November 9, 2014
Feast of Dedication of St. John Lateran
In another month there will be increased focus on what has come to be called the “holiday season.” We know that in the popular culture there seems to be an arc from Halloween to Thanksgiving to Christmas that subsumes the religious character of this period of the year into a highly commercialized and sanitized celebration of our secular and consumerist culture. To counter that, those of us who live by the rhythms of the liturgical season look forward to the readings and feasts that accompany the last month of the Church’s liturgical year. We also look forward to the opening of a new liturgical year and the season of Advent. This Advent also coincides with the beginning of what Pope Francis has declared the year dedicated to the Consecrated Life. As a monastic community in the Benedictine tradition, the monks of Marmion have always tried our best to see our abbey as a public witness of Consecrated Life in the Church. In some ways we have become an endangered spiritual species in recent years. We know that more than a few communities of apostolic life have gone out of existence and even in our own monastic congregations in the U.S. we have seen communities diminish in number and be forced to close. I say this not as a prophet of doom, but as someone who knows that in the oblates we have a group that appreciates deeply the value and witness of Consecrated Life in the Church. Please consider how in the year ahead you may be able to affirm and advance the mission of men and women in the Catholic Church who have devoted themselves to living out their vocation as vowed members of religious orders.
The fall months always seem to bring a rush of activities to the Abbey and Academy. Last month we had our annual Abbot Marmion Society Dinner and I was pleased to note how many oblates were present. The members of the AMS are not just benefactors of the monks but dear friends, and it is always an enjoyable evening. There was also much enjoyment for our Pumpkin Daze at the Abbey Farms, with a 40% increase in numbers from last year. The Christmas tree sales will begin on the weekend of Nov. 22-23.
As I am putting out dates, I do want to remind you that there will be an Oblate Meeting on Sunday, November 16. At 2:30 we will gather in the Day Room and the topic of our Benedictine study will be how to incorporate a selection of books/resources on monastic spirituality for effective study. Many of the newer oblates are not aware of the resources in our Abbey Library and elsewhere and I hope that this will be of help. We will have our general meeting at 3:30. After a short business meeting, I hope to take the oblates on a tour of our community necrology, the book of the deceased monks of our community. I think this is fitting for our month of observance of remembering all the dead. It will also be a way of orienting some of our newer oblates into the history of our community.
This is a reminder that our December meeting will be on Sunday, Dec. 14. All oblates are welcome to come to Vespers and Benediction on that Sunday, Gaudete Sunday, when we traditionally invite oblates and spouses to dinner with the monastic community. If you intend to be present for the dinner, please let me know as soon as you can, as well as informing me if your spouse will be present. I will have further information on this in the December letter.
A reminder is also in order for any oblates who may have changed their mailing/e-mail addresses and phone numbers. Please let me know if you have done so.
In anticipation of Thanksgiving Day, I want to express my thanks to the oblates for all you do and wish you and your families a day when we can join with one another in giving thanks to God for all the gifts he has given to us.
In the Peace of Christ,
Fr. Joel, OSB