The Solemnity of the Passing of Our Holy Father Saint Benedict

“Today we celebrate the transitus of our Holy Father, Saint Benedict. It would seem like a very straight forward historical feast, the passing away of the Father of Western Monasticism, the patron saint of Europe. It would seem like a very historically minded feast. It would seem.

“But those of us who are more ‘in the know’ know that it is not so. Discovering the historical remnant of this feast, indeed locating the physical relics of Saint Benedict is like a rather perverse game of “Where’s Waldo?” Is he at Monte Cassino or at Fleury? Is his arm, his hand here or there? And where is Walda? St. Scholastica? They are pressing questions, but…

“Perhaps that is not very important. Perhaps it is more important on this transitus feast to discover where Saint Benedict is right here, right now alive as he must be in this community, in this school of the Lord’s service, in the hearts and minds of his sons and daughters, laboring around the world under the guidance of his rule and in his honored memory. Where is Saint Benedict for us today?”

Father Denis Robinson, O.S.B.
Homily on the Solemnity of the Passing of
Our Holy Father Saint Benedict
Church of Our Lady of Einsiedeln
21 March 2014

Better than giving up liver

“I have found through the years that sin in life is usually the result of one thing: boredom. In general, at least I hope, we do not lounge around plotting our next venial transgression. Rather, sin insinuates itself into minds otherwise not engaged with better things. Ask yourself: How can my mind become preoccupied with better things, the good of others, the happiness of my family and my community? These things seem more important for Lent (and for every day after Lent) than giving up liver one more time.”

Father Denis Robinson, O.S.B.
Lenten Remarks to Seminarians
17 February 2015

A nice homily from Fr. Denis: "Everyone is looking for you"

While I was gone preaching this homily last weekend, the rector, Fr. Denis Robinson, OSB, was preaching a far nicer one here on the Hill.

I have chopped some of it off and put it into a poetic format. Beautiful.

Here it are my favorite parts, but here’s a link the whole thing:

Jesus tried to get away, but everyone was looking for him.

He tried to get a bit of time alone,
     But everyone was looking for him.
He tried to go on a silent retreat
     But everyone was looking for him.
He wanted to ditch those disciples
     But everyone was looking for him.
Peter’s mother in law made great chili
     But everyone was looking for him

Brothers and sisters, How true that was for Jesus, we know that and how true that is for us.
     Whether we are introverts or just shy
     Whether we are afraid of our own shadow
     Whether we have energy to spare or not
     Everyone is looking for you. That is why we are here.

Everyone is looking for you because everyone needs you.
     The questioner needs you
     The agnostic needs you
     The sick man needs you
     The homebound need you
     The children in the school need you
     The pastor needs you
     The parish staff needs you
     The beggar at the backdoor needs you
     The homeless need you

Everyone it seems is looking for you.

Why? Because in this vocation you are pursuing, in the work for which we are preparing you here at Saint Meinrad, you must like Paul become all things for all people.  Not in the sense of having all the answers, you will not. I do not.  But in the sense of an opening of each one, to be a shepherd, to be a listener, to be a friend, to be a companion, to be present, to be a pastor, to be a caregiver for all.

Jesus tried to get away. There was no retreat.  Jesus, in St. Mark’s Gospel tried to keep his actions a secret.  The truth got out.

What am I saying?
     Be ready to be a public person.
     Be ready to wear yourself out for the Gospel.
     Be ready to drop over at the end of the day and get up the next day raring to go.

Because, brothers and sisters, it is worth it. You have no idea how worth it it is, but it will cost
     You will have no privacy
     You will have no recharging time
     You will have little time for recreation
     You will have the sore feet,
      the headache,
      the cramps from the chili cookoff,
      the waistline from the donuts after mass,
      the earache from hearing confessions,
      the bleary eyes from sitting at the bedside of an old lady drifting away,
      the sore sides from laughing,
      the sore legs from running around on the playground.

But O, brothers and sisters, it is worth it.

Jesus calls so let us go
     Let us go into the cities, for there are those in need
     Let us go on to the nearby villages that we may preach there also
     Let us go to one another realizing the best ministry I may ever do is right here.
     Let us search out those who find life a drudgery and their days are like those of hirelings.
     Let us engage the work of the Gospel from waking moment to falling asleep
     Let us lose a little sleep in service
     Let us get tired feet in service
     Let us seek to outdo one another in service
     Let us plan to drop dead in the service of Christ, just lying there in the confessional, in the dust, by the car, in front of the tabernacle, at the nursing home.
     Let us plan to die on our feet, because everyone is looking for you.

That seems a good place to stop for the day. Besides in this exhausting endeavor we may need a bit of sustenance, and we know where we have to go for that.

My cup overflows

Homily for All Souls Day (Year A)
2 November  2014 – 7am, 8:30am, 10:30am, 12:00pm
St. Jude Catholic Parish – Indianapolis, IN
Wisdom 3:1-9  |  Psalm 23:1-3a, 3b-4, 5, 6  |  Romans 5:5-11  |  John 6:37-40
Image source

Good morning. My name is Deacon Mike Keucher, and I’m in my sixth and final year of seminary at St. Meinrad Seminary, so I’ll be a priest in June.  I’m so happy to be here today.

Today we celebrate two things: All Souls Day and Vocations Sunday.  These two celebrations come together nicely in the story of David.  Many scripture scholars believe that when David wrote that psalm we sang this morning—Ps. 23, the Lord is my Shepherd—he was nearing his death.  I imagine an elderly David, lying on his bed and remembering the vocations God had given him and the joy he found in them. He remembered that day that he was anointed king. He remembered learning that his wife was to pregnant with his tenth son. He remembered what it was to be a husband and a father to so many. He probably turned his mind back to those days of shepherding as a young man. He remembered that first poem he wrote.  And the more he reflected, the fewer words he could find. He ends up summarizing his life with these words: “My cup overflows.”

Somehow, David had come to realize that he felt most blessed, that his cup felt most filled when he was pouring himself out. He uses that image of a cup to describe his soul—and so it’s a beautiful image to consider on this, All Souls Day.  Imagine a cup and an endless pitcher of water flowing into that cup. That’s what it is like for us with God.  The beauty of God is that there is always more—and he is always pouring that “more” into our lives even into the deepest parts of our souls.  He pours to the point that it spills over and we find ourselves like David, pouring ourselves out in the vocations, the callings that he issues to us.

I was invited here to tell a bit of my own story.  I will give you a small chapter of a larger book. I want to take you back to my junior year of high school. My class left early for the Confirmation retreat at St Meinrad–way early. It had been snowing and we’d been praying for a cancellation.  But alas.  That afternoon, we were given some time to do whatever at St. Meinrad. I went for a walk. I got lost.  I remember looking up into the snow as it came upon my face. I saw no vision, heard no voice, but I had a strong sense of God’s presence and peace and love at that moment. I also felt a sense in me: “You will be back here one day.”  And I knew it was a seminary, a place where men go to become priests.  It’s something like David’s story.  At that moment, my soul, my cup felt like it was being filled to the brim and more.  And at the same time, I felt like I was coming to know a bit more of how God wanted me to pour myself out in response with my life.

And you know what? God keeps filling my cup to the brim and keeps calling me to pour myself out. Anyone who follows a vocation knows this.  God has given me a vocation that has put me to work in over a hundred hospital rooms, in Guatemalan slums, in classrooms around the diocese and in retreat houses; a vocation that has me sitting around countless dining room tables and in chapels and in the rooms of the forgotten about in nursing homes. My vocation has had me baptizing children, preaching the word, and burying the dead. My vocation has given me six happy years of seminary life at the most beautiful place in the world, St. Meinrad. My vocation keeps me busy. Just this week I was at a Halloween party on Friday night, leading a Confirmation retreat all day yesterday, preaching here, and the off to ICYC this afternoon. I will return to the seminary at 11pm, and will begin my paper due tomorrow. Like yours, my vocation keeps me a bit busy sometimes.  But you know what? God has filled my cup with the greatest joys in and through it all—he has made my cup overflow.  To quote my rector: God has made me love everything my vocation demands, and he has made me love him through it.

That’s not to say all is perfect or should be.  The thing about an overflowing cup is that it spills, it gets messy.  Following a vocation doesn’t mean all will be perfect or neat or in order.  Anyone who has followed a vocation—to priesthood, religious life, married life, sacred single life—knows that while it brings countless blessings to the deepest parts of our souls, messiness is a part of it. Angelic babies are perfect to gaze upon, what a blessing, but they leak all over: they poop and fart and slobber and drool, and they turn into children who get in playground fights and adolescents who slam doors and adults that make mistakes. Marriages get messy too, and so do priesthoods.  But the cup still overflows, in and through it all.  That is God’s promise to us.

Soon we will receive to overflowing God’s presence out of those cups and into our own, our souls.  One sip, one drop of his Precious Blood is enough to fill us to overflowing. Let us pray that every soul in this church, every soul in purgatory, every married soul and every soul in the seminary and priesthood and religious life might be filled with God’s overflowing Goodness, and that all souls might discern well how God wishes them to pour themselves out for the sake of the Kingdom—so that everyone might praise God at this moment, on their death beds, and forever in heaven—echoing those words of David:

The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He maketh me to lie down in green pastures,
beside restful waters he leadeth me;
he refreshes my soul.
You spread the table before me…
my cup overflows.

Some thoughts from the rector about the Sacrament of Reconciliation

Pope Francis Goes to Confession
Image source

“How am I obedient to the Sacrament of Reconciliation? What is its role in our lives today and in our future lives as priests?

“First, let me say a word about the priest as celebrant of this sacrament. As a priest of more than 20 years, each time I step into a reconciliation room or a confessional, I am filled with humility. I am not worthy to hear even a child’s confession. My sins are so great that I should never be given authority at any level over the absolution of others. And yet, God has made me worthy by my ordination and the faculties bestowed on me by the bishop. I am an ambassador, and as an ambassador, I speak only on behalf of the sovereign I represent. I have no authority but his authority, no license but that given me by God who wants me to speak words of peace to those suffering in sin. And I can speak those words of peace because I know that I am a sinner and need to hear those words from my confessor.

“Now I want to say a word about priests as recipients of this sacrament. I can never be an effective confessor if I am not a successful penitent. I cannot announce God’s forgiveness if I have never experienced God’s forgiveness and experienced it regularly and intimately.

“Do people in the parishes avail themselves of this sacrament? Some say no. I ask this question: Are priests effectively preaching reconciliation through their own experience of this life-giving sacrament? Our deacons are now memorizing the formula for absolution. I hope they have little trouble with that because they have heard it so many times in their lives. I hope they have heard it a thousand times. I hope they hear it regularly here in the reconciliation rooms of our chapel and in the offices of their spiritual directors. I hope they participate in this sacrament because they have experienced hundreds of times God’s mercy in this sacrament, mercy delivered to them by the hands of the priest.”

Father Denis Robinson, O.S.B.
Rector’s Conference III
St. Bede Theater
1 October 2014
Read it all here