Yesterday, the monastic community of Mount Angel Abbey elected its 11th Abbot in its second century history. After an hour and a half of voting, the monks were able to elect their leader. He is (Abbot) Fr. Gregory Duerr, O.S.B..
We attended novena masses in the Abbey church nine days before the election. On the day of the election, all morning classes were canceled. We just sat in our rooms, roamed the hallways, and hung out in the commons waiting for the ringing of the bells indicating that the monks have elected a new abbot. Indeed it was like the papal election. In our own way, we were anticipating the "white smoke".
When finally the bells rung, all the seminarians rushed to get to the Abbey Church. My heart was racing in excitement for the new abbot. We all fought for best seating, which is unusual in the seminary :), to see who it will be. The bells stop and the organ began to play starting the procession of monks. At the end of that long procession would be the new abbot.
The monks came out two by two by seniority in a very slow procession. The anticipation got intense when the key players (*who we thought were, like the conclave- everything is done in secret) did not process out. Ease came as they emerged. Finally at the end, with the pectoral cross around his neck, was the new Abbot. In our little "St. Peter's Square", peals of applause broke out when we saw Abbot Gregory emerge as the chosen one.
In such humbling words he said, "As I look down, I see a chain. On the end of the chain, there is not roses but a cross." He also said, "Thank you for something very precious, that is your trust."
Saint Gregory, pray for us!
Saint Benedict, pray for us!
Mary, seat of wisdom, pray for us!