The Path of Life

The Path of Life

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Hope, Hold Firm, Take Heart

Photo by Krista Hall

Today was the abbatial blessing of Archabbot Kurt Stasiak, OSB, with Indianapolis Archbishop Joseph W. Tobin, CSsR presiding at Mass and conferring the blessing. In my time here, I have never seen the Archabbey Church so full -- with visiting abbots, bishops, priests, deacons, alumni, students, faculty members, co-workers, oblates, other guests, personal friends of Fr. Abbot, and more. I hate to hazard a guess, but I'd say there were well over 300 people present -- possibly 400. At times, such as at Communion, it was a little tricky to maneuver!

It was certainly a festive day, and all the stops were pulled liturgically and otherwise: the church was adorned with flowers and banners (and with flags outside), and the air was filled with incense, the mellifluous voices of all those worshipers, and the resounding notes of organ and brass instruments. Particularly moving was the litany of the saints, chanted by the entire congregation as Archabbot Kurt lay prostrate on the floor in front of Archbishop Tobin. After the litany, the archbishop presented Fr. Abbot with The Holy Rule of St. Benedict, and his ring, miter, and crozier. (To see a slideshow of the occasion, click here. And, to view even more photos of the event, click here.)

The picture above, taken by Krista Hall of our Development Office, is the combined coat of arms for Saint Meinrad Archabbey and Archabbot Kurt, which was placed above the main entrance to the church for the day's festivities. On the left side of the shield are two ravens representing the Abbey of Einsiedeln (our mother house in Switzerland), and a ship symbolizing the arrival of the first monks from Einsiedeln who came here to establish Saint Meinrad in 1854. Fr. Abbot's coat of arms on the right (which was created by our Br. Martin Erspamer, O.S.B.) depicts an eagle, evoking the coat of arms for Germany, where Fr. Abbot was born in 1952. Below the eagle is a representation of the U.S. Air Force insignia, with its star and outstretched wings. (Fr. Abbot grew up in a military family, having been adopted shortly after his birth by an American Air Force officer and his wife, who were living in Germany at the time; he is to this day very much an aviation enthusiast.)

Incidentally, Archabbot Kurt has chosen for his abbatial motto words from Psalm 26 (Grail translation): "Hope, Hold Firm, Take Heart."

Please join in praying for him and our entire monastic community, with this prayer from the Rite of Solemn Blessing of an Abbot:

Give him the gifts of your Spirit.
Set him on fire with love
for your glory and for the service
of your church,
and may he in turn
inflame with zeal
the hearts of his brothers.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Pondering the Word (No. 6)

"There is need of only one thing."
Luke 10:42

Today's first reading (Genesis 18:1-10; Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C) is about providing hospitality. So is the Gospel (Luke 10:38-42), but from a radically different perspective. The well-known story of Martha and Mary demonstrates that before we can provide hospitality to others, we must first receive what is provided by God alone. We must first benefit from the hospitality and wisdom of Christ--in our time, through Scripture, Sacrament, and prayer.

Yes, there is a time to act, to provide hospitality, to do good works, but how can we possibly know what these should consist of, in what manner they should be done, or to what extent? What is God's will? This should always be our primary concern and motivation. This is the "one thing necessary" of which Jesus speaks. Mary, he says, "has chosen the better part" by sitting at the Lord's feet and listening to what he has to say.

How often do we truly find ourselves in the posture of Mary--attentive to what God is saying to us in Scripture, Sacrament, and prayer? Honestly? Are we truly receptive to what God alone offers to provide us--which is his very self?

Or, like Martha, are we burdened with the many activities and works we have taken upon ourselves, resentful of carrying such a load, and ultimately telling Jesus what to do?!

If we, like Martha, are "anxious and worried about many things," could it be that we have forgotten the "one thing necessary"? Have we neglected to choose the "better part" -- first and foremost, sitting at the feet of the Lord in prayer and listening to him?

Have we taken the time, before busying about ourselves, to first receive what the Lord has to offer--indeed, what he alone can provide?

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Wisdom's mystery

"The trees and the stones will teach you
what you will never learn from the masters."

St. Bernard of Clairvaux

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Pondering the Word (No. 5)

Sometimes we can make religion too complicated. Following God's will for our lives, Moses says in today's first reading (Deuteronomy 30:10-14) is not something "too mysterious or remote for you." God's will for us, he says, is "already in your mouths and in your hearts; you have only to carry it out."

In the Gospel reading (Luke 10:25-37), a scholar would rather quibble and justify himself than pay heed to such a simple instruction regarding what he must do to inherit eternal life. When Jesus asks him what his understanding amounts to, the scholar replies: "You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your being, with all your strength, and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself."

Bingo, Jesus says (essentially).

But that's not good enough for this questioner. He presses: "And who is my neighbor?"

Jesus responds by telling the parable of the Good Samaritan that we know so well. Which of the people in the story, he asks, "was neighbor to the robbers' victim?"

Again, the scholar gives the glaringly obvious answer: "The one who treated him with mercy."

To, this, Jesus simply says, "Go and do likewise." Nothing complicated about that. Love God above all else, know God's love for you, and treat others as you would like to be treated--indeed, as you desire God to treat you, with mercy.

As God's creatures made in his image, mercy is already in our hearts. We have only to carry it out. "Do this and you will live."

Who is your neighbor? The answer, most likely, is right in front of you.

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Seek and strive after peace

"You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart,
and with all your soul, and with all your mind.
This is the greatest and first commandment.
And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself."

Matthew 22:37-39

In order to be a teacher of peace,
a person must first of all
nurture peace within the self.
Inner peace comes from knowing
that one is loved by God
and from the desire
to respond to his love.

St. John Paul II

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is doubt, faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light;
Where there is sadness, joy.

O divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
To be consoled as to console,
To be understood as to understand,
To be loved as to love;
For it is in giving that we receive;
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
It is in dying to self that we are born to eternal life.