In the early afternoon of Monday, August 21, scattered shouts of excitement rose from the lawn behind St. Benedict’s Abbey. The “Great American Eclipse” of 2017 was peeking through the thick clouds in intervals, giving the monks and the one hundred or so family and friends gathered on the lawn short glimpses of the celestial event.
The celebrations of this historic moment began just a few hours before with Mass being celebrated by Abbot James in the Abbey and burgers and brats being provided by the Knights of Columbus shortly after. Unfortunately, dark clouds rolled in and rain began to pour as the Knights fired up the grill, but it did not dampen the enthusiasm of the monks and guests as they anxiously awaited the eclipse. There had been some uncertainty about the weather and the chance of clouds in the days leading up to Monday. At Mass, the Abbot simply pointed out that, "We are guaranteed one thing today, clouds or not, it will get dark."
And the darkness came. Though the eclipse itself was only able to be seen a few times through the thick cloud cover, the darkening sky was sudden and could almost be felt. It came with a cool breeze and then a stillness that was otherworldly. Two minutes later it was gone, and the day seemed to continue as if nothing had happened.
Fr. Meinrad Miller, a monk at St. Benedict’s Abbey said that viewing the eclipse with the other monks and their friends was an experience that helped him appreciate the mystery of creation.
“I am reminded of one of my favorite Scripture passages, Psalm 8:4-6:
‘When I see your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and stars that you set in place—What is man that you are mindful of him, and a son of man that you care for him? Yet you have made him little less than a god, crowned him with glory and honor.’ The fact that the same God who made the moon and the stars cares about me, and crowns me with glory and honor is a marvel to ponder.”
Read the Kansas City Star article on the event here