Director's Letter

April 6, 2014

Fifth Sunday of Lent


Dear Oblates,


As we enter the most holy season of the Church’s liturgical year, I pray that you can all enter fully into the saving events of our Lord’s passion and death.  At the abbey we have a special regard for this sacred time.  Our liturgical life draws us in more closely to the mysteries surrounding Christ’s passion and death.  The fact that we do this in a long line of monastic tradition and ritual only reinforces its significance.  Among the practices distinct to our monastic custom is the morning service during the Holy Week Easter Triduum of Tenebrae.  The name comes from the Latin word for darkness and in its most primitive form was the combined prayer of Vigils and Lauds that would be illumined by a set of candles on a wooden stand (our wooden stand, made by Br. James of our community back in 1953, is still in use.) We observe that tradition, including the extinguishing of all the candles in the course of the service.  We retain the singing in Latin and Gregorian Chant of the moving passages from the Book of Lamentations.  The choir sings the Christus Factus Est to conclude the service.  The Abbey does this service at 6:30 a.m. on Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Holy Saturday and many of our oblates have come to it over the years.  We celebrate the evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper on Holy Thursday, with the washing of the feet and the adoration till midnight afterward.  On Good Friday, a highlight of the traditional afternoon liturgy with the adoration of the cross is the singing of the Passion of St. John.  On Good Friday the monastic community has its culpa or penance service in conjunction with the midday prayer and we have no recreation on that day.  On Holy Saturday for the Easter Vigil the abbot is the principal celebrant, as he is on all the days of the Easter Triduum.  The Exsultet sung at the beginning of the Easter Vigil and the Victimae Paschali sung sequence at Easter Sunday Mass are instances of the solemn character of these celebrations being joined to age-old monastic melodies.  I invite you to visit our website for the times of the Holy Week ceremonies and to join us in spirit as we enter into this holiest part of the Church’s year.


On Sunday, April 13, we will have our next meeting.  I am going to forego our usual meeting in the Day Room at 2:30, because of the Palm Sunday liturgy and the dedication that afternoon of our new Abbey Farms Nagel Emporium.  However we will meet at 3:30 in the library.  We will have a short business meeting and then be blessed to have Br. Bruno Perez talk to us of his monastic call.  At the business meeting we will discuss our June trip to the Benedictine Sisters of Chicago and look at some long-range planning for next year.








The monks continue to keep a busy Lenten pace.  Abbot John just finished his annual practice of having visits with all of the monks of the community.  Abbot Vincent is at the Abbey of Tepeyac outside of Mexico City these days, conducting a visitation of that abbey.  Abbot John was a previous visitator.  This is one more case of how our monks serve the wider monastic world.  We also hosted last week the President’s Council of our Swiss-American Congregation.  Fr. Basil as Prior is especially busy in this time as he tries to meet the many pastoral needs that our sent his way for our priest monks in service to the local churches.  Fr. Frederick at St. George Parish and Fr. Patrick at Annunciation are similarly engaged in being of service to the people of their faith communities.


I want to thank all of the oblates who handed in their bona opera for Lent.  A word of thanks is also in order for the many oblates who attended the Lenten morning of Recollection given by Fr. Marcos this past month and for those who have been faithful in attending Mass and Office this Lenten season.  I wish you a very grace-filled Passiontide and a joyous and peaceful celebration of the Easter feast.       


In the crucified and risen Christ,


Father Joel, OSB


Oblate Director


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