Saint Meinrad Archabbey

A catholic monastery devoted to the teachings of St. Benedict

December 2014


First Week of December

November 30 was the First Sunday of Advent. Father Colman was our Mass Heb. We enjoyed a brief midweek visit from Abbot Vincent of Marmion Abbey, and closed out the week with a "monk lunch" at The UnStable.

Second Week of December

Father Harry was our Mass Heb for the Second Sunday (and week) of Advent. It was a busy week for him, as he also gave the community the first of our Advent Conferences Wednesday afternoon.

Sunday was also a very special day for our Father Patrick, and I reproduce here what I wrote for our in-house Community Bulletin:

This past Sunday I was honored to represent us at the retirement ceremony of Father Patrick, held at the Kentucky Air National Guard facilities (adjacent to the Louisville airport). The day began with Father Patrick's last Mass as chaplain, which was celebrated in the cargo hold of a C130 aircraft (a high wing, 4-propeller cargo and troop transport). I was assured this was the first Mass ever celebrated on an aircraft at the base! The ceremony, led by Colonel Dale, the Acting Commander of the 123rd Air Wing of the Kentucky Air National Guard, recognized Father Patrick's 5 years of service in the Air Force, one year in the Reserves, and 14 years in the Air National Guard. The ceremonies, attended by about sixty of his military superiors, colleagues, and "parishioners," included his receiving the Air Force Meritorious Service Medal (First Oak Leaf Cluster) and the Kentucky Distinguished Service Medal.

It was clear from what was said-both during the formal ceremony and in my conversations with many who approached me informally-that Father Patrick's service in the U.S. and at several of our bases overseas was highly valued.  The Acting Commander twice publicly thanked Saint Meinrad for our allowing Father Patrick to serve our men and women in uniform for so many years. Congratulations and well done, Father Patrick!

Father Abbot Justin presided at the Conventual Mass on Monday, December 8, the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception. Brother Simon Baker, OSB, of St. Benedict's Abbey in Atchison, Kansas, assisted as deacon and preached.

Father Eugene gave the monastic community our second Advent Conference in the Chapter Room Wednesday afternoon.

About 80 of our oblates came to the Hill this week for a retreat presented by Father Columba, focusing on "Some Tools for Experiencing the Presence of God in the Daily Life of a Benedictine Oblate."

Third Week of December

Father Eugene was our Mass Heb for this Third Sunday (and week) of Advent. In addition to Sunday, he preached three other days during the week.

During this week before Christmas, we usually have a Penance Service and an Anointing of the Sick. Father Sean presided and preached at our Penance Service, which took place immediately after Compline on Monday. He and four confreres served as confessors. We celebrated the Anointing of the Sick during Vespers on Wednesday. Father Abbot anointed seven of our confreres in the Archabbey Church, and after Vespers proceeded to the infirmary, where he anointed nine of our confreres in their infirmary cells.

At a Chapter Meeting this week, our five candidates were accepted into the novitiate! They will receive the scapular and begin their year-long novitiate on January 19. We congratulate these men for taking another step in their considering of our way of life, and assure them of our prayerful and fraternal support.

Saturday evening Father Adrian led about 20 participants in the Service of the Longest Night, a time of special prayer, listening to the Word, and reflection, offered specifically for those for whom the Christmas season is not so merry, due to the loss of loved ones, health, or other painful situations.  The service reminds us of one of our greatest hopes: that God's Word comes to shine light into our darkness.

We concluded the Third Week of Advent in the monastery with our tree-trimming party, which we held in the calefactory after Compline. We thank our juniors, novices and candidates of their competent and cheerful hosting of the festivities.

Fourth Week of December

Father Adrian was our Mass Heb on the Fourth Sunday of Advent.

On Monday, the Archdiocese of Indianapolis announced that Auxiliary Bishop Christopher Coyne has been named bishop of the Diocese of Burlington, Vermont. We congratulate Bishop Coyne, who will be installed on January 29.

Also on Monday, Father Abbot Justin offered the special blessing to Father Edward, who on December 29 left for Rome and the Collegio di Sant' Anselmo, the residence of the Abbot Primate and the International Benedictine House of Studies. Father Edward will be directing various Monastic Formation Programs at the Collegio, as well as offering hospitality to the many "Benedictine guests" visiting the Eternal City.

Archbishop Daniel returned to his cell in the infirmary. He had been recuperating and undergoing physical therapy at Scenic Hills Care Center in Ferdinand since his hip replacement in mid-September.

We celebrated our "Midnight Mass" at 10 o'clock Christmas Eve, and celebrated the "Day Mass" at 9:30 the next morning. Abbot Justin presided at both; he also preached at the Christmas Mass "at night," while Brother Luke assisted as deacon and preached at the Day Mass.

We followed our Sunday schedule on both Friday and Saturday, St. Stephen's Day and St. John's Day. Father Prior Kurt presided and preached on the feast of the Church's first martyr, and Father Vincent presided and preached on the feast of the evangelist.

Last Week of December

Father Tobias, our Mass Heb for most of the Christmas Octave, presided and preached on Sunday, the Feast of the Holy Family. On the last day of the year, we varied our table practice a bit: after the customary selections from the Rule of Benedict, the Martyrology, and our Necrology, we set aside further public reading for the meal and enjoyed listening to some Hayden! A pleasant-and quiet-way to "move into" the new year!

As this year closes, we thank God for the many blessings he has bestowed on us and our "Saint Meinrad Family." And we offer thanks to our friends, benefactors and co-workers: the many men and women who bring out the best in us and so help us offer our best to others.

We remember also those for whom 2014 has not been "a good year." We ask God to grant them perseverance, patience, endurance-and a lasting hope. And we pray that God may send them his angels and their friends, companions to help them carry their burdens. May they indeed find in this coming year a strong and lasting peace, a calm and confident cheerfulness.

Each day the monks of Saint Meinrad Archabbey write another page in the long history of Benedictine monks throughout the world. Here are recent events chronicled at Saint Meinrad.