April 10, 2016
Third Sunday of Easter
In this Easter Season I am reminded of an aspect of the Rule of Benedict and our monastic tradition that is often overlooked: the awareness and cultivation of beauty. This thought was prompted by a recent article in America magazine that highlighted the work of an artist-monk of St. Vincent Archabbey in Latrobe, PA., Fr. Vincent Crosby. The article underscored how Fr. Vincent saw the potential and purpose of beauty in all things, but in the monastic tradition practiced “utile art,” art that was done for the benefit of others in community. In Fr. Vincent’s case, that meant making Mass vestments and altar linens. In the larger tradition of monastic history that has meant illuminated manuscripts, icons and sacred sculpture. In our own house at Marmion we have had the late Fr. Gregory and Abbot Vincent use their gifts to make miters, copes and sacred art that has graced our chapels and lobby. Those of you familiar with St. Procopius know of the legacy of the late Fr. Michael Komechak, a legacy that is carried on today by Br. Kevin Coffey. I am proud to see our Oblates “writing icons,” making altar linens (and washing them!) and using their skills in a way that St. Benedict in his chapter in the Rule on artisans would say “is for the greater glory of God” (RB 57:9). For those of us whose artistic talent is at minimal level, we can at least take great appreciation over those people who enhance our environment of prayer and work. One of our oblates who will be honored at the Salute to Youth this month, Jim Kucienski, has been a member of the Patron of the Arts of the Vatican and has promoted the preservation and restoration of the artistic patrimony of the Vatican. We all know that true beauty always places us in touch with the truth. St. Benedict would have wanted us to see that connection and continue to profit from it spiritually.
I want to extend a sincere expression of gratitude for those oblates who did so much to enhance the Holy Week and Triduum celebration at the Abbey: Grace Koehler and Martha Piorkowski in the schola and Nick Gordon, Jim L’Allier and Anne Stanfa for serving as lector both for the Triduum and on a regular basis at daily Eucharist. Thanks too for all of those who took part on our Divine Office and liturgies.
I ask your prayers for a number of Oblate intentions. Please remember Phil Downey, father of Oblate Grace Koehler, who died on March 16. Pray too for the granddaughter of Oblate Sally Bach, who remains in serious condition from a traumatic brain injury in a San Diego hospital. Prayers are requested for all of our sick and ailing Oblates and monks. On a more positive side, please join me in passing on congratulations to Oblate Emily Zilly, who will celebrate her 105th birthday this month. I am not sure if we can calculate who is the oldest living oblate in the U.S. or the world, but Emily is certainly in the running!
Our next Oblate Meeting will take place on Sunday, April 17. At Vespers that day we will have the profession of new oblates. They include Julie Dresser, Michael Murschel, Anne Stanfa, and Donald and Bonita DeVale. You are reminded that there will be a collective renewal of profession for everyone in the ceremony at Vespers. At 2:30 on April 17 we will have a common lectio in the Day Room. Please bring a copy of the Scripture with you. For the Oblate Meeting we will discuss some business items and then have a discussion on some of the newer forms of monastic life that have arisen in the United States and elsewhere in recent years.
Looking ahead, we will have our May Oblate Meeting on Sunday, May 15. In the May letter I hope to include a list of pertinent dates for the summer months of events taking place at the Abbey. For now I wish all of you continued paschal joy and time to share your faith with family and friends.