“All guests who present themselves are to be welcomed as Christ.” – St Benedict
Saint Meinrad Archabbey was founded in 1854 by monks from Einsiedeln Abbey in Switzerland. They came to southern Indiana at the request of a local priest who was seeking help to serve the pastoral needs of the growing German-speaking Catholic population and to prepare local men to be priests.
Both of these missions remain part of Saint Meinrad’s ministry to the Roman Catholic Church, as Saint Meinrad operates a graduate seminary and school of theology and has other monks in parish work, chaplaincies and diocesan assignments.
The Benedictine community at Saint Meinrad consists of about 70 men who dedicate their lives to prayer and work. They gather in community five times each day to pray the Liturgy of the Hours and celebrate Mass. Guests are welcome to join the monks in prayer in the Archabbey Church.
The monks live by the wisdom and guidance of the Rule of St. Benedict, the sixth-century instructions for community living written by St. Benedict.
A few years after settling in Indiana, the Benedictines began offering high school courses to local youths. In 1861, the monks expanded their general courses to include undergraduate courses in philosophy and theology.
Through these programs, the monks of Saint Meinrad began their mission, which continues today: preparing men for service in the Catholic Church as priests. The Seminary and School of Theology now also has education and formation programs for permanent deacons and lay ministers, as well as a summer liturgical leadership program for high school youth and their adult leaders. (credit for history: St. Meinrad Archabbey website)
My introduction to St Meinrad Archabbey came through a dear friend, Holly Vaughan. Holly invited me to go with her on her visit to her spiritual director. Jim and I were just beginning our journey into discernment for Deacon formation and Holly was helping us learn to pray the Liturgy of the Hours, a prayer that is prayed daily by priests, religious and laypersons. We knew we would Jim would need a spiritual director and going through St Meinrad was suggested to us by more than one person.
To say that my first visit was memorable would be an understatement. There is atmosphere that is quite calming and comforting that is present as soon as you arrive. If any of you have been in the little chapel at Santa Claus Campground during an Walk to Emmaus weekend, you get my meaning. (To read more about this first trip, check out my blog about that day) https://wordpress.com/post/writes4him.blog/1241
In July of 2019, Holly asked me to attend an Oblate Day of Recollection, given by Fr. Adrian Burke. The day started with Mass and ended with Compline or evening prayer. Throughout the day, as Fr. Adrian spoke on different topics, I could feel my heart being tugged at. I knew this was what I was seeking; stability in my spiritual life. A guide…a rule, as it is, to keep me on the right path.
It reminded me of the story from Matthew 7:
“Everyone who listens to these words of mine and acts on them will be like a wise man who built his house on rock. The rain fell, the floods came, and the winds blew and buffeted the house. But it did not collapse; it had been set solidly on rock. And everyone who listens to these words of mine but does not act on them will be like a fool who built his house on sand. The rain fell, the floods came, and the winds blew and buffeted the house. And it collapsed and was completely ruined.”
And so on September 28, 2019, I was invested as an Oblate novice and began my study to become an Oblate. The year of study consisted of many things, including a monthly lesson that I received via email. These lessons were turned in and Br. Stanley (shout out to my friend) would email back helpful comments, suggestions and prayer. I was to have my final oblation in September of 2020, but as most things that year, it was not to be. This was not a bad thing. More time to study and pray, to carefully consider the covenant I was going to make, was a gift.
Tomorrow, I’ll talk about my final oblation earlier this month and what it means going forward.