Holy Family

Holy Family

Friday, January 20, 2012

Feast of Saint Sebastian

Good morning. We read in the Gospel for this twentieth day of January from Mark’s Gospel how Jesus selected His Apostles (Mk 3:13-19). “He appointed Twelve, whom he also named Apostles…” It is interesting how the Apostles were so diverse in their various gifts and personalities; in fact, one of the select twelve would even come to hand over the Lamb of God for slaughter. Like the twelve Apostles each of us are given various gifts, but one we are all called to is that of hospitality. Although we celebrate today the Feast of Saint Sebastian, I find myself thinking about tomorrow being the Feast Day of Saint Meinrad, the Patron of our town and the Patron Saint of Hospitality. We likewise this coming Sunday will be celebrating the closing of a jubilee year for our small village here in the hills of Southern Indiana. Father Abbot Justin DuVall will fittingly join our former pastors and faith community in bringing to a close this jubilee year. This past year we celebrated 150 years since the town was born around the abbey on the hill the Benedictine Monks established in March, 1854. These Benedictine Monks who came from Abtei Maria Einsiedeln near the district of Schwyz, Switzerland, under the capable stewardship of Martin Marty, sold off land to establish the town of Saint Meinrad, Indiana in 1861 and the town was born and so too a long standing relationship and spirit of hospitality between the monks and the folks at the foot of the hill. Saint Meinrad Archabbey, a community of some 100 Benedictine monks which shares our town with us, prides themselves in the living out of Chapter 53 of the Rule. Saint Benedict says: "Let all guests that come be received like Christ Himself, for He will say 'I was a stranger and ye took Me in.” Yet, I always feel somewhat torn on this day every year as we find ourselves celebrating the feasts of two wonderful Saints.

In addition to it being the Feast Day of Saint Meinrad (Benedictine Ordo), tomorrow is also the Feast Day of Saint Agnes (Roman Ordo). My fondness for Saint Meinrad might be fairly clear given he is the Patron of our town and our parish community. May we continue to be invigorated by the example of faith and hospitality of our founders. I likewise have a fondness for Saint Agnes as it is a reminder of someone very near and dear to me (My Mother-in-law Aggie).  Both Saint Meinrad and  Aggie clearly reflected the gift of hospitality.  Hospitality is a gift we are all called to and my in-laws Aggie and Butch, for me, were the epitome of hospitality.  The one, Saint Meinrad, I’ll leave to you to read about further. The other, Aggie, likewise was quite gifted and lived daily the call to hospitality. In fact, Aggie and her husband, Butch, of 45 years when she passed 12 years ago both lived daily the virtue of hospitality. Aggie recently welcomed him home into the Kingdom at his passing on the Feast of the Epiphany.

Aggie never met a stranger, and she always had a pot of the world’s best coffee waiting for anyone who graced her doorway. Both of them always made sure anyone visiting their home was comfortable and when called for—fed. I know of only one instance of her ever shying away from welcoming someone at her door, and given that door-to-door sales person’s perpetual incapacity for understanding the word ‘No!’ there isn’t a person alive that could fault Aggie for it. Even in the uncertainty and confusion of Butch’s final days he likewise always made a point of attending to the comfort of visitors to their home. This gift of hospitality is one that most of us probably need to work harder at;  I know I could take a lesson from both Aggie and Butch. It is something which as parents we need to work at instilling in our children. Given the estranged nature of our culture, we need to be about instilling in our children the gift of welcoming people into their lives, especially those so often discarded by others—the socially and economically marginalized, the elderly, the sick, and those with physical, emotional, and mental challenges. One way to instruct our children in the way of hospitality is to freely discuss the scriptures amongst our family, especially those that note our call to reach out to others. I know my wife has done well to teach our children, for she learned from the best; her mother and father taught her well. It is fitting that Butch was called home at the close of this Jubilee Year. Welcome home good and faithful servant. We miss you both! Why not share the lesson of hospitality from the Life of Saint Meinrad with your children today. Make a great day!

Today we recall the good life, gifts, and works of Saint Sebastian. And tomorrow we celebrate the Feast Days of both Saint Agnes and Saint Meinrad.

Continued prayers for Abbot Martin Werlen, OSB, Abbot of Abtei Maria Einsiedeln

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