Saint Meinrad Archabbey

A catholic monastery devoted to the teachings of St. Benedict

January 2011

(1) We concluded 2010 by celebrating I Vespers of the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God. After Compline yesterday evening, our last official community activity was Father Archabbot Justin's conference to us in the Chapter Room.

+++ Today, the Solemnity, is ranked as on O.P. Father Prior Kurt presided at our Eucharist and Father Ephrem, who has been with us for a while from his assignment in Rome, preached.

+++ Our "Monastic Observance" program, which began the day after Christmas, officially concluded, although two of the five men who participated in this opportunity to experience monastic life are staying with us for another day or two. Several monks were involved in working with or presenting conferences to our observers; Br. John Mark oversaw the almost week-long program.

(2) The Solemnity of the Epiphany of our Lord. An O.A., with Father Archabbot Justin presiding. Father Cyprian preached. We again enjoyed colloquium at our noonday meal.

(3) Father Tobias began his week as our Mass Heb.

+++ At a meeting of the Monastery Chapter this evening, our two novices, Michael Luckett and Timothy Wymore, were approved to profess their temporary vows, which they will do on January 20, during I Vespers of the Solemnity of St. Meinrad.

+++ Twenty-eight college seminarians from Bishop Simon Brute Seminary in Indianapolis arrived to begin a week-long retreat with us. They are directed by the Most Rev. Carl Mengeling, the former bishop of Lansing, and an alumnus of our seminary.

(4) The January Interterm session begins in our seminary tomorrow, and so the seminarians, like students around the country, are beginning their "slow-but-willing" return to their school. Most of them, anyway: about 15 are enjoying the special travel-study session in England and Italy, accompanied by Fathers Denis and Thomas.

(5) We received an e-mail from Father Harry in Korea: the ordinations of our two former seminarians, Pan and John, were beautiful!

(6) A quiet day on the hill, all things considered. Our housekeepers are getting ready for a lot of retreatants (see below), and we're keeping an eye out for the winter storm that's supposed to hit us sometime this evening.

(7) The retreatants are definitely coming! Arriving today and staying the weekend are 13 guests of the "Maker's Dozen" retreat from Carmel, Indiana. Father Sean is their director.

+++ Also, the "Epiphany Retreat" begins this evening and goes into Sunday morning. This is a discernment retreat in which 28 young men from the dioceses of Louisville, Lexington and Evansville are participating. The "Epiphany Retreat" is hosted by our Seminary with Father Brendan as the coordinator; he is assisted by Louisville Vocation Director Father Jeff Shooner and Lexington Vocation Director Father Steve Roberts.

+++ Our confrere, Father Raymond, on the staff of The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., celebrates his feastday today. We offer him our prayers!

(8) Fifty-one guests arrived from St. Charles Borromeo Parish in Bloomington, Indiana, today, to begin their Confirmation Retreat. Carl Wertin, a first-year theology seminarian from the Diocese of Pueblo, is their director. The retreat, which concludes tomorrow, is organized and facilitated by Mrs. Janis Dopp, an alumna (class of '98) and friend of the Archabbey.

+++ Brother Matthew is directing about 15 Boy Scouts from the Diocese of Evansville, who are on the hill making a one-day vocation retreat.

+++ And we welcome 30 young parishioners from St. Mary's Catholic Church in Huntingburg, who are making their confirmation retreat. Michelle Fisher is the facilitator and organizer, and the retreat is led by Alan Carter, a second-year theology seminarian from the Diocese of Lexington.

(9) Feast of the Baptism of our Lord-the "official end" of the Christmas season, according to some calendars. Father Sean began his week as our Mass Heb by presiding and preaching at our Conventual Mass, which began with the monastic community gathering at the west doors around the holy water font for the blessing of the water. We then processed into choir and continued Mass as usual.

+++ We've been getting snow flurries on and off this weekend; so far it's been, at worst, a minor annoyance for travelers and, at best, some winter beauty for our many guests.

+++ Father Adrian, celebrating the feast of his holy patron today, was our "coped presider" at Second Vespers.

(10) After thousands of miles, dozens of time zones, and even a trip across the International Date Line, Father Harry has returned from his Korean travels. He landed in Louisville yesterday evening and is fine-tuning his recovery from jetlag by spending a few days with his mother in Bardstown, Kentucky.

(11) The snow began overnight and continued throughout the day-steady, if not always heavy. It is beautiful, but it-and the weather throughout the Midwest-has also stranded some of our traveling confreres in places such as Wyoming, St. Louis and even Louisville.

(12) The snow continued to fall and blow around, but our physical facility crews are doing an excellent job keeping the on-the-hill roads clear, and the state and county seem to be doing pretty well at cleaning off the main routes around us. Our juniors and novices were not about to be overcome by such a thing as weather: they left for Evansville shortly before noon today for a brief outing, planning to take in lunch and a movie.

+++ We offer special prayers for Father Aelred today, who celebrates the feast of his holy patron.

(13) We received word today that our Father Gregory is one of eight pastors in the country who will be honored by receiving the National Catholic Education Association's Distinguished Pastor Award! The awards will be given in April when the NCEA meets in New Orleans during Easter week. Congratulations to Father Gregory! Many of our alumni will remember Father Gregory from his many years in our College (1965-1991), when he taught French and served as Dean of Students. Father's first parish assignment was in August 1989, as administrator of St. Henry Parish, St. Henry, IN. He became pastor of St. Benedict's Parish, Evansville, and, subsequently, St. Benedict's Cathedral, in August of 1991.

(14) It was announced this morning that Pope Benedict XVI has appointed Father Christopher J. Coyne as the auxiliary bishop for the Archdiocese of Indianapolis. Bishop-elect Coyne is a priest of the Archdiocese of Boston. The date for his episcopal ordination is scheduled for March 2.

(15) Today we celebrated the patronal feast days of Brother Maurus and Father Micheas.

+++ Delta Chi "A"s' Academy, from Iowa City, IA, are with us again for their annual retreat. We're happy to greet all 155 of the participants and their leaders.

(16) Father Eugene is our Mass Hebdomadarian this week. There were almost as many guests in the Archabbey Church as there were monks. Today is one of the major "Saint Meinrad Sundays," and so about a dozen of our priest-monks were spread throughout the state presiding at a parish's Saturday evening and Sunday morning Masses, giving the parishioners a brief report on the works of Saint Meinrad, and asking for their continued assistance prayerfully and financially. We do a lot at Saint Meinrad, thanks to a lot of generosity and support offered by our many friends!

+++ Father Harry celebrated today the feast of his holy patron.

(17) Today we celebrated the feast day of Saint Anthony, Father Anthony's patron. Known by many of our guests for his work in our apiary, Father Anthony serves as the administrator for the parishes of St. Meinrad and Fulda's St. Boniface.

(18) A gray and drizzly day, all day. The weather people tell us a lot of snow is on the way.

+++ We are preparing for the temporary profession of Novice Michael this Thursday, the 20th. His classmate, Novice Timothy, has decided to extend his period of novitiate for six months. We continue our prayers for both of these men. As we conclude our main meal each day, we add the following to our grace after meals: "May the example of our fraternal charity and our good zeal draw many others to join us in the monastic way of life." May all those discerning our way of life know God's guidance and peace!

(19) A quiet Wednesday-it seems everyone is getting ready for the coming snow.

(20) Novice Michael professed his temporary vows at I Vespers of the Solemnity of St. Meinrad this evening, taking the name Brother Elijah. His guests joined us for the evening meal, and then for a reception in Jack's in the Commons after Compline.

(21) Solemnity of our patron, and the sixth anniversary of the blessing of Father Archabbot Justin. We monks enjoyed a rare "social half-hour" following Midday Prayer, after which we were treated to a fine meal in our refectory. After II Vespers, we joined our seminary community for burgers 'n stuff in the Newman Dining Room.

+++ And, a happy feast day to Father Meinrad!

(22) We joined the Universal Church in observing the "Day of Prayer and Penance for Violations Committed against the Dignity of Life." Father Eugene, our Mass presider for the week, put things into context nicely in both his introductory remarks and his homily. The Mass prayers were taken from the "Mass for Justice."

+++ Father Vincent, the manager of our Guest House and Retreat Center, celebrated the feastday of his holy patron today. As we are fond of saying on these and similar occasions, "Ad multos annos."

(23) Third Sunday of Ordinary Time. Father Joseph is our Mass Hebdomadarian.

+++ About 105 of our seminarians are in Washington, D.C., preparing to take part in the annual Right to Life March tomorrow. They left the hill early yesterday morning in 10 vans; while in the Washington area, they will stay with families of Our Lady of Mercy Parish in Potomac, Maryland-all this carefully organized and arranged by Linda Budney, a member of our Board of Overseers.

+++ Closer to home, Brother John Mark is wrapping up his offerings on "Human Development and Christian Maturity" for the first of this semester's weekend courses. Other resident faculty who are teaching over the weekend are Dr. Keith Lemna, Dr. James Helmer and Dr. Robert Alvis.

(24) As referred to in yesterday's entry, most of our seminary community participated in the annual Right to Life March this afternoon. They'll start working their way back to the hill tomorrow. The official "Opening Day" of the semester is tomorrow, and second semester classes begin Thursday the 26th.

+++ Here on the hill the guests of Brother Francis have begun to arrive for his profession of solemn vows tomorrow. Until then, he is celebrating the feast of his patron-St. Francis de Sales-today!

(25) Feast of the Conversion of Saint Paul, and the Solemn Profession of Vows by Brother Francis de Sales Wagner. Formerly of the Diocese of Toledo, Brother Francis professed a life of obedience, stability and conversion during our morning Eucharist, at which Father Archabbot Justin presided. We congratulate Brother Francis and welcome him as our newest full-fledged member of the house!

+++ Today is Father Paul's feast day; he's celebrating in Rome, where he continues his studies leading toward a doctorate in sacred Scripture.

(26) The Seminary had its "Opening Day" for the second formation term, marked especially by the annual Bishop's Dinner in the evening. The Most Rev. Leonard Blair, Bishop of the Diocese of Toledo-in-America, was the guest and speaker. He spoke on the forthcoming new translation of the Roman Missal.

(27) We celebrated the feast day of Father Timothy, who presided at our Eucharist this morning.

+++ Tomorrow the "World Priest Workshop," which began this past Monday the 24th, draws to a close. Five international participants were here for this five-day workshop, organized by our Institute for Priests and Presbyterates.

(28) This afternoon we welcomed about 45 fourth graders from New Hope Academy of Franklin, Tennessee, for a 24-hour retreat. They are certainly making the best of their short time with us: it was nice, and rather unusual, to have so many guests join us for Compline!

+++ In the evening, Brother Zachary gave the first of his conferences to 43 participants from Good Shepherd Parish in Evansville. His theme is "Praying the Bible."

(29) About 35 monks feasted on 14 large pizzas at The UnStable-the first of three such "monk lunches" over these next few months. The pizza-makers were Fathers Prior Kurt and Patrick, Brian Lederer (a third-year theology seminarian for the Diocese of Duluth) and Tim Wyciskalla (a first-year theology seminarian studying for the Archdiocese of Indianapolis).

+++ Today and tomorrow Father Timothy is giving a retreat to 29 members of the St. Xavier (Louisville) Alumni Reunion.

+++ This evening at Vespers, our newly-professed Brother Francis assumed for the first time his duties as our Office Hebdomadarian.

(30) Father Harry is our Mass Hebdomadarian for the week. His homily included some relevant descriptions and comments about his recent trip to the ordinations in Korea.

+++ A southern Indiana delicacy-squirrel-appeared on the serving line in our refectory this evening. The treat was obtained, prepared and delivered by Rich Niehaus, a co-worker in our Physical Facilities Department.

(31) We received the oblation of Robert and Tina Searcy of Fisherville, Kentucky, after Noonday Prayer. May God's blessings be upon all our oblates, friends and benefactors!

+++ After Compline this evening, the monastic community proceeded to the Chapter Room, where we had the Aperitio Oris for our new solemnly professed Brother Francis. This "opening of the mouth" ceremony, consisting of prayers and a brief commentary on the role and responsibility of a capitular (monk in solemn vows), is the official welcome of the monk to the Chapter, the deliberative body of the monastery.

Question of the Month

Our Question of the Month comes from Carney Strange, a High School class of '65, College class of '69, alumnus:

So, what is a "Mass Heb." that you refer to in your monastic log entries? That's a new phrase for me.

I received this question from Carney just a few days ago. It's great timing since, as I look over this month's "About the House," I see that I refer to "Heb" directly or indirectly in the entries for each of the last three days (and, as usual, here and there throughout the month).

Hebdomadarian comes from the Greek hebdomas, which means "week."

A lot of our life in the monastery is structured according to "the week." Our praying of the psalter, for example, is based upon a four-week cycle. Also, many of the housekeeping and serving assignments in the monastery are scheduled on a weekly basis. We take turns by the week waiting tables, setting out and cleaning up after breakfast and lunch, reading at Mass, Office, and during the main meal, and the like. These weekly services are assigned by the Prior.

Traditionally, the monk who leads the Divine Office for the week (or presides at that week's Eucharist) is called the Office (or Mass) Hebdomadarian. At Office, the Heb intones the introduction, regulates the praying of the psalms, and prays the intercessions and the concluding prayer.

The Mass Heb, as mentioned, presides at the Eucharist and, according to our custom, preaches on Sunday and at least one other day during the week. Sometimes, but not always, a monk who is ordained will be both Office and Mass Heb the same week. The service of Hebdomadarian is reserved to those monks who have professed solemn vows-hence, my mention on the entry for January 29th of Br. Francis' first time as our Office Heb.

Quote of the Month

We conclude this month's log with a section from the Rule of St. Benedict:

You should become a stranger to the world's way of acting. Prefer nothing to the love of Christ.

Chapter 4, "The Tools of Good Works," vv. 20-21
Translation by Fr. Terence Kardong, OSB, monk of Assumption Abbey

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.