The Path of Life

The Path of Life

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Turn, turn, turn

Archabbot Justin DuVall


There has certainly been a lot going on around here lately--though you wouldn't know it from my blog, would you?

That's OK. This blog is more about prayer and reflection than it is about the latest news and up-to-date commentary. Still, I hope to post more often here in the near future. In the meantime, a little catalog for catching up, in case you hadn't heard:

  • Fr. Archabbot Justin DuVall on January 13 announced his resignation, effective with the election of the next abbot--scheduled for June 2. The election will take place after an extensive period of discussion and discernment (unlike secular politics). For those of you who wonder, according to the Constitution and Statutes of the Swiss-American Benedictine Congregation (of which Saint Meinrad is a member), "to be eligible as abbot, the religious must be a monk of the electing monastery who is not deprived of his passive voice; he must be a priest, perpetually professed for five years, and 35 years of age."

    To learn more about the Abbot's announcement, I invite you to read the articles on the Saint Meinrad Archabbey website and the The Criterion website from the Archdiocese of Indianapolis.

    Archabbot Justin's decision likely came as a surprise to many, though he recently entered his 12th year in office. It's not an easy job, to be sure. In the linked articles above, he explains the reasoning and timing of his decision. Basically, after a long period of prayer and discernment, he feels that both he and the monastic community are in a good position for a change in leadership.

    By the help of God's grace and with the support of many, Archabbot Justin has accomplished much during his tenure. Many on the "outside" will point to the building and renovation projects that have been completed on his watch, which have strengthened and enhanced Saint Meinrad's standing in the eyes of those who come here to study, learn, pray, rest, celebrate, or otherwise seek God. To those of us on the "inside," however, I can assure you that his impact has been far, far greater. He has been an exceptional abbot, a faithful monk, and a generous human being who has displayed and/or dispensed much wisdom, discretion, and humility. And I'm not saying that because I have to (I am his secretary). I don't have to, and wouldn't if it weren't true.

    There are, to be sure, a lot of heavy but grateful hearts both on the Hill and beyond. We wish him well as he finishes his days of service as abbot, as he takes some well-deserved rest, and as he continues his journey as a monk of Saint Meinrad Archabbey.

  • On Wednesday evening, at I Vespers of the solemnity of our holy patron Saint Meinrad, four -- yes FOUR! -- of our novices made their first profession. It's been a while since we've had a group such as that making their vows all at once. One of the things that makes first profession so exciting is that the professed take on new religious names. So, with that in mind:

    --Novice Timothy Herrmann = Br. Simon
    --Novice Peter Szidik = Br. Nathaniel
    --Novice Jonathan Blaize = Br. Joel
    --Novice Thomas Fish = Br. Jean

    You can read more about each one of them here. Four very fine young monks. May God strengthen and guide them as they continue to discern the monastic way of life.

  • And, if that isn't enough, on Tuesday evening before Vespers, we also welcomed a new novice into the community -- Joshua Leeuw. You can read more about him here. May he find peace as he seeks God in this place.

    We now have 10 junior monks in temporary vows -- TEN! -- as well as two novices. God and Chapter willing, three of the juniors will make their solemn profession this coming summer. Please keep them all in your prayers, and please pray for additional vocations to this way of life and this monastery in particular. And please pray for those of us who are already committed as solemnly professed monks, that we may always be faithful to our generous and merciful God's call. Most especially, pray for this community as it begins the process of electing a new abbot. May the Holy Spirit be our guide. Our Lady of Einsiedeln, pray for us! St. Benedict and St. Meinrad, pray for us!

  • As for me personally, I was able to spend a week or so right after Christmas with my family and friends in Ohio and West Virginia. It was especially fun to witness my 3-year-old nephew Evan's excitement and wonder during those days. He is obsessed with the movie The Polar Express. We only had to watch it three or four times during our short visit. He especially likes the "hot chocolate scene," and insists on a mug of the steaming beverage (with marshmallows) after coming in from the cold and snow.

    Tomorrow (January 24), I celebrate the feast of my holy patron, St. Francis de Sales. Incidentally, on that date every year, the Pope issues his message for World Communications Day (St. Francis de Sales is the patron saint of authors and journalists). Pope Francis' latest message, for the 50th such event, is worth reading, even if you are not an author or journalist. He addresses all those who communicate--which includes each one of us. It is titled "Communication and Mercy: A Fruitful Encounter." You can read it here.

    Finally, this coming week, I will be in class all day for the post-practicum course in the School of Theology's three-year Spiritual Direction Graduate Certificate program. This will fulfill my requirements for the certificate. So, I am looking forward to that.

Peace be to all. Have some hot chocolate. With marshmallows.

My nephew Evan sporting his 'tache' de chocolat.

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