 4:30. Those who prefer the weather on Good Friday to fit the "Good Friday mood" were certainly pleased this year.

(23) The "quiet and somber mood" of Holy Saturday is encouraged by the continuing rainy and cloudy weather. Final preparations for the solemn Easter Liturgy and the accompanying festive meals are under way. +++ Father Denis is offering the last full day of a weekend retreat, "Reflections on the Triduum," to 30 participants at our Guest House and Retreat Center.

(24) We began the "Mother of All Vigils" at three o'clock this morning, and concluded just before six. Father Abbot presided and preached.

+++ Those who have celebrated the Vigil with us know that our custom for quite some time has been to bring a lamb into the church just prior to the Preparation of the Altar (roughly three-quarters of the way through the liturgy). The lamb provides us with a fine theological symbol, and also with a bit of comic relief, which is certainly needed around 5:15 a.m.! Typically, the lamb is kept in one of the monastery courtyards and typically he bleats throughout the night, keeping some monks and guests in ill-placed cells and quarters awake. And, typically the lamb is as quiet as a mouse when our novices bring him into church, tied up in a straw basket, into which is stuck a small pole with a white flag bearing a red cross. Even the abbot's aggressive shaking of the holy water sprinkler typically does little to provoke a reaction from the poor creature. This year, untypically, the lamb bleated-and bleated and bleated . . . .

+++  Brother John Mark prepared our Paschal Candle this year; you can see a photo of his beautiful work here.

(25) On this Easter Monday, we enjoyed a Sunday schedule, with its "late rising" (Vigils and Lauds at 7:15).

+++ This day is classified as an O.P., and so Father Prior Kurt presided and preached.

+++ Our Easter lamb is gone, but the rain continues.

(26) Easter Tuesday, an O.S., and so Father Subprior Guerric presided and preached at our Conventual Mass.

+++ It was announced today that Fr. Charles (Chuck) Thompson, a priest of the Archdiocese of Louisville and an alumnus of our Theology class of 1987, has been appointed the new bishop of the Diocese of Evansville. His ordination and installation will be June 29, the Solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul. The writer of this Chronicle is proud to say that Bishop-elect Charles was in the first theology class I ever taught (fall 1986), so I truly did "know him when." Congratulations and prayers to you, Bishop-elect Charles!

(27) Now that the immediate solemnities of Easter are over (O.A.'s, O.P.'s, and O.S.'s), Father Harry has assumed the duties of Mass Heb for the remainder of the week.

(28) Today, Thursday, was the first day since Tuesday the 19th that we did not have cloudy skies and rain-at least to start the day. Tomorrow promises to be the first all-day, fair-weather day in quite some time. We are fortunate-and most grateful-that we've been spared the worst of the past week's weather. We continue to pray for the, literally, hundreds in the states around us who have lost family members and friends (and homes and possessions) due to the record-breaking number of tornadoes these past days.

(29) Earlier this week, a six-week exposition in the Archabbey Library featuring works by Jasper, Indiana, artist Nick Ring concluded. "Studies and Commissions" focused on the drawing and models that are produced prior to the execution of a large-scale commission. We were familiar with Nick Ring's work prior to the exhibit. He contributed two works to the 1996-1997 Archabbey Church renovation: the holy water font just inside the main (west) entrance, and the ambo (with its nine bronze panels) in the center of our choir area. Many of our alumni will know Nick Ring's father, Gil, who has taught philosophy in our College and School of Theology since 1970.

(30) Auxiliary Bishop Christopher Coyne of Indianapolis ordained two Saint Meinrad men to the diaconate in the Archabbey Church this morning: Brother Romain Botta, OSB, of the Monastery of the Incarnation, Togo, West Africa, and Indianapolis seminarian Jerry Byrd. Two of our Louisville seminarians were also ordained to the diaconate this morning in their diocese: Stuart Priddy and John Johnson. The rest of our class of third-year theology seminarians will be ordained deacons in their home dioceses over the next few months. We congratulate these men, and pray that God may uphold and guide them in their ministry at the altar and of charity.

Question of the Month

We do have a Question of the Month this time around and, by sheer coincidence, it is a timely one indeed. Alumnus Gary Marvin emailed from Louisville:

I remember helping Fr. Simeon one day many years ago. He asked me to carry his cuculla for him after Mass. Could you give some background about it and how and when (and by whom) it is worn?

The cuculla (the word comes from the Latin meaning "hood") is the garment the monk receives on the day of his solemn profession. (Thus it is worn only by those monks who have professed solemn vows.) For those unfamiliar with the garment itself, the Benedictine cuculla resembles a "judge's robe," or the black academic gown worn under the degree colors at academic convocation. (In fact, at our academic convocations here, our monk-faculty do wear their cuculla as their academic gown.) Members of other religious communities wear cucullas of different forms and colors.

Our current custom at Saint Meinrad is to wear the cuculla at Vigils and Lauds, Mass and Vespers from November 1 (the Solemnity of All Saints) through April 30-hence the coincidental timeliness of Gary's question! The cucullas is worn over the habit (tunic, belt and scapular), and so its absence allows for a cooler monk in hot weather, just as its wearing keeps us warm in winter. Finally, the monk is dressed in the cuculla after his death, and so it is the "monastic baptismal garment" that is worn while awaiting the final resurrection of the body.

Quote of the Month

We conclude with a quote from the Rule of St. Benedict:

"If there are skilled workers in the monastery, let them practice their crafts with all humility if the abbot permits it. But if anyone of these workers is so proud of his expertise that he thinks he is a great gift to the monastery, he should be removed from his work. Nor should he return to it unless he has humbled himself and the abbot permits it again."

Chapter 57, "The Skilled Workers of the Monastery"
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.