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November 29, 2008


Let us prepare for the coming of our Lord and King by meditating on the great mystery of God's love and the story of the first Chirstmas.
From: catholicism.about.com

While a novena is normally a nine-day prayer, the term is sometimes used for any prayer that is repeated over a series of days. This prayer is often called the "Christmas Novena" or the "Christmas Anticipation Prayer," because it is prayed 15 times every day from the Feast of Saint Andrew the Apostle (November 30) until Christmas. The first Sunday of Advent is the Sunday closest to the Feast of Saint Andrew.

The novena is not actually addressed to Saint Andrew but to God Himself, asking Him to grant our request in the honor of the birth of His Son at Christmas. You can say the prayer all 15 times, all at once; or divide up the recitation as necessary (perhaps five times at each meal).
Saint Andrew Christmas Novena
Hail and blessed be the hour and moment in which the Son of God was born of the most pure Virgin Mary, at midnight, in Bethlehem, in piercing cold. In that hour, vouchsafe, O my God! to hear my prayer and grant my desires, through the merits of Our Savior Jesus Christ, and of His Blessed Mother. Amen.

November 27, 2008

Thanksgiving 2008

We Gather Together

We gather together to ask the Lord's blessing;
He chastens and hastens his will to make known;
The wicked oppressing now cease from distressing,
Sing praises to his name: He forgets not his own.

Beside us to guide us, our God with us joining,
Ordaining, maintaining his kingdom divine;
So from the beginning the fight we were winning;
Thou, Lord, wast at our side, All glory be thine!

We all do extol thee, thou leader triumphant,
And pray that thou still our defender wilt be.
Let thy congregation escape tribulation;
Thy name be ever praised! O Lord, make us free!
Amen --
Traditional Thanksgiving Hymn
(A translation by Theodore Baker: 1851-1934)
Sir 50:22-24; Ps 138:1-5; 1Cor 1:3-9; Lk 17:11-19
"With all of my heart"

The saints in every age teach us again and again that we become what we love. If we love money, our life is reduced to the value of money; we live for what we can buy, rather than buy that we may live. If we love the Eucharist, our life is thanksgiving. This is the feast of all who become what they eat. We who are thanksgiving celebrate our patron feast today. Indeed, we don't just go to Mass we celebrate who we are the body and blood of Jesus Christ, who alone offers a perfect sacrifice of praise because he is the great high priest and he is the paschal Lamb that he offers to the glory of the Father and in the Holy Spirit. We give thanks with whole hearts today for the LORD has heard the words of our mouth, and in the presence of the angels we sing his praise. Indeed, we worship at his holy temple. We give thanks to His Name because of his kindness and his truth. When we call, the LORD answers; he builds up strength within us. Indeed, this is his most gracious response to our fervent petition; He gives us strength by giving us his Holy Spirit. As Saint Luke proclaims elsewhere, "If you who are wicked fathers know how to give your sons good things when they ask, how much more will your heavenly Father give you the Holy Spirit, whenever you ask?" Can there be any more perfect response to our prayer, even if we did not recognize our own petition? Whenever we pray to Abba we are already filled with the Holy Spirit, who enables our every prayer, our every breath. Every king and every ruler on the earth shall give thanks to the LORD when they hear the words from his mouth. Indeed, they shall sing the ways of the LORD, "Great is the glory of the LORD!" For this glory we give thanks, and we become that which we love.
What are those wondrous things that God has done on the earth? He has taken a band of slaves out of Egypt and made them his chosen people, his holy nation. The LORD sent prophets among his people to summon them back to him in repentance and in love. These prophets were rejected and some were killed, but this does not prevent the LORD from forgiving and seeking reconciliation with his people. Even after their rebellion and idolatry, even after they rejected his covenant with them and he sent them into captivity in Babylon, still he brought them home and renewed his covenant love for Israel. We too, his holy people have seen such wondrous things in the sacraments. We have had daily opportunities to enter into prayer and grow in his love. The Eucharist has become the necessary food for the journey of faith. This journey was begun in baptism, and at every moment of failure we have been welcomed home in reconciliation. We have been strengthened by the sevenfold gift of the Holy Spirit to live a full and rich life of Christian witness, sharing in the cross of our Savior Jesus. Some have been brought into marital intimacy with a loving spouse, and some have been called to celibacy for the sake of the Kingdom. Others have been ordained to preach and to celebrate the mysteries of Christ in his Body the Church. When we need him the most the Lord Jesus has anointed us with the heal oil to raise us up from beds of pain and to send us on the final journey home. Indeed the LORD has granted us great joy of heart and the blessing of peace has made us one in his love. Indeed the favor and bounty of the LORD endures toward us the New Israel; we are delivered in our days.
What spiritual gift do we lack as we wait for the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ? Nothing is lacking. In all honesty, how many of us have this response? What do we need that the LORD has not given? We are brothers and sisters in the family of God. We have begun to live in the intimacy of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. We have a home; we have an identity. Grace and peace come from God the Father through his Holy Spirit and in his Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. Grace to live and move and have our being, day in and day out. Peace that surpasses understanding and remains no matter how much we suffer. Indeed, we have been enriched in every way; we have received all discourse and all knowledge of the mysteries of the Lord Jesus so that we can witness with confidence to the Kingdom of God already present and yet, still to come fully in his glorious plan. We abound in trust that the LORD will keep us firm to the end and irreproachable on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. This trust abides in our souls because the LORD is faithful, and he called us into fellowship with his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. Even if we are unfaithful, he remains faithful. He cannot deny himself, even if we deny our own dignity by sin. His word of promise is sweet to our taste, sweeter than honey in the mouth. He promises to forgive and to forget. Indeed, the LORD casts our sins into the depths of the sea and as far away from us as the east is from the west. As the prophet preaches, "Behold I make all things new! Do you not perceive it?" Indeed, the Lord Jesus forgives our sins and forgets our sins. What joy and gladness abound in our hearts to remember that the Lord forgets, and that what he forgets ceases to exist. Indeed, we remember our sins only to repent, yet again, so that the healing continues and the fire of his love fully consumes the dross and purifies the true gold of our hearts.
Why did the ten persons with leprosy obey the command of the Lord Jesus? Were they waiting for just such a command? Did they know that the law commanded anyone who was healed of leprosy had to be examined by the priests? Perhaps they heard in the voice of the Master an authority they could not question. Perhaps when he said, "Go show yourselves to the priests;" they knew that he had pity on them. They knew that the Master had responded to their prayer, "Jesus, Master! Have pity on us!" It seems that all of them had the gift of faith, even the size of a mustard seed. Though they had this great gift of faith, something was lacking. What is that something? Perhaps it is gratitude? Do we come to Eucharist because of our faith? Do we have thankful hearts as we enter into the Holy Mass? Have we even given thanks for the gift of faith that brings us to the Table of the LORD again and again? Only the outcast is willing to express his gratitude! Only the rejected Samaritan is praised for his grateful return to give thanks to God! Without a thankful heart are we really at the Eucharist? Do we even notice our own leprosy of sin? Do we give thanks to God for the unconditional kindness of the Master who has pity on us again and again? Do we hear him saying to us even now, "Stand up and go; your faith has salved you."

November 26, 2008

The Present Moment

By: Br. Jeremiah Myriam Shryock, CFR

There was a zealous young monk who entered a monastery intending to devote his whole life to God in prayer and silence. The monastery he entered was known for its austere way of life and its strict regimen of prayer. However, when the monks were not “praying” in the church or privately in their cells, they were assigned various jobs to help with the upkeep of the monastery. Every morning after Mass the novice master would assign the young monk jobs such as cutting the grass, planting vegetables and flowers in the garden, cooking and cleaning the church.
After a few weeks this young monk became infuriated. He complained interiorly about the “excessive” amount of work he was involved in and reminded himself over and over again that he came to the monastery to devote his whole life to prayer and not to manual labor. He imagined other monasteries tucked nicely on a mountain somewhere where there would be no intrusions upon his life of prayer.

Shortly after, the young monk approached the novice master and rattled off his list of complaints. Finally, hoping to sum up everything, the young monk said, “I came here to devote my life to prayer – not to work!” The novice master, who was patiently listening to him replied, “Well, what have you been doing these past couple of months while you were working? I knew of your desire for prayer, so I gave you the quietest jobs to help foster your prayer life.”

Oftentimes we don’t look for God exactly where He is – in the present moment. Rather, like the young monk, we imagine a life where everything is perfect or one that must conform to the ideas we often stubbornly hold on to. Therefore, everything and everybody becomes obstacles to God, love, happiness, etc. Since this person cannot accept reality and people as they really are, this person will spend their whole life running until eventually they will collapse somewhere and most likely be all alone.

God does not need the “ideal” setting to come into our lives. All He needs is our invitation. With this attitude of openness to God and to life, there is really no such thing as “distractions.” Although our ideas and preferences are good, God’s are always better and He is primarily concerned with what is really best for us.

Since there is nothing that passes by Him unnoticed, there should be nothing in our life, despite how annoying and burdensome something may appear, that prevents us from seeking God and sharing our lives with Him. Therefore, let us meet God where He is, here in the present moment, whether we are happy, annoyed, scared, joyful, tired, etc. Let us turn to Him however we may feel and in whatever situation we find ourselves right now. After all, that is where God is.

November 20, 2008

Founder's Day 2008

Each year the St. Vincent Archabbey Community celebrates the founder's of our Archabbey, Seminary, and College Community (particularly our Father Archabbot Boniface Wimmer, OSB).   Today, November 20, 2008 is the 2008 Celebration which will begin with Vespers in the Archabbey Basilica at 4:00 pm followed by a Festive Dinner with the whole St. Vincent Community and concluding with the Christmas lighting of Campus.  Here is a great little artcle about Archabbot Boniface.
From: http://ldysinger.stjohnsem.edu/

From the perspective of the twenty-first century it may seem strange to discuss monasticism in America from the perspective of missionary activity.  In the nineteenth century, however, the United States was considered to be an important mission territory. “During the First Vatican Council [and] among the authorities of the Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith (Propaganda Fide)...missionary work was primarily understood to mean activities among the Christians of the Eastern churches and the Catholic immigrants in North America.”3
The idea of a Benedictine “Mission” to America was the personal project of a Bavarian monk, Boniface Wimmer.  Born in 1809, Sebastian Wimmer was ordained a secular priest in 1831, and served as curate at the Marian shrine of Altoetting in the Bavarian diocese of Regensburg. In 1830, through the influence of King Ludwig I, monastic life in the abbey of Metten which had been suppressed since the secularization decrees of 1803, was officially reinstated.  The two aged monks who had agreed to return to conventual life at Metten hardly constituted a flourishing community, however;4 and the Bishop of Regensburg was asked for help in recruiting vocations.  Wimmer was one of these.  On December 29, 1833 he received the monastic name “Boniface”5 and became the second monk to make profession at Metten after the restoration. The first, Gregory, subsequently became Wimmer’s abbot. 
 Abbot Gregory, OSB
 Metten Choir
Sent as a professor to the newly-established Benedictine College of St. Stephen’s in Augsburg, Wimmer soon won a problematic reputation among his colleagues as a Projektenmacher (“project-maker” or “visionary” here intended in the pejorative sense of “dreamer”).6  Later sent as professor to Munich, he personally witnessed the beginnings of massive waves of emigration from Europe to the United States in 1842. In that same year he became acquainted with the plight of German Catholic immigrants in America, and he petitioned his fellow-novice Gregory, now abbot of Metten, for permission to go to America as a missionary.  His former confrere refused, however, suggesting instead that Dom Boniface support the American Mission with his prayers.
Throughout the next three years Wimmer’s conviction that he should go to America grew stronger.  He urged his abbot to allow Metten to serve the Church by taking on responsibility for foreign missions as had the medieval English and Irish monasteries: “We [the Benedictine Order] belong to the whole world.  The heretics are spreading to all parts of the earth and we are keeping warm behind the stove.”7   His notion of going to America as a solitary missionary underwent substantial revision during this time.  Partly as the result of a meeting with a German-American priest, Fr. Peter Lemke, Wimmer conceived the idea of transplanting  Benedictine monasticism to America.8
His abbot, however, remained unconvinced of the feasibility of Wimmer’s plans.  Thus in 1845 Fr. Boniface independently contacted the papal nuncio, Archbishop Charles Morichini, and submitted a request to be forwarded directly to Propaganda Fide in Rome.  He asked for permission to travel to the American missions and “also laid before His Excellency the plan of founding a monastery on the property which Father Lemke promised to sell me.”9
Wimmer subsequently received various unsatisfactory responses to his requests.  His abbot eventually granted him permission to go to America; but the Chapter at Metten was unwilling to authorize an American foundation.  They feared that Wimmer secretly longed for abbatial pontificalia, and that the proposal for an American foundation was merely a means for achieving his personal ambitions.10
In 1842, however, Fr. Boniface was able to win the personal support of King Ludwig I for his proposal.  The wholehearted support of the nuncio rapidly followed.11  Eventually he received authorization from his abbey to proceed with his plans; and on July 25, 1846 Boniface Wimmer set out from Munich with a band of theological students who eventually became the nucleus of the American-Cassinese Congregation, today the largest Congregation in the Benedictine Confederation. 
Wimmer’s method of achieving his goal of a Benedictine mission (foundation) merits close attention.  Unable to convince his monastic confreres or superior of the merits of his plan, Wimmer appealed directly to Rome through the person of the papal nuncio.  When Propaganda Fide revealed its reluctance to interfere directly in the relationship between a Benedictine abbot and his subject, Wimmer was forced to seek the support of the King of Bavaria, which eventually proved essential for the achievement of his goals.
Wimmer’s correspondence with his abbot during this period reveals a curious mixture of ostensible respect for the abbatial office (“I will take you at your word, which is holy to me”)12 coupled with a bullying attitude: “...I will not let you go so easily...you will have the choice [when I write to Rome] either of declaring me unfit for this mission...or admitting simply that you do not want to live up to your word.”13  This unusual approach to the implementation of monastic goals may be seen in the lives of the other founders of missionary Benedictinism.

3 Jacob Baumgartner, “Missions in the Shadow of Colonialism”, HISTORY OF THE CHURCH, ed. Jedin, (London, 1981) p. 527.
4 Jerome Oetgen, AN AMERICAN ABBOT, BONIFACE WIMMER, O.S.B., (Latrobe, 1976) p. 23.
5 His choice of the name “Boniface” did not signify an early interest in the Missions: rather, he took the name of Boniface Urban, dean of the diocese of Regensburg; Oetgen, p. 23.
6 Oetgen, p. 35.
7Oetgen, p. 39.
8 Oetgen, p. 41
9 Oetgen, p. 43.
10 Oetgen, p. 52.
11 Oetgen, p. 51.
12 IBID.
13 IBID. 

November 11, 2008

Brother Albert Gahr, n.O.S.B.

I was born and raised in a devout Catholic Family in Kersey, PA. My family was very active in the Church and School of St. Boniface parish in Kersey. Whether helping at the fish fries on Fridays, working bingo on Sunday night, cleaning the school in the summer or helping park cars for Easter and Christmas masses, we definitely spent more than just Sunday morning at the church. The example of my parents is in large part what kept my faith alive during my high school and college years. Although I may have not been considering a Benedictine vocation, Benedictines have played a central role in my education, starting with the Sisters of St. Joseph's Convent for grade school and high school and the monks at St. Vincent for college. When I began to discern my vocation, the educational experiences sparked my interest in seeking an educational outlet as part of my vocation.

As I reflect back on the journey that brought me back St. Vincent, I can not help but see the patience of God working in my life, and how he wanted me to have other experiences to bring me back to the monastery. As I mentioned above, I was a college student at St. Vincent, but I can not say that I had the least inkling to consider the monastic life at that point in my life; in fact it took 12 years after leaving the college to bring me back to St. Vincent. After leaving here, I went on to work for a couple of years back home before moving on to graduate school at West Virginia University. All during this time I would say that I was a good Sunday Catholic, I gave my one hour each week to God and may be a short prayer when I needed something from God, but other than that I had my own plans for life and my own ideas of how to get there.

After finishing graduate school, I moved to Charles Town, WV and joined St. James Parish. Although I moved there for work, I quickly discovered that God had other plans for me. The Deacon in the church grew up in Kane, Pa and had the same Benedictine Sisters as I for his grade school education. With his encouragement, I started to help out the youth group and boy scouts. Eventually, I began to see how the example given by my parents growing up was being lived out in my life in West Virginia. At around this time as my involvement in the Church activities began to increase, I began to feel that there was something missing at work. I did truly enjoy the work I was doing, and the people that I was working with, but I just did not feel the motivation to keep working for my own personal advancement, but wanted to be more active helping others. It was at about this time, the pastor of St. James gave a very good homily about the seven men in his parish that should be considering a vocation. These are men that would make good priests and/or religious. I remember thinking how great it is to know that there are these men in the parish that I belong to, but I never really thought he was talking about me. About a week or so later, I had run across the pastor and the deacon who both said you know that you are one of the seven men I was talking about. I said are you sure? They said "yes" and they will help me in any way that they can.

From that initial meeting, the pastor and the deacon helped me to find a spiritual director and allowed several opportunities to explore different religious orders and diocesan vocations. I was still in a bit of shock that I could be considered for a religious vocation, but early on, my spiritual director told me something that was very helpful for my considerations, and that was One will never see in oneself what others see in them . He also encouraged me to open my heart to different possibilities. I found that by entering into situations with a completely open heart allowed me to find myself as I was searching for my vocation. Being familiar with the area and parts of the community, for me a visit to St. Vincent's was an obvious 1st step. This first visit was nice and good chance to be reintroduced to the community from a completely different point of view. Although I was definitely not convinced I belonged here at that point, I knew that I would have to make a return visit. In the mean time I visited the Dominicans, Capuchins, Jesuits and a couple diocesan retreats. The one thing that was lacking in all the cases was the sense of community and family that I found at all the Benedictine houses. After about the third or fourth visit I remember thinking as I was getting ready to leave that I was home and I really did not want to leave, and shortly after that I started to formal application process that eventually lead me to be part of the Novice class at St. Vincent Archabbey. As I have taken the time to reflect back on my life, I do think God was calling me at earlier points in my life, but I was not ready to hear or respond to His call. I believe to circuitous route that lead me away from here after college and back here for the rest of my life was necessary for me to mature and be ready to respond to God's call. I thank God for all the help that I have been given to find my vocation and am very happy to have found my way home to St. Vincent Archabbey.

November 7, 2008

Behold your Mother!!!

Check out this vocation testimony by Fr. Philip Dabney, C.Ss.R, a close friend of our Br. Gabriel Myriam, O.S.B.  This is a must see for anyone discerning religious life or priesthood.  Pray for us O holy Mother of God!!!

Monastic Homilies

Memorial of Venerable Solanus Casey

Phil 2:12-18; Ps 27:1, 4, 13-14; Lk 14:25-33

"Be stouthearted, and wait for the LORD"
The Venerable Solanus Casey was a hidden and honored priest of the Capuchin Order. He lived and served the poorest of the poor from the streets of Detroit. He was forbidden to preach or hear confessions, even though he was ordained. His superiors discerned that his lack of intellectual grasp of theology was not adequate for such a public ministry. Yet, this limitation, though frustrating, did not make this holy friar priest bitter and rebellious. He accepted the sufferings of his cross and found in this great gift a life of hidden and holy ministry. Even with these limitations he became a great lover of the poor, and he became a wise and holy servant of the Church. The LORD was his light and his salvation. He was not afraid of humiliation and his life became a refuge for many souls. The only thing he asked was to dwell in the house of the LORD and to gaze upon the loveliness of the LORD and contemplate his temple. He believed that he would see the bounty of the LORD in the land of the living. He waited for the LORD with courage; Venerable Father Solanus was stouthearted and waited for the LORD. His suffering enabled him to grow in wisdom that he would share with all who came to unburden themselves to this friar; he would teach them, "Blessed be God in all his designs". His grateful friends financed the beginnings of a soup kitchen during the Depression. His brother friars still feed the hungry there today. The priest chaplain in a sanitarium near Baltimore scandalized his brother, Father Maurice. In response to his brother's complaint Father Solanus wrote: "God could have established his Church under supervision of angels that have no faults or weaknesses. But who can doubt that as it stands today, consisting of and under the supervision of poor sinners--successors to the 'poor fishermen of Galilee'; the Church is a more outstanding miracle than any other way?" Indeed this Venerable Friar was never bitter because of his lack of public ministry instead, he became beautiful because of it. Such is the blessing waiting for all who find in the Cross their only friend.
Even in his absence the Apostle Paul would hear the good news of his beloved converts. His joy is boundless as he writes to the Church in Philippi. He praises their obedience and their struggle to work out their salvation with fear and trembling. This is the kind of virtue that kept Venerable Solanus Casey in the Capuchin Order and in service to the poor and needy. Like these early believers in Philippi, Father Casey worked out his salvation with fear and trembling. This Venerable Friar delighted in the mercy and kindness of God who, for his good purpose, worked in him in all he desired and in all he did. He did everything without grumbling or questioning, so that he became more and more blameless and innocent, a child of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom he shone like a light in the world. Father Casey held on to the Word of Life; he was courageous in his exile from public ministry, and he stoutheartedly waited upon the will of God. With Saint Paul and all the hidden saints throughout the history of the church, Venerable Solanus did not run in vain or labor in vain. He poured himself out as a libation upon the sacrificial service of his faith. It was his joy to serve in any way that he could. He did not cling to his rights and his dignity, but he poured himself out in faithful service to those who also suffered great indignities and constant humiliations. Indeed, this is the rejoicing found in the hearts of all who serve the Master, who himself was humiliated and suffered gladly for the salvation of his Beloved Bride. 
A life of detachment in which one renounces all possessions is the life of discipleship. As clergy, religious, or laity, all believers are summoned by the Lord Jesus to be detached from the desire to possess anyone or anything. We must be attached to God alone. The only desire that must grow stronger every day is the desire to possess God himself, not his gifts or his blessings, but God. There is no experience of God that is God. Every experience is just than, an experience. God alone fulfills the deepest desire of the human heart. We are created to be filled with God, and until we are so filled we are restless in heart, mind and spirit. The Lord Jesus is not interested in keeping the crowds happy or loyal. He wants everyone who comes to him to renounce all attachments to family and even life itself. Indeed, no one can follow the Lord Jesus without carrying his own cross. The Lord Jesus teaches the wisdom of the cross by his illustration of the builder and the warrior king. Neither would begin a building or a military campaign without a careful assessment of his resources and his limitations. Father Solanus Casey must have spent many hours in prayerful consideration of his situation. Could he bear the humiliation of his limitations and still serve with joy? This question is at the heart of every would-be disciple of the Lord Jesus. Indeed, only attachment to the Cross of Christ will enable us to persevere in a life of prayer and service.

Br. John Paul, n.O.S.B.

From: www.stvincentmonks.com

How does a twenty two year old, freshly graduated from Penn State, end up a novice monk at Saint Vincent Archabbey? It was a result of prayer.

I experienced a conversion of heart from a nominal Catholic to a truly practicing one during my freshmen year of college. After this conversion, by praying more and sinning less, vague ideas of a vocation to the priesthood arose in my mind and heart. Shortly after my reversion, I responded to an offer in our campus ministry bulletin to visit St. Vincent Archabbey for a vocation retreat. Through this retreat, the Holy Spirit inspired an urge in my heart to seek a spiritual director.

With the assistance of Father Boniface Hicks OSB, I was able to give myself more generously to Jesus by gradually expanding my prayer life and remaining stable in it. It was through this stability in prayer, the frequent reception of the Sacraments, spiritual direction, and lots of holy reading that I was able to hear the voice of God more clearly. He was tugging on my heart saying to it "Feed my sheep" and "Come,follow me" . Through two profound experiences in prayer before the Blessed Sacrament, this tugging became something I could no longer ignore in good conscience.
With my vocation more solidly discerned and after a few more visits to Saint Vincent and one to St. Paul's Seminary in Pittsburgh; I requested to stay at the Archabbey for six weeks during the summer after my junior year for a prolonged period of discernment. During this time, I experienced many sides of monastic life, began to feel at home in the community, and received the grace of a deepened prayer life.

Additionally, during my junior and senior years at Penn State, Our Lord powerfully called me to leadership positions in the vibrant Catholic community, and used me as instrument of His grace. In teaching and defending the faith, in leading the officers of the Newman Catholic Student Association spiritually and temporally, in suffering for and praying with other students, the priestly vocation, discerned in personal prayer, became more apparent through experience.

Thus, I knew that I had to pursue the priesthood after graduation in order to respond faithfully to the graces of discernment I had received, but I remained unsure as to whether I was being called to the Diocese of Pittsburgh or the Benedictine Order at Saint Vincent. This confusion was cleared-up in three ways: my extended visit in the summer of '07; my participation in the pilgrimage to Rome that St. Vincent offers annually for vocation candidates; and through the intercession of many dearly beloved friends in a prayer group at Penn State.

At the beginning my senior year I intended to enter St. Vincent. After the first semester I felt even more confident that this was God's will. I had a firm sense that by becoming a Benedictine monk I would be a holier priest and that my desire to surrender my being to God in thanksgiving for his love would be more readily fulfilled as a monk.

Ultimately, it was through much prayer, prayer before the Eucharist and to Our Lady, that I was able to hear the voice of God more clearly. I urge all that may be reading this in response to Jesus tugging on their own heart to be open before Christ in the Blessed Sacrament and to give their hearts to Our Lady. Jesus and Mary will take care of the rest. All that has left to do on our part is to surrender. Totus Tuus Maria.

November 1, 2008

Solemnity of All Saints

Solemnity of All Saints
Saturday, 1 November 2003

Dear Brothers and Sisters,
1. Today we celebrate the Solemnity of All Saints. It invites us to turn our gaze to the immense multitude of those who have already reached the blessed Homeland, pointing us to the road which leads to that destination.

The Saints and Blesseds of Paradise remind us, as pilgrims on Earth, that prayer, above all, is our sustenance for each day so that we never lose sight of our eternal destiny. For many of them the Rosary - the prayer to which the year just ended was dedicated - was the privileged instrument for their daily discourse with the Lord. The Rosary led them to an ever more profound intimacy with Christ and with the Blessed Virgin.

2. The Rosary can truly be a simple and accessible way for all to holiness, which is the vocation of each baptized person, as today's feast highlights.

In the Apostolic Letter Novo Millennio Ineunte, I reminded all the faithful that holiness is the primary requirement of the Christian life (cf. nn. 30-31).

May Mary, Queen of all the Saints, already totally immersed in divine glory, help us to proceed with haste on the demanding road of Christian perfection. May she help us to understand and to appreciate ever more the recitation of the Rosary as an evangelical work of contemplation of the mystery of Christ and of faithful acceptance of his will.

Following the Angelus, the Holy Father said the following: 

According to pious custom, it is customary in these days for the faithful to visit the tombs of their loved ones and to pray for them.
I, too, am making a spiritual pilgrimage to the cemeteries of the various parts of the world, where rest the remains of those who have preceded us in the sign of faith.

In particular, I raise my prayer of support for those whom no one remembers as well as for the many victims of violence. I entrust all to the Divine Mercy.

Pax et Gaudium

O.S.B. Vocation Awareness

O.S.B. Vocation Awareness