(1) Two days ago we had a high of 63 degrees. Today it's been in
the 20's and 30's, with icy roads from yesterday's snowfall.
Fortunately, most of the ice on the roads that caused many
fender-benders in our area is now just messy slush. +++ Our Board
of Overseers deserve a better welcome than this weather gives them,
but these faithful men and women did show up, on time and ready to
attend to the business at hand. We're grateful for their advice and
(2) This Feast of the Presentation of the Lord is an O.P., and so
Father Prior Kurt presided at our 7:30 a.m. Eucharist. We began
with the traditional blessing of the candles on what used to be
known as "Candlemas Day." Father Prior asked Father Pius, who had
been saying our Mass for most of this week, to preach, since Father
Pius had a weekend assignment last weekend and so missed out on the
Mass Heb's ordinary opportunity to preach to the community. +++ Our
Board of Overseers concluded their business by noon; our Board of
Trustees met after lunch, and reported they also had a successful
meeting. +++ We're still waiting to hear something from some of our
seminarians, who are at the seminarians' basketball tournament at
(3) Father Eugene is our Mass Heb on this Fourth Sunday (and week)
in Ordinary Time, and so he presided and preached at our Conventual
Mass. +++ Forty-seven members of Good Shepherd Parish,
Indianapolis, concluded their weekend retreat at noon today. Father
Jeremy had been talking with them about "Vatican II: Rediscovering
(4) Father Abbot gave the community his "pre-Lenten Conference"
this evening. In the past, this has usually been done the evening
before Ash Wednesday, but Father Abbot suggested having it the week
before this year, thus allowing time for a bit more
(5) Father Barnabas had his second knee replacement surgery
yesterday, and all seems to have gone well. We hope to have him
returning to the hill on Thursday or Friday.
(6) As it turns out, our seminarians' basketball team didn't fare
too well at last weekend's tournament at Mundelein. But, a good
time, safe travels, renewed friendships - not a bad way to spend a
(7) This evening in the Aquinas Chapel in our seminary,
Indianapolis Archbishop Joseph Tobin installed 20 of our students
as acolytes and 22 as lectors. We congratulate these men who take
up new service for our Church and, as they continue their
discernment, we assure them of our prayerful support.
(8) Several groups have arrived on the hill today, to begin
weekend retreats. St. Malachy Catholic Church from Brownsburg,
Indiana, has 20 parishioners here. Also with us are two dozen
parishioners from St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross Catholic Church
in Lawrenceburg, Indiana, under the direction of Indianapolis
priest and alumnus (Theology, 2008) Fr. Aaron Jenkins.
(9) Arriving today and with us throughout the weekend are 20 young
parishioners from St. John the Apostle Catholic Church in
Bloomington, Indiana, who are making a retreat in preparation for
their Confirmation. +++ About 15 monks enjoyed pizza at The
UnStable for lunch today, prepared by Fathers Prior Kurt and
Patrick and "pizza-intern" Novice Bradley. They were assisted by
Indianapolis third-year theology seminarian Tim Wyciskalla and
second-year philosophy seminarian John Honiotes from the Diocese of
(10) Father Jeremy is our Mass Heb, and so presided and preached
at our 9:30 Conventual Mass. +++ About 25 seminarians from our
seminary's Saint Mark Formation House joined us for Vespers and
then supper this evening. Father Brendan is the dean of the house,
and seminarian Deacon Anthony Mullek of the Diocese of Mobile is
the house prefect. +++ Father Noël concluded his weekend retreat,
"Building Family Love," to 31 couples. +++ Joining our retreatants
and the monastic community at Eucharist were Indianapolis priest
and alumnus (Theology, 2002) Fr. Eric Johnson and seven of his
parishioners from Our Lady of Perpetual Help Catholic Church in New
Albany, who were participating in a parish staff retreat.
(11) Today Pope Benedict XVI announced his resignation as Supreme
Pontiff, effective February 28. When something happens only once
every 600 years or so, it is history in the making! We continue to
pray for Pope Benedict, and now pray for the College of Cardinals
who will elect his successor. +++ This evening Mike Ziemianski, our
Vice President for Development, and five members of his staff
presented the annual Development Office Report to the community in
the Chapter Room after Compline. It was most encouraging to hear
the report from such a competent and dedicated group of
(12) Our Mardi Gras celebration in the monastery was most modest:
pretty much an ordinary supper, with little fanfare or excitement.
We are ready to take on the rigors of Lent!
(13) Father Abbot Justin presided at our Ash Wednesday Eucharist
at 7:30 this morning. After his homily, he received ashes from
Father Prior Kurt, and then they were joined by Father Subprior
Guerric, and the three of them distributed ashes on the community
and the three dozen or so guests who had joined us. The monks also
submitted their Bona Opera-their good works for the Lenten
season-to Father Abbot, who reviewed them and returned them with
his approval in the afternoon.
(14) We have begun the practice of including a petition at Lauds
and at Mass each day for Pope Benedict XVI. This will continue up
to the time of the election of his successor.
(15) Father Adrian is giving the "Happy Hearts" Women's Retreat to
about four dozen participants at our Guest House and Retreat Center
(16) Thirty-eight alumni of St. Xavier High School, Louisville,
Kentucky, began their annual retreat at our Guest House and Retreat
Center this morning. Our Father Anthony will be directing them
(17) Father Mark is our Mass Heb on this First Sunday (and week)
of Lent. Our Archabbey Church was fairly full this morning, as we
were joined by the "St. X." alumni and a number of other
(18) Today was the thirtieth-day anniversary of the death of
Father Harold. As is our custom, the Conventual Mass, Father Mark
presiding today, was offered for the repose of his soul. May God
grant eternal peace to all the faithful departed.
(19) Fr. Mark, our Mass Heb, preached at our 7:30 Conventual Mass.
+++ Yesterday evening we had the first of our five Lenten
Conferences, which this year will focus on a particular station of
the cross. Father Colman was the first confrere to offer his
reflections, and he chose the first station, "Jesus is Condemned to
Death." The conference took place in the Chapter Room and, as will
happen throughout the series, the appropriate station, designed and
painted by Father Donald (RIP January 2012), occupied center
(20) Always looking to make things better, several monks met with
our Director of Physical Facilities and our electrician and a sound
technician today to review the sound system in the Archabbey
Church. It has never worked as well as we expected, and so we are
again trying to remedy the situation, using St. Paul's "faith comes
by hearing" as our biblical support!
(21) It was announced today that this summer Father Godfrey will
become the rector of St. Benedict's Cathedral, Evansville. Father
Gregory will continue to reside and work at St. Ben's as the pastor
emeritus. He continues to receive his radiation therapy on a weekly
basis and, fortunately, reports that usually the worst side effect
he experiences is extreme fatigue following the treatments.
(22) Father Jeremy began his weekend retreat, "The Year of Faith:
Rediscovering the Treasure," at our Guest House and Retreat Center.
Fifty participants will be with us through Sunday noon.
(23) About 65 of our lay degree students are here for weekend
courses, which include "Christology" with Dr. Keith Lemna;
"Catholic Sacraments" with Fr. Thomas Richstatter, OFM; "Pentateuch
and Historical Books" with Fr. Damian Dietlein, OSB; "Synoptics,
Acts, and General Epistles" with Dr. Clayton Jefford; and "Early
Church History" with Dr. Alexander Hwang. +++ They are joined by 37
guests who are part of the St. Martin of Tours Confirmation
Retreat, as well as 30 guests from St. Joseph Catholic Church, also
on a Confirmation Retreat.
(24) Father Vincent is our Mass Heb on this Second Sunday (and
week) of Lent. The Archabbey Church was full this morning, as we
welcomed our retreatants and lay degree students.
(25) Brother John Mark gave the second of our Lenten Conferences
this evening in the Chapter Room after Compline. He chose as his
focus the Fourth Station of the Cross, "Jesus Meets His
(26) Father Cyprian was the speaker at this year's Black History
Lecture this evening. His talk was entitled, "No One Can Walk
Alone: A Memoir for African American Month." Father Cyprian is
professor emeritus of Church history in our seminary, and shows no
signs of taking things easy. Recently, he has received the
Distinguished Teaching Award from the American Catholic Historical
Association and the Eli Lilly Lifetime Achievement Award from the
Indiana Historical Society. Congratulations, Father Cyprian and,
yes, ad multos annos!
(27) Twenty-one women from St. Aloysius Parish in Shepherdsville,
Kentucky, are here through March 3. They've been coming to the hill
faithfully twice a year for a number of years now, and enjoy their
"Scrapbooking Retreat." We welcome them and all our guests. This
time around, they are enjoying our new facilities on the fifth
floor of St. Bede Hall-which is now accessible by elevator!
(28) We join the Church throughout the world in praying for his
Holiness Benedict XVI, as he leaves the Holy See and begins the
first "papal retirement" in six centuries. May God strengthen and
sustain him as he continues his prayer for, and his witness to, us
And so, on this historic day, we close with the Opening Prayer for
the Votive Mass the monastic community celebrated today, a Mass
offered for the intentions and the well-being of our Pope these
past (almost) eight years, Benedict XVI.
O God, who in your providential design
willed that your Church be built upon blessed Peter,
whom you set over the other Apostles,
look with favor, we pray, on Pope Benedict,
whom you called to be Peter's successor.
Grant that even now he may witness
to the power of your grace,
and so continue to inspire the flock he was called to
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy
one God, for ever and ever.