Tuesday, April 30, 2013

End of April -- Grass Cutting -- Hint of Leaves on Trees-- Possiblity of More Snow

The last few days have been wonderfully pleasant and warm. After such a cold March, it really feels good. But spring is very slow this year, very slow. Each year is different and each year has its own personality.

Although grass cutting has started some time ago on the baseball field, the first cutting happened in the open fields yesterday, April 29th. The garden is coming alive now as well. Below are some photos of the grounds right outside of the abbey building and some photos of the garden. The rhubarb is well on its way.

However, temperatures will drop already this evening and we could even see more snow!!

Saturday, April 27, 2013

A Hard Earned Musical Instrument -- the Organ of Mount Michael -- Randy George

In the month of October, 1995, along with the other renovations in Mount Michael's Chapel, the organ was finally completed. I have noted in several blogs that I have been involved with music at Mount Michael the entire time I have been here at MM. Part of that involvement would be the building of our organ. I am certainly not skilled in the technical aspects of organ building, but I had much to do with the grunt work and the planning.

The person who had the most to do with the whole project would be a man by the name of Randy George.
Unfortunately, Randy passed on to eternal life about a year ago and that loss forced me to switch gears in regard to maintaining the organ. I would like to make this blog a type of tribute to Randy George. Without his patience and ingenuity, I seriously doubt if the organ project would ever have been completed. Mount Michael is not so different than other places when it comes to available funds for music and the other arts for that matter. Enough said!! Thank you, Randy for all you have done!

When planning where the organ pipes would be located in the chapel, there was great concern about not disturbing the strict lines of symmetry of  the chapel itself. As most people, know the chapel is a 16 - sided structure with very definite symmetry. The organ had to fit within two bays of  the balcony. Below is a photo
demonstrating the two bays in which the organ pipes are situated.

The demand of fitting the organ pipes in these two bays presented a challenge. Lots of pipes had to be situated in a rather small area. Some of the pipes were too long for the height of the bay and so these pipes had to be what is called-- mitered. Below or some photos of the two chambers-- the great and the swell. And the last photo is an example of mitered pipes.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Other Activities -- Making Something from Nothing --

I begin this blog with a few comments to my followers. My blogs have not been as frequent of late. Some followers are wondering where they are. First, it is nice to know that there are some followers--thank you for goading me. But please understand that it does take some time to do this. Better weather demands that I spend time in the garden now -- please understand that as well. And second, we always seem to have problems with keeping the internet up and running here at MM.

I just want to share with you what I think is a very monastic "thing". Maybe it won't appear that way, but monks of another age used to spend lots of time weaving baskets -- or working with their hands. The Desert Monks did this especially. They did lots of mindless work so that they could also be praying or memorizing the psalms while they were working besides. They also sold these handcrafted articles in the market place to provide for their own living.

Of the past few years, I have revived a practice that my family used to do. We made rag rugs. We would cut strips of old material, sew the strips together and then braid them or crochet the strips into rugs.

Here at MM, I have done this alot with old jeans. There never seems to be a scarcity of old jeans here at MM. This year I even asked Br. Mel if he would like to help with this project. He was more than willing. He really likes to help with things like this. Below are a few photos of Br. Mel cutting jean strips.

Below is a photo of the rug that was made from most of the strips that Br. Mel cut.
This rug was put together by my sister, Judy Hoppe.
It was a silent auction item at the Night of Knights.

I also spent some class time cutting strips with the students of Social Justice and Peace class. It was always a hands on lesson of making something from nothing. It was always a fun project and the students seemed to like it. I then would use all the pockets and make a jean quilt. Below are some photos of the class of 2011.

Some group photos-- three different classes -- with the final products

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Sun -- Sunshine --- Sunflowers

All ye flowers and bees bless the Lord!
All creation bless the Lord!

Friday, April 19, 2013

Spring Slow in Coming -- Memories of Past Spring -- What Will Soon Come

       In the Risen Christ, Lord our God,
we see the victory of the Spirit,
and the beginning of the new creation.
Keep us always so united to our Saviour
that even now this victory and this newness
may support our lives,
and direct them to you, for ever and ever.

Prayer at Midday during Easter time.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Relief of Pressure and Stress -- Connecting With Ancestors

There is a section toward the end of Ronald Rolheiser's, The Holy Longing, about connecting with our beloved dead. One of his suggestions is not to just go to the cemetery to visit graves, but to actually do something that the loved one really liked doing while still living.

Ever since I came across this idea, I have tried to connect with my deceased parents in this sort of way. My parents were very simple people in many ways and they loved simple things. My Dad loved to work in the garden. I feel that I connect with him in a vey special way when I work in the garden. Although he loved irises, I don't know if he had extensive knowledge about flowers. Below are some photos of my irises over the years at Mount Michael. I will always connect with my Dad when I work with irises.

                                 Below is a photo of the bright red tulips near the school building.

In regard to my Mom, I dabble in quilting. Mom was a famous quilter. She really prided herself about how uniform her small stitches were. Really, Mom's quilting stitches were as uniform as a machine could make them.  I can't begin to come close to her talent in this regard, but I do love putting quilts together. Below is a baby boy quilt that I am presently working on. It is really enjoyable to work with patterns and colors.

I truly feel that all monks should have some sort of hobby or craft to keep occupied. It can be very relaxing as well and while doing such hobbies, one can also be creative and feel productive.

Today is April 17th, 2013. It is my Mom's birthday. However, her birthday for eternal life began on Dec.11, 2004. Thank you, Mom, for all you have done for me and your family. Have a party with Dad tonight and all your other brothers and sisters.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Face to Face -- Equality -- Thinking -- Coming from Vatican II

What follows is an article that I wrote for our newsletter, the Michaeleen. The Michaeleen will come out soon, but this electronic way of publishing may be an easier way for comments to be made. Today is April 10, 2013. I have a few daffodils blooming. I cut all of these yesterday, since I knew they would be mired by rain and snow. Indeed,we have been blessed with some rain but may get some snow as well! At least, it is good moisture. We are grateful!


After writing my last article on Vatican II, I have pondered much about the changes of Vatican II. I feel compelled to continue the topic of Vatican II as we progress in this Year of Faith.

For this article I would like to answer the question: How did Vatican II actually affect my spiritual life?

First, I think it is appropriate to explain my choice of vocabulary and why I am using such a word. The word is: ponder. I think that there are times when we just think that something which comes out of Rome really touches us, but in reality it has little to do with our spiritual lives.

I must admit that I have pondered about my past to try to be honest about how Vatican II really had something to do with my spiritual life. So, I have really pondered not just thought about this question.

My first response would have to be a phrase: face to face. When Vatican II pulled altars out from the wall and actually had the celebrant face the congregation, something happened to me. When Vatican II set up the possibility of going to confession face to face, something happened to me. When Vatican II actually invited people in the congregation to face each other and give a sign of peace to another person, something happened to me.

So what is that “something” that happened to me? That something would be the creation of relationship in a spiritual world. A relationship means communication. A relationship means looking into anther’s face. A relationship means the possibility or choice of being honest and true or non-committal and even dishonest and false. A relationship means that engagement is a necessary thing—engagement not only with God but with others as well.

So I would have to admit that these elements of Vatican II caused me to become engaged in prayer, the Eucharist, the sacraments, in retreats, in spiritual conferences, etc. like I had not been before. I remember being taught in theology that as a celebrant, I needed to engage those to whom I am ministering. In other words, I needed to look in their faces, touch them at times, give a firm and hearty handshake, and even hug people at appropriate times. All of this would be a part of what Vatican II did to me.

The second idea that came to me in regard to what Vatican II did to me would involve the word: equality. Vatican II stressed that we as Christians are all called to holiness—all of us. Anyone could be holy and saintly—absolutely anyone! That meant that a common farmer or insignificant laborer could be as holy as a very educated and religiously trained man or woman. Education and rank in the Church did not necessarily mean that those are the only people who could attain holiness. Because we are all created in the image and likeness of God as human beings, we, all, therefore are called to holiness. And so all people have the potential to attain that holiness, no matter what their state in life may be. We are all the People of God! I learned that the religiously professed and clergy members of the Church are not necessarily any better or holier than lay people – married or single! That, admittedly, was a real eye-opener for me when I was young.

The third and last words would be an infinitive: to think. Vatican II was just the beginning of this for me. But I will always remember my Catechism of elementary school. There is something wonderful about the Socratic Method of questions. But the Catechism always had answers--answers to all the questions.

I come to understand that sometimes it is just not all that black and white in the spiritual life—that there is actually an area that we might call: gray. And that the answer to many spiritual and theological questions could be answered in different words and ways and still be the correct answer, or even that the question could not be answered!

As a teacher, one of the greatest compliments that I always thought a student could pay a teacher would be a comment like: "Your class really made me think". Of course trying to draw students into thinking does mean asking questions, but it also demands listening on the behalf of both teacher and student.

Nonetheless, I can honestly say that a lot of Vatican II moved me in the direction of thinking about spiritual things and asking the “why” of things. And perhaps most importantly—it was ok to ask questions because it leads to thinking and listening.

As this Year of Faith continues, I will be pondering more about what effect Vatican II had upon me and perhaps even upon Mount Michael in general. However, it might be good also if you readers would give some input about this as well.

I will also publish this article on my blog soon. My blog can be found on the abbey webpage. Just look to the right side of the opening page of the abbey webpage and you will find my name there. Click on to my name and my blog will come up. At the end of each blog there is a place where anyone can make comments. If you would like to mention something there, I will make note of it and work towards a similar article for the next Michaeleen. And of course, you can call or write.

Monday, April 8, 2013

St. Michael's -- Albion, Nebraska -- Frist Communion

This past Sunday, April 7, 2013, I made an very early morning trip to Albion, Nebraska-- St. Michael's parish to celebrate Frist Communion with the community there. In this particular First Communion Class, I had a great niece, Allison Hoppe and a great nephew, Aiden Nore make First Communion. Since this was the same parish where I had made my First Communion, it really brought back lots of memories for me. Below are some photos of the First Communion Class of 2013 at St. Michael's in Albion, Nebraska.

                                              Allison Hoppe-- little girl in front row -- between the two boys-


                                      Aiden Nore -- straight above
                                               front row

          With lighted candles, the communicants renew their baptismal vows. They responded well with
                                      their "I Dos".

         An added feature was having the godparents bring up a little gift for each communicant. Here is my sister, Ruth Hagemann and a nephew, Phillip Hoppe-- Allison's godparents giving Allison her gift.

                    Here is Peter Hoppe, Aiden's uncle and godfather, giving Aiden his gift.

                         Aiden Nore at reception immediately afterwards.

                                           Allison Hoppe at the reception afterwards.

This was really a very special day in lots of ways. For me, it was an awesome witness of total innocence and holiness. These children are like little angels. I could not help but  be reminded of the days when I severed mass there at St. Michael's and would look up at those angels on the altar. It was nice to go back to this childhood experience. Below is a closer photo of these angles on the high altar.

Below is a photo of Aiden Nore and Allison Hoppe on their baptism day.
They were baptized together on the same day.
Allison happened to recieve her Frist Communion on her birthday as well.
Allison is the miracle baby featured on one of my earlier blogs.

                                          Aiden Nore      Judy Hoppe --Grandma      Allison Hoppe

  And now since we have Gandma here, there was another aspect of this Frist Communion, that is very worth noting. The communion dress that Allison Hoppe wore on Sunday is near 50 years old. It was new for Judy's First Communion in 1958.

Below is the dress being prepared by Judy for her grandaughter, Allison.

Below is Judy Hoppe's (Hageman) first communion class photo. She is the back row.
From the left -- she is the fifth child!

Below is a photo of Judy on her First Communion Day.
The photo was taken at our home -- Vic and Ann Borer are her godparents.

Below is my first communion class photo. I am in the back row.
I am the second child from the right. In front of Sr. Adelaide--

Below are a few more photos of St Michael's Church in Albion, Nebraska