Director's Letter

August 6, 2015

Transfiguration of the Lord  


The Feast of the Transfiguration has always had a privileged place in the monastic tradition.  It incorporates both the central teaching of the paschal mystery and the desire on the part of every follower of Christ to linger in contemplation at seeing the glorified Christ.  Icons of the Transfiguration have figured prominently in the artwork of monastic churches and houses. At Marmion many of the monks have made their simple and solemn professions on this day.  Nor should we lose sight of the fact that August 6 marks the day of the detonation of the first atomic bomb over Hiroshima, Japan, in 1945, as well as the date of death for Pope Paul VI in 1978.  Like so many of the popes of the twentieth century, Paul VI was a forceful voice against the violence of the arms race and the need for a peace that is built upon justice.  Knowing that one of the Benedictine mottos is Pax (Peace), let us heed the exhortation of St. Benedict in his Prologue, “to let peace be our quest and aim,” as we pray ardently for that peace in our own hearts and in our world that is so much in need of it.  


It has been a busy summer of comings and goings for the monks.  Abbot John, Abbot Vincent and Fr. Charles accompanied a group of over thirty Trustees and friends of the Abbey on a trip to Guatemala and the celebration of the 50th anniversary of our foundation of the Priory and our school there.  All of those who were present made comment on how alumni of the school and the people of Guatemala who took part in the celebrations showed great fondness and thanks for the work of the monks and the fruits that have been the result of Marmion’s presence with its school and priory in both Solola and Quetzaltenango these past fifty years.  


We will be blessed this coming academic year to have both Br. Antony Maria and Br. Theodore “at home.”  Since they will be coming up to solemn vows next summer, they have taken a year off from their studies to take an active part in the Academy, as well as live the round  of community life in the monastery.  


As always, there are health updates on the abbey monks.  Many of you know that Fr. Basil returned to the abbey from Rush Copley Hospital on July 10. He remains in the Abbey Infirmary, but has been able to resume a number of his duties as Prior.  Because of his pulmonary fibrosis, he does require oxygen.  He continues to do occupational therapy and has been able to recover a certain independence with the help of a scooter.  He appreciates very much all of the prayers and expressions of support he has received from the oblates. Please continue to keep him in your prayers.  Fr. Mario remains in serious condition with pneumonia, a swollen knee as a result of the fall he suffered July 10, and low oxygen levels.  He is presently at Mercy Presence Medical Center. Please keep Fr. Mario in your prayers, as well as Abbot David, at St. Patrick’s Residence in Naperville.  


For those of you who have been coming to Office or Mass since early July, you may have noticed that the front sections of our choir stalls were removed for restorative work.  They were brought back on August 5 and are now in place once again.  These choir stalls, built by our Br. James in 1952, represent the one part of the “old chapel” that are still present in our Abbey Church.  


On the subject of restoration and care, I want to give an update on our Way of the Cross.  We do have a Boy Scout secured for doing heavier maintenance on the path.  That will ease the manual labor that was previously exerted by our oblates.   


I want to give an early notice for our next Oblate Meeting.  It will be on Sunday, Sept. 20.  As we have done in the past, we will have a gathering in the Day Room at 2:30, where we will study what have been called the Benedictine Hallmarks.  These are distinctive qualities of Benedictine spirituality that many of our Benedictine schools have followed.  I ask that you bring your Rule if possible.  At our regular meeting in the library at 3:30, Fr. Marcos will offer us a presentation on his experience in the formation program he was part of this past spring while in Italy.  


As a last suggestion, I want to recommend that our oblates read and try to absorb the latest encyclical of Pope Francis, Laudato Si.  The Abbey community has been reading it at table these past weeks and I would like to make it a point of discussion at our October meeting.  


Enjoy the rest of your summer!

Fr. Joel, OSB