Category Archives: Messages From the Monks

In Everything Give Thanks

“Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” 1Thessalonians 5:16-18

In everything that we say and do we should give thanks to God!  The month of November is here, and it is a time of giving thanks for the blessings in our lives.  There is a distinct turning point that seems to happen within the monastery during November.  The solemnity of All Saints on November 1 welcomes this shift within my spirit each year as we celebrate first Vespers on October 31.  The sun has almost set, and the Basilica is adorned with the relics of the saints.  The monks are lining up for the procession into church and there a sense of calm as one contemplates the Saints that have gone before us.  On the feast of All Saints, I give thanks to God for my vocation as a monk and priest of Conception Abbey.

As we move through the month of November, we are reminded of all the souls that have gone before us into the Eternal Kingdom.  During the first week of November I like to walk through our cemetery and pray for the monks who have died.  I also give thanks to God for their vocation, and for the work that they had done to make Conception Abbey a beautiful place to live and worship Him.

The week of Thanksgiving all the monks on mission come home for meetings and to celebrate the jubilee of profession or priest of confreres celebrating.  The junior monks put together a program to honor those monks who have dedicated their lives to the work of God.  Of course, Thanksgiving Day is the highlight as we give thanks to God for the many blessings we have received, with the celebration of the Eucharist, and then move to the dining room to give thanks with a delicious meal.

My brothers and sisters, may we take time these days to be mindful of the many blessing that we have received.  May we take time to recognize that God is at work within each and everyone of us.  May we take time to pray, and most importantly may we take time to give thanks.  On behalf of all the monks and the staff at The Printery House; we would like to wish you all a Blessed and Thankful, Thanksgiving Day!

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Spreading the Message

The position of The Printery House General Manager has proven to be a bigger task than I had ever anticipated.  Now in my third year of being the General Manager of the press I would like to share with you one of the great things that I have learned.

Throughout our lives we receive several invitations, whether it be to a wedding, a dinner party, or to share a prayer with a family member or loved one.  In seminary, we were taught that the people who come to church every day are not the people of God that we needed to worry about.  We as future priests needed to be more attentive to the people who only come to church at Christmas and Easter, or even more important than those people who live within our parish boundaries that we never see. At the time it sparked a couple of questions.  How does one reach out to the people of God who only come to church once or twice a year?  How do I reach out to the people whom I never see? 

In October 2016 I was in the press room talking with our Press Manager/Operator while she was printing an order for 4,600 Christmas cards.  As the cards were coming off the press, I looked at the card and was blown away by the innovative way this pastor was reaching out.  The card itself was one of our Christmas cards.  As you would open the card up on the left-hand side, he had printed the church services for the Christmas Season.  On the right-hand side of the card was our message, but underneath that the pastor wrote his own note.  “Wishing you and your family a Blessed Christmas Season with the Peace and Joy of the New Year to come!” and then he signed his name. 

I found out that there are several pastors that have cards printed in this way, which is a creative way of reaching out to everyone within the parish. We can now help out these pastors even more with our new mailing program. Given the mailing addresses, we can print, stuff and mail all your Christmas cards for you hassle free. This could be a great way for your own parish to reach out to people, and a unique way to invite people to celebrate the birth of our Lord and Savior.

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Bringing the Gospel to Every Person and to Every Situation

As a pastor, it is easy to gravitate in the direction of the people we see every day, or the people we like, or the people that can carry on an educated conversation about their faith.  However, these are not the people who need my attention or need me to reach out to them.  The people who need me the most are the people who I have never seen at church, or the ones who only come at Christmas or Easter.  When I became the General Manager of The Printery House two years ago, I discovered a creative and interesting way that Pastors reach out to their parishioners.  At Christmas and Easter time, Pastors would choose a card and have us imprint the Mass/Services schedule on the left inside of the card.  They would also write a little message of their own and sign the card.  They would then send this card to every member within the parish.  This is a small way of reaching out to everyone within our community, but it is also a powerful way to let people know that you are thinking of them.

While approaching someone about their faith can make for an awkward conversation, it is even more awkward to be on the receiving end of that conversation.  The invitation to faith comes to each of us in a different way, for some it is a tiny whisper and for others it comes to us like a bolt of lighting with the crack of thunder that follows.  There is no secret formula in coming to faith.  However, we can ask ourselves some important questions that can help us invite others to faith: Where am I currently at within my own faith journey? With whom do I put my faith and hope in?  How do my actions lead others closer to Christ, or do my actions lead people away from God?  If I were to invite someone to go to church with me who would I invite?  Why them?  How do I invite them so that they are not threatened (or feel that I am judging them), but are able to see me authentically asking them to journey with me in seeking God?

In asking these questions we will have a better understanding of our own faith and where we authentically are at within our own faith journey.  Having answered these basic questions we will not be thrown off when asked and we will be more confident with who we are and who we are in relationship with God.

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The Printery House: Send Something You Believe In!

As we come together this week to celebrate our nation’s independence we are reminded of the freedoms we enjoy and the rights we share as citizens within the United States.  We remember those fought, and are currently fighting, for our country so that we can be free from tyranny and truly pursue happiness.

On 4 July 1776 the United States was born by declaring its independence from Great Britain.  The preamble of the Declaration of Independence states: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”  We as a nation have struggled over the years when trying to truly understand what a “right” is, and what is self-evident.

In November 1863 President Abraham Lincoln gave his famous Gettysburg Address, which began: “Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.” President Lincoln reminded us during the Civil War that we as a nation had not lived up to the belief that all men were created equal.  He reminded us “that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom – and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”

Prayer Card

I Have a Dream prayer card

One hundred years later, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. gave his famous “I have a dream speech” He makes reference to the Emancipation Proclamation given by President Lincoln calling for freedom from slavery in the United States.  Dr. King in this speech was harkening back not only 100 years, but 187 years to when the Continental Congress declared independence.  King writes:

“When we allow freedom to ring – when we let it ring from every city and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, ‘Free at last, free at last, great God almighty, we are free at last.’”

 

My brothers and sisters, may we take a moment this July fourth to remember our 242-year history.  May we remember that we have not always gotten it right.  May we remember that men and women have given their lives so that we can have freedom of speech, to vote, to truly live in the pursuit of Happiness.  May we take a moment to pray this July fourth.  Pray for those who are persecuted in our country; pray for those in our military protecting our freedoms; pray for each other; pray that we may let go of our prejudices, so that, we can truly be “one Nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”

 

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