Homily, 2nd Sunday of Easter - April 23, 2017

Homily 2nd Sunday of Easter A Schuyler Christ the King Priory2017
Joh 20:19-31   Acts 2:42-47   1 Pet 1:3-9

Focus: The Risen Christ is our Lord and God.

Function: The Easter Season is meant to help us believe in the resurrection.

Dear Sisters and brothers in the Lord,

We have celebrated Easter; and the feast continues for fifty days.  On Easter Sunday after the vigil I was energized and full of joy:  the light of the Easter candle was multiplied and St. Benedict Center’s chapel beautifully illuminated by many little lights that we had put around the Easter candle after the Exsultet; then the many Alleluias, and all the other symbols and rites.

Everyday life with its ups and downs goes on after Easter Sunday.  The purpose of the Easter Season, of us celebrating 50 days of Easter, is to train our eyes so they learn to see the new reality of the Resurrection more and more in our own lives and in our world.

In both the gospels of Easter Sunday and of today the Resurrection Event is surrounded by contrasts:  a sense of great loss and of fear and great joy; doubt and belief.

Today’s gospel begins by pointing out that the disciples were gathered behind locked doors “for fear.”  Jesus’ death had driven them into hiding.  Then the Risen One stands in their midst and suddenly, as they see Him, they are full of joy.

What caused their Easter joy?  Certainly Jesus’ presence, Jesus’ being alive.  And then also Jesus’ message.  He speaks words of peace and forgiveness.

Peace (Greek eirene) here doesn’t mean only the absence of war;  Behind it stands the Hebrew concept of shalom, which means universal well-being and wholeness.

A prerequisite of this shalom’s full reception is the forgiveness of sins: for the disciples to receive forgiveness from God and for them to extend forgiveness to other people.  Peace and forgiveness together open up the spaciousness of salvation,  shattering the confines of locked doors and doubt.

Thomas, who was absent during this first encounter with the risen Lord, does not believe the witness of the other disciples.  Like us, he wants tangible evidence.  Rather than touching Jesus, however, Thomas only utters a profound profession of faith.  His encounter with the risen Lord replaces the need for tangible evidence and opens up the space for faith, for salvation.  Thomas experienced the peace and the forgiveness that Jesus offers!

Dear sisters and brothers in the Lord, The Risen Christ is our Lord and God.  The Easter Season is meant to help us believe in the resurrection.  We also can experience His presence and in some quite concrete way see him and touch him.  Today’s first reading tells us how.  It describes various elements of the life of the early Christian community.

One of them is the Eucharist, the “breaking of the bread,”  In the Eucharist Jesus shows us his hands; and his side.  We commemorate his passion and death.  At the Eucharist, he bestows the Holy Spirit upon us.  In the Epiclesis, we call down the Holy Spirit upon bread and wine.  Here we touch Him.  After the consecration, we eat him into ourselves, so that he can transform us, so that our hearts become more and more like his.

Then there is the teaching of the apostles.  During the Easter Season, the Lectionary presents us with sections from all parts of the Acts of the Apostles;  We hear how, in spite of rejection and persecution, the message about the life, death and resurrection of Jesus spreads over the whole world known at this time. The teaching of the apostles came so evidently from God!  Humans were not able to destroy it.

Finally, there is the communal life.  We encounter the Risen Christ in each other.  Our ability to forgive a person who has hurt us is a gift of the Risen One; we receive it if we ask him for it.  Our ability to share our possessions with those who are in need—according to the example of the early Christians in Jerusalem—is a gift of the Risen Lord, too, and evidence of His presence within us and around us.

Certainly, it would be nice to trade places with Thomas and to share in this first, overwhelming experience of Christ’s resurrection.  If we, however, in a prayerful attitude, see and hear, note and perceive, especially during the next six weeks, we will get in touch ever more fully with this new reality; indeed, we, too, will encounter and touch the Risen One.

Amen.  Shalom!

Fr. Thomas Leitner, OSB

Homily at the Easter Vigil, Sunday April 16, 2017

Homily for the Easter Vigil 2017 at Christ the King Priory/St. Benedict Center

Vigil readings: Gn 1:–2:2 • Gn 22:1–18 • Ex 14:15–15:1 • Is 54:5–14 • Is 55:1–11 • Bar 3:9–15 • Ez 36:16–28 • Rom 6:3–11 • Mt 28:1–10

 Earthquake! Earthquake and Easter go together today. Most of us could probably use a little earthquake right now to wake us up and get our attention. We have been siting and listening for a long time. ….God is so full of surprises. Dawn comes, a new day and what do we feel? An earthquake. Everything is splitting open, the old is collapsing, and the new is stepping out. The sound of the earthquake and stone rolling away, that is the announcement of Easter this year. But it is a new day, a new creation; the old has passed. After the earthquake we cannot go back. Life is not the same, for Jesus, for the women, for disciples. Dare I say, for us also?

The readings we have just heard are like photos in a family or community album. Each year on this night we gather to sit down and look at these pictures. We gather here to listen to the stories and poems about God’s ways in our faith community’s story. We sit and listen to the stories and words of the prophets and apostles. Every time we look at a family or community photo album, the pictures remind someone of another story, of another member of the family and community. Sometimes the stories are the same, sometimes they are not. A new memory is added. It is like that with the words and rituals of this Easter Vigil. Each year the same words are read but each year they sound new and different. Something in them is heard for the first time. Why? Because each year we have grown and experienced another piece of life since the hearing last Easter. This year a particular word hits us; it makes sense, more sense than ever before. God is penetrating into our hearts ever more deeply. Each year we hear these words and each year we become these words more and more. Or so we hope.

In the Easter Vigil we are offered our full dignity once again, from creation to covenant, to the fully new Adam in Christ Jesus. If the words we hear seem to have a home in our hearts, it is simply because they are about us human beings at our deepest level. These words are all about where God and the human heart come together. These words, stories, images from Scripture give meaning to our place in the world. They put us in touch with some very basic realities. So basic that to ignore these words is to court spiritual death in every way. The words we have heard give us back our humanity in a world that pulls us faster and faster into inhumanity, into violence, consumerism, a rape of the earth our common home and which we heard God created good!

We are drawn back into a love affair with God. We heard it in the Easter Proclamation: the things of heaven are wedded to the things of earth, the divine with the human. Tonight is a wedding night between God and us, his people. We are drawn into the power of promise, fidelity and love. These stories from the Christian album put us face to face with our tendency to wander off and listen to another story. But they also make us face our God who is willing to never be angry again, who is willing to gather up all the lost, who is willing to restore honor; who is willing to create a new family where the bond is not just our human blood but a blood that now has divine member within it. And even more, a divine member whose blood means life eternal for all who will believe. In the end, the stories we hear tonight and the images stirred up by prophet and apostle proclaim loudly and clearly that we are precious, of inestimable value; and because of that we find ourselves this night rescued, saved and made clean.  Every part of God’s word says that life lasts. They say that life endures because God has become involved in that life by entering into life’s worst moment, a violent death. And in that worst moment, he has turned it upside down and made life come out on top.

There is nothing we have heard tonight that says that our God will fail us. There is nothing here tonight but fidelity to the end, steadfast love for ever and ever. There is nothing here that speaks of an end without hope. Everything speaks of a change, of a new world, of a transformation of what is old. Everything here speaks of a God who is deeply personal, wonderfully intimate. If, as Baruch says, God can get the stars to respond in chorus to his call, how much more can he get us to respond, we who have a share in his breath, who are his image in the world.

After we have looked at the family album or those photos on our tablet or cameras, we close them and put them away. But we feel connected again to the family story. We may know someone better now than before. Our acceptance of a certain member has been enhanced. We don’t close the album and remain the same person as before. Tonight, we cannot gather around the fire, bring it inside and listen to stories told around that light without being changed, renewed. We have to feel ourselves re-connected, grounded, grasped by the wisdom that penetrates all things. We have to feel that we have moved one more step in the direction of a life without end. We have to feel the embrace of our Father who does not want to loose anything he has made.

Tonight we should know that what binds us to God is a covenant of love that leads us into peace. Tonight the original unity of creation is put in front of us again. We are at the beginning of life. We are at the first day when God said, ‘Let there be light.’ A light that shatters any darkness and there is only day. Tonight God becomes very personal, very loving. He says the name of his Son over a dead body, and life is stirred again. So much is life stirred that this life has the power and force of an earthquake. It shakes up everything. Believe me, a new chapter in the human story has begun. A new chapter in your story and my story begins with this dawn on the first day of a new world.

Christ is Risen, alleluia.

He is truly risen, alleluia.

Joel Macul, OSB

Easter Triduum 2017

all Liturgical Celebrations at Saint Benedict Center

Wednesday, April 12

7:30     PM             Compline

Thursday, April 13               HOLY THURSDAY  
6:30    AM             Vigils and Lauds

12:00   Noon         Daytime Prayer

  7:00   PM             MASS OF THE LORD’S

                               Adoration until Midnight


Friday, April 14     GOOD FRIDAY

6:30    AM             Vigils and Lauds

12:00   Noon         Daytime Prayer

 3:00    PM             GOOD FRIDAY LITURGY

 7:00     PM             Compline



Saturday, April 15   HOLY SATURDAY

  6:30AM            Vigils and Lauds                      

 12:00Noon       Daytime Prayer

   5:30   PM           Vespers

                                                                                                                 7:15   PM            Compline

Sunday, April 16       EASTER SUNDAY

5:00    AM                  EASTER VIGIL at SBC
     Breakfast following – all are invited  

From Daytime Prayer on: all at BMH

12:00    Noon              Daytime Prayer

 5:00     PM                  Solemn Vespers

 7:00     PM                  Compline



Update from Fr. Mauritius.....

Abbot Primate Gregory Polan, OSB (from Conception Abbey) with Fr. Prior Mauritius Wilde, OSB

Abbot Primate Gregory Polan, OSB (from Conception Abbey) with Fr. Prior Mauritius Wilde, OSB

I have been in Rome now for a little more than a month. Everything is new to me. But I am excited and feel privileged to serve the People of God here in the center of the Church. The internationality strikes me. To see Christians from all over the world learning, studying, working for their home countries, is stunning. To be close to the tombs of so many wonderful saints is life-giving. I am lucky to live on the Aventine Hill. Pope Leo XIII gave the Benedictines this place as a gift with the intention that they run a school. We at Sant’Anselmo still do this.  There are almost ninety Benedictines from all continents who study monasticism, liturgy, philosophy and theology. The change from rural Schuyler, NE, to the metropolis of Rome was interesting. Though I was born and raised in a mid-size city, as a Benedictine I have been used to living in the countryside for more than thirty years. The Aventine is the perfect place for Benedictines in the city of Rome. As you walk up the hill, you feel more tranquility and peace. And still we are not far away from the Vatican. What do I like most in Rome at this point? The cloister of Sant’Anselmo, our liturgy chanted by the student monks, and the sweets you can buy in the pasticceria!

A view of Sant' Anselmo with St. Peter's in background

A view of Sant' Anselmo with St. Peter's in background

New Prior

Today, Sept. 23rd 2016, Abbot Michael Reepen, Abbot of our motherhouse in Germany announced, that our Prior Fr. Mauritius Wilde has been called to be the next Prior at St. Anselmo in Rome. Under the leadership of the recently elected Abbot Primate Gregory Polan, he will serve Benedictine monks from all over the world who live, study, and teach in this monastery.

As Fr. Mauritius will move in November, Abbot Michael appointed Abbot em. Joel Macul as the new Prior of Christ the King Priory. Abbot Joel is a monk of St. Paul’s Abbey in Newton, NJ, a monastery of our Missionary Benedictine Congregation, and will resume his office at the beginning of the next year.

We ask all our friends for their prayers in this time of transition and trust the God will bring about much good through these changes.

The community of monks of Christ the King in Schuyler



Prior's Message

When I moved here to Schuyler almost 6 years ago, as a German native I wanted to know where this place was compared to the latitude in Europe. The discovery I made was stunning: Christ the King Priory in Schuyler, NE, (41°30′32″N 97°3′16″W) is exactly on the same latitude as Montecassino (41°29′24″N 13°48′50″E) in Italy, which is the place where our founder Saint Benedict established his community in the 6th century. This monastery still in existence today is built on a mountain as a response to Jesus’ word: “A city set on a mountain cannot be hidden” (Matthew 5:14). It was very touching to me to realize that my confreres, over 80 years ago, chose exactly this place. Was it intuition, or divine providence? It is a beautiful coincidence in any case, to be on the same latitude as Montecassino, “in line” with our monastery of origin.

Schuyler                        Montecassino

After this discovery I wanted to know about our sisters in Norfolk, NE. They are our neighbors, friends, allies, combatants in Christ, from the beginning. Actually, they were here in Nebraska already 12 years before us. And again, a beautiful surprise. Their monastery is pretty much on the same latitude as Subiaco Abbey in Italy, the place where Saint Benedict spent three years in a cave as “his novitiate”. Today it is a Benedictine monastery located in the most beautiful surroundings you can imagine.

This connection between the “old world” and the “new world” encourages me that God leads us the way he wants to, even if we don’t notice at first. He plans everything with his gracious and merciful hand, and we – if we just listen to him – are graced to follow his plans and Jesus’ footsteps. May St. Benedict bless us here in Schuyler and our whole order of brothers and sisters around the world.

Fr. Mauritius Wilde O.S.B.

Bestowal of the Mission Cross

On July 10, monks, oblates, family and friends celebrated the upcoming missionary work of Fr. Paul Kasun in Colombia, South America. In a joyful celebration the mission cross was bestowed on him. Fr. Paul will work at St. Benedict’s Priory in El Rosal, Columbia, a monastery of our Missionary Congregation, for two years. After the Holy Eucharist Fr. Paul also shared experiences of working on his Ph.D. in Texas and Guatemala. Congratulations and prayers to Fr. Paul!

Prior's Message

Some people look at us monks with a certain sense of longing wishing they too could be monks or nuns themselves,  living in the silence and peace of a monastery at a serene place and in a beautiful community. Well, I think this is a good longing, because we all need peace in our lives and a supporting community. However, the real life in a monastery is not as romantic as we can assure you. We are all humans. As I entered the monastery 31 years ago, my mother was concerned that I would flee the world and talked with the Abbot. He smiled at her responding: Don’t worry; your son will experience the world…

Still, there are features in our Benedictine spirituality that help us on a day-to-day basis to stay in contact with the Lord. We monks are often asked about these tools, and we are happy to share them. Not only with our Oblate family, but with all guests who visit our monastery or attend a retreat at St. Benedict Center. In addition, I have just started a blog in which I share thoughts from the monastery that might enhance your spiritual life as well. The articles issued every three or four weeks are not long and easily digestible. So, if you want to have a look, go to www.wildemonk.net. It’s not as wild as the name would suggest, but maybe a bit. We all carry in us the archetype of a monk. This “monk in us” wants to live and be alive.

As we leave the Easter Season and enter the ordinary time of the Church year I wish you all God’s continued blessings and greet you on behalf of the monastic community,

Fr. Mauritius Wilde O.S.B.