May 12, 2013
Ascension of our Lord and Mother’s Day
The combination of the Feast of the Ascension and the extended exposure we are given to the Last Supper Discourse of Jesus in John’s Gospel the second half of the Easter Season reminds us of how frequently we deal with taking leave of beloved people and places. The string of graduation ceremonies in the next month will be an emphatic sign of that. Giving away brides, coming to terms with the empty nest at home, having to move to another state or country, all confront us with some fundamental human transitions. Of course, in the eyes of faith we see that these are all opportunities for grace. We say good bye to a beloved friend and discover that the Lord gives us new ones we would never have imagined. We discover that nostalgia and sentimentality were more powerful factors in our connection to a place than real rootedness. Even with the perspective of our Benedictine stability, we know that the Lord never wants us to become too comfortable or complacent. So he leaves his disciples on the Ascension, so that they can experience the saving gifts of the Spirit. He allows the gifts of the disciples to develop in a way that never could have happened if Jesus was still present. My hope for all of you as we prepare to celebrate the Feast of Pentecost and let go of a lot of attachments at the end of another school year is that you will be open to those times in your life when in letting go of what we think is dear we are letting in the God who never ceases to surprise us.
Marmion, along with many other faithful in the Rockford Diocese, had to let go of Bishop Arthur J. O’Neill when news came of his death on April 27. Bishop O’Neill was a trusted supporter of our Abbey and apostolates in the years he was bishop from 1968-1994. He blessed three of our abbots (Mark, David and Vincent), ordained more Marmion monks than any other bishop (his last ordination was of our deceased Fr. Damian in 2008), and presided at many commemorative liturgies of the Abbey and Academy over the years. He was an early and avid supporter of our foundation in Guatemala and was very faithful in coming to Marmion for the funerals of monks. We will miss his presence. I ask your prayers too for the older sister of Emily Zilly who died this past month at the age of 103.
I can tell you that a number of our infirm monks are grateful for your prayers. Brother Dominic came back to the Abbey from McAuley Manor on May 8. He is feeling less pain. Fr. Charles had surgery on his shoulder on May 10 and will have some more weeks of recovery. Please pray for Oblate Ginger Salis, who has been diagnosed with pulmonary fibrosis, a serious lung disease.
Looking ahead on your calendars, you may want to note that there are two jubilarians at the Abbey this year. Fr. Mario will celebrate his 60th anniversary of profession and Fr. Basil his 50th. We will honor them the day after the Community Retreat on June 6. You may also want to remember Oblates Phil and Marian Moore as they prepare to celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary on June 8.
We will have our next Oblate meeting on Sunday, May 19. There will be a meeting in the Day Room at 2:30 p.m., where I will be going over the history of the oblate program at Marmion, reviewing the different monk directors and the many different ways the oblates have affected Marmion. We will meet in the Abbey Library at 3:30. There will be a business session to start. We need to speak of our budget and set some dates for our meetings in the fall. We also need to discuss some of the volunteer efforts you have so generously offered to perform. We will fix the numbers and schedule for our visit to St. Mary’s Monastery in Rock Island on June 17. The plan is to have Mass there and lunch with the community and meet with both the community members and oblates. I want to share some historical photos of the abbey with you at that meeting too and, if weather permits, pay a visit to the cemetery and Way of the Cross for those who are able.
Congratulations are in store to the record number of eight oblates who made their profession last month. I have copies of your profession document available to you if you wish. I trust that all other oblates who were not present at the ceremony made their private renewal of profession.
I encourage you to stay abreast of events at the Abbey during the summer months through our Website (www.marmion.org). There are a lot of different comings and goings and we hope to keep you informed. In turn, I ask that you keep me informed of prayer requests and information in your life.
Finally, I want to wish a heartfelt Happy Mother’s Day to all of our mother oblates. Your witness of the faith and your response to a sacred call from the Lord has been the source of much fruitfulness. As we honor you may we also renew our devotion to Mary our Mother in this her month.
With promise of my prayers,
Fr. Joel, OSB