"Come, my sons. Listen to me; I will teach you the fear of the Lord. Draw near to Him and be enlightened, and your faces shall not be put to shame." These are the words directed to the junior monks who are to profess their solemn vows in the monastic life according to the Rule of St. Benedict.
Last weekend, on the Feast of St. Benedict, July 11th, I traveled to St. John's University, Collegeville to witness the profession of vows by my dear friend Fr. Nickolas Becker, OSB.
I left South Bend by car early Friday morning so as to get through Chicago before the morning rush hour. It is convenient that Stillwater, MN rests on the edges of the mighty Mississippi River East of the Twin Cities. It is only natural to stop at the Mecca of all used theological bookstores, Loome Books. I found original hardbacks by liturgical scholars Parsch, Reinhold, and Vagaggini. These treasures, coupled with a micro-brew from a local tap made for a great Friday afternoon.Saturday morning was beautiful and I made my way to Grand Ave to visit a favorite shop, Stogies on Grand. When I studied at St. John's from summer 2006 to summer 2007 I went into the Twin Cities once a month or so and just browsing the selection at this store made for fine entertainment.
There I met dear friends Dr. Geno and Paula Fernandez who had just flown in from Chicago. We first had lunch at a nearby French restaurant and then toured St. Thomas University just down the street. The chapel, like the ND basilica, was busy with wedding parties but we were able to tour inside. A priest there confirmed for us the link between St. Thomas University and the Congregation of Holy Cross. From 1928 til 1933 Fr. Matthew Schumacker, CSC served as president. He, along with other Holy Cross Fathers, served the university with the knowledge that they had obtained from their work at Notre Dame. The CSCs departed after a change in archbishops and the presidency returned to a diocesan cleric.We made our way to St. John's in time for Saturday anticipated vespers for the Solemnity of St. Benedict, the Father of Western Monasticism. This was followed by a nice dinner welcoming guests and then an ice cream social.Sunday morning began early with a Mass since concelebration is not allowed at the Abbey's Sunday conventual Mass. Morning prayer was prayed, breakfast was breakfasted and I spent the free morning sitting by the lake just a stone's throw from my former SJU room. I remember that time with great fondness - wonderful year working on my MA degree.The Mass itself was beautiful and was wonderful to be in prayer with Fr. Nickolas, other friends, and the Benedictine community. After making their vows, the newly professed lift their hands to God the Father and pray three times, "Sustain me, O Lord, as you have promised that I may live, and disappoint me not in my hope". Such a beautiful casting of one's self into utter reliance upon God.After the Mass and banquet we departed. But Sunday night was to be spent back in the Twin Cities with the family of my dear friend, Fr. Nate Wills, CSC.Congratulations to Fr. Nickolas. May God bless your priesthood and religious life.
Gaudeamus omnes in Domino, Diem festum celebrantes sub honore Benedicti abbatis, de cuius solemnitate gaudent angeli, et collaudant Filium Dei.
Let us all rejoice in the Lord and celebrate a feast day in honor of Benedict the abbot, at whose solemnity the angels rejoice as they praise the Son of God.