(1) Father Mark is our Mass Heb on this First Sunday of
Advent. +++ It's been a quiet weekend on the hill-not
too many retreatants or seminarians during the Thanksgiving break!
That will change, at least in part, tomorrow: classes in our
Seminary and School of Theology resume.
(2) About 60 students from Bishop Chatard High School in
Indianapolis are concluding a two-day retreat here on the
(3) This is the feast of St. Francis Xavier, co-patron of our
Archdiocese of Indianapolis. Father Mark, our Mass Heb, presided
and preached at the Conventual Mass. +++ This evening
many in the seminary community attended a "practice lecture" given
by the second of three candidates applying for a teaching position
in sacramental-liturgical theology; we hope to have the position
filled in time for the 2014-15 academic year.
(4) Father Gavin gave an Advent Conference to the monastic
community this afternoon in the Chapter Room. +++ The
temperature reached almost 70 today, but we're bracing-as is much
of the area around us-for severe winter weather, predicted to
arrive within the next 36 to 48 hours.
(5) The main activity on the Hill today seemed to be revising
plans and making preparations in light of the severe winter storm
forecast to be upon us in the wee hours tomorrow morning. Various
trips have been cancelled or moved up or back a day or two. And, of
course, our Physical Facilities Department is checking equipment
and sand and salt supplies.
(6) Father Mark, our Mass Heb, preached at the Conventual
Mass this morning. +++ It's beautiful outside, but you
don't want to be out driving in it. The snow began shortly before
noon and lasted until five, with an accumulation of 4.5 inches. We
had four retreat groups of varying sizes scheduled to be with us
over the weekend. Two have canceled out, two trudged on, arrived
safely, and this evening began to enjoy our warm
(7) The snow is beautiful but it's also a hazard. One of our
younger monks was in a sledding accident shortly before noon: he
was t-boned by another monk as both were speeding down one of our
hills. In "an abundance of caution," he was taken to the hospital,
where he was treated and released. Several hours after that, three
of our "visiting Benedictines" were in a car accident; fortunately,
none of them was hurt. We're supposed to get a bit of ice overnight
… best to stay indoors?!
(8) Father Joseph is our Mass Heb for this Second Sunday (and
week) of Advent. +++ The two retreat groups
successfully managing the winter weather and storm were 50 members
of the Barth-Hamilton Retreat, a retreat that has been meeting at
Saint Meinrad for well over 40 years. Father Brendan was their
retreat master, speaking about "The New Evangelization."
Father Colman led the other group, some 25 guests in and
around the St. Louis area. We wish them-and all our weekend
guests-a safe return home.
(9) On this Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, Abbot Justin
presided and Deacon Brother Macario Martinez, one of our visiting
Benedictines, assisted and preached. Brother Macario is from
Conception Abbey, Missouri, and so this was a most appropriate day
for him in several ways: in addition to Mary Immaculate being a
co-patron of his monastery, today is also the 140th
anniversary of the founding of Conception Abbey. Ad multos
annos, brother confreres! +++ We in the monastery
enjoyed "Sunday schedule" today, and had colloquium at our
main (midday) meal. In the seminary, however, it's the last week of
the semester-which also means final exams-and so, other than the
liturgical celebration of this feast, it's not entirely a day of
rest! +++ However once again, our seminarians know how
to strive for integration and balance! This evening they presented
an Advent Lessons and Carol Service. Entitled "From Eden to Heaven:
The Story of Salvation," the roughly 75-minute presentation told
the story of Christ through alternating the reading of Scripture
and the singing of hymns and carols.
(10) Today we received word that Father Urban Federer was
elected the 59th abbot of Einsiedeln, our mother abbey
in Switzerland, on November 23. His solemn blessing and
inauguration will be on December 22. We congratulate Abbot Urban-an
alumnus! Abbot Urban spent a pastoral year at our monastery and
seminary in 1993-94. And on a personal note: I'm pleased to say
that he invited me to represent us at his ordination to the
priesthood and his First Mass in June 1994. It was a wonderful
time-my first and only trip to our mother abbey!
(11) Father Guy gave an Advent Conference to the community this
afternoon in the Chapter Room. +++ The 60 participants
on the Hill for the three-day meeting of the National Religious
Vocations Conference concluded their sessions at noon today.
(12) On this feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Brother Macario-our
deacon from this past Sunday-again assisted at Mass and preached.
He and most of our "visiting Benedictine students" will be
returning to their own monasteries over the weekend.
(13) The threat of a winter storm, predicted to begin overnight,
didn't keep over 70 of our oblates from coming to the Hill for a
pre-Christmas retreat. Father Eugene is the retreat master, leading
participants through "The Infancy Narratives of the Gospels of
Matthew and Luke." Beginning this Friday evening, the retreat
will conclude at noon on Sunday.
(14) The winter storm seems to be holding off, at least for the
time being, which encouraged many to come to the Hill this evening
for a splendid concert given by 68 grade and high school students
from Kentucky and Indiana, who comprise the Kentucky Youth Chorale.
Known for their performances with the Owensboro Symphony Orchestra,
as well as tour performances regionally and internationally, the
group, ranging in age from 8 to 16, presented a variety of
Christmas and holiday music.
(15) Father Denis is our Mass Heb on this Third Sunday of Advent
and throughout the week.
(16) We had our Advent Penance Service after Compline this
evening. Father Barnabas presided, and he and Fathers Cletus,
Meinrad, Ephrem and Joseph served as confessors.
(17) Father John McMullen from the recently closed Blue Cloud
Abbey in Marvin, South Dakota, arrived today. Similar to former
Blue Cloud monks Abbot Alan and Father Cletus, Father John is one
of Blue Cloud's "monks in transition," and will spend a period of
time with us before formally petitioning to transfer his stability
to Saint Meinrad Archabbey. Father John was professed on August 15,
1961, and ordained on May 29, 1966. He had been serving as pastor
of St. Mary's Church in Wilmot, South Dakota. Father John is an
alumnus of our college class of 1940, and so actually we welcome
him back! +++ (Background on Blue Cloud Abbey: Blue
Cloud was founded by Saint Meinrad in 1950, became a priory in 1952
and was raised to the status of an abbey in 1954. The decision was
made to close the monastery in 2012. There remain 10 monks "in
transition," seeking new canonical status. When all have achieved
this status, the monastery will be officially dissolved.)
(18) Many monks-and a good number of our neighbors-enjoyed a
special treat yesterday evening. The Heritage Hills High School
band and jazz choir presented a fine Christmas program in the
Archabbey Church. Heritage Hill High School is near Santa Claus and
Lincoln City, Indiana, a dozen or so miles from the Hill.
+++ This evening during Vespers, Abbot Justin anointed nine
of our confreres who had asked to receive the sacrament of the
Anointing of the Sick. After Vespers, he anointed another six
confreres who had remained in their infirmary rooms.
(19) Father Christian and Brother Matthew have arrived back on
the Hill, home for the holidays from their graduate studies at,
respectively, The Catholic University of America in Washington,
D.C., and the University of Toronto. We welcome them back and look
forward to getting caught up on things with them.
(20) Father Subprior Guerric landed in Zurich, Switzerland,
sometime in the early hours of the morning-our time. He is
representing Abbot Justin and our community at the blessing of
Einsiedeln's (our mother abbey) new abbot on the
22nd. +++ Our novice and junior monks
arranged everything just right, and we trimmed our Christmas tree
in the calefactory after Compline this evening. Various
refreshments fortified the trimmers and attracted the
(21) This shortest day of the year yields to the longest night,
of course, and this year, for some three dozen people, it concluded
with a rather unusual time of prayer and reflection at our Guest
House. I asked Father Adrian to describe it for you:
On Saturday, December 21, the
"longest night" of the year, Abbey Caskets staff members Jenny
Keller and Teresa Dilger, with Father Adrian as presiding minister,
offered an opportunity for some 35 people to gather in our Guest
House chapel for a "Service of The Longest Night" with prayers and
hymns, scripture and preaching. The intention of the service was to
offer a spiritual context for embracing sorrow and facing loss with
faith. In a candle-lighting ritual, participants were given a large
votive candle, which they took home afterward to continue praying
with their grief as a way to let it move on. After the 50-minute
service, light refreshments were provided by Abbey Caskets.
Participants were coworkers and clients of Abbey Caskets; two
ladies drove three hours to come for the service and were happy
they did - it was coincidently their first visit to Saint Meinrad!
Jenny says she hopes to do this again in 2014.
(22) Father Julian is our Mass Heb on this Fourth Sunday (and
week) of Advent. He'll have a short week, of course, since
Christmas and St. Stephen's Day are, respectively, an O.A. and an
O.P. +++ Father Sebastian arrived very early yesterday
morning (1:30 or so), due to some weather-delayed flights. He's
enjoying the break from his teaching and chaplaincy duties at The
Canterbury School in New Milford, Connecticut. We welcome him
home! +++ Saint Meinrad Alumnus (Theology, 1994) Father
Urban Federer was blessed as the 59th abbot of the
monastery of Einsiedeln in Switzerland, our mother abbey. We ask
God's continued blessings upon his prayer and work! Father Subprior
Guerric represented us at the blessing, as did two of our monks who
are pursuing graduate studies in Europe-Father Paul and Father
(23) Father Raymond is home for the holidays, enjoying a bit of
a break from his teaching duties at The Catholic University of
America. +++ For the most part, it's been "a quiet day
of much hustle-bustle," if that doesn't seem to be too much of a
paradox. Wreaths were hung, presents wrapped and the monastery
fireplace cleaned. Tonight at Vespers, we sang the last of the "O
Antiphons,"O Emmanuel. Come, Lord Jesus!
(24) We began Christmas 2013 with I Vespers, Archabbot Justin
presiding. About a half-hour after supper, we returned to the
Archabbey Church for Vigils, which included the famous (and
fabulous) Christmas sermon by Pope Leo the Great (died 461). Leo's
words are much awaited each year. Our midnight Mass was at 10
o'clock, and we were joined by about 100 or so guests. Abbot Justin
presided and preached, and Father Brendan sang the Gospel of the
(25) Wines, eggnog and bread pudding awaited us in the refectory
after "midnight Mass" yesterday evening. The liturgy ended around
11:30, and good cheer continued for another three-quarters of an
hour or so. Abbot Bonaventure presided at the optional Missa in
aurora (the "Mass at Dawn," the second of the three Christmas
Masses) in our infirmary chapel at seven this morning. The
community came together for Lauds at eight, and then a low-key
pontifical (miter and crozier only on the way in and the way out)
at 9:30, with Abbot Justin again presiding and preaching. We
concluded with II Vespers, a buffet supper (with plenty of
"extras"), and then Compline.
(26) The feast of St. Stephen, deacon and the Church's first
martyr, is an O.P.-ranked feast, and so Father Prior Kurt presided
and preached at the Conventual Mass. We're still very much in the
Christmas spirit, and so we followed the Sunday schedule today,
enjoying a later rising and the main meal at noon. And we give
feast day greetings to Brother Stephen Lawson, one of our visiting
Benedictines; he's at his monastery, St. Anselm's in New Hampshire,
enjoying being with his confreres after a successful first semester
in our seminary.
(27) We continue with our Sunday schedule as we celebrate the
feast of the evangelist St. John. This is one of only two
O.S.-ranked feasts (Order of the Subprior) in our liturgical
calendar (the other being Easter Tuesday). Subprior Guerric is in
Switzerland, however, where he attended the blessing this past
Sunday of Einsiedeln Abbey's newly elected abbot, and so Father
Julian was asked to be Office and Mass Hebdomadarian in his stead.
+++ This afternoon many monks visited the Guest House,
to say farewell to Jayne Mattingly, our faithful switchboard
operator of 35 years! We're grateful for her faithful, competent
and cheerful service spanning three-and-one-half decades, and wish
her well in her new ventures!
(28) This Saturday we returned to our weekday schedule-for one
day! Father Patrick presided at the Conventual Mass, wherein we
commemorated the Holy Innocents. +++ Yesterday evening
four young men arrived just before Vespers, to begin a Monastic
Observance Program that will last through Tuesday morning.
(29) This Sunday after Christmas is celebrated as the Feast of
the Holy Family. Father Patrick is our Mass Heb this week, and so
he presided and preached at the Conventual Mass.
(30) The year is all but over. End-of-the-year chores such as
office and cell cleanings, figuring out the last details of
budgets, and making resolutions for the coming year seem to be the
more visible goings-on and topics of conversation.
(31) In what has become his "custom," Father Abbot gave a
conference to the community on this last day of the year. We
congratulate Father Abbot on this, the ninth anniversary of his
election as our abbot, and promise him our continued prayerful and
fraternal support! +++ After the "introductory
selections" at our table reading this evening-the readings from the
Rule, the martyrology and the necrology-we monks enjoyed
music in place of the customary table reading, a bit of a change of
pace we turn to a few times during the year. Our selection this
year, recommended by Brother John, was "Perpetual Motion" by Béla
Fleck-a collection of banjo transcriptions of classical works.
As 2013 comes to a close, we thank God for the many blessings we
have enjoyed. We are particularly grateful 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 2013 as "a good year." May God grant them
perseverance, patience, endurance-and a lasting hope. And may God
send them His angels and their friends, so they do not carry their
burdens alone. We pray that, in this coming year, they may indeed
find a strong and lasting peace, a calm and confident