Welcome back to "About the House!" Thank you for reading this blog and for your interest in our life here at Saint Meinrad. I'm excited to tell you about a few additions and changes to the blog.
First of all, it will now be updated monthly, and in addition to featuring news and goings-on "about the house" like you're accustomed to, it will also include a new column entitled "What about the house?," which will explain different customs and traditions that make our life in the monastery unique.
Readers will also be able to email any questions they might have about the monastery to our new email address, email@example.com, and each month we'll select a question or two to answer. Finally, look forward to pictures, videos, and possibly other media in future installments. Thanks again for your time and interest, and happy reading!
What about the house? Table Reading
In the monastery, we are typically allowed to talk at only one meal a day. Breakfasts are a simple affair, and they are always taken in silence (except for on Easter!). We have one informal meal a day where conversation is permitted (normally lunch), and we have one formal meal a day where we do not have conversation (normally supper), but listen to reading instead.
We begin this meal with a prayer, and then we listen attentively as an excerpt is read from the Rule of St. Benedict. Then, we begin to eat as the reader reads the short biography of any saint whose feast will be celebrated the next day.
If the next day is also an anniversary of a confrere's death, we honor their memory by hearing their biography read as well. Finally, the reader begins to read from a book or article as we continue and finish our meal, which is then closed with a prayer of thanksgiving and a prayer for vocations.
It sometimes surprises visitors to the monastery that we do not always listen to spiritual reading at table. Instead, we also choose biographies, history or some other nonfiction. This variety is a recognition that all truth is God's truth and that there is value in reading books that give us insight into the human condition, which God himself embraced in the incarnation.
Many monks would say that the variety of table reading helps them better appreciate when we hear spiritual reading. Sometimes, though, books chosen at table aren't always popular with everyone and, as a result, they often inspire discussion and reflection after dinner, during community recreation.
We finished October with the book we are currently reading, Lion: A Long Way Home by Saroo Brierley, the true story of a young boy who was tragically separated from his family in India, adopted and raised by an Australian family, and then reunited with his biological family after searching for them as a grown man. So far, this book seems to be liked well by the community!
October is a beautiful month. We celebrate the harvest, fruits and the accomplishments of summertime, and as the days grow shorter and cooler and the leaves mature from their youthful green to more subdued shades of orange, red, yellow and brown, we are reminded that all things must come to an end. This needn't be a bad thing - the beauty of the autumn is proof of that.
October 1-7: We celebrated both the 20th anniversary of the Dedication of the Archabbey Church and the new restoration of the Monte Cassino Shrine. We also offered a social and liturgical welcome to our new archbishop, Charles Thompson. Br. Maurus announced the release of new audio tours on mp3 players available to our guests, and we welcomed the Overseers and Trustees of the Seminary and School of Theology for their regular meeting. It is always a blessing to have them join us for prayer in the Archabbey Church. Fr. Luke offered a midweek retreat entitled "Hail Mary Full of Grace: Pray with Mary."
October 8-14: Br. Jacob announced new barber shop and fitness room equipment available for use by the monks in the monastery, as well as new pens and previously owned wristwatches for the taking. Also, Br. Michael Moran, CP, hosted an icon painting workshop, and Br. John Mark announced that the monks of Saint Meinrad and the youth of "One Bread, One Cup" have been invited to lead 26,000 participants in Compline during the National Catholic Youth Conference next month at the Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.
October 15-21: The Archabbey Library art gallery bade farewell to an exhibit of photographs entitled "Little Women," by Andrea Hoelscher of Ferdinand, IN. Also, we welcomed many priests to prayer who were attending the World Priest workshop hosted by the Institute for Priests and Presbyterates.
October 22-31: A piano and violin concert was offered in the Bede Theatre. The seminarians joined us for Vespers in the Archabbey Church, and we joined them for supper and Compline in the seminary. We also welcomed the Abbot Martin Marty Guild at prayer during their annual day of recollection. We celebrated Halloween in the monastery by carving pumpkins and enjoying candy, treats and each other's company. We also enjoyed (in moderation) a "bourbon ale homebrew" crafted by Brothers Nathaniel and Jean.
Thanks for reading, and if you have any questions that you would like to see featured in next month's installment, please feel free to email them to: firstname.lastname@example.org.