June 15, 2014
As we enter into liturgical Ordinary Time and our summer rhythms of added space for restoration and relaxation, I would like to promote the practice of making a regular retreat. It seems fitting as I write this that I am currently conducting a retreat for the monastic community of Mount Saviour in Elmira, NY and have just finished making our annual retreat at Marmion. One of the reasons I have accepted requests to give retreats is because by removing myself from the normal routines of work and busy-ness that tend to surround me at Marmion, I have a chance to “be away with the Lord” and see things from a different perspective. I find these stretches of time to be spiritually restorative and therapeutic for the soul. Without them I run the risk of “going stale” and not being nurtured anew by what we know are the staple aspects of our baptismal and Benedictine call: the Word of God, free time that is designated the Lord’s time, and the tapping of resources that reinvigorate our service of God. So if you have not yet made a retreat part of your regular schedule, try to do so. You will not regret it.
As is often the case with May and June, a lot of events have transpired at Marmion. We graduated another class of students from our Academy on May 22 and were honored to have Bishop David Malloy of Rockford come to the abbey for prayer and dinner with the monks, prior to his commencement address to our graduates. We were honored as well to have Bishop David Ricken of Green Bay give the community its annual retreat, June 1-4. Bishop Ricken combined the teaching of Blessed Columba Marmion with the recent papal exhortation of Pope Francis, The Joy of the Gospel, to great effect. The monks were pleased. I want to thank all the oblates who were present on June 5 for the jubilee celebration of my 40th anniversary of priestly ordination, as well as all those who have expressed their greetings by mail or personal message. It was a memorable celebration and I ask your continued prayers for me, so that I can continue to be faithful and joyful in the school of the Lord’s service.
I want to express thanks to those oblates who were part of our annual “pilgrimage” to the Benedictine Sisters of Chicago at St. Scholastica Monastery. Meeting so many of the oblates of that community and having the chance to celebrate Eucharist and to have lunch with the community constituted a real gift. I have sent on to Sr. Patricia Crowley our thanks for the gracious hospitality of their community. Gratitude is also in order for those oblates who participated in working with the mulch at the outdoor Way of the Cross on Saturday, June 14. Looking at the path today I am very impressed. Maintaining the Way of the Cross has been a “good work” that is truly appreciated by the monastic community and the wider Marmion community.
The summer ahead holds a variety of activities for the Abbey. Many of the monks take their vacation during this time so there is quite a revolving door of presence. We have Fr. Thomas back with us for the summer, as well as our St. Meinrad students. Abbot Vincent, Abbot John and Fr. Michael will attend our General Chapter at Prince of Peace Abbey in California the last week of June. I will be with Abbot John and a contingent of students from our Academy for the annual Marmion trip to our Priory in Guatemala from June 29-July 8.
You are asked to remember in prayer those oblates who are caring for infirm family members. That care can be both a cross and a saving sign of Christ’s presence to do so. The mother of Oblate James Kucienski died the last week of May and we commend her to the Lord. Please keep in your prayers at the same time Mr. Eric Knott, who will soon arrive at the Abbey to test a vocation as a claustral oblate. Claustral oblates are those who wish to live within the community and follow its way of life but do not take the canonical vows that other members take.
This is a convenient time to remind all oblates who receive this letter to inform me of any change of surface mail or e-mail addresses. It is always a challenge to stay current with this and I need your help in doing so.
This Trinity Sunday is also Father’s Day and I want to convey blessings on all those oblates who are fathers or grandfathers. May your physical and spiritual paternity be a blessing for all those you love. I wish you all a summer that will afford you the space and the means to spend time with the Lord.
Fr. Joel, OSB