April 2, 2017
Fifth Sunday of Lent
Catholics of a certain age remember the term “Passiontide.” It was the term used to designate the last two weeks of Lent, including the time of “Holy Week,” another term that is likely to register a question-mark look if posed to millennial believers. Churchgoers would know of the transition into Passiontide by how all of the statues of the church were covered in purple. More to the point, one was alerted to the intensification of “sacred time,” when we knew the special liturgies and rituals leading up to the celebration of Easter would take place. Within the monastery, there have always been special rituals that accompany this last period of Lent, leading up to the Easter Triduum. There are more meatless meals. The hymns and antiphons take on a special character. For Palm Sunday and Good Friday, we hear the Passion accounts sung, and for the period of the Easter Triduum we have our Tenebrae service and the bells are silenced for three days. While the cultural cycle of a new baseball season and the entertainment and business worlds go their way, the “Benedict option” is to concentrate the mind and heart on the events surrounding the paschal mystery. I hope that you find time to give yourself over to fully participate in the liturgical time of Passiontide.
Our next Oblate Meeting will be on Sunday, April 9. We will meet at 2:30 in the Day Room for a discussion of “oblates you should know.” It will speak of oblates past and present, including those of Marmion, who offer us models of what it means to live a faithful oblate life. For our regular meeting at 3:30, we will discuss our plans for The Outdoor Way of the Cross and do some remote planning for the summer and the next calendar year, as well as for the renewal of oblation at our May meeting. On April 9 I will also have available the Give Us This Day booklet for the month of May.
Your prayers certainly are needed for some of our ailing monks. Fr. Basil was hospitalized on March 27 with a number of serious problems connected to his pulmonary fibrosis. Since then he has had notable improvement and expects to be home again soon. Fr. Charles is facing carotid artery surgery on April 6. Fr. Kenneth appreciates your prayers for his health issues as he prepares for his trip to Lourdes the first week of May. I do invite you to pass on to me any requests you may have for prayers for the sick and deceased members of your families.
With respect to our oblates, I realize that quite a few of our oblates have made the transition to care centers in the past years. Just within the last five years, I counted ten of our oblates who have entered some form of assisted care. It is certainly a sign of our times and I ask you to be mindful of those who have made that challenging transition. In fact it represents an important step for any disciple of Christ—letting go of prized possessions and much autonomy and becoming more dependent on others and on the Lord.
I am pleased to report that Oblate Tom Mulligan gave a very fine appreciation, delivered to our student body at the all-school Mass on March 21 in which he was honored as the recipient of the 2017 Ad Regnum Dei award. I want to note as well a significant transition for another one of our oblates. Frank Giangrego, currently an instructor at our Academy, first came to Marmion to serve as our first non-Benedictine teacher in Theology thirty years ago in 1987. He became the first campus minister for the Academy and twenty years ago in 1997 he helped lead the first of our Kairos Retreats. This past weekend, Frank was on the team for our sixty-first Kairos. Frank will retire from active teaching with the Academy this May. We are grateful for his many years of service and the example of Christian life he and his wife and oblate Peg have shown to us.
It was seventy years ago last March 21 that Marmion became an Abbey. Twenty-five years ago the new monastery and church at our Priory in Quetzaltenango were blessed. Abbot John recently returned from a visit to our Priory, where he assisted at the ordination to the Deaconate of our Br. Armando. Let us continue to pray for our Priory and the many Benedictine men and women in third-world countries who face challenges that are equal and greater than our own.
For those whom I will not see on April 9 I wish you a prayerful Holy Week and a joyous celebration of the resurrection on Easter Sunday and throughout the Easter season.
Fr. Joel, O.S.B.