(1) This first day of the new year is an O.P.-ranked solemnity,
Mary the Mother of God. Father Prior Kurt presided, and Archabbot
Lambert preached, at our 9:30 a.m. Conventual Mass. We enjoyed our
Sunday schedule today, which included a modest gaudeamus
after our evening buffet meal.
(2) Father Stephen remains in the hospital in Jasper. +++ We
received word that the Subcommittee on the Catechism, under the
Committee on Evangelization and Catechesis of the USCCB, recently
published a Handbook on the Conformity Review Process.
They dedicated the work to Archbishop Daniel, honoring his
"significant contribution to the work of catechesis in our
country." The archbishop had served as founding chairman of the
original Ad Hoc Committee for the implementation of the Catechism
from 1994-2002. Congratulations, Archbishop Daniel, and many thanks
for your important work!
(3) We received the body of Father Odilo Burkhardt, OSB, a monk of
Blue Cloud Abbey, this morning. Father Odilo died December 30, at
the care facility in South Dakota where he had been for the past
several years. Since Blue Cloud Abbey closed in July and there is
no longer a resident monastic community there, Abbot Justin agreed
to Blue Cloud Abbot Dennis Quinkert's request that Fr. Odilo be
buried at Saint Meinrad (where he made his first profession and
from which he became a founding member of Blue Cloud). A funeral
Mass was said in South Dakota on January 2, after which the body
was transported to Becher Funeral Home in Ferdinand, who have for
years handled our arrangements. Fathers Abbot and Prior and a half
dozen monks, as well as over a dozen of Father Odilo's nephews and
nieces from the Indianapolis and Wabash areas, were on hand to
receive the body at 10 o'clock; they placed it in the Archabbey
Church and had a brief prayer service. The monastic community and
more guests gathered at 11 o'clock for the traditional Office of
the Dead, at which Abbot Justin presided. Abbot Dennis offered the
remembrance. After the Office, we processed to the cemetery and,
after blessing our newest grave, lowered the coffin into the earth.
May Father Odilo's soul, and the souls of all the faithful
departed, through the mercy of God rest in peace!
(4) Father Jonathan left for Rome today, to join Fr. Denis and our
fourth-year seminarians (deacon class), who are enjoying a two-week
study tour. Those who know Father Jonathan know he will bring back
pictures and stories! We wish him and his fellow pilgrims safe
travels and enjoyable times. +++ Nine men from Carmel, Indiana,
arrived on the hill today to begin their Maker's Dozen Men's
Retreat. They'll be with us through the weekend. +++ Father Stephen
is not doing well at all. He was transferred to St. Mary's Hospital
in Evansville this afternoon.
(5) Father Stephen returned to our infirmary today, via
ambulance, from St. Mary's Hospital, Evansville. We began our
customary visitation with him around 7 o'clock, and will continue
throughout the night. +++ Thirty-eight members of St. Charles
Borromeo Parish from Bloomington, Indiana, are making their
Confirmation retreat with us today and tomorrow.
(6) Father Abbot Justin presided and preached on this Solemnity of
the Epiphany; we continued the celebration in our refectory, with
colloquium at the midday meal. +++ Just as we were
concluding our meal, Father Stephen died peacefully in our
infirmary. We now pray for the repose of his soul.
(7) Fr. Bob Robeson of the Archdiocese of Indianapolis is
accompanying 37 young men from the Bishop Simon Brute House for a
(8) A Certificates In Supervision session, coordinated by Agnes
Kovacs, our associate director of Lay Degree Programs, is under way
for the next few days. Nine individuals are participating.
(9) After Midday Prayer we received the body of Father Stephen at
our entry way. A monk is brought through these "great doors" only
twice during his life: at his novitiate, as he is led into the
monastery by his novice master, and after his death, as six of his
confreres walk his coffin into our house. The brief ceremony
includes the blessing of the body with holy water and the placing
of the monk's vow chart on top of his coffin. In place of Compline
this evening, we prayed the Office of the Dead, which included a
personal "remembrance" of Father Stephen, prepared and offered by
(10) We don't wish to be irreverent, but we monks do find humor in
the unexpected-even in the sacred and liturgically unexpected. With
30 seconds to go before beginning the entrance procession for the
funeral liturgy of Father Stephen, the smoke detectors and fire
alarms were activated throughout the church and St. Anselm Hall
(adjacent to the church). Needless to say, as they weren't in tune
with the mode of the planned Entrance Antiphon, we waited…for a
good three minutes, before our crew was able to reset the system.
As Father Stephen worked in construction for so many years and was
familiar with building codes and systems-and, as after inspection,
the cause of the alarms going off could not be discovered-well,…we
monks find humor even in the sacred and liturgically unexpected.
The remainder of Father's funeral liturgy was no less dramatic,
weather-wise. A steady rain necessitated a much-abbreviated
procession to the cemetery, with Fr. Stephen's casket being
accompanied only by Fathers Abbot and Prior, six monk-pallbearers,
a few ministers, a couple of monks, and a handful of guests and
visitors, instead of the full complement of the monastic community
and mourners as usual. Father Abbot presided at the Mass and Father
Sean preached; Father Abbot also said the prayers at the
abbreviated service at the graveyard itself. The casket was lowered
into the ground, the shovel of dirt was thrown on top,…and the rain
(11) This evening Father Jeremy began offering his weekend retreat
to 19 permanent deacon candidates of the Belleville Diocese and
their wives, titled "Vatican 2: Rediscovering the Treasure."
(12) It seems as though half the monastery is down with one of two
versions of the flu: one, which expresses its effects mainly
through headaches and coughing, the other, nastier, since it
necessitates constantly checking to determine the location of the
nearest restroom. All of our confreres in our infirmary are sick,
and infected monks and students (quite of few of them as well) have
been told to stay in their rooms and, yes, drink plenty of fluids.
Our health services and infirmary staff are proving themselves
characteristically heroic, caring both for their patients and their
patients' rooms and facilities. There is good news: it seems the
flu-and, thankfully, its symptoms-lasts less than 72 hours.
(13) On this feast of the Baptism of Our Lord, Father Jeremy is
our Mass Heb. We began our Eucharist this morning with the blessing
of the holy water font. +++ Care for our many sick confreres and
students continues, and extra washings and precautions are under
way in our kitchens.
(14) This evening after Compline, the Saint Meinrad Chapter (all
monks in solemn vows) formally welcomed Abbot Alan and Father
Cletus, formerly of Blue Cloud Abbey, into the Chapter. Abbot
Alan's and Father Cletus' request to transfer their stability to
Saint Meinrad (where both had originally professed their vows) was
approved by the Chapter in November. Ordinarily a one-year
probation period would follow, but this was waived by the Chapter
in a subsequent vote. We welcome our new members!
(15) Father Harry has put together an exhibit, "The Second Vatican
Council: Looking Back after Fifty Years," that the Archabbey
Library is now hosting. The exhibit contains documents,
photographs, artifacts, newspaper and magazine articles, and books
and journals, some of which have been obtained from regional
bishops who participated in the Council.
(16) We're making final plans for Archbishop Joseph Tobin's
"official welcome" at Saint Meinrad this coming Monday the 21st.
That's also the solemnity of our patron, and the eighth anniversary
of the blessing of Archabbot Justin. Plenty of reasons to
(17) Delta Chi "A"s' Leadership Academy from Iowa City, Iowa, is
having its annual meeting on the hill this week. We have grown
pleasantly accustomed to their annual visit these past seven years
or so. Their staff and facilitators have been arriving over the
past few days, and participants will be arriving tomorrow, to stay
through Monday morning. We welcome these 170 members of Delta
(18) Our Father Harold Hammerstein died shortly after 8 o'clock
this evening at the Little Sisters of the Poor in Evansville,
Indiana, under whose care he had been for the past six weeks.
Father Harold was 89 years old, had been professed as a monk for 68
years, and was in his 64th year of priesthood. May he rest in
(19) January is the main month we have our "Saint Meinrad Sundays"
in parishes throughout our neighboring dioceses. This weekend 22
parishes in the Evansville Diocese are allowing us the opportunity
to speak at their Sunday Masses about our various works on the hill
and ask for the continued prayerful, moral and financial support of
the parishioners. We are grateful for those who support our prayer
and work, and ask God's blessings upon them.
(20) Second Sunday in Ordinary Time. Father Meinrad is our Mass
Heb this week, although he will be a bit shortchanged due to feasts
and funerals. +++ Father Prior Cassian from Monastero di San
Benedetto in Norcia, Italy, is with us for a few days. Welcome
home, Father Prior Cassian!
(21) We followed our Sunday schedule on this solemnity of St.
Meinrad, our patron, and were happy to have Indianapolis Archbishop
Joseph Tobin with us as we officially welcomed him into our
Archabbey Church and into our home. The archbishop presided and
preached at our Eucharist, and then joined us for a social in our
calefactory, at which Abbot Justin presented him with an original
print of St. Alphonsus Liguori (the founder of the Redemptorists),
designed and created by our Br. Martin Erspamer
(22) After our Midday Prayer we processed from the church to our
entry way, where we received the body of Father Harold. Father
Prior Kurt presided at this brief ceremony. At 7 o'clock this
evening, Father Prior presided over the Office of the Dead, at
which Father Timothy offered the remembrance.
(23) Father Abbot Justin presided, and Abbot Lambert preached, at
the funeral Mass of Father Harold. This is our third burial in a
short period of time (we buried Fr. Odilo Burkhardt of Blue Cloud
Abbey on the 3rd, and Fr. Stephen on the 10th), and so we had to
use a "non-carpenter shop" casket for the first time in many years.
(Father Germain, our carpenter, could not construct a casket in
time for Father Harold's burial.) Our Abbey Caskets produced a
simple casket, nearly identical those our monk-carpenters have
fashioned close to half a century. We may well be relying more on
our Abbey Caskets in the future, given Father Germain's workload
and the "graying" and aging of our community.
(24) Most of our seminarians have been off the hill this week,
making their annual retreat at various locations; our first-year
theology seminarians continue our practice of "Towards Jerusalem"
at Maple Mount, Kentucky. All will be returning this weekend;
classes for the second semester begin on Monday!
(25) We celebrated the feast of the conversion of St. Paul, and
Father Meinrad, our Mass Heb, presided and preached. We also heard
from Father Paul, whose feast is today-who informed us with great
joy that he has finished the work for his SSL (Licentiate in Sacred
Scripture) degree. Since he is studying in Rome, a visit to the
Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls would be in order!
(26) Over 80 of our lay degree students are on the hill this
weekend, taking another round of weekend courses. Classes and
instructors include "Christology," taught by Dr. Keith Lemna,
"Catholic Sacraments," by Fr. Thomas Richstatter, OFM, "Pentateuch
and Historical Books," by Fr. Damian Dietlein, OSB, "Synoptics,
Acts and General Epistles," by Dr. Clayton Jefford, "Early Church
History," by Dr. Alexander Hwang and "Foundations of Spirituality,"
by Father Eugene.
(27) We celebrate the Third Sunday of Ordinary Time! Father Pius
is our Mass Heb, but is out on parish assignment for the weekend,
and so Father Germain filled in for him, presiding and preaching at
the Conventual Mass. We also welcomed Bishop Joseph Siegel, an
alumnus from our college ('84), and auxiliary bishop of the Joliet
Diocese; the bishop will be speaking to our seminarians tomorrow
evening; we enjoyed sharing our main meal with him today.
(28) First day of classes for the second semester. Good timing, as
it's also the feast of St. Thomas Aquinas, a familiar source of,
and a patron for, seminary studies and students!
(29) We monks had a community meeting yesterday evening in the
Chapter Room. We continued discussing some of the topics and
suggestions coming from our visitation this past October.
(30) Today we observed the one-year anniversary of the deaths of
Father Donald Walpole and Father Eric Lies. It is the actual day of
death of Father Eric; Father Donald died last year on January 27.
Because this year's 27th is a Sunday, we transferred the
anniversary so as to observe both on the 30th. This wasn't just for
"convenience"; it was also an "honest nod" to their relationship
with each other. Fathers Donald and Eric were profession classmates
(1940), and Father Eric died last year just a few hours after we
buried Father Donald! May they, and all the faithful departed, rest
(31) On this last day of the month, we're having our first major
snow of the season. We've had flurries a few times through December
and January, but this promises to be more. Snow began during
Vespers and-late evening as I write this-continues.
And now, from St. Benedict's Rule…
The abbot should focus all his attention on the care of wayward
brothers, for "it is not the healthy but the sick who need a
physician." Thus he should use all the means that a wise physician
would. For example, he might send in senpectae, that is,
wise, elderly brothers who know how to comfort the wavering brother
as if in secret. By this means, they can urge him to make humble
satisfaction and also "console him so that he be not devoured by
too much sorrow."
Chapter 27, "The Abbot's Preoccupation with the
Translation by Fr. Terence Kardong, OSB, monk of Assumption