(1) This first day of December is also the patronal feast day of
Father Richard. Not counting our superiors and retired abbots,
Father Richard is the second most senior monk in our house. At 90
years of age, Father is in his 69th year of monastic profession
and his 65th year of
priesthood. Many of our alumni will know Father Richard from his
many years of teaching biology in our college. Father Richard has
been residing in our monastery infirmary for 2+ years now; a stroke
in the summer of 2011 left him blind, at which time the progression
of his Alzheimer's accelerated. Father attends Mass in our
Infirmary Chapel every day and receives from the cup. He may not be
completely aware of all that is going on around him, but he is
always the gentleman, responding graciously to any and all who call
him by name or take his hand at the kiss of peace. We pray for
Father Richard, and for all our ill and aging confreres.
(2) Father Sean is our Mass Heb on this First Sunday of
Advent. +++ Father Jeremy concluded the offering of the
traditional Barth-Hamilton Retreat at our Guest House this weekend;
60 men participated in the retreat, entitled "Vatican2:
Rediscovering the Treasure." +++ St. Benedict Cathedral
Parish in Evansville had its "Centennial Kick-Off Mass and Brunch"
this morning. Father Gregory, rector of the Cathedral, was well
enough to get out and enjoy many of the festivities. He continues
to make slow progress from his cancer therapies last month (and
those continue throughout this month), but his good spirits added
to this Sunday's celebration! Father Abbot Justin and Father Abbot
Bonaventure were among the monks who traveled to Evansville for the
celebration. +++ A number of our confreres were in
Indianapolis this evening, participating in the Evening Prayer at
the Cathedral on this eve of the installation of Bishop Joseph
Tobin as Archbishop of Indianapolis. We were privileged to have
Archbishop Joseph stay with us in the monastery this past week, as
he made a private retreat in preparation for his
installation. +++ Two rather large groups of young
retreatants are with us today: 23 students from Greenville College,
Illinois, are concluding the retreat they began several days ago;
39 senior boys from Bishop Chatard in Indianapolis are here with us
today and tomorrow for their retreat. We welcome all, and are happy
to have them join us in prayer!
(3) Father Sean, our Mass Heb, preached on this feast of Francis
Xavier, co-patron of the Archdiocese. +++ Further to
the north, Archbishop Joseph Tobin was installed as the sixth
archbishop of Indianapolis. Father Abbot Justin, Archabbot
Bonaventure, and Fathers Jonathan, Julian and Denis were among
those representing the monastery and seminary. God's blessings upon
Joseph, our Bishop, and Christopher (Coyne), his assistant
bishop! +++ Elsewhere in Indianapolis this evening,
Father Cyprian was awarded the Eli Lilly Lifetime Achievement
Award, in recognition of his "extraordinary contributions to the
field of history." Congratulations, Father Cyprian! +++
And back here on the hill, Father Subprior Guerric gave our first
Advent conference in the Chapter Room after Compline.
(4) Our seminary's schola presented "From Eden to Heaven: The
Story of Salvation," in the Archabbey Church this evening. Their
hour-long performance told the story of Christ throughout
alternating Scripture readings and the singing of hymns and
(5) The monastic chapter meet after Compline this evening, and
formally accepted two monks from the now-closed Blue Cloud
Abbey-Abbot Alan Berndt and Father Cletus Miller-into the Saint
Meinrad community. It is a full circle: Abbot Alan and Father
Cletus were originally monks of our house, prior to their
transferring their stability to the newly established foundation in
Marvin, South Dakota, in the early 1950s.
(6) A quiet day in our house, although next door the event of
the day was the St. Nicholas banquet in the seminary, planned and
hosted by our deacon class. St. Nic himself made a cameo
appearance, in the person of Deacon Nic Brown, a seminarian from
the Archdiocese of Louisville.
(7) About 80 of our oblates joined us for I Vespers of the
Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception this evening, prior to
beginning their annual retreat. The retreat master, Father Eugene,
will be speaking on "Lectio Divina: Listening to the
Scriptures with the Ear of Your Heart."
(8) We followed our Sunday schedule today for the Solemnity of
the Immaculate Conception. Father Abbot Justin presided at our
Eucharist and Father Sean, our Mass Heb this week, preached.
Brother Victor from Conception Abbey, Missouri, assisted as
(9) Father Harry is our Mass Heb on this Second Sunday (and
during this second week) of Advent. Deacon Scott Carroll, a
seminarian from the Diocese of Toledo, assisted at our 9:30
Eucharist, and then joined us in our refectory for the midday
(10) We observed the thirtieth day anniversary of Father
Simeon's death, with a special prayer and intercessions at our
morning Eucharist, at which Father Harry presided. +++
After Compline this evening, Father Mark gave our second Advent
conference in the Chapter Room.
(11) This Tuesday brings with it a few more smiles on the faces
of students, faculty and staff than usual: it's the last day of
classes for the semester. It's also the day of final exams for some
courses; by Friday, all will have been accomplished and by
Saturday, all if not most, should have departed for the Christmas
(12) Today some seminarians are fulfilling their last
ministerial assignments of the semester. Most of our own "visiting
Benedictines" are preparing to head to their respective monasteries
for the Christmas break. Our prayers go with them, especially with
Brother Simon Baker; he and his confreres at St. Benedict's
Abbey, Atchison, Kansas, will be electing a new abbot shortly after
(13) Father Eugene is getting ready to offer his weekend
retreat, beginning tomorrow, to about two dozen participants at our
Guest House and Retreat Center. His topic is "Reflections on the
Letters of John and the Johannine Community."
(14) We grieve with the rest of our country today, as we mourn
the victims of the senseless massacre at the Sandy Hook Elementary
School in Newtown, Connecticut. We pray for the victims, that the
Good Shepherd hold them tightly in His arms. We pray for their
families and for all who mourn them, that God's peace may shape
their hearts and minds.
(15) Abbot Dennis Quinkert, the "designated superior" of our
daughter house, Blue Cloud Abbey (Marvin, South Dakota), arrived
today for a several-day visit. As my readers may recall, Blue Cloud
Abbey had its last public liturgy this past August, and its monks
are in the process of relocating to other monasteries throughout
the country. As for Abbot Dennis: not many monks are elected abbot,
and he belongs to an even more exclusive club. Abbot Dennis was
elected abbot of Blue Cloud in 1986 and served five-and-a-half
years before resigning. He was re-elected abbot in 2009!
(16) Father Tobias is our Mass Heb on this Third Sunday (and
week) of Advent; he wore the special rose-colored vestments to mark
the celebration of Gaudete ("Rejoice") Sunday. Beginning
today, and continuing throughout the week, we will include an
intercession for the victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary School
massacre this past Friday. May they and all who mourn them know
God's love and peace.
(17) We began the "O Antiphons" at Vespers this evening, the
first being "O, Sapientia," "O, Wisdom!" +++ Father
Prior Kurt presided at our Advent Penance Service in the Archabbey
Church this evening. As a superior of the house, he was not one of
the confessors; this ministry was fulfilled by Fathers Cletus,
Columba, Meinrad, Barnabas and Joseph. Father Gavin proclaimed the
reading-Luke 3:7-9-and offered the homily.
(18) This week before Christmas is a busy one, especially for
our co-workers in the Development Office. They and a number of
monks are on the roads, making visits and delivering Christmas
gifts to some of our friends and benefactors. We're grateful to all
who support us in our prayer and work, and ask God's blessings upon
them! +++ The "O Antiphon" for this evening: "O,
Adonai," "O, Sacred One of Israel!"
(19) Father Abbot Justin presided at a communal celebration of
the Anointing of the Sick during Vespers this evening. He anointed
nine of our confreres in the Archabbey Church. After Vespers Father
Prior Kurt (who serves also as Master of Ceremonies) accompanied
him to the infirmary, where they imposed hands upon another six
confreres before Father Abbot anointed them. May God strengthen and
sustain our ill and aged brothers. +++ The "O Antiphon"
for this evening: "O, Radix," "O, Root of Jesse!"
(20) After Compline we held our Christmas tree-trimming party in
the calefactory-one of the rooms in our house where a majestic tree
has been "planted" for the season. Assorted goodies and various
"strengths" of eggnog sustained those stringing lights and hanging
ornaments. +++ The "O Antiphon" for this evening: "O,
Clavis," "O, Key of David!"
(21) A calm and quiet Friday in the house, although it was
howling outside throughout the day. Winds were reported as being a
"steady 25," with gusts up to 45 mph. A drive around the hill in
the late afternoon showed dozens of branches-some of them quite
large-strewn about our property. +++ The "O Antiphon"
for this evening: "O, Oriens," "O, Radiant Dawn!"
(22) It's a working Saturday for many of the monks on the hill:
cleaning common and individual rooms, restocking supplies, putting
in another few hours of preparation for the holy days.
+++ The "O Antiphon" for this evening: "O, Rex," "O, King of
(23) Father Bede is our Mass Heb on this Fourth Sunday of
Advent. He'll have "abbreviated duty" this week, since Tuesday,
Wednesday and Thursday are, respectively, an O.A., an O.P., and an
O.S.! +++ The "O Antiphon" for this evening, the last
of the seven: "O, Emmanuel!" Now for the hidden treat:
take the first letter of each of the "O Antiphons" (e.g., S for
Sapientia, A for Adonai, etc.) and spell them out: you have "sarc
ore," which means…nothing. Reverse the letters, however, and you
have ero cras, which, in Latin, means "I will be (with
you) tomorrow." And tomorrow, with First Vespers and Midnight Mass,
we do indeed celebrate the coming of our God into the world as one
(24) We began our celebration of the Lord's Nativity with
I Vespers at five o'clock. Following a short break after supper, we
prayed Vigils, which included the famous Christmas sermon by Pope
St. Leo the Great, "Christians, heed your dignity!" We celebrated
"Midnight Mass" at 10 o'clock, with Father Abbot Justin presiding
and preaching. Following Mass, and after some refreshments to keep
us up just beyond the midnight hour, most of us retired shortly
(25) A special schedule for us on this Christmas Day. After
Solemn Lauds at eight o'clock, at which Abbot Justin presided, we
took a short break before returning to church for the Christmas
Mass in die ("during the day"). Father Abbot again
presided and preached. +++ We monks enjoyed a rare
"cocktail half-hour" before our Midday Meal. Naps and calefactory
conversations rounded out the afternoon until we again gathered in
church at five o'clock for Second Vespers of Christmas.
+++ As we all know all too often, even Christmas joy is
sometimes diluted with tears. This morning we received word that
only 20 minutes before the monks of Assumption Abbey, Richardton,
North Dakota, began their Midnight Mass yesterday evening, their
prior, Brother Basil Kirsch, 68 years old, died of a heart attack.
We support our brothers in prayer in their loss, and pray for the
repose of the soul of Brother Basil and all the faithful
(26) This feast of St. Stephen, the Church's first martyr, is an
O.P.-ranked feast, and so Father Prior Kurt presided and preached.
Our celebration continued in the refectory, with a festive midday
meal and a gaudeamus following our evening buffet.
(27) The feast of St. John, beloved disciple of the Lord, is a
"rare" O.S.-Order of the Subprior. Father Subprior Guerric, then,
presided and preached at our morning Eucharist. +++
We're reading about trip cancellations and complications from the
bad weather throughout the country, but so far we have received
only a light dusting and a drop in temperature. We do have one
traveler who began a journey this morning that continues for some
29 hours. Brother Peduru is flying from Louisville to Newark to
Brussels to Mumbai to his home in Sri Lanka-his first visit with
his family in eight years. We wish him safe travels and fine
(28) The feast of the Holy Innocents-a day with a special
poignancy this year, given the recent massacre in Newtown,
Connecticut. We pray for all victims of violence and terrorism, as
we pray for those who strive to protect us from these evils.
(29) We have five young men who began our Monastic Observance
program on Thursday, the 27th. They'll be with us through next
Tuesday, and will get an inside look at our prayer and work, as
they join us in the house for meals, work and recreation.
(30) Father Julian is our Mass Heb during this last
2012-beginning week, and on this feast of the Holy Family.
+++ We received word this morning that Father Odilo
Burkhardt, OSB, died shortly after eight o'clock. Father Odilo, 94
years old, was a founding member of Blue Cloud Abbey, our daughter
house in South Dakota that closed this past August. Father was
suffering from Alzheimer's disease, and was residing at St.
William's Care Center in Milbank, South Dakota. There will be a
funeral Mass for him in South Dakota, and then we will bring his
body down to Saint Meinrad for burial in our monastery cemetery,
perhaps 3-4 days from now. (Father Odilo professed his vows as a
monk of Saint Meinrad in 1945. He transferred his stability to our
daughter house in 1954.) At his death, Father Odilo was the oldest
member of Blue Cloud Abbey and of the Swiss-American Benedictine
(31) This last day of the year is also the eighth anniversary of
the election of Abbot Justin. As has been his custom, he gave the
community a conference in the Chapter Room after Compline. Prior to
that, we monks enjoyed music in place of table reading at our
evening meal, a pleasant change of pace we turn to several times
during the year. This evening's composer and work was Johann
Sebastian Bach and his "Weihnactsoratorium."
As we conclude 2012, we thank God for the many blessings we at
Saint Meinrad have enjoyed. We thank God for our friends, our
benefactors, our co-workers, those who bring out the best in us and
those who help us do our best.
We also remember those who have not been so fortunate-those who
would not think of 2012 as "a good year." May God send them
perseverance, patience and endurance. And may God send them His
angels and their friends, so they do not carry their burdens alone,
and so they may in this coming year indeed find reason to hope and
travel steadily and surely on the way to peace.