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procopius.org
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(Proverbs 21: 29, Psalm 36: 2-3)
Thoughts on Life
  • It is not what we are given at birth that matters. The mark we make in this life is determined by the choices we make everyday. - Fr. Julian Deurbeck O.S.B.
  • If we live a family life of love and kindness, of care and concern, our children will learn a lesson that they will want to pass on to their children. - Abbot Dismas Kalcic O.S.B.
  • If you embrace the values of your culture you will become indifferent to the presence of God within you. - Abbot Dismas Kalcic O.S.B.
  • Physical comfort is good. But if we have too much of it our hearts grow dull. We become indifferent to those around us. And we can no longer lay hold of eternal life. - Abbot Austin Murphy O.S.B.
  • There are five truths about life we would do well to learn: Life is hard, you are going to die, you are not in control of your life, you are not that important and your life is not about you. - John Grossman
  • A healthy community needs a clear understanding of what it can tolerate lest the fabric of the common life be stretched so thin that it disintegrates. Individuals need to know that they do not operate in isolation and that their behavior affects everyone else in the group. - Columba Stewart O.S.B.
  • You can have anything you want. You can be anything you want. You can achieve anything you want. All it takes is hard work. If you don't want to work or you quit then you have no right to complain if you don't get what you wanted. - Richard Ferre
  • Give thanks to God for all you've been blessed with. Lift up your face to heaven. And smile. - Br. Kevin Coffey O.S.B.
  • Lord, remind me on the days I don't get my way what a glorious day this is! - Barbara McCartney
  • As one observer recently noted, our society is exchanging moral concern about sex for moral concern about diet. We are not sure that moral judgments should be made when it comes to sexual behaviors, but when it comes to free range chickens and excess carbohydrates, the moral categories kick in. - Albert Mohler
  • You say the times are evil, then improve yourselves and the times will be better: you are the times. - St Augustine
  • Man is not what he thinks he is, he is what he hides. - Andre Malraux
  • Silence is the only state of being in which man can contemplate mystery. Only in silence does man have the quality of simply being, neither projecting himself onto others, nor caring about his public image, nor trafficking in abstract expressions, nor removing himself to the political sphere, the God-debate sphere, or the attention-seeking sphere. - Marc Barnes
  • "Nothing is more unjust, however common, than to charge with hypocrisy him that expresses zeal for those virtues which he neglects to practice; since he may be sincerely convinced of the advantages of conquering his passions, without having yet obtained the victory, as a man may be confident of the advantages of a voyage, or a journey, without having courage or industry to undertake it, and may honestly recommend to others, those attempts which he neglects himself." - Samuel Johnson
  • Give up the excuses you've been living. - Undefeated welterweight boxer Will "Power" Coix
  • I understand that sad is a part of life and it adds depth that nothing else can. - Barbara McCartney
  • No merely human institution conducted with such knavish imbecility would have lasted a fortnight. - Hilaire Belloc on Christianity
  • Compared to what? - Voltarie (responding to a complaint that "Life is hard!")
  • How extraordinary! The richest, longest lived, best protected, most resourceful civilization, with the highest degree of insight into its own technology is on its way to becoming the most frightened. - Aaron Wildavsky
  • Re the current "4th trimester abortion" debate: "[bioethicists] professionally guide the unthinkable on its passage through the debatable on the way to becoming the justifiable until it is finally established as unexceptionable.” - Fr. Richard John Neuhaus
  • "The abiding—perhaps dominant—myth of this present age is that personal authenticity requires that I be able to perform for the world that which I feel I am inside. From Rousseau to Reich and beyond, this nonsense grips the popular imagination. If I am to be recognized as me, no thought can go unarticulated, no desire unrealized, no personal idiosyncrasy unexpressed. No longer do institutions train us to belong to something bigger than ourselves. Rather they are there to support me in my acts of self-expression. - Carl R. Trueman
  • Lord, while the media screams trouble and danger, let us rest easy in the knowledge that our eternal future is not in the hands of the world, but in Your hand where it cannot be snatched away by even the strongest power the world has to offer. - Charlie Daniels
  • Dr. Shadrach Meshach Lockridge


Winemaking

Through the gracious generosity of the monks at St. Procopius Abbey I have been priviledged to become the latest vintner responsible for the 110+ year old vineyard at the Abbey. I am now starting my thirteenth year of carrying on this honor. Not a day in the vineyard goes by that I do not reflect on those who have gone before me, both those who were my teachers (Brs. George and Joe) and those I have never met who started this work over 100 years ago. After so many years of both successful and less than successful wine making seasons I have even come to look on the vines as old friends and mourn those who do not make it through the hard winters.

One thing I have learned is that I really don't know very much about grapes and wine. So as such I have spent some time consulting the Illinois Extension Service and as many resources, e.g. Washington State Extension, as I can.

This year is ending moderately well. The nitrogen fixing clover has taken over several rows. And those with little or no clover will be replanted come spring. As part of the anti-fungus battle all vines underwent extensive pruning. With that, and a little fungicide, the fungal infection that plagued the vineyard for three years was beaten back. Whether it will cease to be a problem remains to be seen.

The new sprouts from our "wild grape" stock are still doing well but did not yield enough grapes to fill a fermentor.

In 2018 God blessed our efforts with 212 pounds of grapes to fill two fermenters. (The low yield is probably due in no small part to the extensive pruning.) In addition we made nearly 10 gallons of grape juice for the community. The apple trees gave us only 4 gallons of juice. But 2019 may be better. Besides God's blessing on the land He continues to bless this community with three faithful voluteers. The harvest would not have succeeded without the hard worh of Eileen, Ruth and Mary Pat!

To round out my vineyard work I have been teaching courses in wine biology and chemistry at Benedictine University (9 years now). It was planned that I teach a course in Industrial Ecology and "Quantum Mechanics for Non-Science Majors". Ha! Ha! Seems like the harder courses are not of enough interest to get enough students to fill a class. Okay, I'll just stick with wine.

For any interested we have a facebook page at: Abbey Wine! Please visit us there!

If you are interested in the monastic lifestyle and might even like spending a weekend staying with the monks and getting a feel for their life please vist the abbey's web site. I was priveleged to have several of the novices work with me in the vineyard. It was fascinating to learn how they ended up here called by God.

During this process of becoming a part of this Benedictine heritage I took my vows as a Benedictine Oblate of St. Procopius Abbey on Sunday, November 14th, 2010 and am still an Oblate in good standing! :-) If you might be interested in Oblate life please visit the Oblate web page.

Risks, Environmental and Otherwise

On March 4th I gave a presentation at the Benedictine Teach In on Environmental Justice. Follow this link to view the presentation.

What would I like people to "get' from this presentation, i.e. what would I like their take away thoughts to be? After some refection I suggest three good reflections would be: what are the risks you face based on your personal choices, what can you do about both your situation and that of our society/the world, where is our society/the world headed?

Re the later point: It is true that climate change is happening to an extent that is still being quantified. We might ask then the questions: how much is that change, how much is due to human actions and what can we do about it? But above and beyond that I point out in the presentation that I believe our greatest threat, either in terms of personal risk e.g. cancer, or in terms of our U.S. society and the earth is ourselves. Bluntly: I believe we are killing ourselves. We have embraced death and lost our souls to self interest and a blind pursuit of personal/sexual freedom with little thought as to where we are headed. In this country there are many of a liberal/leftist bent who invoke images from Margret Atwood's "A Hand Maid's Tale." I suggest given the current world demographics P. D. James' "The Children of Men" is much more accurate. If that sounds pesimistic I ask any who read this presentation to do some research and prove me wrong. (My being wrong in this case would be a good thing!) A word of caution: the main stream media social media, entertainers, NGOs (e.g. Green Peace) are not acceptable sources of factual information. Try NIH, CDC, WHO, the EPA, etc. Feel free to share what you discover. For a little intellectual exercise the next time you hear/read of a pollution problem see if any numbers are acctually quoted on level of exposure, level of regulation and expected level of risk that put the risk in perspective. My bet is if it's main stream media 99.9% of the time this information will not be given.

Last Updated 07/03/19
Send questions/mail to greg at munie.org