Saint Meinrad Archabbey

A catholic monastery devoted to the teachings of St. Benedict

March 2013

(1) Yesterday, the day Pope Benedict XVI's resignation took effect, we prayed the votive Mass "For the Pope" at our Conventual Mass. Father Vincent, Mass Heb, presided and preached. Today, of course, was the first time in almost eight years that the name of the pope was not mentioned during the Eucharistic Prayer. Many confreres spent some time yesterday watching the live broadcasts (or today, watching the reruns) of Pope Benedict's departure from the Vatican. We will continue to pray for his Holiness Benedict XVI and the College of Cardinals until the election of our new pontiff.

(2) Twenty-one members of St. Aloysius Parish in Shepherdsville, Kentucky, are making their bi-annual "Scrapbooking Retreat." Father Prior  Kurt met with them this morning and, on behalf of the monastic community, accepted a most generous donation they offered to Saint Meinrad in memory of Father Simeon, who died this past November. The group remarked that Father Simeon considered himself a "scrapbooker of words."

(3) Father Timothy is our Mass Heb on this Third Sunday (and week) of Lent. Fifteen members of St. Monica Parish of Indianapolis concluded their weekend retreat at noon.  +++  Father Eugene concluded offering 20 participants his weekend retreat, "The Joseph Story (Genesis 37-47), Biblical Storytelling at its Best."

(4) Father Brendan gave the third of our Lenten conferences in the Chapter Room after Compline. Our focus this Lent is on the Stations of the Cross, and we are using Father Donald Walpole's (RIP January 2012) renditions to help us with our reflections. Father Brendan spoke on the Fifth Station, "Simon of Cyrene Helps Jesus Carry His Cross."

(5) Father Timothy, Mass Heb, preached at our Conventual Mass this morning.  +++  We had a beautiful snowfall that began around 10 in the morning. It covered the ground but, fortunately, not the roads. We're grateful we're getting the beauty of the snow without suffering the hardships experienced by so many in other areas of our country.

(6) A very cold and windy day. It makes for good study time for our students, although many of them have ministry assignments on Wednesdays in parishes, hospitals, and other care facilities in our neighboring dioceses.

(7) Twenty-five of our third-year theology seminarians made their promises in preparation for their ordination to the diaconate in the St. Thomas Aquinas Seminary Chapel this evening. We congratulate these men, and give a special fraternal nod to our confrere, Brother Macario Martinez, OSB, of Conception Abbey, Missouri, who is living with us during his priestly formation and training.

(8) Brother Zachary began his weekend retreat, "Forgiven and Forgiving," at our Guest House and Retreat Center. He'll be speaking to 37 men and women.

(9) A music ensemble from Indiana University presented a fine program of choral and organ music in our Archabbey Church this afternoon. The program included sacred polyphony and organ music, including compositions based on chant and other pieces dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary.

(10) Father Julian is taking Father Adrian's place as Mass Heb on this Fourth Sunday of Lent. Father Adrian is out on parish assignment this weekend, and will resume his Heb duties tomorrow.

(11) Brother Francis gave the fourth of our five Lenten conferences in the Chapter Room after Compline this evening. He based his reflections on the Tenth Station of the Cross, "Jesus is Stripped of His Garments."

(12) Our Eucharist this morning was a votive Mass for the opening of the conclave. Father Adrian, Mass Heb, presided and preached.  +++  This evening Matthew Levering, professor of theology at the University of Dayton, gave the annual Thomas Lecture on Philosophy and Theology. His talk was titled "The Priesthood and Divine Revelation."

(13) Habemus Papam! We promise our prayerful and fraternal support to Pope Francis!

(14) Father Adrian has the distinction of being the first to include the name of the new pope in the Eucharistic Prayer at our Mass this morning. We, along with the rest of the Catholic (and secular) world, are listening eagerly to the descriptions, impressions and predictions concerning our new Holy Father.  +++  Later this morning, Father Prior Kurt gave the last of the five conferences of his midweek retreat, "The Passion(s) of the Christ." Thirty-eight participants, including a handful each from Kansas and Ohio, participated in this retreat at our Guest House and Retreat Center.

(15) No sinister plots that we're aware of on this Ides of March. On the contrary, we welcomed on their first visit to the hill the parents of Dane De Decker, who will begin a period of candidacy in our monastery in early May. Our welcome included a modest social with them in the Cardinal Ritter Room in our seminary's St. Anselm Hall.  +++  We have a number of groups on the hill these next few days. They include 17 guests from St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish, Carmel, Indiana, making a Parish Council Retreat; 12 guests from Signature Health Care in Louisville, making a Spiritual Practices Retreat; 49 fourth-graders from New Hope Academy of Franklin, Tennessee, making a retreat; and the meeting and retreat of 14 guests of Catholic Relief Services, Baltimore.

(16) We had the investiture of two oblate novices in the Archabbey Church after Midday Prayer today. Congratulations to Adele Horne of New Albany, Indiana, and Brian Finet of Monticello, Illinois. And we offer thanks, and an assurance of prayers, to all our oblates, upon whose faithful support we rely!  +++  Father Joseph is halfway through offering his weekend retreat, "Tuning Up for Easter," to 32 participants at our Guest House and Retreat Center.

(17) Just as Father Julian substituted for Father Adrian as our Eucharistic presider and preacher last Sunday, so Father Adrian returned the favor today. Father Julian will resume his Heb duties tomorrow.  +++  Abbot Justin is with many of his brother abbots at St. Benedict Abbey, Atchison, Kansas, for the solemn blessing of their new abbot, the Rt. Rev. James Albers. Abbot James, their ninth abbot, was elected shortly after Christmas. Brother Simon Baker, an Atchison monk who is studying with us, is also at his home for the occasion.

(18) ) Father Meinrad gave the last of this season's five Lenten conferences in the Chapter Room after Compline this evening, basing his reflections on the Twelfth Station of the Cross, "Jesus Dies on the Cross."

(19) Father Prior Kurt presided and preached on this Solemnity of St. Joseph, an O.P.-ranked feast. Later in the day, we enjoyed colloquium and wine-a rare treat during Lent-at our evening meal.

(20) Close to 80 of our oblates have joined us on the hill for these next few days and their annual retreat. We welcome them and assure them of our gratitude for their support and our prayers for their intentions. Father Adrian is giving their retreat.

(21) On this Solemnity of St. Benedict, Abbot Justin presided and Father Julian preached. We followed our Sunday schedule-Conventual Mass at 9:30 a.m.-and our oblates and seminarians joined us for Eucharist, with a number of them assisting as candle-bearers, readers and the like. Our seminary's schola performed reverently and competently. We monks continued our celebration at noon with a modest cocktail half-hour, and then enjoyed a fine meal in the refectory.

(22) It was announced yesterday that Lisa L. Castlebury of Eugene, Oregon, has been named our new treasurer and business manager. Most recently, Mrs. Castlebury was vice-president for finance and administration for Northwest Christian University in Eugene. She is a native of Oklahoma, and a long-time resident of Evansville, where she received her Bachelor of Science and Master in Business Administration degrees from the University of Southern Indiana.  +++  Father Noël is leading 31 parishioners from St. Bartholomew's Parish in Columbus, Indiana, on a women's retreat this weekend.

(23) This weekend brings another round of courses for our lay degree students. About 70 of them are here on the hill, continuing their work in and with one of the following: "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.

(24) Abbot Justin presided at our Eucharist on this Palm Sunday of the Lord's Passion. Cold temperatures and the threat of precipitation had us bless the palms and begin our procession from the Gallery, rather than from our accustomed location of the seminary lobby. Father Jeremy, our choirmaster, noted that this was the first time in over 30 years that we did not have a schola singing the Passion-this, due to more people than usual absent and several unscheduled sore throats. In the schola's place, Father Jeremy and Brothers John Mark and Silas rendered the Passion According to St. Luke in solemn chant.

(25) Fr. Noël presided and preached at our Penance Service in the Archabbey Church after Compline. His fellow confessors were Fathers Cletus, Columba, Meinrad and Mark.

(26) Abbot Justin, Brother Kim, and our two novices, Bradley and Matthew, traveled to and from Indianapolis today. They attended the Chrism Mass at the Cathedral and brought back a fresh supply of the holy oils for our use this year.

(27) During Vespers this evening, Abbot Justin anointed eight of our confreres; after Vespers Prior Kurt accompanied him to the infirmary, where he anointed six of our confreres who are less mobile.  +++  This evening Father Denis begins offering the Holy Week Retreat, "Reflections on the Triduum," to 28 participants at our Guest House and Retreat Center.  +++  This afternoon we said "goodbye" - but only in the "work sense" - to Esther Lutterman, retiring after many years of faithful service in our main and Guest House kitchens. We thank her for her work and wish her the best as she now has a bit more time on her hands! We enjoy many blessings here at Saint Meinrad, and among the greatest are our co-workers, our oblates and our alumni. May all have a grace-ful Easter!

(28) We began the Mass of the Lord's Supper at five o'clock this afternoon. Archabbot Justin presided and, as they did last year, Fathers Bede and Denis assisted. (No, this is not a tradition-at least not yet.) Father Denis sang the gospel, and Father Bede offered the homily. After the homily, Abbot Justin washed the feet of twelve-six monks and six retreatants and guests, and then presented each with a small gift.  +++  Shortly after the Eucharist, we enjoyed a traditional and delicious Holy Thursday supper of lamb in the Newman Dining Room with our guests and retreatants.

(29) Good Friday of the Lord's Passion. Archabbot Justin presided at our Solemn Liturgy, which began at three o'clock this afternoon. The Passion According to St. John was beautifully chanted by Fathers Jeremy and Tobias and Brother John Mark.  +++  We ate our two community meals today-midday and evening-in silence, listening to selections from Fr. Raymond Brown's "A Crucified Jesus in Holy Week."  +++  About a half hour after the Solemn Liturgy, the monastic community gathered in the Chapter Room for our Chapter of Faults, again presided over by Archabbot Justin. Compline at seven o'clock officially closed our day.

(30) The house was quiet most of the day, as many monks were making final preparations, communal and personal, for the Easter Vigil. We had table reading at our noonday meal, but enjoyed some prerecorded music at our "silent" evening meal. The Easter Vigil began at eight o'clock, with Father Archabbot Justin presiding and Fathers Germain and Joseph as assistants. It had been threatening rain, and so we lit the Easter fire in the Holly Tree Courtyard, rather than in front of the Archabbey Church. After entering the Church, Father Denis leading the way with the Paschal Candle, our choirmaster, Father Jeremy, sang the Exsultet. Monks and retreatants alternated the nine readings, and Father Adrian chanted the Resurrection Gospel after Abbot Justin sang the Triple Alleluia. Our Vigil of the Lord's Resurrection concluded just before eleven o'clock, and many of us then adjourned to our refectory for some wine and snacks before retiring after a long, but grace-filled day.

(31) Happy Easter! We observed our "most unusual" schedule of the year on this Day of the Lord's Resurrection: breakfast at 7:30, Lauds at 8:30, Midday Prayer at 11:30, followed by a social in our calefactory and then a fine main meal in our refectory. After a few quiet hours in the afternoon, we regrouped for II Vespers at 5 o'clock, followed by a buffet supper in our refectory. As usual, Compline closed the day at 7:00. May the Lord's blessings be upon us all, as we praise God for the gift of his Son-and may His Spirit be upon us always!

We conclude with a brief but timely excerpt from the Holy Rule:

"From Holy Easter until Pentecost, Alleluia is sung without exception in both psalms and responsories."

Chapter 15, "The Seasons for Alleluia"
Translation by Fr. Terence Kardong, OSB, monk of Assumption Abbey

To all our readers: May the peace of the Risen Christ be with you!

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.