After our 4 o’clock retreat conference, the monks processed to the monastery for the last time before the renovation and demolition begins. Gathering around the wooden center stairwell, well worn from years of feet descending the steps to chant the Divine Office in the Basilica, the monastic community sang Psalm 133.
“How góod and how pléasant it ís, when bróthers líve in únity!
It is like précious óil upon the héad running dówn upon the béard,
running dówn upon Áaron’s béard, upon the cóllar of his róbes;
like the déw of Hérmon, which runs dówn on the móuntains of Zíon.
For thére the Lórd bestows his bléssing: lífe foréver.”
Abbot Gregory lead the community in a series of prayers of thanksgiving for the many blessings that have come from the monastery building. We gave thanks for those who have gone before us, those monks who walked the halls long before any of us were around. It was a bitter-sweet moment. No doubt some of the brethren were holding back the tears- memories of long ago, joys, blessings, and even trials and tragedy (like the shootings on June 10, 2002). The monks prayed for the safety of the workers, and placed the renovation under the protection of the Holy Family.
Below: Fr. Kenneth stands in the coffee room where he and Fr. Norbert were shot on June 10, 2002.
Below: The bullet holes in the first floor of the monastery, where Br. Damian and Fr. Philip were killed.
While the tragedy on June 10 is a sad reality that occurred in the monastery, the confreres walk the halls, visiting rooms where they lived in years past and recalled the countless blessings, memories, and stories. When the monks walk the halls again, it will be in an entirely renovated building with a significantly different appearance.
Below: Brother Macario gives one last look into his old room.
Below: Br. Macario shows off his treasure. The Latin vesting prayers from the old brothers’ chapel.
Below: Monks visit in the monastic refectory, where they ate all of their meals.