Director's Letter

November 11, 2015

Feast of St. Martin of Tours


November brings in its wake a spirit of remembrance.  As a Church we remember the souls of the faithful departed, a practice promoted from its earliest years by such notable monks as Pope St. Gregory the Great and St. Odilo, Abbot of Cluny, who was the principal mover behind the Feast of All Souls.  As a country we take time off to remember the dead of our Armed Forces on Veterans Day.  We do that on November 11, a day that fittingly has us also commemorate the figure of St. Martin of Tours.  Martin was a soldier in 4th century France who, as a catechumen, had the remarkable experience of receiving in a dream the message that the poor man to whom he had given half his cloak at Amiens was Christ.  Martin immediately leaves the army, converts to the Christian faith, and then receives intense ascetical training under St. Hilary as he becomes a monk.  Like so many virtuosi of the monastic life, Martin was soon called from solitude in his monastery at Liguge to exercise his clear leadership skills and was named Bishop of Tours.  Much of this part of his life, as recounted by Sulpicius Severus, recounts Martin’s spread of the monastic movement in all of France and his miraculous healings and exorcisms.  We should also recall that when St. Benedict first came to Monte Cassino and discovered a pagan altar, he ordered its destruction and then consecrated the sanctuary to St. Martin.  So as we remember St. Martin and his rich legacy let us continue to pray for monastic men and women to follow in the footsteps of Martin and for all of us to maintain a sincere remembrance of our deceased forebears in the faith throughout this month of November.


As I mention our commitment to prayer, I want to publicly thank those oblates who have made prayer with the monks part of the pattern of their life. Some of you come regularly to our weekday Eucharist.  It is edifying to see your faithfulness.  A few of you have made daily Vespers part of your rhythm of prayer and it is always good to have you join the monastic choir at the end of the day.  I invite you again consider coming to our Holy Hour of Eucharistic Adoration on the first Sunday of each month in the hour before Vespers at 5:00.  I know that many of you who pray your Office privately make a conscious effort to join your prayers with that of the public prayer of the monks.  Once again, thank you for that effort.


Our next meeting will be on Sunday, November 15.  At 2:30 we will meet in the Day Room, where we will discuss the sources that St. Benedict used in writing his Rule. For those of you who plan to come, I suggest that you bring a copy of the Rule and perhaps your Scripture.  At 3:30 we will have a short business meeting and then we will discuss the origin and development of the educational apostolate at Marmion and at other American monasteries.  We will concentrate on knowing the story of Marmion’s involvement with Catholic Education. 


At the November meeting I will also be taking reservations for our annual December Christmas dinner with the monastic community.  It is scheduled for Sunday, December 20, after Vespers and Benediction.  For those of you planning to be present at the November 15 meeting, you may confirm your intent to come to the dinner then.  For those of you who cannot be here November 15, please send me a notice if you intend to come to the dinner on Dec. 20.  As a reminder, oblates are welcome to bring a “non-oblate” spouse to the dinner.


Concerning news of the monks, Br. Jude is back at the Abbey once again after a stay at St. Patrick’s Residence.  Please keep him in your prayers along with Abbot David.  Among the oblates, your prayers are requested for Don Arndt, Anne Fitzpatrick, Ginger Salis, Anne Schaefer, and Sylvia Wegman, all of whom are dealing with serious health issues.     


I want to thank oblates Mary Kay Bakken, Ed Kunitz and Pete Koehler, for their work in taking over the responsibility for the outdoor Christmas crèche at the abbey.  Their plan is to have their new manger scene up the first weekend of Advent.  Thanks go to all of you who either helped volunteer at Abbey Farms for Pumpkin Daze or came out with family and friends to visit.  I hope you can do the same for our Christmas tree sale season.  A final word of thanks goes to Jin L’Allier, for his fine presentation at the last Oblate Meeting of monks involved in the “Marmion Story.” I encourage you to avail yourself of the DVDs Jim has made (available in the Abbey Library) that tell much of the story of Marmion.


Ending on a note of gratitude seems appropriate as I pass on prayers for a Blessed Thanksgiving to all of you.  Some people ask the question: “Do the monks celebrate Thanksgiving.”  Assuredly we do.  We have our Mass late morning on Thanksgiving Day and then have our main meal immediately afterward.  It is a day when we have little or no parish work and the Academy is on break, so it constitutes a true day of leisure when we can give thanks to God for all his gifts.  Among the abbey’s gifts are all of you oblates.  For you we say sincerely, Deo gratias.


In Christ,

Fr. Joel, OSB

Oblate Director