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Student Leaders from Benedictine University Visit the Abbey

Posted by Jeanine Jelinek on October 13, 2017 at 1:10 AM

On August 30th, Student Leaders from Benedictine University visted the Abbey for dinner and a discussion from the Student Life Office. 

Benet Academy Freshman Retreat

Posted by Jeanine Jelinek on October 12, 2017 at 12:35 PM

As part of the Benet Academy Freshman Retreat, students visited the Abbey on October 11th and celebrated the Mass with Abbot Austin. Thank you to all the Benet faculty and student leaders that worked hard to arrange a special retreat for the freshman students. Abbot Austin's homily, "You're more valuable than you think", is provided below and can also be found on St. Procopius Abbey's Facebook page.



Homily for Wed. of 27th wk. in Ord. time, Oct. 11, 2017, St. Procopius Abbey, given to Benet freshmen retreat

Part of life is having to deal with competing voices. One person says one thing, another person says another thing. The competing voices can be speaking about things that, at the end of the day, are not that important: for example, some voices say the Cubs are the best baseball organization, others say the White Sox. Other competing voices are about things like the arts or movies: one movie critic will review a movie and say that it is great, while another will review it and say that it's not so great. And there are competing voices are about politics, current events, and so on.

Such is life. You have to deal with competing voices. And being an adult means having to decide which voices we will believe and follow.

Now, there are also competing voices about religion. In school or at home, you'll hear voices that tell you to live and take seriously your Catholic faith. But in our culture, you'll also hear many voices that tell you not to do that. Some of those voices will say things incompatible with our faith; others will say things directly critical of our faith.

Again, this is part of life in this world. And each of us will have to make decisions about which voices to follow.

Now, here's something to remember as you consider what our Catholic faith says. Some criticize our faith as being too negative. It tells us not to do this or that. I think that criticism is a bit overplayed, but I can understand where it comes from. The Catholic faith can come across as negative, if we fail to grasp something. What we often fail to grasp is how valuable we are. In other words, you are more valuable than you think.

Look at the gospel reading today. In it, Jesus tells us to call God our Father. The thing about a father and his child is that they resemble each other. So, each of us resembles God.

That's a big deal. Nothing is greater than God. So, to resemble God means that you have incredible worth. Again, you are more valuable than you think.

Or look at the first reading today. The Prophet Jonah gets upset when a plant dies. The plant was giving him shade and comfort on a hot day. When it dies, Jonah becomes very mad! God replies: You care so much about a plant. Shouldn't I care about human beings?!

Of course, He should and He does. Indeed, God values us so much that He sent His Son to die for us. In theological talk, we speak of our worth by saying each human being is made in the image of God. We resemble God, for we have been created in the image of God. Once again, you are more valuable than you think.

The thing about valuable things is that we treat them with care. We give them special attention and we protect them. Thus, if a person has a valuable antique car, he gives it special care and protects it. If a person has a valuable piece of clothing, perhaps a jacket or dress, she takes special care of it. And yet each human being is more valuable than any possession.

We have immortal souls. We will live even after bodily death. And God is working so that we will live with Him forever, in His joy and peace, which is beyond understanding. We need to work with him on this.

So, if our Catholic faith seems to demand much, it is because we are worth it. You are more valuable than you think. And that's worth remembering as we deal with competing voices.

Benedictine University Homecoming 2017

Posted by Jeanine Jelinek on October 11, 2017 at 11:40 AM

Thanks to everyone who stopped by our tailgate at the Benedictine University homecoming! 

50th Anniversary Celebrated at Benet Academy

Posted by Jeanine Jelinek on September 7, 2017 at 1:45 AM

On September 5th, we celebrated the 50th anniversary of St. Procopius Academy becoming Benet Academy after accepting the faculty and students of Sacred Heart Academy. The anniversary marked the transition when the school became co-educational, ceased accepting boarders, and took on the new name of Benet Academy. An all-school Mass was celebrated to commemorate the anniversary. Abbot Austin's homily, "Seeing good things as a gift", is provided below and can also be found on St. Procopius Abbey's Facebook page.



Homily for 50th anniversary of St. Procopius Academy becoming Benet Academy after accepting the faculty and students of Sacred Heart Academy upon its closing; given on Sept. 5, 2017 at Benet Academy.

As I'm sure many here know, the name "Benet" is a shortened form of "Benedict." Thus, our school is named after St. Benedict, our patron. Also, the name, "Benedict," in Latin means "blessed." And Benet has, indeed, been blessed over these decades.

So, we have a lot of good things going here. We have our imperfections and faults, to be sure. But there is a lot of good here. And there has been for some time. We're celebrating that on this anniversary.

We have enjoyed good monks and sisters; good teachers, staff, and administrators; good students and families; a good campus and good resources.

As we take stock of the good things that we have, I think it important to think of them as gifts. That's my point in this homily. I want us to think of the good things we have as gifts. If we do, I think that has important consequences.

Notice that it is possible not to do this. We can think of the good things we have simply as goods. In the field of economics, we talk simply of goods, not of gifts. Or suppose I find a twenty dollar bill on the street. That's good. But I don't see that as a gift.

To be a gift, two qualities have to be present. First, someone gives you the good thing. And second, it was given for your benefit. A gift is given by someone for your benefit.

That's not the case with the twenty dollar bill I find on the street. I just found it. No one gave it to me. It is not a gift.

So, is Benet like that? Is it like finding a $20 bill? Or is Benet a gift given to us for our benefit? It is a gift.

Who, then, is the giver? God. Yes, others were involved in the giving of this gift. I especially think here of the dedicated faculty, staff, and administrators over the years. But in the last analysis, God is the giver. All good things ultimately come from Him. The other people have cooperated with God.

And God gave us this gift for our benefit. That means God has us in mind in giving us this gift. God is thinking of us. And when He thinks of us, He thinks of how we are to benefit from the good things of Benet. And that is something for us to think about, too. How am I supposed to benefit from the good things that I have received here? How does God want me to benefit from these good things?

If you take all this to heart, it changes things. The good things at Benet are seen as a gift from God. They therefore put us in a relationship with God. In that relationship, we are at the receiving end of God's love. The natural response from us is to thank God.

That's what today's readings are about -- realizing God's gifts and thanking Him. We have been blessed -- not because we are so worthy, but because God is so loving. In turn, we give thanks to God in this Mass. As we know, the word Eucharist means "thanksgiving." And when we go forth from this Mass, we are to give thanks in our actions. That's what St. Paul tells us to do: to "do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him."

Celebrating the Mass of The Holy Spirit with Benedictine University Students

Posted by Jeanine Jelinek on September 5, 2017 at 11:15 AM

On August 31st, several hundred students from Benedictine University gathered at the Abbey to celebrated the University's Mass of the Holy Spirit to open the school year. Abbot Austin's homily, "Wanting The Truth", is provided below and can also be found on St. Procopius Abbey's Facebook page.



Homily for Mass of the Holy Spirit to open the school year for Benedictine University, Aug. 31, 2017, St. Procopius Abbey Church

How many people here have seen the movie, A Few Good Men, starring Tom Cruise and Jack Nicholson? I know it is not class, but you can raise your hands. [Not many raise their hands!] Well, I thought I might be dating myself with that reference. In any case, if you've seen the movie, you probably know the response to the line: I want the truth! [After waiting a moment, someone in the back yells: You can't handle the truth!] Thank you! The response is: You can't handle the truth.

Well, that is about as close to a dialogue homily you'll ever get from me!

So, in the movie, the bad guy uses this response to justify hiding the truth. He claims that others can't handle the truth. They are like children for whom the truth is too much.

But it's not only children who find the truth hard to handle at times. Adults can also struggle with the truth. Who hasn't, at one point or another, struggled with the truth? Especially if the truth is something unflattering about me, then it can be hard for me to take in.

In any case, the University -- that is, any university worth the name -- is after the truth. That's what we're about as a university community -- the pursuit of truth. We seek it, even though at times it is hard to handle or even to attain.

Now, truth is a very complicated topic. Someone once famously said, "What is truth?" Although he asked it cynically, the question itself is a good one.

To break the matter down, I think we can speak of two kinds of truth. On the one hand, there are the truths that enable us to do things. On the other hand, there are the truths that we live by.

The first may be called "useful" truths. By them, we can control things, get things done, produce the results we want. As for the second kind of truths, they are sometimes called "higher" truths. We conduct our lives according to these higher truths -- or at least, we should.

The first kind of truths enable us to bend things to our will. The second kind are those to which we bend our will.

This corresponds to two kinds of knowledge. The first kind is of how to get things done. It is sometimes called "know-how." The second kind of knowledge is about conducting our lives. It is the knowledge of how to live well.

As for the first category of truths, the useful truths, they include truths about how objects act and behave. Here are some examples. The truth about gravity tells us how objects act in relation to each other. A truth in the field of economics, say, concerning supply and demand, tells us how people act under certain circumstances. A truth in the biological sciences tells us how an organism behaves.

Now, these useful truths are very important. They are worth knowing, to the extent we can. By them we can do a lot of great things, such as cure diseases. Also, the useful truths concern the work we do. And the Benedictine charism values work. We even speak of the "dignity" of work. A university should seek useful truths, therefore. That's not in question.

But what about the higher truths? Are they the concern of a university? Yes. A university should seek them as well -- which is to say that students, faculty, and staff should seek them, and help each other to seek them, and share them with each other.

These higher truths are truths about justice, love, and the meaning of life. They provide the standards by which we are to conduct our lives. Whereas the useful truths concern skill, the higher truths concern virtue. And whereas knowing the useful truths gives you "know-how," keeping in mind the higher truths gives you wisdom.

The two kinds of truth work together, or should. But there is a temptation to seek the useful truths, while neglecting the higher truths. In the gospel today, we hear about the wicked servant. His master goes away, and he "begins to beat his fellow servants,and eat and drink with drunkards" (Mt 24). This wicked servant neglects the higher truths. Notice that he bends things to his own will. But he does not bend his will to the higher truths. Jesus asks rhetorically, "Who is the faithful and prudent servant?" (see Mt 24). The wicked servant He describes is certainly not the answer.

This temptation to seek useful truths while neglecting higher ones is still with us, of course. And of course, universities are not immune from it. Vatican II, in its document Gaudium et Spes, speaks of it when describing the modern world. The document speaks of an "imbalance... between a concern for practicality and efficiency, and the demands of moral conscience" (n. 9). The imbalance is from seeking practicality and efficiency without due attention to the higher truths that inform moral conscience.

These higher truths are hard to handle. They are difficult to see, at times. They are challenging, for they demand conversion from us. But in the long run, these are the truths that set us free.

As we begin this new academic year, may God grant us the grace to want the truth, to seek after it, and to find it -- not only the useful truths, but also the higher ones.

Assembly of choir organ in the Lady Chapel

Posted by Jeanine Jelinek on August 17, 2017 at 11:30 AM

Our Lady Chapel renovation project moves into the final stage with the assembly of the choir organ. 

Br. Augustine looks on, as Martin Ott and his son Thorsten assemble our choir organ.

Thank you for your prayers and support of our efforts. Our Giving page provides details if you would like to support the Lady Chapel renovation. We are grateful.

Feast of St. Benedict celebrated on July 11th.

Posted by Jeanine Jelinek on July 11, 2017 at 4:45 PM

The feast of St. Benedict, Patriarch of Western Monasticism, is celebrated on July 11th. Please see our Life of Saint Benedict and St. Benedict's teaching pages for more information and links to Book 2 of The Dialogues and St. Benedict's Rule for Monasteries.

Two make their oblations as Oblates of St. Procopius Abbey on July 9, 2017

Posted by Jeanine Jelinek on July 10, 2017 at 4:05 PM

Going back to the Latin term for an offering, an oblate is one who offers himself or herself to live the Benedictine life as best as is possible in the person's state of life. St. Procopius' oblate program is run by our Fr. David and Fr. Julian. On July 9th, Abbot Austin and the community celebrated the Oblate profession of Matthew Kososki and Kendall Rak.

Oblates of St. Benedict are Christians who associate themselves with a Benedictine community in order to enrich their Christian way of life. This spiritual affiliation is formalized through a promise made to live out the spiritual values reflected in the Rule of St. Benedict in so far as the individual's state in life permits. (Exerpt from Fr. James' Newsletter - No. 169.)

For more information, please see our Oblates page which provides a link to the website of the Oblates of St. Benedict affiliated with St. Procopius Abbey, oblate.webs.com

Solemnity of St. Procopius celebrated on July 4th

Posted by Jeanine Jelinek on July 5, 2017 at 10:20 AM

On July 4,1204, Pope Innocent III canonized Procopius, Abbot of Sazava Abbey, and, proclaimed him a saint of the Roman Catholic Church.

As patron saint of our Abbey, we celebrate the Solemnity of St. Procopius.