Saturday, June 14, 2008

St. Columban, abbot

This is from the pope's General Audience of 11 June. It's subject is the Irish monk, Columban, and his contribution to the Christian life of Europe. The Holy Father has been using the saints of Europe as topics for his audiences. Is this an attempt on his part to continue drawing Europe's attention to its Christian roots? I don't know, but it may be part of the strategy.

Dear Brothers and Sisters,
In today’s catechesis we turn to Saint Columban, one of the many Irish monks who contributed to the re-evangelization of Europe in the early Middle Ages. Columban made his monastic profession in Bangor and was ordained a priest. At the age of fifty, he left the monastery to begin missionary work in Europe, where entire regions had lapsed into paganism. Beginning in Brittany, Columban and his companions established monasteries at Annegray and Luxeuil. These became centres for the spread of the monastic and missionary ideals brought by the monks from their native Ireland. Columban introduced to Europe the Irish penitential discipline, including private confession. His stern moral teachings led to conflict with the local Bishops and the Frankish court, resulting in the exile of the Irish monks, first to the Rhineland and then to Italy. At Bobbio, where he established a great monastic centre, Columban worked for the conversion of the Arian Lombards and the restoration of unity with the Bishop of Rome. It was there that he died, leaving behind not only the example of an austere monastic life, but also a corpus of writings which shaped the monastic culture of the Middle Ages and thus nourished the Christian roots of Europe.
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© Copyright 2008 - Libreria Editrice Vaticana
The Life of st. Columban, by the monk, Jonas, can be found here:

Tim Russert, R.I.P.

The surprising death of Tim Russert, noted newsman and faithful Catholic layman came as a shock. The following is from the report in the Catholic News Service:

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- NBC News Washington bureau chief and "Meet the Press" moderator Tim Russert, who died June 13 at the age of 58, was remembered for his warm lifelong ties to the Catholic Church and his support for Catholic education as well as for his career covering politics.Russert collapsed of an apparent heart attack at work.An active Catholic who apparently kept a promise to God to never miss Sunday Mass if his son was born healthy, Russert spoke often and fondly of his Catholic school education and of the role of the church in his life."Americans valued his tremendous command of the political electoral process and his commitment to discovering each aspect of the story that contributed to people having a better awareness of the issues of public life and candidates for political office," said Archbishop George H. Niederauer of San Francisco, chairman of the U.S. bishops' communications committee, who was attending the U.S. bishops' spring meeting in Orlando, Fla."But those of us who shared his Catholic faith and his deep love for it appreciate his sharing of the story of his own faith and his loyalty to the life of the Catholic Church in this country and the many charities to which he contributed his time and talent," the archbishop told Catholic News Service.
Eternal rest grant unto him, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon him. May he rest in peace.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Friday, St. Anthony of Padua

Today is the feast of St. Anthony of Padua, priest of the Order of Friars Minor and Doctor of the Church. He was born in Lisbon and ended his days in Padua. One of the relics preserved there are his vocal chords. It was through them that he did his preaching, so I guess that they are worthy of honor. I once read an article about them in the Journal of the National Association of Teachers of Singing. Singers should take care of their vocal equipment with the same veneration.
I had to leave the retreat early, and departed yesterday. I'm sorry to have missed the whole thing. I do have information on how to contact Abbot Marcel, and I hope to be able to sit at his feet sometime in the future.
Michael Odom, our organist-choirmaster, and I are going to Chicago for the Church Music Association of America's annual convention. It will be at Loyola, there. I hope that we will both glean much from it.
I had forgotten how the heat at Subiaco in the summer is worse than it is down here in El Dorado. The abbey is in the Arkansas River valley, and the humidity is really awful. I would like to move somewhere north of Quebec.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Retreat, Wednesday

Abbot Marcel did a brilliant presentation of the Word as 1) information, 2) inspiration, and 3) communication of self. In the Mass we receive the word in these three ways. The importance of the Liturgy of the Word in the Mass should be ever-more clear to us. I wonder, however, how many realize that the proclamation of the Word is really Christ's communication of his very self, and therefore, a Real Presence in the assembly?
Yesterday it was hot and muggy. I'd forgotten how miserable the heat in the river valley can be at this time of the year. Even when it's hot and humid in Eldo, it's not as awful. It's still too hot for me, though. I should work in New Zealand in the summer.
News flash: the monks that were old yesterday, are even older today. Scientists are trying to account for this phenomenon.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Retreat, Tuesday

Abbot Marcel Rooney, former abbot of Conception Abbey in Missouri, and also former Abbot Primate of the Benedictine Order is our retreat master. He taught liturgy in Rome for many years and is a great speaker and teacher. I am enjoying his presentations immensely.
He is concentrating on the liturgy of the Mass, and giving us the background for it. He has drawn careful distinctions between the Roman-North African liturgical tradition and the Gallican. Interesting note: even though Charlemagne demanded the conversion of his empire to the Roman Liturgy vis-a-vis the Gallican in the 9th century, the last Gallican Mass was celebrated in Cologne in 1929. Emperors, kings, popes, councils and bishops all tried, but it took 1,200 years. Then there are some who wondery why the Tridentine Mass has hung on for so long. It's hard to kill a tradition---although many have tried.
The community seems reasonably happy, although getting older all the time. Father Aaron lost his little dog yesterday, but "Thor" was found caught in the parish hall this morning---disaster averted. The cool and humid weather of yesterday is leaving and hot and humid is the forecast. I hope that my garden and plants are being taken care of in Eldo. I'm off to the first morning conferenc for Wednesday.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Retreat Monday

Monday: I left Eldo at 11:30 and arrived at Subiaco around 3:15 in the afternoon. Somewhere around Mt. Petit Jean it started raining. Lots and lots of rain. After getting to the rectory of St. Benedict's Parish in Subiaco, where I'm staying with my confrere, Father Aaron, I got changed and went to the abbey across the highway for the annual jubilee Mass for our monks who are celebrating the anniversaries of their professions or ordinations. Father Hugh Assenmacher celebrates 50 years as a priest this year, and Father Brendan Miller celebrates 25 years also. Abbot Jerome presided at the Mass and preached.

This past year, we've lost three monks by death: Abbot Raphael, Father Harold, and Brother Martin. This month, two solemnly professed monks have received or are applying for dispensations from their vows and are leaving the community. One monk in temporary vows is also on the way out. This means that our community will have been reduced by six this year, with no new ones coming in. Such a situation cannot long obtain. We have to get more young men to come and to stay or else we will all be gone, sooner rather than later.