Sorry that I haven’t written yet but it’s been kinda busy out here in Philly.
We have class everyday. On Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays we have History of Norbert and the Order. All of this dates back to the year 1121 so we have quite a bit to cover. The other day we were looking at pictures of Norbert that date back to 1650, pretty neat stuff.
On Tuesdays and Thursdays we have a Liturgy class where we talk about different components of the Liturgy, where they came from and some of the theological pricipals behind them. I think this is my favorite class because there is less reading, and more discussion. Plus we are talking a little bit about the new Roman Missal that starts this Advent, so it’s nice to hear the reasoning behind some of the changes.
The third class that we have is on Prayer. We are reading a book called ‘Praying Your Experiences’ which talks about how to view everything that we do in a day as a gift from God. It’s an interesting way to pray for sure.
On Fridays we meet with the abbot who is our interim Novice Master while we are here. He asks us to write some reflections on our novitiate thus far, and I find that really helpful. Plus we go over the schedule for the week.
On Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday we have a work period from 1:00 to 4:00. Although most times we are done by 2:30. We have cleaned windows, the tabernacle, sweeping floors, cleaning out closets, polishing the stainless steel in the elevator, organzing store rooms, etc. It’s been a nice bonding opportunity with the 2 novices out here for Daylesford.
This last Friday, we took a trip into Philly. We did a lot too. We visited a museum of early portraits, Independence Hall, the Liberty Bell, Christ Church (where almost all of the early Americans worshipped at one time or other), Betsy Ross’ house, Old St. Joe’s (the oldest church in Philly) then we went for dinner at Joe’s Steaks and I had my first cheesesteak. It was pretty good, but I guess it wasn’t as authentic as it could have been because the cheese wasn’t melted completely. Who knew that made a difference!!
Also this week, Daylesford Abbey has been under visitation. Every group in the Church, including the Norbertines have a visitation take place. In our Order it’s every 6 years. Basically two Norbertines from outside the house come and spend the week interviweing all of the community members, the Bishop(s), the associates and anyone else associated with the house to see if they are fulfilling their tasks and such. So this week we have Abbot Eugene Hayes from St. Michael’s Abbey in California and Prior Paul MacMahon from Storrington, England. It’s been nice to talk with these guys. We didn’t have to interview with them because we are not a part of this canonry. De Pere’s visitation is next year in preparation for our abbatial election. De Pere’s visitators are Abbot Richard who is the abbot of Daylesford and Father Augustine from California.
A week ago Sunday, about 19 of us went to the local parish, St. Norbert, to promote vocation awareness week. After Mass I was standing next to the abbot greeting people and out of the blue he put his miter on me so I could “try it on”. I thought that was pretty neat. He told me my height fit the miter well. Who knows, maybe someday I will have my own miter haha.
On Sunday afternoon, James, Jacob and I accompanied the Daylsford novice, Gerard to a downtown church for an ecumenical prayer service honoring Martin Luther King Jr. It was a really nice time. There were about 3 or 4 black gospel choirs there, plus a children’s choir. The clergy represented Catholic, Muslim, Jewish, and Baptist faith traditions. Justin Cardinal Regali was supposed to preside but he fell ill and had to call in a bishop an hour before the prayer service started. I was bummed because I was looking forward to meeting the Cardinal.
Every Thursday we head to South Philadelphia to help out the Norbertine community of four priests living at a parish called St. Gabriel’s. It is a beautiful parish. It looks more like a cathedral actually. I’ll have to take pictures the next time we go. Last week we swept the church out because there was still a lot of hay from the nativity scene, and we shoveled snow for the path for the casket for the funeral the next day. After work period we prayed Vespers with the sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary (IHM). They are delightful. There are about 12 that work in the school associated with St. Gabes. Now keep in mind, St. Gabe’s is in the middle of the projects in South Philly. There are drug deals on the corner outside the church, violence (there is a stray bullet hole in the priory window), and other kinds of gang stuff, but these IHM sisters (most of them are over 65) love what they do. They all have a South Philly attitude, but they are great. They don’t let anyone push them around, for sure!
Next Thursday we are going to help out at the Bethesda Project. This was started by a Norbertine that lives out here about 20 years ago. It’s a program designed to help the homeless of the city. There are a few different homes around and we are going to one of them to help serve food I think. I’m looking forward to it.
As a part of our time out here, we are going on two tours of the city. One being the Norbertine Heritage tour and the other being an ecclesial tour. I didn’t know that the Norbertines have been out in Philly sine 1932. Abbot Pennings sent a group out here to teach. They taught at John Newman High School (formerly Southeast Catholic) and started a sister school to Notre Dame Academy, Archmere Academy. So on our tours we will see those sights. Plus the cathedral and the shrines of John Newman and Mother Kathryn Drexel.
On Feburary 2, not only do I celebrate my birthday, but the community out here will welcome our Abbot General for a few days. He is from Germany and now lives at our Generalate House in Rome. He will be in America visiting St. Michael’s Abbey in CA for a little bit and then stop here on his way back to Rome. (He will visit De Pere in 2012 because of General Chapter) So I’m excited to meet him. I’m telling the guys here that they were too generous to get the Abbot General here for my birthday present 🙂
I’m becoming quite the cribbage player. It’s a very popular after dinner game here. So far I’ve only lost 3 games in my time here. And I’ve skunked the ‘resident champion” twice. He’s not too happy about it so he keeps threating me by saying “This is the calm before the storm Brad…its not going to be pretty when the storm hits.” He’s kidding of course. But I’m still waiting for that storm to hit. He’s over 80 so I wonder how bad of a ‘storm’ it’s going to be haha.
This weekend I will be helping out with a youth retreat that is from St. Norbert’s Parish. The deacon that I lived with in Chicago this past semester was ordained on Dec. 18 and is now staffed at that parish. So he asked if I would help out with that and I said yes. It will be nice to be working with high schoolers again.
And finally, in my spare time, I’ve been working on teaching myself organ. It’s been kind of a challenge because reading 3 staves of music at once isn’t the easiest thing in the world, but I can now play the melody line, some harmony, and all of the pedaling to the song “For All the Saints”. Now my next challenge will be to ask the organist for some simple organ music. Hymns are pretty easy, but organ music is a little bit more challenging.
So like I said, this is a pretty big update because I haven’t written. I can’t upload pictures here because they don’t have the same program installed on the computers so I will have to wait until I’m back in Chicago the second week of February.