Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

July 9, 2024 Column Father De Celles

Retreat. Thanks to Fr. Bergida for writing this column last week. He did an excellent job. I asked him to do this while I was away from the parish from June 20 to 27, making a retreat at the monastery of the Benedictines of Mary, Queen of Apostles in Missouri.

                  This community of nuns began under the aegis of the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter in 1995, in the Diocese of Scranton, Pennsylvania. Their foundress, Sr. Mary Wilhelmina Lancaster, OSB, had left the Oblate Sisters of Providence to found this new community seeking a more traditional approach to monasticism following the Rule of St. Benedict and worshipping according to the Traditional Latin Rite. In March 2006, they relocated to build a new monastery on about 350 acres near Gower in the diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph in Missouri.

The community has since grown prodigiously, and in 2018, their priory was elevated to the status of Abbey. They now have about 43 sisters in Gower, where they have built a beautiful monastery and Abbatial church, along with two guest houses, one for priests and one for laity. They also now have 2 daughter houses in the Midwest and are making final arrangements to purchase a 200-year-old monastery near Colwich, England, for their 3rd. The order has grown from 1 to now over 80 cloistered nuns.

Following St. Benedicts motto of “ora et labora” they spend their days in work and prayer, 8 times a day assembling in the Church to chant the Divine Office and the Mass, all of which are celebrated in the “old rite,” aka, the Traditional Latin Rite or Extraordinary Form. The rest of the day they spend mostly in doing their various chores around the monastery, which include farming (they have 7 head of cattle), taking care of their guests (cleaning and providing meals), and making beautiful traditional vestments for Holy Mass. (I brought back a couple of vestments they just finished for the parish).

As for my retreat, I couldn’t have hoped for better. The setting was peaceful and the ambiance created by these prayerful and absolutely joyful nuns was incredibly spiritually uplifting. Lots of time to pray in silence, and to listen to the recorded talks of an excellent retreat given a while back by a very holy priest. And of course, you know I love the Traditional liturgy, and every day I was able to say the Low Mass (Traditional Rite) in the private priest’s chapel, and also pray at least two of the “hours” of Divine Office and High Mass with the sisters, whose glorious chanting, was, well, heavenly.

And of course, I was able to spend quite some time praying before the glass enclosed tomb of the saintly Sr. Wilhemena. You may remember how in May 2023, when the sisters opened her grave to relocate her body to a more permanent tomb, they discovered her body to be incorrupt. (This after not being embalmed and buried in a simple pine box in the ground for 4 years!). Since then numerous miracles related to her intercession have been recorded, including dramatic healings of heart disease and forth stage cancer. (I prayed for you all at her tomb).

And while the sisters are cloistered, part of their rule is “hospitality,” so I was able to have several brief conversations with the smiling sisters. I was even able to visit for over an hour with Sr. Scholastica Radel and Sr. Misericordia Radel, 2 of my former parishioners (from my time at St. Andrew’s), who are actual blood-sisters to each other and to our former secretary Eva Radel. What a treat!

In sum, I haven’t had such a relaxing and spiritually refreshing retreat in years. Praised be Jesus Christ!

Parish Service Week. Every Summer for the last 20 years youth of the parish have taken part in the Diocesan “Work Camp.” This year we decided to do our own sort of work camp to help build fraternity/community among our youth and strengthen their bonds with the parish. So during the week of June 22-28twenty-six of our teenagers took part in our Parish Service Week, working on landscaping, repairing the picnic tables, cleaning off the outdoor statues, cleaning out and repairing storage sheds, repairing the Station walkway, and much more. But also praying together (including Mass, Rosary and Divine Office), eating together and playing together, and on Friday taking a rafting trip on the Shenandoah.

By all accounts everyone had a wonderful week. Thanks to all the kids for joining in, and thanks to the many volunteers who helped out so much. And special thanks to our wonderful hardworking and loving Director of our Youth Apostolate, Jeanne Sause—there is none better in the Church.

Did You Hear? As has been reported in “The Pillar”:

Traditionalist Catholic websites and media began discussing last week what they describe as “persistent rumors” of a planned Vatican document, which is supposedly meant to suppress entirely the celebration of the extraordinary form of the liturgy, often called the “Traditional Latin Mass”…

According to curial sources in Rome, the rumor …seems to have originated with informal claims made by a single official at the Dicastery for Divine Worship …, the department led by Cardinal Arthur Roche….Cardinal Roche first faced criticism when his office …[in December 2021] reserved to itself some powers which had seemed in the actual text of Traditionis Custodes to belong to diocesan bishops… That move…appeared to row back on the ecclesiology of Vatican Council II and Pope Francis’ curial reforms, which the pope said aimed for “a ‘sound decentralization,’ to leave to the competence of Bishops the authority to resolve, in the exercise of ‘their proper task as teachers’ and pastors, those issues with which they are familiar.”

…At the time of Traditionis Custodes’ promulgation, Francis said he was “saddened that the instrumental use of Missale Romanum of 1962 is often characterized by a rejection not only of the liturgical reform, but of the Vatican Council II itself, claiming…that it betrayed the Tradition and the ‘true Church’.”

…Meanwhile, the majority — some would argue the obvious majority — of adherents to the old liturgy are clear their attachment is one of devotion to worship, not ecclesiastical sedition.

…At a time when Rome insists it has adopted a posture of “listening” and a synodal approach to the “peripheries” of ecclesiastical life, it is hard to see how a renewed clampdown on communities who already largely perceive themselves to be unloved and unwanted by the hierarchy could achieve a positive outcome.

…[O]ne Vatican official told The Pillar that …“The thinking…is to ‘force them [traditionalist Catholics] onto reservations,’…” “Taking them out of diocesan life, driving them into little pockets around things like …the [Priestly Fraternity of St Peter] and even the SSPX [which is in irregular communion with the Church] would take them out of local bishops’ hands”….

What everyone seems to agree on, though, is that a new set of restrictions …would …deepen existing divisions, and sow more ill feeling among all sides of the liturgical debate.

Oremus pro invicem. Fr. De Celles