October 12, 2015
Although it has been several weeks since the visit of Pope Francis to the United States, I find myself still engaged in the process of absorbing the many levels of the pope’s presence and his words. One of the few opportunities I had to see him deliver an entire address live was his message to the Congress on September 24. The historical import of the occasion was without precedent. More interesting for me was to see the respect and attentiveness displayed by the members of Congress and other government officials who were in attendance. To see the tears and the emotional reaction of both Vice-President Biden and House Speaker Boehner was touching. I found tears of my own welling up as Pope Francis mentioned the names of Dorothy Day and Thomas Merton as models (along with Abraham Lincoln and Martin Luther King, Jr.) for Americans to consider. He cited Dorothy Day’s intense commitment to the poor and those on the periphery of life. He held up Merton as an example of one who would engage in dialogue with people of differing views, creating an ecumenical web of contacts from his monastery in Kentucky. The fact that both of these individuals have monastic connections was of note. As most of you know, Dorothy Day was a Benedictine Oblate of St. Procopius Abbey and her cause for beatification is currently being considered. Thomas Merton, whose 100th birthday we celebrate this year, continues to influence countless individuals throughout the world long after his untimely death in 1968. They remind us of an age-old monastic truth: as much as we may want to detach ourselves from the things of this world, we are still called to do the work of God in the world. We are blessed to have such models as Day and Merton to instruct us how to do this in our American context.
In line with the Pope’s visit, I invite you to come to the Day Room at 2:30 on Sunday, October 18, for a review of the writing and witness of Pope Francis in his years as Pontiff. We will concentrate on the recent encyclical Laudato Si, but will also cover his talks in various venues when he was in the U.S. We will then have our regular Oblate Meeting in the Library at 3:30. We will be blessed with having Oblate Jim L’Allier give us the fruit of much of his hard work on developing a digital archive of the Abbey History. I know you will look forward to seeing it and discussing some of the important figures and events in Marmion’s history.
The monks of the community remain busy. Abbot Vincent returned from his meeting of the Abbot Presidents in Tanzania. He stayed for an extra week to take a safari and was pleased to have had the experience. He is back at Mundelein this week in charge of one of the seminarian residences. Abbot John is in Guatemala for twelve days. He will combine his visit with the graduation at our Colegio de San Jose. Fr. Marcos is spending time with his family in Colombia these days and Fr. Nathanael has just returned from a vacation of visiting monastic sites in the Midwest.
I ask your prayers for Br. Jude, who was admitted to St. Patrick’s Residence in Naperville on Oct. 9. He had been in the hospital prior to that date for treatment. He will join Abbot David in residence at St. Patrick. Fr. Basil remains in the infirmary and is grateful for your prayers as he deals with his pulmonary fibrosis. Please include in your prayers as well the infirm, aging and confined among our oblates. I welcome any particular prayer intentions you may have in this regard.
This has also been a busy time for our Academy and Abbey Farms. The Academy celebrates Homecoming this week and Abbey Farms is bringing in large numbers of people to their Pumpkin Daze with the cooperation of our beautiful autumn weather.
I want to take this occasion as well to invite you to take part in the liturgical life of Marmion whenever you can. Our weekday Mass at 11:35 is well populated. Saturday Morning Mass is at 8:30 and Sunday Mass is at 11:00. We also have a regular crew of oblates who attend our Vespers at 5:00. Please continue to pray for the monks as we do for you.
Fr. Joel, OSB