Spiritual Fatherhood

Spiritual Fatherhood

When I was elected abbot in December 2012, one of the natures or types or titles of the office that I struggled with was the idea of being a spiritual father.  Not that I don’t believe the abbot holds that role in the community, and not that I haven’t taken seriously the responsibility of guiding the community spiritually in my role as abbot.  It is the second half of that descriptor I’ve had to come to terms with.  The weight, the heaviness of being a “father.”  I can only imagine fear in a first-time father’s heart when mother and child come home from the hospital; it is real, and he can’t make his fear about himself as he is called to make a self-gift.

Even as I type this column anxiousness wells up in me thinking about this designation I hold for my brothers as “spiritual father.”  I have to laugh, also, as half the community entered the monastery before me, so the thought of trying to have this father/son relationship with them is intimidating.  I work to get past the lie that I don’t have anything of significance to share with those who taught me, those who ministered to me, those who helped me find my vocation, those who formed me in my monastic life, those whom I still call “Father” or “Brother.”

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The Most Holy Trinity

The Most Holy Trinity

Now we have the completion of the liturgical year.  We reflect upon God as God, and give glory to Him – The Most Holy Trinity.  He is one God in three Persons.  Here we deal with the most complex mystery possible: God Himself.

We were made for God.  God is our destiny – the whole purpose of our being; but why did God create us?  So we might come to know him, to love him, and to serve him in this life; and that we might be united with him forever in another life.

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A Priest's Life - A Story of Humanity

A Priest's Life - A Story of Humanity

Roger was dying. He was actively dying! His arms were flailing about, actively fighting death. And his wife was next to him on the hospital bed, trying to control him.

I was greeted by this scene when I stepped into the hospital room at District One Hospital in Faribault, Minnesota. I had already anointed him and given him the apostolic pardon earlier, and there was not much I (nor anyone else) could do but wait. So I pulled out my Rosary and prayed. I felt compelled by the Holy Spirit to offer my first decade on the meditation of Christ carrying His Cross as Roger was actively dying. Then I began the second decade, meditating on Christ dying on the Cross.

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Problem Class

Problem Class

Nearly three years ago, one of my students approached me and, looking me in the eye, stated,  “we are the problem class.” The sort of class that, at least, gives teachers gray hair, if they don’t drive them out of the classroom entirely.  A little taken aback, I pondered what this statement meant.  I decided it was a challenge.  

Challenge accepted.  However, the challenge wasn’t to solve the problem but to prove there wasn’t a problem in the first place.  The danger, as I saw it, of accepting this label of the problem class, was that it means, or risks meaning, “we’re not _____ enough”: (insert) good, smart, quiet, strong, attentive, obedient, responsible – you get the idea.

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Remembering Bishop Matthias Schmidt • 1931-1992

Remembering Bishop Matthias Schmidt • 1931-1992

Bill Schmidt, later Matthias, Matt, or Oscar, saw the light of day in Nortonville, Kan., April 21, 1931.  He was the youngest of two brothers and a sister.  His father died in 1932.  His mother, Anna, moved to Atchison where the Atchison Daily Globe employed her for many years.  Oscar attended the local Catholic schools, graduated from Maur Hill in 1949, became a Hilltopper that same year and received the Benedictine habit March 12, 1951.  His was the last class of Hilltoppers to have what is called “the devotional reception” of the habit.  He and his class entered the novitiate June 28, 1951, made simple profession July 1, 1952, solemn vows July 11, 1955.  A class of five took ordination May 30, 1957.  He finished theological studies the following year, groomed for the study of biology he went to Wood’s Hole, Mass., for summer school.  He returned to be prefect of theHilltoppers and teacher of biology.  He also taught religion at the Mount Academy and once gave a retreat for Lay Brothers at Holy Cross Abbey.

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