Saint Meinrad Seminary & School of Theology

Formation and Education for the Life of the Church

Following Christ in the Shadow of Crisis

by Eston Blair


Editor's note:  This post originally appeared in our student newsletter, The Raven. To read more, click here.

I was praying with FOCUS missionaries in a chapel not too long ago.  We were kneeling before the Blessed Sacrament with listening hearts.  The monstrance glistened on a marble altar, with a mosaic of Our Lady of Guadalupe praying serenely behind Him.  The afternoon rain from the mountains softly calmed the garden outside.  It was as if God was instilling a new hope thorugh our own poverty and for the poverty we witnessed.  We saw simple joy in the poor.  The raining down of graces was consoling, and our deepened undertsanding of God resulted from one thing.  What was that one thing?

Arriving to St. Meinrad as a new seminarian was like a newcomer arriving in Hobbiton.  Once I saw the Abbeyton spires I had instant peace.  Benevolent villagers were eager to take my belongings, bags, and books to my hole.  You could tell the second theology villagers were the most excited ones for the school.  Even the gregarious mayor new my name!  "Tulsa!"  Well, nice try anyway.  Once I was selttled in, meeting new villagers of my class was a welcome sight.  Orientation days, sung by the vice-mayor, gave way to a week of prayers.  Then classes begun, focusing on Abbeyton ancient lore, creeds, villager maturity and development, and Latin (though there was that guy who took Greek).  Looming, though, was the spewing ash from Mount Doom, festering clouds of sin.  It would seem as if our class came in at the right time.  Our formation would consist in eventually fighting evil forces as, God willing, priests of Jesus Christ.

In the wake of disturbing reports of sexual scandal, I disheartened but not weary.  The abuse details are a crude look into the perversion of healthy, mature, and integrated sexuality.  It is just to ask how this happened, to make amends, to make public all the jury reports, and to pray for the victims of the abusers.  Some may say, to an extreme, that the Catholic Church is doomed in America, that behind the mask of clericalism this was a fatal blow.  Yet there is a fellowship, called by God and forged in grace, to die. To die to themselves just as Christ did for His Church.

We have a rapport among our entering class.  Aware of the scandal, I believe it has steeled our resolve to be holy, learned, and dedicated priests.  We are doctors, engineers, IT wizards, scientists, teachers, historians, lawyers, accountants: sons of God.  We have prayed chaplets of divine mercy, the Stations of the Cross, and rosaries together for our Church.  We believe, with an existential register, that our Church is worth fighting for.  In fighting our vices: with patience and humility, with discernment and rightousness, with chastity and perseverance, we will cover many sins with that one thing called love.

"No one," says Newman, "dies for his own calculations; he dies for realities."  The reality is this: our Church is Christ's bride.  She is alive, she is Beauty ever ancient ever new.

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Echoes from the Bell Tower is a blog devoted to observations on Christian faith, spirituality and everyday events, by authors with a connection to the Benedictine values found at Saint Meinrad Archabbey and its Seminary and School of Theology. Contributors include students, permanent deacons, Benedictine oblates and Saint Meinrad monks. Their stories, thoughts and ideas highlight the mission and vision that ring out from the bell towers on this Hill in southern Indiana.