Posted by svobadm8230a on 11/14/12

Over the past few years a number of Oblates who live at some distance from the Archabbey and from locations of deanery meetings have expressed interest of having some sort of deanery over the Internet. Oblate David Hicks of Decatur, GA, has agreed to initiate this project. Any Oblate or Oblate novice who is interested may contact David by e-mail at  revdavid53 @ yahoo.com

Oblate Directory for 2013 Being Planned
Posted by svobadm8230a on 11/14/12

The 2013 version of the Directory is being put together by Oblate Mary Ann Kaufman, with hopes that it will be ready by July, 2013. It assumed that those in the 2011-2012 Directory wish to be included again. If you are not in this version and if you would like to have an entry in the 2013 Directory, please use the form on the flier, and send it to Mary Ann Kaufman by U.S. mail or e-mail.

Eighth Fall Oblate Day of Recollection - October 13, 2012
Posted by svobadm8230a on 11/13/12

Some 43 people, mostly Oblates, attended this annual event, with conferences in St. Gregory Chapel. Fr. Thomas Acklin, O.S.B., the retreat master, delivered conferences about the immense love of God for all of us, His seeking of us, and the ways in which we resist His love.

During ceremonies at 1:30 P.M. in St. Gregory Chapel, Fr. Donald received the following:

Oblates: Mark S. Monier of Irwin, PA
Sandra L. Monier of Irwin, PA
Oblate novice: John F. Cain of Lakemont, Altoona, PA .

Mark and Sandy are husband and wife. At 2:00 those who wished remained in the chapel to pray a rosary for the intentions of respect for life and for religious liberty.
Most of the retreatants joined the monastic community for Vespers and then stayed for supper, which ended with the singing of the Benedictine “Ultima.”

Cherish Christ Above All
Posted by on 01/24/12

At St. Vincent, we just welcomed the new Rector of the seminary, Fr. Timothy Whalen of the Diocese of Pittsburgh. He is the first Rector of St. Vincent Seminary who has not come from the 'monastic ranks.' He met with we seminarians last Wednesday and gave a brief talk and I wanted to share his message. It was not complicated; love Jesus with all of your heart and direct everything you do to Him. Everything else, from minor annoyances to the greater challenges of life look far different if Christ is the focus on one's life. I have spoken of struggles with pride and ego and the frustrated desire to be authentically genuine and humble; well, once again the answer comes pretty directly. Maybe we could collapse all Benedictine spirituality into that radical love for Christ that knows no limits and will suffer no obstacles. Pray for me as I shall pray for you!

The Baptism of Jesus
Posted by on 01/09/12

   This morning we celebrated the Feast of the Baptism of Our Lord, Jesus Christ and I still find myself drawn back to the absolute humility of God, particularly in the face of our egocentricity. Christ in His baptism entered into our world of sin and despair, not because He had to, but rather because He has come to lift us from that darkness, or to quote St. Gregory of Nyssa, we may receive "release from bondage, close relation to God, free boldness of speech, and in place of servile subjection equality with the angels."
Goodness knows I could dwell on pride and ego, but on this feast the question of ecumenism seems appropriate to address. Baptism is the foundational sacrament for Christians and it is the sacrament that we can share in a unique. When I converted to Catholicism I came to find out that the Church fully recognized my baptism in the Lutheran Church and does so for the majority of Protestant denominations. This gateway sacrament, the vehicle through which we are freed from the bondage of Original Sin transcends the divisions that scar Christianity. I sometimes think that the ecumenical movement has stagnated if not regressed for any number of reasons. The tragedy of the priest scandal in the Church and some of the recent initiatives within mainline Protestant denominations, e.g. the ordination of openly homosexual men and women who are in a relationship and support for "gay marriage," has served further complicated the search for unity. Yet..I as a Roman Catholic and all Christians have an obligation to work for ecumenical understanding and healing for the division in the Body of Christ is a scandal, particularly in a world that has lost it moral and cultural bearings. What is demanded of we Christians is a commitment to the Truth, however painful that may prove to be; rest assured it will not win you any popularity contests.
Which brings me to this particular note; recently, on New Year's Day, after attending Mass at St. Vincent, I went with one of my sisters to First English Evangelical Lutheran Church in downtown Pittsburgh and it was a wonderful service. The Pastor, David Paul Gleason, and the congregation made a commitment to maintaining an authentic, traditional Lutheran worship and ministry and the beauty of the church and the spirit of the community are testament to their efforts. While significant differences remain between the Lutheran Church and the Roman Catholic Church, places like First Lutheran give one hope that while we all work toward that day when we can all be truly one, there are many areas today within which we can find common ground in worship and ministry. If every Catholic, if every Lutheran, if every Presbyterian, if every Methodist, if every Baptist, etc. would live out to the fullest the promises of Baptism then we will all be closer to healing the Body of Christ. May this Feast of the Baptism of Jesus renew and strengthen within us our commitment to bring Christ to the world and peace to His Church.


Christmas and New Year
Posted by on 12/29/11

    It is relatively quiet at St. Vincent Archabbey at this particular time of year. Many of the monks are off on their home visits and of course at Christmas break the College is virtually deserted. From a monastic point of view it is one of the best times of the year and to top it off we have not had any snow, which I happen to find delightful. Anyway, with my sporadic entries on this Blog I was tempted to discontinue it but had a change of heart after speaking with Fr. Donald and a few other interested parties. I had two concerns, first of all just what would I write that Oblates might find interesting and secondly, would I be able to make regular entries. There is an additional concern, when the site is open for comments it was deluged with spam so at present there is no option to comment. We need to look into some means of 'vetting' to allow individuals to make comments. Whenever we do get that arranged, I really look for Oblates to respond, not necessarily what I have written specifically, but to be able to dialogue with one another on a particular point I may have raised in the note. Capicit?

    So...between Christmas and New Years I find myself reflecting on two aspects of the season, first of all vulnerability and secondly devotion to Jesus Christ. The Incarnation is the ultimate exercise of vulnerability as God choose to share our struggles, fears, anxities, doubts, disappointments and losses. First Century Judea was a brutal and harsh world and the prospects of an infant reaching a first birthday were poor. In a land dominated by Imperial Rome, any resistance or challenge to the political and economic status quo was mercilessly repressed. And yet this is the world into which Jesus Christ entered as an infant. I think the Incarnation is a testament to the true nature of Love for Love really is vulnerability, opening oneself to the other risks being hurt, disappointed, rejected, scorned and abandoned (all of which Jesus experienced). It means setting aside one's ego and pride, one's own wants and desires, it requires moving out of the center of your life and allowing the Beloved to become central to who you are; the reference point for your engagement with life. The stark irony is that while God who is beyond our comprehension willingly took upon this vulnerability while we as whom He has created chafe at the very notion. We stridently avoid vulnerability, we jealously guard our hearts, protecting our pride and exercising our ego, all in order that we may be 'someone' and that in the eyes of the world we can be looked upon with the 'respect' that we think we deserve. Any threat to our personna is immediatly addressed and we attempt to correct whatever wrong we think we have sufferred or at the least, belittle the other to insure we are not made to look weak or insignificant. But it is all a tragic comedy! Christ embraced it all, He who is God, became one of His creatures out of Love. I have thought, would I voluntarily become a one-celled creature in order to 'save' the little nothings? Of course not, but what Christ did was infinitely, infinitely greater! I suppose I can be some emphatic about this because I wrestle so much with these very failings.

   And...that brings up the second point, the devotion to Jesus Christ. As Christians we know God in as one of us, as flesh and blood, a real person who lived, suffered, died, and now lives for us. Our faith is not an ambiguous understanding of God, it is not confined to fear and awe, but it is a faith in the Beloved. Thus our focus, our longing, our desires, should always be for Christ alone. Mother Theresa would say "everything for Jesus through Mary." I find that such a wonderful thought, that one of us, Mary, can lead us to her Son and help us through her intercession to remain with Him, or perhaps more correctly, assist us to allow Him to dwell within us.

   Ok, that is enough, I have Latin to study.  May you be continued to be blessed through the Octave of Christmas and may this New Year witness your love and devotion to Jesus and love for your brother and sisters.

   In Christ

      Br. Jeremiah

Posted by on 09/05/11

    Today is Labor Day so I suppose it would be appropriate to say something about labor. As you probably know the Benedictine Order is known for "Ora et Labora,"--Pray and Word. While that is an integral part of the monk's life it is not less so for Benedictine Oblates. As I tend to keep repeating whenever I given an Oblate talk, Oblates are in a unique position to carry the Gospel and Benedictine spirituality into an infintely wider range of sites, most particularly in the workplace. So to all of our Oblates, thank you for your labors and your witness, it is certainly exemplary of the Benedictine charism.

     Oh, and about forgiveness.  Yesterday's readings for the 23rd Week in Ordinary time were focused upon Christian fraternal correction and the degree of forgiveness to which we are all called. I know that in the abstract it sounds nice but in reality it can be a terribly difficult hurdle to surmount. I very much struggle with forgiveness in those particular instances when I believe I have been unjustly wronged and am particularly wounded. It seems sometimes even more difficult in the monastery as were live amongst each other and the old hurts and 'grievances' can be ever present; very similar to a situation within a family which often makes intra-family divisions so very deep and emotional. Anyway, I was struggling with yesterday's readings I came across this article on line by Fr. Stephen, an Orthodox monk entitled, "Forgive Everyone for Everything." As I am a big fan of Dostoevsky I was immediately drawn to his opening remark. I have taken the liberty to include the link here so that anyone interested can access it at their convenience. I pray that you find it as illuminating as I did.


In Christ

Br. Jeremiah

St. Bernardo Tolomei
Posted by on 08/20/11

Today we celebrate the memorial of St. Bernardo Tolomei, a Benedictine saint. He was beatified in 1694 but waited until 2009 to be canonized by Pope Benedict XVI. Bernardo founded the congregation of the Blessed Virgin of Monte Oliveto (the Olivetans) on the Rule of St. Benedict and their constitution was approved in 1319. He and his compatriots devoted themselves to the sick and dying when the plague struck near the regions of Sienna. This service would cost Bernardo and many of his brothers their lives. We are blessed to have a heritage of such Benedictines that truly gave all for all. St. Bernardo Tolomei, pray for us.



St. Clare
Posted by on 08/11/11

  Today the universal Church remembers St. Clare, the young lady who followed St. Francis and embraced a life of poverty for the Kingdom of God. Both Francis and Clare realized that not every Christian is called to the radical call to poverty they answered. Nonetheless, for both monks and oblates an appreciation of poverty in our personal live and spirituality is essential, if nothing else that nurtuing the development of authentic humility and providing that constant reminder to deny oneself. In a nation that is blessed with an almost incomprehensible bounty of material goods it can be quite easy to ignore those throughout the world that suffer abject, desperate poverty. Perhaps in some small way the Lord can take out little sacrifices and spark throughout our world and nation not only thanksgiving for what we have but also invested care for those whom these gifts are wanting.

   Also, I received a note from a Navy Seal with whom I keep in contact. He has asked for our prayers for those men of his Seal Team that were recently killed in Afghanistan. Not only can we take for granted the material benefits and freedoms we enjoy, but also those who risk everything to protect them. Please remember them and all who serve in our Armed Forces.

Steeler Camp
Posted by on 08/07/11

    If it's August, it's the Steeler Training Camp at St. Vincent College. They've been coming here for over forty years, the exact number escapes me. Nonetheless, it is one of the defining aspects of the college and the surrounding community. As you can imagine it does change the dynamic of the monastic life somewhat, there are certainly many more people on campus and many monks are involved in supporting the entire operation. I have just returned to the Archabbey after being away for a few weeks and the camp is in full swing. As I surveyed the crowds the other afternoon I thought about Oblates of St. Benedict and what they can offer to a culture and society that definetly needs a new perspective. The people that are here visiting camp may be here once a year and may during that visit, actually realize there is also a Benedictine monastery on the grounds, and of those that do, a small percentage may encounter a monk or attend a monastic liturgy. But Oblates have the opportunity to interact with a far greater number of people in varied occupations and circumstances, e.g. grocery shopping, school functions, and even walking the dog. (Sadly we do not have a dog) The point is they can be a witness of Benedictine spirituality to say nothing of Christianity to the secular world. They are in essence an extension of the monastic mission.

     And speaking of mission, on July 11 of this year, the Feast of St. Benedict, Brs. Maximilian Maxwell and Michael Antonacci, and myself took solemn vows. I could not help thinking, amidst trying not to cry, what a tremendous gift a monastic vocation is and therefore what a major responsbility it entails. Hopefully Oblates of St. Benedict can also come to appreciate both the gift and responsility they have received and been tasked with as members of the larger monastic community. On behalf of all of us, thank you so very much for your prayers. Please continue to pray for we monks at St. Vincent, we count on them that we may be continually strengthened and renewed in the grace and love of God.

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