Saint Meinrad Archabbey

A catholic monastery devoted to the teachings of St. Benedict

July 2012

(1) Father Thomas is enjoying a home visit with us, taking a break from his doctoral studies at Leuven—and of course we’re putting him to work. He presided and preached at our Conventual Mass this morning, to begin his service this week as our Mass Hebdomadarian.  +++  The closing hours of the afternoon brought some hope for stormy weather. The skies darkened, the wind picked up, thunder rattled around far off—but, alas, no rain, or not much to speak of. At least the temperature dropped into the mid-80s for a while. Areas around us did receive some rain, so we’re grateful for their temporary relief.

(2) Father Mel returned from the hospital today. He is in good spirits, happy to be back. He will continue his recuperation from his fall a few days ago in his infirmary cell.  +++  Father Columba began offering his chant workshop, “Bringing to Life the Word of God in Song,” to 19 participants at our Guest House and Retreat Center this evening.

(3) Shortly after supper this evening, Brother Jerome fell in one of our stairways. The Saint Meinrad area First Responders, who happened to be at our firehouse for a practice, were here within two minutes. They stabilized Brother Jerome and got him ready for the ambulance journey to the Jasper hospital. Fortunately, Brother Jerome was not seriously hurt and returned to the monastery around 11:30 this evening.

(4) On this Independence Day, we thank God for the freedoms and liberties our country enjoys, and we ask His blessings on all who strive for human rights and justice.  +++  Father Thomas, continuing on with his duties as Mass Heb, preached a fine “Fourth of July homily” this morning.  +++  We followed our regular weekday schedule today, with some late afternoon/early evening modifications: after Vespers, we enjoyed a modest social in the calefactory while several confreres began the grilling of burgers and brats, which the rest of us eagerly feasted on around six o’clock. So as not to rush our celebration, we prayed Compline individually this evening.

(5) Brother Andrew was experiencing some chest pains this evening and so our monk/nurse, Brother Zachary, took him to the hospital. The word is that Brother Andrew did have a small heart attack. He will be further diagnosed tomorrow, and our hope is that he’ll be returning to us soon.

(6) Brother Andrew is doing better; he’ll undergo some procedures today and will hopefully return to us tomorrow.  +++  Temperatures continue to soar. Most of our work these past weeks has been indoors: painting, putting up or taking down walls, regular repair and maintenance of equipment. Of course, the heavy work of the renovation of St. Bede and Newman halls continues—on schedule.  +++  An unidentified person gained access to the monastery’s food supply this evening, leaving behind eight boxes stuffed with Krispy Kreme donuts. Prosecution of this violation of monastic space and discipline will be difficult, as most of the evidence has been tampered with and key elements are simply missing.

(7) Brother Andrew returned from the Jasper hospital today. He looks in good shape and has promised to take things “just a bit easier.”  +++  Earlier this week, Father Stephen was hospitalized for a few days. He had just returned from vacation and was experiencing some shortness of breath. He’s now back at his rectory in Lake Village,Indiana, doing just fine.

(8 ) Father Adrian is our Mass Heb on this 14th Sunday in Ordinary Time.  +++  About 50 of our lay degree students were on the Hill this weekend, taking various courses. Dr. James Helmer taught “Catholic Social Ethics,” Dr. Clayton Jefford taught “Synoptics, Acts, and General Epistles,” Fr. Damian Dietlein, OSB, taught  “Women in Early Christianity,” and Dr. Ryan LaMothe taught “Marriage Counseling.”  +++  Just as we began Vespers this evening, the skies opened a bit—and we enjoyed about five minutes of rain. A welcome sound and sight. It didn’t last long, but we are looking forward to cooler and wetter weather this evening and on into tomorrow. May the Lord bless those who work our land, especially under these most difficult conditions!

(9) About a hundred Conventual Franciscan Friars from Mt. St. Francis, Indiana, are holding their annual convocation here on the Hill. Some of our guests have expressed some confusion about the different varieties of habits processing through our church!

(10) Brother Terence was experiencing some breathing difficulties and so we took him in to the Jasper hospital this afternoon. First reports are that he is resting comfortably, has improved a bit, and may be in for five or six days.

(11) Most of the Universal Church celebrates the feast of St. Benedict today. We do as well, but since here on the Hill our major celebration in honor of St. Benedict is on March 21, we honor today also all saints of the Benedictine Order. An O.P.-ranked feast, Father Prior Kurt presided at our Conventual Eucharist and Father Adrian, Mass Heb, offered the homily. We followed our weekday schedule today, but we did enjoy colloquium at our evening meal, along with our customary special Wednesday night desserts.

(12) This past Monday, Father Columba began the second session of a week-long retreat, “Bringing to Life the Word of God in Song.” Fifteen participants have been “singing his praises” at our Guest House and Retreat Center. The retreat ends tomorrow.

(13) Twenty-two members, spouses and guests of our High School Class of 1967 began arriving today for their 45th reunion. They’ll be with us through Sunday morning.

(14) This weekend brings another round of weekend courses in our  Seminary and School of Theology’s lay degree programs. About six dozen men and women continued their program this morning, and will conclude tomorrow afternoon. Course offerings this time around: “Dostoevsky and the Problem of Evil,” taught by Dr. Dan  Kolb; “Medieval Philosophy,” taught by Dr. Christopher Lutz; “Ecclesiology and Ecumenism,” taught by Dr. Keith Lemna; and “Teaching and Preaching in the Context of Lay Ecclesial Ministry,” taught by Fr. Brendan, OSB.

(15) Father Pius is our Heb this week, but on this Sunday, beginning the 15th Sunday of Ordinary Time, Father Vincent presided at the Conventual Mass in his place. Father Pius, in addition to being our refectorian, is also in charge of managing the many requests for pastoral assistance that come our way, and not infrequently he has to assign himself to assume weekend ministry at a parish—as was the case today.  +++  The novice-junior master and four novices from the Trappist Abbey of Gethsemani, Bardstown, Kentucky, arrived this afternoon for a few days’ visit. We welcome our brothers as they join us for prayer, meals and recreation.  +++  Brother Terence has taken a turn for the worse over the weekend. This morning it seemed as though he was very near death; the report this afternoon, however, is that he seems much improved.

(16) Solemnity of Our Lady of Einsiedeln. Father Abbot Justin presided and preached on this O.A.-ranked feast, and we gave our five Benedictine Scholars (five college-age men living, studying and working with us for two months) some liturgical experience by having them serve as cross and candle, miter and crozier bearers, and as lector.

(17) We celebrated a “local feast” today: Father Abbot Justin presided at our Conventual Mass, marking the feast of All Holy Monks of Einsiedeln and Saint Meinrad.  +++  This evening Brother Luke began a midweek retreat for nine individuals, “Tools for Good Works,” based upon Chapter 4 of St. Benedict’s Rule.

(18) Twelve permanent deacon candidates from the Diocese of Davenport are halfway through their “homiletics week” here on the Hill. The week is led by our own homiletics professor, Dr. Rick Stern.

(19) Brother Terence continues to show much improvement, and there are indications that he may be “out of the woods”—and ready to return to our own scorched earth here. It has been a little cooler this week, especially in the evenings, but the word is that there’s still a lot of summer ahead of us.

(20) A number of monks were joined by off-the-Hill guests for a concert this evening, presented by 130 members of the Brentwood,Tennessee, Sonshine Youth Choir. The choir is made up of 120 high school sophomores, juniors and seniors, whose primary responsibility is to lead the 8:30 worship service at the Brentwood United Methodist Church in music each Sunday morning. The Sonshine Tour has been with us before. Their tour this year takes them from their home to Chicago and points in between, where they will sing in churches, retirement homes, facilities for the mentally, physically, and emotionally challenged, children’s day camps, and juvenile detention centers. They treated us to a program consisting of accompanied and a capella, traditional sacred choral selections, hymn tunes and multicultural pieces. A most pleasant way to spend an hour on a Friday evening!

(21) Mr. Dave Maloney is presenting “A Step 11 Retreat for Recovering Alcoholics and Alanons” to 35 participants at our Guest House and Retreat Center this weekend.

(22) Father Christian, home for part of the summer and taking a break from his doctoral studies at The Catholic University in Washington, D.C., is our Mass Heb for this 16th Week in Ordinary Time. He presided and preached at our Conventual Eucharist.  +++  Abbot Jerome Kodell of Subiaco Abbey, Arkansas, joined us for Vespers and supper this evening. Abbot Jerome is giving a retreat to the sisters of the Monastery of the Immaculate Conception in Ferdinand. He gave the retreat to our monastic community a few years back, so it was good to see an old friend once again.

(23) Over 200 of our alumni are enjoying the first day of our annual reunion. The weather is as hot as ever, but the spirits of all are good.

(24) This is the principal day of the Alumni Reunion. Evansville Bishop Charles Thompson, an alumnus of our theology class of 1987 (and who, as a third-year Louisville seminarian was in the very first class taught by your chronicler, who was fresh out of grad school way back in that fall of 1986!) presided and preached at the reunion’s Eucharist (your chronicler/his former professor served as his liturgical M.C.!). During Mass an unexpected downpour, all too brief, did give us some temporary relief, but forced the cancellation of the planned outdoor photograph. At the evening banquet, the Distinguished Alumni Award was presented to Mr. Bernie Niehaus of Vincennes, Indiana (high school class of 1955) and Fr. Donald Wolf of the Archdiocese of Oklahoma City (college class of 1977, theology class of 1981).

(25) This afternoon we welcomed Brother Terence home from his two-week stay in the hospital. He’s delighted to be back, and we’re delighted to have him here once again! He’s lost some weight, but not his good spirits—nor his humor, nor his desire to get back into things. We’ll be forcing him for a while to take things easy—which will certainly be difficult for him!  +++  Our alumni and their spouses and guests concluded their annual reunion today. We pray for safe travels and look forward to next year.

(26) About 50 participants in an ACT’s Women’s Retreat are here from Corydon, Indiana, for the next few days. 

(27) Today was the feast day of Father Prior Kurt. Following our custom, he was Office Heb for Vigils/Lauds and Vespers, and we had colloquium at the evening meal in his honor.  +++  We continued that celebration by starting a new one. After supper we moved into our calefactory for ice cream novelties and a “goodbye” to the five young men who have been with us the past two months. These Benedictine Scholars, as we have called their program, are college-age men who have spent the last eight weeks participating in our liturgies, meals and recreations, working part-time each day with one of our monks or co-workers, and taking a course for college credit. This is the first year we sponsored this program and it proved a success—for them and for us. We hope to see some of these men in the future, and our Director of Vocations, Br. John Mark, is already making plans for next summer’s “Scholar” program.

(28) About 50 participants from the Archdiocese of Indianapolis are making a “Young Adult Retreat” here this weekend.  +++  And we welcome 16 permanent deacons from the Archdiocese of Louisville and their wives, also with us for a weekend retreat. 

(29) Today was the 17th Sunday in Ordinary Time, but it was definitely not an ordinary time on the Hill. We celebrated jubilees today—many of them! Our jubilarians were Father Richard Hindel (65th of ordination), Fathers Sebastian, Aelred, and Aurelius, and Brothers Philip and Maurus (60th of monastic profession), and a rare “double-jubilarian,” Father Gavin, who celebrated his 65th anniversary of profession and his 60th of priesthood. Archabbot Justin presided and preached at our Eucharist, and a fine meal and afternoon reception followed. We thank our jubilarians for their faithful prayer, work and witness, and wish them ad multos annos!

(30) Back to “ordinary time,” and Father Meinrad began his week as our Mass Heb.  +++  The Diocese of Covington began their seminarian retreat this evening; their 28 seminarians and retreat leaders, and Bishop Roger Foys, will be with us through August 2.

(31) Father Paul returned from Rome and the Biblicum a few days ago for a two-month “summer stay.” It’s good to have him back. And we now welcome his classmate, a monk and priest from Lebanon, Fr. Toni Eid, OLM (Lebanese Marionite Order), who will be staying with us for a few days. Fr. Toni is also studying at the Biblicum and, in addition to English, speaks French, Italian, Arabic and German. This is his first visit to the United States.

As we conclude this month’s report, we congratulate Romain Botta, OSB, who was ordained priest for the Monastere de l ‘Incarnation in Togo, West Africa. Fr. Romain had been studying with us at Saint Meinrad these past years, and so he now begins ministry in his homeland. His confrere, Br. Philippe Tchalou, OSB, will be returning to the Hill in the fall to continue his studies and formation for priesthood. Our Father Cyprian and Father Harry represented us at the ordination and will be sharing their experiences with us in the near future.

Father Romain was the last of the 20 members of our class of 2012 to be ordained. However: my mistake, I neglected to include in our listing the ordination of Dustin Collins to the priesthood on June 2. Father Dustin is well into his priestly ministry for the Diocese of Knoxville.

Congratulations to Fathers Dustin and Romain—and to their classmates, our new priests of 2012!

And now, from St. Benedict’s Rule

In his teaching, the abbot ought always stay close to the apostolic pattern: “Correct, entreat, reproach.” That is to say, he should vary his approach according to the situation, mixing threats and enticements, now showing the sternness of a taskmaster, and now the tender affection of a father…. Let him tailor his approach to meet each one’s character and understanding; he will thereby suffer no loss of the sheep entrusted to him, but even enjoy the increase of a good flock.

Chapter 2, “The Qualifications of an Abbot,” v. 23-24, 32
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.