January 10, 2016
The Baptism of our Lord
It seems fitting that we end the Church’s liturgical season of Christmas with a Feast that has us commemorate our own birth into the new life of Christ at baptism. Whether we were baptized as infants or as adults, we need to see this as a turning point in our life. This is especially the case when we see reflected in the Christianity of today an attitude of indifference toward the ritual of baptism and the change of heart it asks of us. In the monastic world, one sees that profession was often regarded as a second baptism. This is highlighted in the Rule of Benedict, where St. Benedict gives us what amounts to a catechesis on baptism in his Prologue. It is a refrain taken up by many other monastic authors. The Cistercian abbot Guerric of Igny, tells us that if we have truly celebrated the birth of Christ, only then can we celebrate our own birth as sons and daughters of Christ. For me, I relish the first decade of the Mysteries of Light given us by St. John Paul II of the Baptism of Jesus. It invites us to reflect fittingly on this great event in the ministry of Jesus, an event that should continue to serve as a model and a spiritual stimulant for us today.
The new calendar year moves me to begin with a note of gratitude for all those oblates and spouses who shared with us the annual Christmas dinner with the monks on December 20. I want to give thanks as well for the achievements of a number of our oblates. I can begin with congratulations to my parents, Joseph and Helen Rippinger, as they celebrated the 70th anniversary of their marriage on Jan. 2. I want to extend another set of congratulations to two of our oblates, Don Arndt and Jim Kucienski, who will be honored in April at the annual Salute to Youth Benefit of Marmion Academy. We give thanks for the example of these oblates and all whose lives are characterized by service and faithfulness.
I ask your prayers for the monks of the abbey as we enter this new year. Abbot John is currently in Guatemala on his trip that coincides with the beginning of the academic year for our Colegio de San Jose. Both our Priory in Xela and our Abbey in Aurora will be having regular visitations in the coming months, so the need for prayers are in order that both communities will benefit from this process of evaluation and review. Prayers are also requested for the sick in our oblate family and the abbey community, particularly Br. Jude, who was hospitalized this past week (multiple heart and circulatory problems) and is now back home.
Our next oblate meeting is scheduled for Sunday, January 17. For our session in the Day Room at 2:30 I would like to review procedures for praying the Divine Office both in private and public. You may bring a version of your own Divine Office books if you wish. At our general meeting in the Abbey Library at 3:30 I would like to discuss an article from the American Benedictine Review by Sr. Julia Upton that profiles and analyzes Benedictine Oblates today. It is in the December 2015 issue of the ABR. I will have copies available for your use at the meeting.
At the Jan. 17 meeting I will also have available Bona Opera forms for those who wish to make one out. Since Lent comes quite early this year (Feb. 10 is Ash Wednesday) we need to do that now. Anyone who wishes to receive a Bona Opera form by e-mail or surface mail should request it of me. With respect to Lent, I want to let you know that the Marmion Alumni Board will sponsor the annual Lenten Day of Recollection on Saturday, Feb. 20. It will be given by a Marmion monk. Further details can be obtained through contacting the Marmion Alumni Association.
Looking at our calendar of meetings for the new year, we are scheduled for the third Sunday each month. There was also a consensus to have our Final Oblations and Renewal of Profession on Sunday, May 15.
My special prayer for you this first month of 2016 is that you can be true instruments of God’s mercy for those you encounter, honoring this Jubilee Year of Mercy in the process.
Fr. Joel Rippinger