This is the abbey church at St. Meinrad’s Archabbey in St. Meinrad, Indiana.
My wife and I took a pilgrimage there this weekend. If you live in the St. Louis area, you’re only about three hours away from a fascinating piece of church history.
I loved the mass. I won’t spoil it all for you, but I do want to let you know why I loved the mass. In a word: solemn.
It was novo ordo mass, not Latin. But the songs were chanted beautifully. The priests were generous with sanctifying incense. The formality of the priests and monks was beautiful and humbling.
The new mass doesn’t have to be the embarrassing celebration of man it has become in most Catholic parishes. The new mass can be just as solemn and Christ-focused as the Tridentine mass. I encourage members of parish liturgical committees to visit a monastery and see how it’s done. Catholics are craving seriousness and solemnity. Give it to them before some heretical church does.
The English chants, alone, lend the mass seriousness and beauty that guitars and pianos can’t match. You can purchase the music of St. Meinrad’s here.
Check out the monks' podcast on chant, too.
Mass at St. Meinrad’s is at 9:30 on Sundays and 7:30 on weekdays.
Monastery Grounds #
The highlights of the trip were the gift and casket shop (memento mori) and the mass Sunday morning. But just walking the grounds was so peaceful. The image below is my wife in front of the library.
The garden is behind the church. We had to use our imagines to find it. Not sure if we were supposed to be back there or not.
A simple bridge.
I love Benedictine crosses. St. Meinrad’s has a beautiful one in front of the library.
After touring the church and spending some time with Christ in the adoration chapel, we prayed in the cemetery. November is the month of souls.
Next was the gift shop.
St. Meinrad Gift and Casket Shop #
I’ve never been in a casket shop before. At least, not in a casket shop that wasn’t inside a funeral home. So this was fascinating.
“Should we buy a casket while we’re here?” I asked my wife as we approached the gift shop.
“Don’t tempt fate,” she said.
I didn’t buy a casket, but I checked them out. And the cremains cases.
The crafsmanship is beautiful. The caskets are simple. Some have those old-time removable lids you see in movies, not the hinged tops most of us have grown up with. But the woodworking is fantastic.
I haven’t priced caskets lately, but the prices seemed reasonable for the quality.
(BTW, I did not take any pictures inside the gift shop or casket shop. Sorry.)
The gift shop has beautiful statuary. If it weren’t so close to Christmas, and if buying a garden statue didn’t feel so selfish, I would have come home with a $179 Pieta statue:
We left with some awesome monk-made food, books, and a new friend in Sr. Nancy.
Sr. Nancy, believe it or not, had been to Catholic Supply on Chippewa. Like the rest of us, she was shocked by the horrible crime that took place at the Catholic Supply store in West County last week.
Visitor Center and Retreat Center #
St. Meinrad’s offers many retreat programs. The retreat center reminded me of the one at Our Lady of Snows in Belleville, Illinois where I took my senior retreat with Bishop DuBourg High School.
Going Back #
We’re already looking into retreats for next year. If you’re traveling anywhere near Santa Claus, Indiana, just south of Evansville, think about spending a few hours or a day at St. Meinrad’s Archabbey. Besides, it’s one of only two archabbeys in the United States.
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