Saint Meinrad Archabbey

A catholic monastery devoted to the teachings of St. Benedict

February 2012

(1) This first day of February was a foggy one-all morning and most of the afternoon. For a good part of the day, you could not see the Archabbey Church from the Guest House!

(2) Feast of the Presentation, an OP-ranked celebration. Father Prior Kurt presided, and our Mass Heb, Father Adrian, preached. +++ After Midday Prayer, we received the body of Father Eric in the Monastery Entry Way. We prayed II Vespers of the Feast of the Presentation at five o'clock, and then after supper prayed the Office of the Dead, Father Prior Kurt presided at both the Reception of the Body and the Office of the Dead; Brother Maurus offered the remembrance at the Office of the Dead.

(3) We celebrated the Mass of the Resurrection for Father Eric at 10 o'clock this morning, with burial in our cemetery following. Father Noël preached the homily at the funeral Mass, at which Archabbot Justin presided. Our seminarians joined us for the liturgies. +++ Fathers Archabbot, Prior and Subprior offered the traditional Blessing of the Throats on this feast of St. Blaise-this year, due to Father Eric's funeral, after Vespers.

(4) This evening Father Boniface had a serious seizure at the facility where he has been undergoing rehab since his second stroke last month. He was taken to Community East Hospital in Indianapolis. He is mostly unresponsive, although he will make verbal remarks from time to time. His doctors are conducting tests to determine the precise cause of the stroke and the most effective means of treatment.

(5) The Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time, and Father Harry is our Mass Heb. +++ Once again, we welcomed many visitors to the hill and to our Sunday Eucharist; these included about 24 members of St. John the Apostle Catholic Church in Bloomington, Indiana.

(6) We welcomed to the hill a group of guests from Corpus Christi Catholic Church of Lawrence, Kansas, who are visiting us for several days. We ask God's blessings on all guests and pilgrims to the Holy Hill.

(7) Among visitors to the hill today is Father Matthew Gerlach, an alumnus from our College class of 1992 and our Theology class of 1996. Father is Vocation Director for the Diocese of Tulsa, and is here for the evaluation of his seminarians.

(8) Our seminary is hosting several bishops who are participating in a discussion of African Clerical Migration. Welcome to the Most Rev. Richard Pates (Des Moines), Most Rev. Ronald Herzog (Alexandria), Most Rev. William Medley (Owensboro), and Most Rev. Lee Piche (Auxiliary, Archdiocese of St. Paul-Minneapolis). +++ Father Abbot Justin left for the annual Abbot President's Council and then the Abbots' Workshop, held this year at St. Joseph Abbey in Covington, Louisiana. He'll be returning to the hill on February 14.

(9) Twenty-four participants from St. Aloysius Catholic Church in Shepherdsville, Kentucky, are here through the 12th, enjoying a "Scrapbooking Retreat."

(10) It seems that on her feast, St. Scholastica did indeed pray up a storm-at least we had snow flurries off and on throughout the morning and afternoon. +++ On this O.P.-ranked feast of St. Benedict's twin sister, Father Prior Kurt presided, and Father Harry preached, at the 7:30 a.m. Conventual Mass. +++ Father Jeremy began offering his weekend retreat, "Together for Life: A Romantic Covenant," to 32 couples at our Guest House and Retreat Center.

(11) About 30 monks enjoyed a pizza lunch at The UnStable; Prior Kurt, Brother Martin, Brother John Mark and second-year theology seminarian Tim Wyciskalla (Indianapolis) did the pizza-making. +++ We received the oblations of David and Karen Jenkins of Boonville, Indiana, and Matthew Sprauer of Centerville, Ohio, after Midday Prayer in Archabbey Church. God's blessings upon them and upon all our oblates!

(12) Father Pius is our Mass Heb this week but, as he was assigned out preaching for a "Saint Meinrad Sunday," Father Harry presided and preached in his place. +++ About 30 seminarians from the St. John's Formation House in our seminary joined us for Vespers and then a buffet supper in our refectory.

(13) We're awaiting Father Abbot's return, tomorrow, from the annual Abbot President's Council and Abbot's Workshop. Other than this anticipation, it was a pretty quiet day on the hill!

(14) Twenty-six seminarians received the ministry of acolyte, and 24 received the ministry of lector, at an evening Eucharist in the seminary's St. Thomas Aquinas Chapel, celebrated by the Most Rev. Joseph E. Kurtz, Archbishop of Louisville. In this latter group were Brother Luke of Saint Meinrad and Brother Philippe of Togo, West Africa.

(15) Father Pius preached this morning at the Conventual Eucharist. The monastic community enjoyed the weekly "special desserts" in the calefactory.

(16) Among visitors to the hill today was Father William Novak, an alumnus from our College class of 1990 and our Theology class of 1995. Father is Vocation Director for the Archdiocese of Oklahoma City and is here for the evaluation of his seminarians.

(17) Two of our "visiting Benedictines," Brother Victor from Conception Abbey in Missouri and Brother Simon from St. Benedict's Abbey in Kansas, headed out with nine diocesan seminarians to participate in the annual seminarian basketball tournament, held this year at the Pontifical College Josephinum in Columbus, Ohio. We eagerly await the results.

(18) Brother Zachary is halfway through offering his weekend retreat, "From our Hands to our Hearts: Praying the Rosary," to 54 participants at our Guest House and Retreat Center.

(19) Father Brendan was scheduled to be our Heb on this Sunday beginning the Seventh Week in Ordinary Time. He's battling a bit of the flu, though, and so Father Joseph graciously stepped in to preside and preach at our Conventual Mass. +++ We exposed the Blessed Sacrament on the altar at the conclusion of Mass, as we began our annual Eucharistic Day. Various monks signed up for set periods of adoration, while others-including several guests and students-came into the church throughout the afternoon for a few minutes of quiet prayer and adoration. Father Prior Kurt presided at Vespers and gave the Benediction, which concluded the day. +++ Brothers Victor and Simon and their fellow (diocesan) seminarians returned from the b-ball tourney, having racked up three wins in four games.

(20) The Monastic Chapter met this evening and supported Novice Anushka's petition to continue with the second half-year of his novitiate.

(21) To celebrate Shrove Tuesday, we had our special weekly dessert this evening: the ice cream specialties went quickly! +++ After Compline, Father Abbot Justin offered his pre-Lenten Conference beginning, as is our custom, with a reading from Chapter 49 of the Rule of St. Benedict, "On the Observance of Lent."

(22) Father Abbot Justin presided at our Conventual Mass on this Ash Wednesday morning. After his homily, he blessed the ashes, received them from Prior Kurt, and then distributed ashes to him and the community. We monks also submitted our Bona Opera to the abbot: a listing of the "extra measure" of prayer, fasting or charity we intend to practice during this holy season.

(23) This Thursday evening is one of several evenings throughout this month in which a number of our seminarians are taking part in the Development Office's annual Phonathon. Every night they spend several hours, enjoying interesting conversations with our alumni throughout the country. We're grateful for their generosity with their time, and for the generosity of our many friends and benefactors.

(24) Father Eugene is beginning his weekend retreat at our Guest House and Retreat Center this evening, "Reading the Book of Hosea." Twenty-eight guests are taking part in this retreat.

(25) Sixty students are on the hill this weekend for another round of weekend courses. Father Tom Richstatter, OFM, is offering "Sacraments of Initiation"; Sisters Maria Tasto, OSB, and Kathy Huber, OSB, from Monastery Immaculate Conception in Ferdinand, are offering "A Transformed Life"; and Dr. Alexander Hwang is offering "Medieval Church History." +++ We received word that Abbot Georg of Einsiedeln Abbey, our mother house, died today; Abbot Georg suffered a stroke about a week ago. May he, and all the faithful departed, through the mercy of God rest in peace.

(26) On this First Sunday of Lent, Father Germain is our Mass Heb. +++ Since Ash Wednesday we've made a slight change in our beginning the main meal of the day. After the Prayer Before Meals, we sit for the customary reading from the Rule of St. Benedict and then, when this reading is finished, we proceed through the serving line. Father Abbot Justin suggested this as a Lenten practice (with the intention of it continuing after Lent) to encourage us to be a bit more attentive to the instruction of our monastic father.

(27) We received word that Father Christian passed the comprehensive exams for his STL this morning. Congratulations, Father Christian! Take a short break to celebrate-and then back to the books! +++ Brother Silas presented the first of our Lenten conferences this evening in the Chapter Room after Compline, reflecting upon the opening prayer and preface for this coming Sunday, the Second Sunday of Lent, with its Gospel account of the Transfiguration.

(28) This evening, Auxiliary Bishop of Chicago Joseph Perry gave the annual Black History Lecture in the seminary gallery. He spoke on "The History and Sanctity of Father Augustus Tolton" who, born into slavery in 1854, became the first American diocesan priest of African descent.

(29) On this "extra day of the year," we pass along the good news that our confrere, Brother Matthew, currently pursuing graduate studies at the University of Toronto, has been accepted into the PhD program. Congratulations to him-and prayerful support to each of our five monks now in graduate school.

We end February's entries with a quote from the Rule of St. Benedict:

"At all times the lifestyle of a monk ought to have a Lenten quality. However, because few have that kind of strength, we urge them to guard their lives with all purity during these Lenten days. All should work together at effacing during this holy season the negligences of other times."

Chapter 49, "The Observance of Lent"
Translation by Father 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.