Director's Letter

February 14, 2016

The First Sunday of Lent


    Among the manifest graces of being a Catholic and living in a community is the sense of solidarity we have from doing things together.  That is most certainly the case with the liturgical season of Lent.  No matter how many times we have made the Lenten journey, we do it again each year with the benefit of others and with a spiritual intensity that is bolstered by the resources from which we draw. 


    For those who live a Benedictine life, the Gospel setting of the First Sunday of Lent is riveting.  The experience of Jesus in the wilderness is meant for us as a model.  Every Lent we enter anew into that place in our lives that is no longer a comfort zone.  It is the place where we confront the reality of temptation and the inadequacy of our own paltry resources.  Jesus in the desert with the devil delivers for us a lesson in combat with the enemy: use the Word of God.  For each of the temptations of Satan, Jesus has a Scriptural rejoinder that shuts the door on the devil’s efforts.  For us there is a clear lesson that the cultivation of our lectio divina and a genuine love for the Word of God will carry us through the most difficult times of trial and temptation.  Along with fasting and almsgiving and regular prayer, they are the instruments we take up against the evil one.  We are also reminded in the Gospel passage that even when Satan leaves “for a time” as he did at the close of the confrontation, he will return.  Perhaps that is why having the Benedictine medal on our person and relying upon the support of fellow members of a faith community can keep us strong as we walk with one another on our Lenten journey.


    With respect to Lent, I want to thank all of you who handed in your Bona Opera forms.  They have all been seen and signed by Abbot John.  I will have them available for those who wish at our next meeting on February 21.   We will have an opportunity on that day at 2:30 to do some lectio divina in common in the Day Room.  Please bring a copy of your Scripture with if you wish to take part.  For our general meeting in the library at 3:30 I would like to have a presentation and discussion on the topic of mercy in conjunction with our Year of Mercy.  At that meeting I am hoping to secure names of those who are requesting to make their oblation in May.


    One of my hopes this year is to involve some of our oblates more actively in our wider Benedictine world.  There are two opportunities this coming year to do that.  One is at the biennial convention of the American Benedictine Academy at Our Lady of Grace Monastery near Indianapolis, July 21-23.  The leadership of the Academy has had oblates in great number in recent years and the oblates are now a substantial part of its membership.  I would be happy to provide anyone with further information on that meeting.  At the same time, I am asking for oblates to go this fall to a regional Oblate Meeting at St. Meinrad Archabbey, Oct. 2-4.  For those of you who have not yet visited St. Meinrad (our motherhouse) and who would like to meet other oblates of our Midwest region, this would be a wonderful opportunity.


    While I am speaking of opportunities, there have been a number of oblates who have inquired as to how they can be of assistance to the monastic community.  In the past that generous offer has seen oblates serve as chauffeurs, lectors at Mass, technological consultants, liturgical artists and makers of desserts.  If you have a particular gift you feel you should share with the monks, let me know.  I envision a list of volunteers that will grow in number and variety.


    There are a few other dates you should have on your schedule.  February 20 is the Morning of Recollection with Fr. Basil.  March 20 (Palm Sunday) will be our March meeting date.  We needed to change that because of a schedule conflict.  Our meeting dates in April (17) and May (15) will take place on the third Sundays as well.  


    During this Lent I ask your prayers for a number of intentions.  Please pray for our community here and in Guatemala.  We will both have visitations in upcoming weeks and that is always a healthy and grace-filled process.  Abbot John and Abbot Vincent will be in Guatemala next week on matters that pertain to the Priory, so please keep them in your prayers. Pray too for the sick and infirm of our monastic and oblate family, along with prayers for vocations to Marmion and for new oblates.


    Know that in this Lenten season all of the oblates are remembered in a special way in prayer.  May it be for you a time of spiritual growth and fruitfulness and may you follow the counsel of Benedict in his Rule and look forward to holy Easter with the joy of anticipation.


In Christ,


Fr. Joel

Oblate Director