Sunday, March 7, 2010

Oh, Conversion

I broke

Domination is demanded from the infantile soul.
Inculcated ideologies of success secretly saturate the will.
Determined desire drains the innocent muse.

But today, I broke.

Bold bulwarks cowardly consume capacity.
Commendation craftily manipulates motivation.
A solidified state of secure significance stifles.

But today, I broke.

Rapacious repetition petrifies potential.
Accumulated accomplishments asphyxiate urge.
Petty proclamations of praise produce a sanctimonious state.

But today, I broke.

Gnosis negating knowledge engenders empty enlightenment.
Destroying debility develops deceptive strength.
Isolated independence cements careless conceit.

But today, I broke.

Today, I am free.

Reflection on St. Meinrad Seminary

Sometimes Hidden on the Hill

The alarm startles us to a new day, eyes ache to open, the warmth of the bed begs that we continue to lay; yet sometimes hidden from our comfort and cozy rest are hands in the kitchen preparing eggs, frying toast, and roasting the brew, which both makes the morning possible, and fills the stomach of those who choose.

We scurry over them as we make our way, our steps bringing us to our next class, meeting, or place where we pray. We drop crumbs and coffee on them, go as we may; yet sometimes hidden from our movement are scrubbers, mops and brooms that prepare our way, to the hallways we walk as we pass by each day.

We sometimes rush it and we sometimes drag it. We sometimes cannot even begin to utter it. Some start it before others and some say it too loud; but sometimes in the midst of our daily recitation the hidden Spirit descends on our pleading, uniting us as one, where our longing to ‘go in peace’ lets us rest with the sun.

Our head rests in our hand as our eyelids close unable to bear so much fun. The words on the seemingly endless pages all disappear into one. Inside ourselves we surely fight, wondering why we must scroll left to right, over and over, late into the night; but sometimes hidden is the gift that we, of all people, actually have been chosen to study about His love, and it is then that the truth of the words descends upon us like a dove.

They are the men who say the wrong thing when it is still too early in the morning. They are the men who sometimes don’t smell just right, shave just right, and even act just right. They are the men who sometimes we even wish would find “her”; but sometimes hidden is that they are the men who said yes to uncertainty, who hold us when we cannot stand, pray for us when we cannot pray, and provide the strength when we simply want to walk away.

They are the faculty who love to fill our time. They are the faculty who love to assign. They are the faculty of the black cloth and the ring, and they are the faculty with the dress code, no desserts, and the monk Mass that we try hard to sing; but sometimes hidden is that when we are graying, tired, aged and soon ready to die, they are the faculty that will have prepared us to still be holding the precious host high.

It can often smell like a farm forcing us to grasp for a breath. It often feels like our time here might hasten our death. We often desire to descend the hill and watch its lights fade far away into the distance; but sometimes hidden is that beneath the sandstone, through the haze of incense and echoing of notes and melodies filling our soul, we have found our home and we really long for no place else to go.

Monks Mingle with Missioners

Missioners Mingling with Monks: Glenmary Seminarians Formed for the Future of Mission

A City on a Hill
Nestled snuggly in the fruitful lands of southern Indiana, and protruding slightly from the surrounding fields of corn and soybeans, a humble city on a hill, whose lights shine as beacons through the wilderness night prepares itself for a heavenly task. As the sun’s rays pierce the dark shadows of night, warming the earth and sending settled moisture floating to the heavens, echoing bell tolls remind the now weary, yet ever-dedicated monks of St. Meinrad of their call to allow their prayers to imitate the mist. As they shuffle past sandstone walls and dimly lit corridors to their place of prayer, their minds are reminded of the previous evening’s theological study and contemplation. A slight unease settles in their stomachs knowing how much more can always be accomplished before they are fully prepared to teach their classes this day. Yet this unease tapers as these monks are reminded that they will not only be prepared to educate seminarians through their tireless study of the mysteries of God, but they will especially be prepared by experiencing God’s Son through Word and Sacrament.

In this environment of prayer and study, where an attempt to know Jesus Christ is continually pursued, a new wave of Glenmary Seminarians are being formed as they prepare to take the fullness of the Gospel to the mission lands of the United States.

Missioners and Monks Mingle: A Wonderful Compliment
“What do monks have to do with missioners---or missioners with monks?” many people may ask. Yet a close observation reveals a complementarity essential to building up the Kingdom of God.

Liturgy: Mystery; symbol; music; community; sacrament—through dedicated preparation, prayerful reflection, and careful precision, liturgy at St. Meinrad balances mystery and reality, transcendence and intimacy, bringing to life the experience of God both through the community, but also through the Sacraments. This dedication to liturgy often produces a worshipful environment second to none.

Whether in a store front, a trailer, an onion field, or a beautiful, newly constructed church, future Glenmarians will be able to adapt the wisdom gained from their experience of liturgy at St. Meinrad, and apply it to the missions they serve. Though not always imitating the exact style and experience at St. Meinrad, liturgy in the missions can be just as meaningful and engaging. When the faithfulness, intimacy, and diversity of the local community is combined with the realization that Mass is being celebrated sometimes for the first time ever in an area, that great balance of mystery and reality, transcendence and intimacy---which is necessary for engaging worship---can be brought to fruition in the missions.

Community: Standing upon the hill of St. Meinrad and looking out at the horizon, one notices that unless a person is interested in conversing with cows and cornstalks, there is not an overabundance of entertainment surrounding the community. Thus, the seminary is committed to building up and maintaining the community within, but also to reaching out to the community abroad.

This echoes the experience in mission areas where the local people value relationships, family, and strong, healthy communities. Future Glenmarians will be able to utilize their community-centered orientation to not only engage the surrounding communities that they serve, but to consistently provide opportunities for the local church community to gather and have fellowship.

As most people know, building community can be a challenge! And this challenge only intensifies as cultures become more diverse, as they are in the missions. However, as the diversity in the student population increases, future Glenmarians will be better equipped to value, respect and utilize these differences to strengthen and build up local communities.

Rhythm and Balance: This is not a reference to a dance class taught at St. Meinrad! Rather, it is referring to qualities of life emphasized by Benedictine communities for nearly 1500 years. Moving from prayer, to study, to work, to rest, to communing---the rhythmic Benedictine way of life allows people to remain balanced and healthy as they foster their relationship with Christ.

The needs of the poor and the demands that society places on a priest can be daunting. This is nowhere more apparent than for Glenmarians who sometimes serve three to four counties, at least a half-dozen cultures, and are often the only Catholic presence for hundreds of miles. Firmly rooted in the Benedictine values of rhythm and balance, future Glenmarians will be able to courageously serve the needs placed before them, and through their solid formation, hopefully never lose that which is vital for that service: an intimate, loving relationship with Jesus Christ fostered through prayer, study, and Sacrament.

A Lamp Shining in the Distance

Decorated in shades of red, yellow and orange, the setting sunlight reflects off of the settling dust recently whisked into the air from a picker working the seemingly endless fields of cotton. As the dust settles and the sun sleeps for one more night a faint light can be seen in the distance, dancing through a stained glass window. It is light from a candle, resting closely to a tabernacle, containing for the first time ever within this southern, rural, quiet county, the mystery that is greater than the whole universe itself, the Body of our Lord Jesus Christ. What began on a hill in St. Meinrad now continues amidst the fields of Georgia. When missioners mingle with monks, the Kingdom of God is truly advanced.