Swim, Bike, Run

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Do monks get to pursue their hobbies and interest in the monastery?

Yes, is the short answer.  We obviously have to get permission and it cannot be too extravagant.

On Saturday morning, for the third year in a row, I participated in the Cameron YMCA Triathlon (Cameron, MO). It was a gorgeous and cool morning for racing. It was my 7th sprint triathlon race, a 200 meter swim, 8 mile bike, and 2.1 mile run. I was able to place 3rd overall and 1st in the 30-34 age group. I enjoy these races, it is neat to meet different people and get out and thank God for the life he has given me.

You can take a look at the specific results by following this link:  Triathlon Results (scroll down to see men’s results)

Below:  The swim was 200 meters in a 50 meter (Olympic size) outdoor pool.  Participants swim down one length to the wall, then move under the rope and swim back in the next lane.  It is called “serpentine,” advancing from one end of the pool to the other so as not to get in the way of the swimmers who are ahead or behind you.  Each triathlete, upon registering, records what they think they will swim the 200 meter distance.  I put 3 minutes and 15 seconds, and was seeded #15.  I ended up swimming the distance in 3 minutes 11 seconds.

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Above:  The transition from swim to bike.  After getting out of the pool, I run over to bike bike at the transition area and put on my helmet, sunglasses and bike cleats as fast as possible.  For those serious athletes, it’s no socks!

Below:  After biking 8 miles, athletes return to the transition area to put on running shoes.  Again, no socks- so today I have a couple blisters.  Hint:  Transition as fast as you can, the clock never stops.

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Below:  After the race, posing with “Finisher’s medal.”
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Below:  First, second, and third places in the 30-34 year old division.  The man on the far right is Phillip.  I remember him from last year.  He lives in the Kansas City area and is Catholic.  He and his wife have two boys.20140720-082029-30029686.jpg

 

 

All the Colors

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It has been a beautiful week of cooler temperatures in the 70′s. All of the monks have enjoyed it immensely. On this day nine years ago, I was received into the community as a postulant. I remember the feelings of excitement and of simply desiring to do what I thought God was asking me to do. It has been quite the journey.

I’ll recognize this day by adding some color to your screen. Enjoy these flowers taken around campus.

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Priests Softball Game

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Fr. Victor and I traveled to the T-Bones Stadium in Kansas City, Kansas to play in the 1st Annual Pitching for Priests softball game. I have been looking forward to this game for weeks, and it did not disappoint. First of all, there was a good group of people tailgating before the game. The weather forecast showed a 40% chance of rain for part of the day, but we did not see a cloud in the sky. The weather was absolutely perfect for a ballgame. Fr. Victor and got our jerseys and suited up before the game to get in a few throws for warmup and batting practice.

It was the Kansas City, Kansas Priests/Seminarians versus the Kansas City-St. Joseph Priests/Seminarians, the battle of the borders.  The KCK Archdiocese had four Benedictines from St. Benedict’s in Atchison playing on their team, and Fr. Victor and I represented well for Conception Abbey the Diocese of KC-St. Joseph.
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Community America Ballpark, where the T-Bones play, is an awesome place to have a game.  It had the feel of a real, professional game, with all the sights and sounds.  Best yet, was the turnout of fans.  There were over 2,400 people who packed into the stadium for the game.  The event that was sponsored by the Catholic Radio Network 1090AM, raised over $25,000 for Vocations for the two dioceses.  Bishop Finn (KC-St. Joseph) and Archbishop Naumann threw out the first pitch.

The game rules were modified slightly to promote more action and less downtime between innings.  There were 10 batters for each team every inning, this meant there could be 10 outs or 10 runs maximum.  The 10th and final batter of an inning would have to run until tagged out.  I was skeptical of the modification of rules, but it played out rather well.

Below:  Fr. Victor (right) and I before the game.
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Initially I was not the most effective at the plate.  We were the visiting team and I batted third in the lineup.  I mistakingly took an inside pitch my first time up and forced a high pop fly to left field, which was easily caught by a priest of the opposing team.  I did the same thing my second time at bat, and I was not pleased with myself.  However, the third time I was up, I was not going to make that mistake again.  I hit a hard grounder to the gap between third and short and had a standup double with a RBI.  One batter later I rounded the bases quickly and scored.  It was one of our best innings, a time when we needed runs because the game was getting too close.

My best contribution was in the field.  I played shortstop for the entirety of the game.  I surprised myself by playing probably the best ball I have played in a long time.  I stopped every ball that came my way and my throws to first base were right on target.  I had one unassisted double play early on in the game.  Our infield was pretty solid.  The KCK team had several throwing errors, an area where our team did much better.  The game had great intensity and everyone was pretty competitive.  The crowd cheered and it was an awesome atmosphere.
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Fr. Victor played left field and caught every ball that flew his way.  He was reliable during the whole game.  I think our “Benedictine” contribution to the team was our defense.  Fr. Victor went 2 for 3 at bat, with two singles.

We were up 27 to 21 going into the bottom of the final inning.  All we had to do was keep them from scoring too many runs.  We did exactly that.  The Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph emerged victorious, taking home the trophy, 27-25.  It was an awesome experience of priestly fraternity and competition.  I thoroughly enjoyed myself and was very grateful for the opportunity to play at such a venue.

Below:  After the game, Bishop Finn holding the championship trophy, along with Fr. Victor and I.

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Game Day

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I enjoyed traveling to Macon, Missouri to cover weekend Masses for Fr. Dave Viet.  The parish community was very hospitable and I had one of the best meals in a long time at a parishioner’s home on Saturday evening.  Two seminarians from the Diocese of Jefferson City were also in town to begin their week of Totus Tuus, a weeklong summer Catholic youth program dedicated to sharing the Gospel and promoting the Catholic faith through evangelization, catechesis, Christian witness, and Eucharistic worship.  They are set out in teams of two college age guys and girls to teach and play various games with the kids for the week.  It is an awesome program.  The seminarians go to Conception Seminary College, our seminary, so it was good to see them.

I promised a couple of pictures from the weekend’s Pray and Work Weekend at the monastery.  Br. Etienne took the pictures, since I was away.  We had a good turnout of oblates.

Below:  Br. Blaise takes a short break from work and poses with Nancy, one of the oblates who helped out in the garden on Saturday.

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Also, today is game day (as the title of the blog suggests)!

Fr. Victor and I are playing in a softball game for priests this evening.  I hope the rain holds off!  It is the 1st Annual “Pitching Priests” Softball Game.  It is at 6:00 p.m. at T-Bones Stadium, 1800 Village West Parkway, Kansas City, Kansas. Priests and seminarians from the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas will battle it out on the ballfield with priests and seminarians of the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph, hosted by the Catholic Radio Network. 3:30 p.m., tailgating.  The game is for a great cause – all proceeds support the Vocations Offices.

I will definitely let you know how it goes.  The two of us have been practicing a bit, but we feel like we will be able to contribute and benefit our team.

Feast of St. Benedict

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Today is the Feast of St. Benedict. However, our monastery observes it as a “Feast,” but give greater solemnity to the Transitus (passing) of St. Benedict, which is celebrated on March 21. Nevertheless, we call upon St. Benedict’s intercession:  Stir up in your Church, O Lord, the spirit that animated our Father Saint Benedict, that filled with this spirit we may learn to love what he loved and practice what he taught. Through Christ our Lord.

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I am currently working on the Summer issue of Tower Topics and my goal is to send it to the Printery House to print by Friday, July 18.  That is one week away!  It usually takes close to ten days to print the 22,000+ copies, and then time to collate and mail them out.  If you receive Tower Topics, expect it in your mailbox by mid/late August.  It should be another great issue, but I’m biased, I’m the Editor.

This weekend I have a bike race in Hopkins, Missouri on Saturday morning, then I travel to Macon and Bevier, Missouri to cover weekend Masses.  I enjoy visiting new places for pastoral ministry.  Not sure where Macon is?  Well, neither am I.  Google maps will help us both out (see map below).  We’ll see how my legs do in the car for 2 hours and 46 minutes after racing 18 miles a few hours earlier.

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This weekend at the Abbey is our Oblate Pray and Work Weekend.  It might be called Work and Pray, but I think the prayer part should come first.  The oblates will be working in various places around the monastery and grounds.  We are grateful for our oblates, it is always good to see them.  Not sure what an “oblate” is?  Here is a quick description:  Oblates of St. Beneict are Christian individuals or families who have associated themselves with a Benedictine community in order to enrich their Christian way of life.  They seek to integrate prayer and work in their lives to manifest Christ’s presence in society.

Since I’m away this weekend, I’ll try to have Br. Etienne take a few pictures of their weekend work.  Who knows, I might put it in Tower Topics as well.

Please pray for my safe travels, both by car and bicycle!

 

 

Operation: Renovation

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Br. Maximilian provides us with today’s pictures from inside the monastery. The renovation process proceeds as workers continue the demolition process.

Below:  One of the stairways is removed, leaving quite the drop-off below.
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Above: The monastery’s “treasures” are stored away from harm’s way.
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Electrical Storm

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Last night we had quite the display from the sky. It wasn’t fireworks, it was lightning. I had taken a bike ride after Compline, but got stranded when a storm moved in between me and the Abbey.  Fortunately, some of our neighbors just finished putting their hay in the barn and were returning home in their truck.  They picked me up and I got to wait out the storm at their house.

Later in the evening the lightning show continued as the rain fell.  Eventually, I went outside to get these pictures as the storms continued at a distance into the late hours of the night.  I should have taken my camera out earlier when the lightning flashed every few seconds, but I hesitated.  Nevertheless, I got a few good shots.
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Stars and Stripes

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Happy Feast of St. Thomas!

Grant, almighty God, that we may glory in the Feast of the blessed Apostle Thomas, so that we may always be sustained by his intercession and, believing, may have life in the name of Jesus Christ your Son, whom Thomas acknowledged as the Lord. Who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

Two days ago I watched the Fifa World Cup game between USA and Belgium.  It was an exciting game, and we had a few chances to win it, but in the end, it did not go our way.  However, it was pretty great to see how well USA’s goalie Tim Howard played.  The teams certainly put a lot of time and hard work practicing and preparing for these games.

Many of the monks who were on vacation, assisting in parishes, or giving retreats have returned these past couple of days.  The weather has been extraordinary.  Yesterday it was mostly sunny and we had a high of 68.  The low was 56, not too far from the record low of 50 in 1959.  The windows on the monastic residence floors were wide open to let in the nice cool breeze.

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Occasionally the monks celebrate July 4th with a picnic outdoors.  Since the weather is so pleasant, I am hoping we will be outside.  While Fr. Xavier is away, I have Mass at MIR House Friday evening (First Friday).  MIR House is a house of prayer on the east side of St. Joseph, about 45 minutes from the Abbey.  I have never been there before, but I am looking forward to celebrating the Sacrament of Reconciliation and Eucharist there.

Summer Storms

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Storms continue to sweep across northwestern Missouri, dropping a good amount of rain in the process. Yesterday evening we had another storm bring loud thunder and flashes of lightning. It was not the first time this week that we have had quite the showing of the forces of nature.

Here is the official rainfall for the past few days:
June 27-  2.32 in
June 29-  0.25 in
June 30-  2.00 in

Below, looking east, toward the monastery:  Rains move north after saturating the Abbey grounds.

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Below: The farmers are optimistic for a good crop, the corn is nice and green.
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Below: For those working on pouring concrete for a new carport, the rains have created a muddy mess.
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Below: The violent winds from early Friday morning have done a fair bit of damage to the trees on campus.
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Battling it Out

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Br. Maximilian approached me yesterday afternoon and asked if I would like to play the game Battleship after Compline.  On his recent vacation with his family, he acquired the 1984 version of Electronic Battleship from his grandparents.  The game is in pristine condition.  I could not pass up an offer like that.  When he turned on the game and it made its patented “sonar”-like noises, I immediately reverted to memories of my childhood.  I was caught in a time warp in the early 90′s and I was playing one of my brothers again.  How strange that old school boardgames can have such an impact on us.

I won the first game, but Br. Maximilian came back and won the second game.  I’m sure we will finish the series in the days ahead.

Below:  Br. Maximilian poses with the game box.

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Below:  Game play gets intense, the glasses come off.
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