Receiving a New Postulant

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This morning we received our fourth postulant for the summer- praise God! Nicholas hails from Jacksonville, Florida and has come such a long distance to seek God at Conception Abbey. The community is excited to welcome him as he begins his journey in monastic life. Please keep Nicholas, and our other men in formation, in your prayers.

Mid-July Update

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The workers are making lots of progress on the Infirmary addition. The framework for the chapel was built up during this past week. I decided to take some aerial photos of the progress to give an interesting perspective.

We continue to enjoy beautiful and sunny weather with just enough rain to keep everything green.


Abbot Benedict’s Crosier and Cross

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Friday after Day Prayer, Archbishop Jerome blessed Abbot Benedict’s pastoral staff (crosier) and his pectoral cross which was specially crafted for him as a gift on behalf of his classmates who were present for the ceremony. The crosier was made by former-monk and friend Cassian Heath who crafted the staff primarily from walnut that was taken from the Abbey property. Abbot Benedict offered his words of thanks to his friends and classmates as he continues to serve as the shepherd of this monastic community.

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3 Men Received as Postulants

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This morning we welcomed three men into the monastery as postulants. They are Arturo Hernandez, Justin King, and Walter Pugh. It is a joyful occasion to receive these men as they begin their monastic journey.

The small ceremony begins with the men knocking on the front door of the monastery desiring entrance. In Chapter 58 of the Rule of St. Benedict, he writes: “Do not grant newcomers to the monastic life an easy entry, but, as the Apostle says, “Test the spirits to see if they are from God,” (1 John 4:1). Therefore, if someone comes and keeps knocking at the door, and if at the end of four or five days he has shown himself patient in bearing his harsh treatment and difficulty of entry, and has persisted in his request, then he should be allowed to enter and stay in the guest quarters for a few days. After that, he should live in the novitiate, where the novices study, eat and sleep.”

We didn’t make them wait four or five days, but their discernment leading up to this point certainly lasted much longer. After knocking once, however, there was no answer at the door. But, after persisting by knocking a second time, Abbot Benedict open the door and welcomed the men inside.

During his exhortation, Abbot Benedict encouraged the men to perseverance. He also stated that St. Benedict said every good work should begin with prayer. Abbot Benedict then led the men to pray in the Blessed Sacrament Chapel of the Basilica.

St. Benedict wrote, “A senior chosen for his skill in winning souls should be appointed to look after them with careful attention.” Fr. Xavier, the Novice-Junior Master, will oversee the formation of the junior monks, novices, and postulants. St. Benedict continued, “The concern must be whether the novice truly seeks God and whether he shows eagerness for the Work of God, for obedience and for trials. The novice should be clearly told all the hardships and difficulties that will lead him to God.”

Please pray for these men as they begin following Christ in monastic life.

Calligraphy and Lectio Divina

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Br. Michael is a man of many talents. In recent years he has been putting on a couple of Calligraphy retreats that incorporate the practice of lectio divina. With the help of alumnus, Dave Sotelo, we were able to put together this video of Br. Michael explaining the connection between writing the Word and prayer.

Meeting of the Abbots

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This summer we seem to be having more individual guests and guest groups than in past summers.  These past few days the 32 members of the Swiss American General Chapter arrived for meetings which began Thursday evening and ended with a banquet after Vespers on Sunday evening.  Many monks were involved in coordinating the events and extending hospitality to our guests.  Immediately after the chapter delegates left Sunday evening and Monday morning, the priests of our own diocese, Kansas City-St. Joseph began arriving for their annual retreat. The priests will be joining us for Mass and Vespers on Tuesday.

Abbot Primate Gregory also attended the Chapter. In their meetings Abbot Vincent Bataille, O.S.B. was re-elected as the Abbot President for the Swiss-American Congregation.

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After Vespers on Sunday, our guests joined us in the monastery for a social and banquet.IMG_9653IMG_9667IMG_9678IMG_9698

Restoration of the Stations of the Cross

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A few days ago, Brothers Michael and Placid worked on packaging up the old Stations of the Cross. The Stations were in the original Basilica and they will be restored and put into the current Basilica church. The monks are very excited about this project which has been a long time in the making. The Beuronese artwork of the Stations of the Cross actually predates the murals in the Basilica. They will need to be cleaned and restored. For this reason, they are being sent to New York, and we expect to have them back to put in the Basilica later this year.19059604_10103037090139154_3490115516422952546_n19059925_10103037090069294_8650202294717279057_n19059957_10103037090204024_3542488018533036818_n19060195_10103037090074284_6189669483780034246_n19059865_10103037090004424_3927417052560855511_n19145749_10103037090144144_7444253864663692059_nstations

Mid-June Musings

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We are in the middle of June and there are plenty of things going on around the Abbey. We have one vocation guest visiting right now, and one more to join him in about a week. The weather warmed up into the 90’s this week and construction is moving quickly on the addition to the Infirmary. See the progress below.

The clouds have been particularly beautiful as well as the other sights around campus.

We continue to welcome a steady flow of guests during these weeks. Next week many Abbots from monasteries throughout the United States will be here for the General Chapter, which we will host this year. Many monks will be involved in extending hospitality to them.

Discerning your Vocation

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Many young people feel the call to religious life, but many things hold them back. Some do not know the best way to discern their vocation. Abbot Benedict offers this practical advice for those who might find themselves in this situation. Obviously, prayer is the first and primary factor when it comes to discernment, but Abbot Benedict rightly adds that it is important to “test” one’s vocation.

Please share this video with those you may know who are discerning religious life.

Launching into June

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There are plenty of good things happening around the Abbey during this first week of June. For example, Br. Anselm received three queen bees in the mail for his beehives. I saw him walking back from the post office in front of the monastery, looking rather closely at the box he tore open. I just figured someone had sent him some chocolate and he was really hungry. But, instead, I saw a sight I’ve never seen. Bees shipped in the mail! Have a look yourself.

For several years Br. Anselm has been keeping bees on the Abbey property, but since he lost one of his hives during the winter, he is working to replace it and continue his work.

In other news, a seminarian who is working here this summer was flying a small drone (not the drone I fly) and he got it stuck in the tree outside the westside of the monastery. I called our friendly neighbor and electrician, Darrell Schieber, to see if he would retrieve it for us. Darrell gladly assisted, venturing up to the upper part of the large tree in his bucket lift and plucking it off the branch with his hand. It’s wonderful to know such good people.

Speaking of aerial photography, I took a few more beautiful pictures during sunset the other evening. We are having some gorgeous evenings.

I’ve been working on some videos lately, so be sure to check back to see some of the videos when I publish them.