Saint Meinrad Archabbey

A catholic monastery devoted to the teachings of St. Benedict

February 2011

(1) Along with a good part of the Midwest, we're bracing for the massive snowstorm that's sweeping across the country. 

+++  We have a number of Asian students with us and so, to commemorate the Lunar New Year, Mass in the seminary chapel this morning was in Vietnamese and Korean, supper was full of Asian herbs and spices, and entertainment-minus the fireworks-was provided after supper.

(2) Feast of the Presentation of Our Lord, an O.P. Father Subprior Guerric presided, Father Cyprian preached. 

+++  Fathers Abbot Justin, Prior Kurt, Timothy, Harry and Anthony concelebrated at the funeral liturgy of Dr. Robert O'Connor in Louisville, KY, this morning. In addition to his own practice, Dr. O'Connor, a psychiatrist, provided interview and screening procedures for the monastic community for over 30 years. He also provided outpatient therapy for individuals in the monastic and school communities, as well as for priests and religious in many dioceses. Archbishop Daniel and Bishop Emeritus John McRaith of Owensboro, KY, also attended the funeral. We pray for the repose of Dr. O'Connor's soul, and are grateful for the care and healing he offered to so many.

(3) Feast of St. Blaise. Fathers Abbot Justin, Prior Kurt and Harry (Mass Heb) offered the traditional blessings of throats after the 7:30 a.m. Conventual Mass. 

+++  All told, a  pretty quiet day on the hill. We were spared the worst of the snow.

(4) Feast day of Brother Raban, who serves as our almoner and director of community outreach, assists in our infirmary and works as our locksmith.

+++  Our Board of Overseers is here for a weekend retreat at our Guest House and Retreat Center, as are about five dozen  male parishioners of St. Bartholomew's Parish in Columbus, IN, making a retreat offered by Fr. Clem Davis and several monks.

(5) Our Board of Overseers arrived yesterday, and are today concluding a 24-hour retreat at our Guest House and Retreat Center. The retreat included discussion about John J. Allen Jr.'s recent book, The Future Church: How Ten Trends are Revolutionizing the Catholic Church, published by Doubleday in 2009.

(6) Father Pius, presiding and preaching, began his week as our Mass Hebdomadarian. 

+++  Today is the feast day of the patronal saints of Father Mel and Father Warren. May the intercession of all the saints strengthen and sustain us! 

+++  A concert of sacred music was performed by the group "Angelus" in the Archabbey Church this afternoon. The group is composed of six young women from Mt. Vernon (Indiana) Senior High School. Special, sacred sounds in a special, sacred place!

(7) We invested Mark Schmidt of Cedar Falls, IA, and Kent Druyvesteyn of Ada, MI, as oblate novices in the Archabbey Church after Noonday Prayer today. 

+++  This evening Fr. Vincent offered a lecture titled, "Out of Egypt: Reflections on Moses as Leader in the Book of Exodus." His lecture began the "Settling into Priesthood" program, about which I'll write more in a few days.

(8) During the Eucharist in the seminary chapel this evening, at which Archbishop Daniel, OSB, presided, 17 priesthood students received the ministry of acolyte and 24 received the ministry of lector. May these men persevere on their path to the priesthood!

(9)  A light dusting of snow this afternoon. 

+++  We have a handful of "newly ordained" priests (ordained this past summer) on the hill for a few days; they're participating in the "Settling into Priesthood" workshop, sponsored by our Institute for Priests and Presbyterates, that aims to assist young priests as they continue the transition from seminary studies and formation into priestly ministry in the parish. Seven of the nine participants are our alumni: Fathers Uwem Enoh, Stephen Hohman and Brandon Williams of the Diocese of Owensboro; Fathers Chad King and John Parks of the Diocese of Phoenix; and Fathers Joseph Archibong and Tony Robbins of the Diocese of Little Rock.

(10) We celebrated today the feast of St. Scholastica, the twin sister of St. Benedict. This is an O.P., and so Father Prior Kurt presided and preached.

(11) This evening after Vespers in the Archabbey Church, we received the oblation of William Richards of Pickerington, OH. 

+++  Father Jeremy began offering the "Couples Valentine Retreat" to 32 pairs of spouses at our Guest House and Retreat Center this evening. The retreat runs through Sunday noon.

(12) Father Eugene led the monastic community in a "Second Saturday Session," an occasional meeting we monks have to consider a specific topic. Our work today focused on the "values, purpose and mission" of the monastic community.

(13) Father Denis is scheduled to preside at our Eucharist this week, but various responsibilities of being president-rector have him off the hill for a few days. Father Cyprian presided and preached at our Conventual Mass. 

+++  This evening the 30-plus members of our seminary's St. Matthew Formation House joined us for Vespers in our church and supper in our refectory. A tour of the monastery concluded their time with us.

(14) Father Tobias presided at our Conventual Mass this morning, filling in for Father Denis.

  +++  It's Valentine's Day for much of the secular world, but here in the monastery we helped Brother Angelo honor the memory of his patronal saint. Br. Angelo continues to assure that we're well-dressed and dry-shod in his work as our tailor and cobbler.

(15) Father Denis assumed his duties as our Mass Heb for the remainder of this week, presiding and preaching this morning.

(16) We reached a record high of 70 degrees today, breaking the record of 68 set in 2005. Most pleasant!

(17) The annual Black History Lecture was given this evening by Fr. Bernard Kwame Assenyoh, SVD. He spoke on "Going Diaspora: Black Transformative Thoughts on Roman Catholic Christianity in the USA."

(18) Today we celebrated the patronal feast day of our confreres Father Colman and Brother Flavian. May they-and we-always be inspired by the lives of the saints!

  +++  Jean, the mother of our confrere Brother Hugh, died this afternoon. She had been suffering for over a year from pancreatic cancer, and had been receiving excellent care from and at the Little Sisters of the Poor in Evansville. May she, and all the faithful departed, rest in peace. 

+++  Father Adrian had successful surgery on his foot this morning at the Jasper hospital. He is back in the house and will likely spend the weekend in one of our infirmary cells.

(19) We invested Eric and Diana Batsie of DeLand, IL, as oblate novices in the Archabbey Church after our Midday Prayer. 

+++  Brother Zachary is halfway through offering the weekend retreat "Praying the Bible" to 62 participants.

(20) On this Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time, Father Germain, our Mass Heb, presided and preached at the Conventual Eucharist.

  +++  These past few days, we've been pleased to have Father Armin Rossie, OSB, from the Abbey of Mariastein, join us. Father is taking a few days away from his sabbatical in Wisconsin, doing a bit of traveling and visiting some religious houses.

(21) Fathers Abbot Justin, Prior Kurt, Tobias, Godfrey and Denis, and Brother Zachary attended the funeral of Brother Hugh's mother at the Little Sisters of the Poor in Evansville. Fr. Abbot presided and preached. May Mrs. Ernst, and all the faithful departed, rest in God's eternal glory and peace! 

+++  Fr. Abbot gave a conference to the monastic community in the Chapter Room after Compline this evening.

(22) Father Germain, our Mass Heb, preached this morning on this feast of the Chair of St. Peter. 

+++  This evening Fr. Jeremy began offering his retreat, "A Personal Preparation for the Paschal Mystery," to 10 participants.

(23) Father Adrian is up and about a bit, continuing to recover from his surgery of a few days ago.

(24) This evening about a dozen of us hosted some 65 benefactors from the Lincoln Hills area. Our friends joined us for Vespers, a social and then dinner.

+++  It began raining around six o'clock this evening and continued throughout the night, quite heavy at times. The fields in the valley across Highway 545 are flooded.

(25) This evening Father Eugene began offering the retreat "Reflections on the Suffering Servant Songs of Isaiah" to three dozen participants at our Guest House and Retreat Center.

(26) Only 35 monks in choir for Vespers this evening, as many of our confreres are in various parishes for a "Saint Meinrad Sunday." We had at least twice that number of guests with us, most of them retreatants or students taking one of our weekend courses.

(27) Father Meinrad, our Mass Heb, presided and preached on this Eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time.

+++  The six dozen weekend course students concluded their work late this afternoon. Four of the five professors who offered courses this weekend are on our regular faculty: Dr. Keith Lemna, Dr. James Helmer, Dr. Robert Alvis and Brother John Mark.

(28) On this last day of February, we celebrated the feast day of Brother Romain Botta, a brother Benedictine from the Monastery of the Incarnation in Togo, West Africa. Brother Romain and a confrere of his, Brother Philippe Tchalou, have been living in our house while attending our seminary these past years.

Question of the Month

Mike and Julie Perigo have again submitted the Question of the Month:

Q. Our question is about the feast days of monks' patron saints. We understand the process by which a monk chooses his monastic name, but I imagine that from time to time, a monk might choose (or retain) a name that is not listed in the calendar of saints. If that happens, what is done to choose the feast for that monk's patron?

Also, I saw that Brother Francis was making his permanent vows (God bless him!). Did he choose St. Francis of Assisi as his patron? If so, St. Francis has several feasts, and so how does the community or the monk choose which one to celebrate for "his" annual patronal feast day?

A. Shortly before a monk makes his temporary profession of vows, he submits three names (in order of preference) to Father Abbot. The novice also has the opportunity to meet with the abbot and explain to him why he is considering the names. Ultimately, it is the abbot's choice as to which name the monk will be known by for the rest of his life.

A monk may request to keep his baptismal name, if there is no other monk in the community with that name. And a few generations ago, it was possible to have a "Brother Gabriel" and a "Father Gabriel," since it was usually the case that even a monk making temporary profession "knew" whether or not he would undertake studies for the priesthood. That is no longer the case, though.

And even though a monk might be able to retain his baptismal name, ordinarily he will choose (or the abbot will choose for him) a different name. The change of names, after all, has a long tradition behind it (we can think of Abram having his name changed to Abraham, or Simon and Saul having their names changed to Peter and Paul), and is one of the symbols reflecting the conversion of the new monk and the "new creation" he becomes through his "second baptism of monastic profession."

Finally, not only does St. Francis of Assisi have more than one feast, but there is more than one St. Francis. Brother Francis de Sales Wagner celebrates the feast of his patron on January 24.

Quote of the Month

We conclude this month's log with a section from the Rule of St. Benedict:

Let us pray the Lord to command the help of his grace to aid us in that which we cannot accomplish by nature.

Prologue, v. 41
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.