November is a strange month. It is arguably not as beautiful as October is, at least not in Southern Indiana, because the leaves have fallen, the landscape is bare, and there is little chance of snow (snow-haters can rejoice). The days grow shorter and shorter, but also busier and busier as the end of the semester and the "holiday season" approach. It can be a hectic time of year, too - one filled with head colds and sinus infections to boot.
The first day of the month, we celebrate All Saints, the day when we remember the Church Victorious, that is, all the saints in heaven. The second day, we celebrate All Souls, the day when we remember the Church suffering, that is, the souls in purgatory awaiting full entry into heaven. This is perfect timing, because there is indeed something very purgatorial about the month of November.
So how is the best way to survive this dreary, exhausting month? Give thanks. Give thanks for the successes of the year. Give thanks for God's promise of salvation in His Son, Jesus. Give thanks that Christmas is coming. In November, we remember that we have much to be thankful for, and that brings some lightness and cheer to these short, gloomy and busy days.
Every year, the monastic community celebrates Thanksgiving, just like most other American families. We have all the traditional favorite dishes, as you might expect, and many monks have family that come to visit the Hill, and so all the monks and all of the guests and any students staying here for the week have Thanksgiving dinner together on Thursday.
The night before, however, is the monastic community's private Thanksgiving celebration. The novices traditionally throw a party for the community, and there is an abundance of treats and good food and drink.
A month or so leading up to this event, the monks may write down what they are especially thankful for from this past year, and these notes are collected and read at the party. This custom is an intentional and meaningful reminder of how much we really do have to be thankful for at Saint Meinrad.
November 1-11: We celebrated the solemnity of All Saints and the feast of All Souls. Father Jeremy attended the International Congress of Benedictine Oblates along with Janice Dopp, our oblate director. Father Jeremy planned the liturgies for the event, and the event itself was coordinated by our Father Edward, and Janice had a large role to play in planning the event as well. Over 200 Benedictine Oblates from around the world attended.
The monastic community enjoyed pizza in the UnStable on Saturday the 4th, and the following weekend we had a community study day on the topic of mental health. Michael Day, a psychologist from the St. Luke's Institute in Louisville presented, and both he and the group discussions that followed were well received by the community.
November 12-19: A number of monks and co-workers attended the National Catholic Youth Conference in Indianapolis, and the monks were honored to lead compline and eucharistic adoration for the over 20,000 young people and adults present.
It was beautiful and moving how reverent silence fell so quickly on the stadium during our shared time of prayer. Many people approached Saint Meinrad's booth at the conference the next day to let us know that this time was the highlight of the event for them. What a blessing! There are photos and stories about NCYC from our archdiocesan paper, The Criterion.
In the monastery, we had a community meeting and learned that we will be taking our formal meal of the day "family style" instead of buffet style, so as to help make it a more recollected, prayerful and charitable daily occurrence.
November 20-30: Father Abbot and Brother Maurus left for a 10-day pilgrimage through Switzerland, Austria and Germany. Their plans included a stop at our motherhouse (founding monastery), the Abbey of Einsiedeln, in Switzerland.
The monks celebrated Thanksgiving once again (as detailed above) and those of the community who work or study in the school especially enjoyed some "time off." Fr. Thomas also attended a conference of American Catholic Philosophers in Dallas, Texas. Also, our podcast team has released a new episode of "Echoes from the Bell Tower" - be sure to check it out!
As always, feel free to submit any questions you might have about our life here at Saint Meinrad to firstname.lastname@example.org, and perhaps you will see one featured in next month's edition. I'm afraid no one submitted any questions last month, so here's your chance! I should mention - any questions you submit will be featured anonymously if selected. Thanks!
PS: I just learned that the above email address has not been working. However, we've now got it fixed, so if you sent me a question last month - please email again! Thanks.