Below is an article that I had written for the Michaeleen, our newsletter, but there was not space for it in the issue that will come out soon. So I decided to post this article. I have gotten numerous responses to the articles on Vatican II since last fall when I started writing them. All were published in the Michaeleen as well as posted on this blog. I always welcome responses.
Affects of Vatican II Continued – Openness to People of Other Faiths
As I age, my sympathies and my loyalties become more stretched. I’ll always be a Roman Catholic, but my faith journey and my heaven now include Protestants, Evangelicals, Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, Taoists, and sincere searchers and struggling persons of every sort. The Eucharist is God’s banquet table, and in the end, it will manifest the universal salvific will of God who plays no favorites but embraces everyone without discrimination. To deny this is to massively reduce both the scope of Christ’s embrace and the meaning of Christian baptism. (from: Our One Great Act of Fidelity – Waiting for Christ in the Eucharist – by Ronald Rolheiser—preface – page 11)
Having received considerable feedback from the recent Michaeleen articles about how Vatican II affected me, it seems appropriate to continue in that direction.
Again pondering the question about how Vatican II affected me, I would be amiss if I did not eventually speak about ecumenism—dialoguing with people of faiths other than Catholic and aiming for greater unity.
I would have to admit that in my pre-adolescent years, basically my elementary years, I was somewhat frightened of, or certainly distanced from people of other faiths, let along dealing with the denomination itself. Perhaps one might say that at that time we were taught or even programmed to stay away from such faiths and that there might be something dangerous or unhealthy about mingling with such people. And unlike the present age, Catholic elementary schools (mine was – St. Michael’s in Albion, Nebraska), all the students were Catholic. There was no such thing as classmates or students of other faiths attending a Catholic school.
However, when Vatican II started opening windows, all of this changed and it changed quickly for me. And this change happened just as I arrived at Mount Michael, but the school was a seminary at that time – St. John’s Seminary. One of the monks, an author and a scholar, Fr. Edward Malone OSB, was already inviting ministers of other faiths to meet here at Mount Michael to dialogue, to share fellowship and to be welcoming and hospitable towards one another.
At my home parish in Albion, Nebraska, much was happening as well. Although I was only spending summers there in those days, I do recall priests of the Archdiocese of Omaha, who were reaching out and dialoguing with ministers of other denominations there in Albion. They were meeting together and discussing spiritual matters of each other faiths. Some of those priests would be: Fr. Henry Schorn, Fr. Robert Smith, Fr. Al McMahon, Fr. Dan Soltys and one of my own classmates, Fr. Ron Wasikowski.
Then when my family, my brothers and sisters, began dating and eventually marrying individuals of other faiths, it became apparent that it was not possible or healthy for that matter, to distance oneself from people of other faiths. In fact, just the opposite happened—it seemed appropriate and necessary to be open to people of other faiths. And what most often happens when one is open, is that relationships become possible and learning is also possible—learning of each others’ faith differences. Catholics, for example, could take some direction from Lutherans about being more concerned about more extensive use of and study of Scripture.
Of course, there will always be areas of belief where it is hard to find middle or common ground, but by at least by dialoguing and communicating, good relationships and respect is established.
When beginning study of monasticism and the spirituality of other religious orders, I discovered that there really could be a common or middle ground. In many religious orders, there is a group that is called the third order. It is usually made up of lay people (single or married) who desire to follow and live the spiritual charism of that particular religious order. For Benedictines that group is called: Oblates. And over the last few years that group has increased in membership in a tremendous way. Among Benedictine Oblate groups are people of all faiths, striving to follow and live Benedictine spirituality. These people have found a common place in their spiritual journeys to pray and worship together and yet they are of different faiths. The Divine Office and spiritual life, itself, become the common ground.
Among Benedictine Oblates there are now some who have become spiritual writers, even though their mother faith is not Catholic. Kathleen Norris (Presbyterian) and Ester de Waal (Anglican) would be just two that I can name off the top of my head. Both have full membership as Oblates of St. Benedict and their inclusion has created a great two way street of dialogue.
And over the years of Mount Michael Benedictine High School, we have had students who have attended our school, who are not Catholic. Of course, they all do have to follow our program of theological studies while here. But I can certainly verify that it was a pleasure to have someone like Michael Bohnhoff in my Social Justice and Peace Class in 2011. Michael’s Lutheran background gave the class a great sense of good works in the way a Christian needs to be involved in social justice as well as believing.
All things considered and truly pondering on this matter of ecumenism, Vatican II had a lot to do with where I am today in this matter. And I do appreciate Ronald Rolheiser on this matter of including people of other faiths in my heaven vision as well! I truly believe that Vatican II had something to do with why I think and believe this!
This past Sunday, June 16, Mount Mount Michael's summer camp opened for another season. Years ago the camp was known as Camp St. John! Over the years many of monks worked in this camp. In fact, we had little hired help. These days it is a different story, but the help is the extended Mount Michael family -- our alums and students.
It is interesting how age catches up. I used to have lots of nephews who came to camp, now it is great nephews. I guess that I have been a grandfather image now.
Below is a great nephew -- Jacob Nore. He is having breakfast with his group and he looks like he is not awake yet.
Below is Jacob Nore's little brother -- Aiden Nore-- I think he likes to have his
Below is Aiden along with his cousin, Samuel Hoppe. Sam is the son of Dennis Hoppe
who is an alum of Mount Michael -- class of 1997.
The Farmers Market will feature rhubarb pies this Saturday-- June 15. The Market is open from 9:00 am until 2:00 pm. The early bird will get the worm! There will be a limited number of pies available -- 10 --12 of them. Nine inch pies -- like the one pictured below. Each pie is $10.00. All are made with loving care!
Also as an alternative, there will be fresh rhubarb available and so anyone could bake a rhubarb pie. Below is the recipe used for my pies. It comes from family connections in Albion, Nebraska.
Rhubarb Custard Pie
by Joe Petsche
2 eggs -- beaten
1 1/2 cup of sugar
1/4 teaspoon of salt
2 Tablespoons of milk -- if rhubarb is not frozen
3 Tablespoons of flour
1/4 teaspoon of nutmeg
3 cups of rhubarb -- diced is best
1 -- crust pie shell
1/2 cup oleo
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 cup of flour
Mix eggs, sugar, salt, milk, flour and nutmeg together in a bowl. Stir in the rhubarb. Put into unbaked pie shell. Crumb topping: cream oleo, brown sugar and flour -- sprinkle on top of pie.
Bake for approximately 1 hour in 400 degree oven.
I also put a bit of oatmeal in the mixture for the crumb topping.
Below are Kevin McGuire, alum of St. John's Seminary -- 1966 and John Levy, alum of Mount Michael Benedictine High School -- 1999
LIVING THE GOSPEL MORE SERIOUSLY
This is not a new teaching…as Jesus himself makes clear, there can be no real relationship with Him when the poor are neglected and injustice abounds… God cannot be related to without… looking, squarely and honestly, at how the weakest members in our society are faring… This is not a liberal agenda item. It is something that lies at the very heart of the gospel and which Jesus makes the ultimate criterion for our final judgment. (Ronald Rolheiser – THE HOLY LONGING – pp.65-66)
Following the careers and life styles of both the alums of St. John’ Seminary and Mount Michael Benedictine High School, one can not help but be amazed and even proud of what our alums have done and continue to do. Not only have they found their niche in life and developed their talents and strengths, but they have pursued life styles to make our world a better place and to make life better for others.
Two such alums who fall into this category would be Kevin McGuire of the class of 1966 of St. John’s Seminary and John Levy of the class of 1999 of Mount Michael Benedictine High School. Both of these men originally pursued law careers and successfully completed law degrees. And yet both felt pulled in another direction – social justice areas and working directly with the poor.
Kevin McGuire, after obtaining a law degree from Creighton University, opted to help the poor by working at the Day House in Omaha, Nebraska. The Day House takes its name from Dorothy Day, American journalist, social activist and devout Catholic convert. Besides taking on the law in regard to issues of PEACE, Kevin has spent, basically his whole life, helping the homeless, street people and in general strangers—weakest members of our society.
Although Kevin never wants any recognition, the fact is that he has worked at the Day House for many years. Although the Day House is no longer open, Kevin has collected and distributed food to food pantries for all these years. And one of the places that Kevin could count on for help was Mount Michael. Living simply and without stockpiling financial security for himself all these years, Kevin – whether he wants to admit it or not—has followed the gospel in perhaps a more intense way them many of the rest of us have. Kevin has even tried to lighten the lives of these weak members of society by his musical gift—playing the violin. He graces them with music.
John Levy graduated from the University of Nebraska College of law with distinction. After law school, John practiced law for two large regional law firms for five years before deciding to serve those in need by becoming the Executive Director of the Heart Ministry Center. The Heart Ministry Center is located in one of the poorest areas of the United States and offers those in need food, clothing, health care, and self-sufficiency programs to hopefully break the cycle of poverty. Under John's direction, the Center has experienced tremendous growth providing over 75,000 acts of assistance each year to the less fortunate as well as to add several new programs and clinics. John has also recently raised a significant amount of money so the Center can be renovated to include a self-sufficiency program classroom, a dental clinic with equipment donated by Dr. Dan Beninato 91', a pharmacy and medical lab, a therapy room, and an expanded lobby. Despite the Center's growth, John remains actively involved in the Center's daily operations including spending time with children, who lost parents to gun violence, advocating against slumlords in the courtroom, and delivering food to the homebound elderly, who otherwise have no food to eat.
Undoubtedly, Mount Michael is proud of these two alums as Mount Michael is of all of our alums. But perhaps it is appropriate to sing the praises of these who have opted to work with the poor. And finally, I am certainly Kevin and John would welcome any help or contributions as well. Blessings to the both of you always!
Below is the iris that got the most comments this year. I will be trying to multipy the bulbs this summer so that Mount Michael can share such beauty with others. It is the dark purple one. Many people say that it is almost velvet!
Peonies are flowers that have always been used for many people when connecting with their beloved ones on Memorial Day. However, since Memorial Day is often times earlier these years than it used to be, peonies are not always in bloom at that time. This year was one of those times. However they are now in full bloom.
The peonies in the photos below became the center pieces for the alumni party.
As I grew up as a child, certain experiences of gardening were so strong that those experiences have been forever retained in my memory. I think this particularly happens when such experiences appeal to one's senses, especially sight and smell.
I will always remember my paternal grandmother's love for flowers of this particular season-- irises and peonies. This grandmother would be Anna (Ketteler) Hagemann. So strong was grandma's love for these flowers and raising them that it so appealed to my mother that she too wanted such gardens and flowers. My mother was very impressed by the beauty her mother-in-law could create by her flowers and her garden.
My dad also loved irises!! Indeed, an iris is a delicate flower of incredible beauty.
Below are a few of ours here at Mount Michael. Something so simple and delicate and yet so beautiful. And the fragance of these flowers is not really explainable. So yes, -- the senses -- sight and smell. Enjoy the sight and imagine the smell!