The kids were pretty alert to what was going on, and asked intelligent questions (sometimes). They noted that of all the various holy places we passed through, Brother Maurus acted differently in only one. In all the places we visited he acted as tour guide, except in the chapel of the Blessed Sacrament. Before entering, he told us what to expect; once within, he knelt in prayer (so did I). The kids and my other adult sat respectfully around the bench running along the apse of the church where the chapel was. Nobody said anything. When Brother Maurus was finished praying, he got up and left without indicating anything to us of his intention. I gestured to our group and we joined him in the hallway and continued the tour.
Later on, we talked about this. I pointed out that the reserved sacrament within the golden tabernacle was considered by Catholics to be the actual, physical presence of Christ Himself; therefore, while other places of worship could be considered "vacant" at times -- and the subject of tours -- within his presence, mere chitchat would be considered inappropriate. This is why Brother Maurus spoke to us before and after our visit to the Blessed Sacrament chapel, but within had words only for Christ.
Below the cut are a few pictures of our trip. The first is Brother Maurus leading our group from the guesthouse to the Abbey church. The new monastery is on the left. The oldest resident of the community is Father Theodore, who is still going strong at 108 years old. He says his daily office in Latin, since Vatican II is still fairly new-fangled to him.
The other two pictures were painted during WW II by Dom Gregory Witt, a Belgian Benedictine in temporary residence at St. Meinrad. He painted the great Christus Victor in the Abbey church (second pic) -- but since his own home town had just been bombed by the Nazis, he painted the victorious Christ in funereal brown. Many of his other paintings are about the Abbey, including many in the old Chapter Room. The third pic here is his illustration of the monastic duty to care for the infirm as if each were Christ. It features two monks caring for an aged brother. It also features a cat, which I think adds to the different levels of love portrayed here.
Click on a pic to enlarge.
|St. Meinrad Archabbey
|Chapter Room detail