The Path of Life

The Path of Life

Friday, September 30, 2011

Living stones of dedication

Twelve bronze sconces mark where the walls of the
church were anointed in 1997. The candle at each place is
only lit on this day each year to celebrate the dedication.
In the background is the shrine to Our Lady of Einsiedeln.

Today's homily delivered by Fr. Kurt Stasiak, O.S.B., the prior of Saint Meinrad Archabbey on this (for us) the Solemnity of the Dedication of the Archabbey Church of Our Lady of Einsiedeln:

Fourteenth Anniversary of the Dedication
of the Archabbey Church

Genesis 28:11-18
Ephesians 2:19-22
Luke 1:39-56

History records the cornerstone of this Archabbey Church being blessed and laid on the Solemnity of the Assumption in 1900. Seven years later, on the solemnity of Saint Benedict, the monks of Saint Meinrad entered the church in procession for the first time.

History records two major renovations: one in the late 1960s; the other, which culminated in the dedication of the church in 1997, the anniversary we celebrate today.

Of course, neither the construction nor the renovation of a church is ever really finished. The needs of the worshipping community change a bit with each new generation of monks, and so there are always adjustments, modifications. As the years go by, nature takes its toll: plaster peels, roofs leak, and repairs are needed.

And, as Brother Jerome [in chargeof cleaning the church] will readily attest, every day some cleaning and dusting is needed. A church may have a historical beginning, and a fixed date for its dedication. But the work of constructing and renovating the church really never ends. Just like the construction of the church building, the construction of the church body—the community that calls this particular church its spiritual home—is never really finished once and for all, either. With each generation of monks, the community changes shape and style, and adjustments are made. Repairs are needed: sometimes to the body as a whole, certainly to its individual members.

The tools used for this regular renovation and repair are familiar: mutual obedience, the monastic good zeal, the ladder of humility being among them. And, as we can all attest, there is the necessary daily dusting off of our ideals and cleaning up of our hearts. Like the construction of the church building, the construction and renovation of the church body—the community that calls this particular church its spiritual home—is never finished once and for all.

We monks spend so much of our lives here. And what we do here shapes so much of our lives. We receive our confrere’s vows, ordain our priests, bless our abbots. We ask forgiveness, anoint the sick, and bury the dead. And we gather daily, to be fed on God's Word and on the Sacrament of his Son. And through it all, in this church we have invoked the loving protection of Mary, Our Lady of Einsiedeln. That centuries-old image of the Church and Mary as our mother is true. As any proud mother would, Mary has watched us grow. Protective as mothers can be, she shows us a mother’s vigilance. Soothing as mothers are, she watches over this house as we stay awake, and as we sleep.

Through her intercession, the Lord certainly has done great things for us! He has shown us the strength of his arm. He has, time and again, lifted us up when we’ve been lowly. And he has always filled our hunger by putting food on our table and his Son’s Body and Blood on our altar.

With these kinds of blessings, the question psalmist asks comes to mind. How can we repay the Lord for his goodness to us?

Some 16 centuries ago, Saint Augustine celebrated with his congregation the anniversary of the dedication of their church. Augustine reminded his people that the church building was not the only focus of attention. He said:

The work we see complete in this building is physical; it should find its spiritual counterpart in our hearts. We see here the finished product of stone and wood; so too may our lives [like that of Mary’s] reveal the handiwork of God’s grace.

Through Christ, and through the intercession of Mary, Our Lady of Einsiedeln, may we be held together, and grow into a temple sacred
to the Lord.

The cemetery where our monks are buried. Each tombstone is carved from
sandstone, the same material used to build our church. These "living stones"
of years past remind us that we are part of the same living tradition.

No comments:

Post a Comment