Friday, December 30, 2011

Mary Christ-Mass (octave)

It has been a couple of months (Oct 21) since my last update so this is long overdue!

Between my work at Benedictine College (Masses, confessions, spiritual direction, occasional teaching [Apologetics, RCIA, BC sub], etc.) and the Abbey Development Office (Capital Campaign), things have been humming!

Significant happenings:

1. Curtis Martin (who was recently appointed to the Vatican advisory board on the New Evangelization) visited our campus (always good to see him even if I have to hear about LSU)

2. I got to preach for the feast of one of my favorite saints while at EWTN ( with Sarah Swafford who was the guest for the Life on the Rock episode which aired on December 15th ( Check out Sarah's episode - it was fantastic!!

3. I am on a BC search committee for a new professor of Youth Ministry/Catechetics. It has been interesting to see the process... and the good men seeking the position!

4. I made many trips for the Capital Campaign. I flew to: DC/Maryland, San Antonio, Denver and Dallas (in one month) and I drove all around Missouri and Kansas. I got to see some good friends along the way: Fr. Ed Hathaway (my classmate) in Arlington, VA, the Alexanders in San Antonio, Craig and Melissa Miller and tons of FOCUS personnel in Denver and the Cory family in Dallas! And I got to make some new friends!!

5. I had the blessing of attending the Solemn Profession (into the Religious Order of: Sisters in Jesus the Lord, of Sr. Catherine Marie of the Crucified Lord of Love, CJD. I have known her for about 10-12 years, since her first visit to Alabama with some of her relatives whom I know.

6. We had 3 novices enter our monastery on December 7th (which is great news, of course)!! They took the names: Br. Luke (formerly Jeff) Turner, Br. Timothy (formerly Cameron) McMillan and Br. Victor (formerly Branson) Stephens. More are thinking about it - please keep them in your prayers!!

7. I made a short home visit in mid-Dec and it was great to see my family (though I did not have enough time to see everyone I would like to have seen).

8. One of our BC students though up the idea of sponsoring a Bowl-a-thon to support the Abbey's Capital Campaign. You will hear more on that in the future!!

Many more things going on, but those are some of the ones I can think of right now. Maybe I should update my blog more often... or NOT!

I hope and pray that God continues to pour out his manifold blessings upon each of you, now and through out the coming year!

In Christ, our newborn King,
Fr. Justin Damien Dean. OSB

Saturday, December 24, 2011

St. Padre Pio's Christmas Meditation

Saint Padre Pio’s Christmas Meditation

Translated by Frank M. Rega, December of 2005.

Taken from:

Far into the night, at the coldest time of the year, in a chilly grotto, more suitable for a flock of beasts than for humans, the promised Messiah – Jesus – the savior of mankind, comes into the world in the fullness of time.

There are none who clamor around him: only an ox and an ass lending their warmth to the newborn infant; with a humble woman, and a poor and tired man, in adoration beside him.

Nothing can be heard except the sobs and whimpers of the infant God. And by means of his crying and weeping he offers to the Divine justice the first ransom for our redemption.

He had been expected for forty centuries; with longing sighs the ancient Fathers had implored his arrival. The sacred scriptures clearly prophesy the time and the place of his birth, and yet the world is silent and no one seems aware of the great event. Only some shepherds, who had been busy watching over their sheep in the meadows, come to visit him. Heavenly visitors had alerted them to the wondrous event, inviting them to approach his cave.

So plentiful, O Christians, are the lessons that shine forth from the grotto of Bethlehem! Oh how our hearts should be on fire with love for the one who with such tenderness was made flesh for our sakes! Oh how we should burn with desire to lead the whole world to this lowly cave, refuge of the King of kings, greater than any worldly palace, because it is the throne and dwelling place of God! Let us ask this Divine child to clothe us with humility, because only by means of this virtue can we taste the fullness of this mystery of Divine tenderness.

Glittering were the palaces of the proud Hebrews. Yet, the light of the world did not appear in one of them. Ostentatious with worldly grandeur, swimming in gold and in delights, were the great ones of the Hebrew nation; filled with vain knowledge and pride were the priests of the sanctuary. In opposition to the true meaning of Divine revelation, they awaited an officious savoir, who would come into the world with human renown and power.

But God, always ready to confound the wisdom of the world, shatters their plans. Contrary to the expectations of those lacking in Divine wisdom, he appears among us in the greatest abjection, renouncing even birth in St. Joseph’s humble home, denying himself a modest abode among relatives and friends in a city of Palestine. Refused lodging among men, he seeks refuge and comfort among mere animals, choosing their habitation as the place of his birth, allowing their breath to give warmth to his tender body. He permits simple and rustic shepherds to be the first to pay their respects to him, after he himself informed them, by means of his angels, of the wonderful mystery.

Oh wisdom and power of God, we are constrained to exclaim – enraptured along with your Apostle – how incomprehensible are your judgments and unsearchable your ways! Poverty, humility, abjection, contempt, all surround the Word made flesh. But we, out of the darkness that envelops the incarnate Word, understand one thing, hear one voice, perceive one sublime truth: you have done everything out of love, you invite us to nothing else but love, speak of nothing except love, give us naught except proofs of love.

The heavenly babe suffers and cries in the crib so that for us suffering would be sweet, meritorious and accepted. He deprives himself of everything, in order that we may learn from him the renunciation of worldly goods and comforts. He is satisfied with humble and poor adorers, to encourage us to love poverty, and to prefer the company of the little and simple rather than the great ones of the world.

This celestial child, all meekness and sweetness, wishes to impress in our hearts by his example these sublime virtues, so that from a world that is torn and devastated an era of peace and love may spring forth. Even from the moment of his birth he reveals to us our mission, which is to scorn that which the world loves and seeks.

Oh let us prostrate ourselves before the manger, and along with the great St. Jerome, who was enflamed with the love of the infant Jesus, let us offer him all our hearts without reserve. Let us promise to follow the precepts which come to us from the grotto of Bethlehem, which teach us that everything here below is vanity of vanities, nothing but vanity.

Friday, October 21, 2011


It has been a busy month and a half! I visited Alabama recently (Oct 7-16). I saw my mom who just had quadruple by-pass surgery right before I arrived (Oct 6). It was a success and she is back at her assisted living home now. I just happened to be there as I was scheduled to record a series for EWTN. Our crew was on EWTN Live last Wednesday ( While at home I attended the Auburn-Florida game festivities. I could only stay for the first half so I just tailgated (for about 10 hours) and then watched the first half with some tailgating friends before heading to Montgomery then B'ham (where I had to fly out of the next morning).

Our football team (Benedictine) is undefeated and ranked 7th in the nation (NAIA). We defeated the #4 team last week and this Saturday we play #5... Auburn is 5-2 and about to play powerful LS-Zoo...

Campus Ministry is keeping me busy (2+ days a week) as is Development for the Abbey (a couple short trips for our Capital Campaign). In my spare time I have been doing a little teaching (a monthly Apologetics class on campus, a Postulancy class [twice this week and twice next week], subbed once in the Christian Marriage class at BC).

Other than that, not much is going on!!

Oremus Pro invicem!!

God bless,
Fr. Justin Damien Dean, OSB

Friday, September 9, 2011

Latest update

Sorry that it has been so long. Not much of note during July - except my 50th birthday. Then it cranked up and I've not take time to type out an update, so here goes...

June 27-July 1 - LifeTeen Leadership Camp was held on our campus. I helped out a little with it for the Abbey and BCM.

July 6th - celebrated Mass at the Archdiocesan youth camp - Camp Tekekwitha!

July 9 - Attended (and preached) a nice weeding between one of our BC FOCUS missionaries (Abigail Searle) and one of our RCIA Catholics from last year (Timothy Thomas), both of which are FOCUS missionaries this year!! Wonderful couple who will be great things as missionaries on the campus of the University of Pittsburgh in Pennsylvania.

July 11 - Feast of St. Benedict, traveled to Manhattan, Kansas to celebrate Mass for a group of BC alumni and incoming students... a great group of people.

July 19 - Our annual monastic outing to a Royals game... which the Royals won (for the 2nd year in a row - that is called a streak in reference to the Royals!).

July 25-26 - Development trip to Salina & Dodge City, Kansas. All of the fans of Gunsmoke will remember the name of Dodge City! I had lunch with the relatively new bishop of that diocese and toured some of the old west stuff.

Exciting news for August - Br. Leven made his solemn/final/permanent vows on August 6th. That was great news for our community and we had a very nice celebration surrounding the ceremony!

On the same night of August 6th a donor provided us with 6 very nice tickets (in a dugout suite) to the Royals home game against Detroit. We joined his family as we saw this year's AL Cy Young (Justin Verlander) barely beat the Royals, 4-3!!

I substituted in a few parishes when needed through out July and early August.

The next 2 1/2 weeks were a blur... much College Ministry and FOCUS training. Fantastic time and great formation to prepare for the upcoming year!

It was during this time that I found out that our BC biology department has a Burmese Python! I asked the biology professor if I could play with her and he gave me permission to do so any time. She is 8 foot long (with the potential to get to about 20 feet) and just received the name Bella. You may hear me talk about her more in the future.

Our Abbey picnic for the college faculty/staff and their families drew about 400 people on August 17. Bella made an appearance and the kids loved her... many of the parents were not so enthusiastic about her!

Classes started at BC on August 24th and there has been a flood of activity with them individually and communally.

Along with this we have just started the silent phase of our Abbey Capital Campaign with is for the purpose of fixing our roof and windows and increasing our endowment.

Sports wise, our BC football team and soccer teams started off with some convincing wins. Football is 2-0 and has not been scored on (45-0, 14-0) and soccer is also 2-0 and has not ben scored on!!

And I could not mention sports without a shout-out for my AU TIGERS!! What a finish against a mighty Utah State!! I had to get that in before they face Miss State this weekend and put the longest BSC winning streak on the line. I am planning to be at the AU-Florida game in Jordan-Hare on October 15th!!

Other good things which have happened in recent days here: Nice opening school Mass with Bishop Brungardt (of Dodge City), Dr. Ted Sri gave some great talks at BC and the BC new student retreat went very well (run by my compadre, Br. Christopher).

Ongoing - My brother Barry's creation, the association of Catholic Coaches (A of CC), is going well. It was a great idea and (sadly) has no competition in it arena (it would be great to have one in ever state!). It is receiving some good support. And Barry's birthday is coming up soon - 9/11! People will be pausing to think on that day... not only about him...

Many things coming up - please keep them in your prayers: Justice For All training at BC tomorrow (Sept 10) followed by some campus pro-life work at Univ. of Kansas the following Monday/Tuesday, my new monthly Catholic Apologetics class has its first session on the evening of Sept 18th, Msgr. Michael Magee comes to visit for less than 24 hours and will give 4 talks here (3 on the new translation of the Mass), the EWTN series (hard to believe that it is about 1 month away!) and many more less glamorous things!

Anyway... I have to run... Excuse any typos in this post (I will check it later).

God bless you all,
Father Justin Damien Dean, OSB

Monday, June 27, 2011

Overdue Update...

It has been a while since my last update (May 10)... and a lot has been going on...

We had a Junior monk outing on May 11 - Dinner and Movie (There be Dragons). Decent movie but not as much focus on St. Josemaria as I would have liked.

Benedictine College (BC) graduation activities were May 13-14... nice Mass and Graduation ceremony... and now a few hundred more young people in the world to help transform it into the Kingdom of God that it is supposed to reflect!

Visits to Philly (May 17-19) and home (May 19-23) provided a welcome break from the monastic life. My class celebrated its 20th priestly anniversary in Philly at St. Charles Borromeo Seminary (my ordination date was June 1, but my Philadelphia classmates were ordained on May 18). And it was great to see my family and a few friends in Montgomery and Birmingham (where I attended the diaconate ordinations of Br. Patrick and Br. Leonard at EWTN).

Part of my visit to Montgomery was attending the inaugural meeting of the Association of Catholic Coaches (A of CC). It is the creation of my brother Barry (so I am on the initial Board of Directors) and its purpose is to assist Catholic coaches in actively living their faith in the "workplace" of sports. It has great impact potential and I have high hopes that it will flourish!

One of our fellow monks, Fr. Hugh Keefer, passed away on June 1. He had not been well for a while... may his soul Rest In Peace!

We had our annual Abbey retreat from June 6-9 with Fr. Justin Matro, OSB as our Retreat Master. It was a good retreat and everyone seemed to enjoy the time together.

We had a Development meeting where the results of the recent Feasibility Study were presented and we were encouraged us to start a Capital Campaign in the very near future. More on that as it "develops"!

I assisted with the annual FOCUS Staff Summer Training in Champaign, Illinois (at the U. of Ill Newman Center) from June 10-24. It was a joy and a blessing to be with so many young, enthusiastic, orthodox, evangelistic Catholic young adults. In their first 13 years, 286 FOCUS young men and women (students and missionaries) have entered the seminary and/or religious life! And hundreds have entered faith-filled Catholic marriages. That says it all!!

I attended the wedding of Justin Kraft (former FOCUS missionary) and Sara Carlson in St. Joseph, MO on June 25th. It was blessed Nuptial Mass (with 7 priests concelebrating) and it was good to see some of the former FOCUS missionaries who attended.

The annual LifeTeen Leadership Conference (LTLC) starts today at BC. We will be inundated with about 500 people during this week (approximately 450 high schoolers [going into 12th grade] and 50 chaperones).

That is about all for now. I am just getting the hang of the blogging world. I changed the setting so you should be able to post comments easier now. And I found a lot of past comments saved in a particular place which I never knew were there.

Anyway... back to work. God bless you all and please keep me and our Abbey in your prayers!

In Christ,
Fr. Justin Damien Dean, OSB

Tuesday, May 10, 2011


Not exactly a "monthly" update, but an update nonetheless!

The last day of exams at Benedictine College (BC) is today as the students begin to trickle out of town. Baccalaureate Mass this Friday and Graduation on Saturday will see most of the remaining students pack their bags. It was been a great first semester for me at BC and I look forward to more in the Fall!

I was privileged to teach the 2nd half of the RCIA class.... we saw 8 come into the Church and 4 Catholics get confirmed. As always, it was a great blessing to see the Catholic faith through the "new eyes" of those becoming Catholic!

I am busy with Abbey Development also. I was involved in the Feasibility Study that is the precursor to a possible (and needed) Capital Campaign to repair our leaky roof and replace our antiquated windows (some 885 of them!). Say a prayer for its success!!

That's the big picture - and about all I have time for...

God bless,

Tuesday, April 26, 2011


He is risen, indeed!!

Just a short post to wish everyone a Blessed Easter!!

And to ask if anyone is still reading this blog? If so, let me know ( and I will update it shortly...

God bless you all,

Monday, March 14, 2011

Monthly Update...

It is the first weekday of our Spring Break... and it is SNOWING! It is a beautiful snow - as it is sticking on the ground, but NOT on the pavement!! It won't be around long because it is supposed to hit 44 today, 54 tomorrow, 67 and 70 the next two days. And after the snow/rain mix today the forecast is for a clear week. It should be a nice.

Campus Ministry at BC has been hopping. Lots of great students and a lot of work to do. Just more of the same as reported before - RCIA, Masses, Confessions, Spiritual Direction, Knights of Columbus, FOCUS, etc... all great stuff.

One note - BCM has been sponsoring a series of classes entitled "How to Pray Like a Saint". How could someone not be interested in that?!? The teacher is Dr. Matthew Ramage and the classes are excellent. I wish you were all here so you could take advantage of them... but, wait! You are in luck, as they are available on our website:

I highly recommend that you print the notes and listen to these classes.

The KCCSC (organized by BC) went very well in mid-Feb. Dr. Thomas Woods did a great job among the many good speakers. Archbishop Joseph Naumann did an outstanding job on the Sunday Mass & homily. We are very blessed to have him here.

On to Development... my training in the process of interviewing people for a feasibility study for a future monastery capital campaign begins today! I will watch a training video this afternoon and go with a professional on 4 interviews tomorrow, 1 on Wednesday and probably 1 more during the week. Next week, I go solo!! PRAY for me!!

I recently bought my airline ticket for a week vacation in May. I will be in Philly for a couple of days to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the priestly ordination of my seminary class. Then on to Montgomery for the rest of the vacation.

Not much else to report for now...

Oremus Pro Invicem!! (Let us pray for one another)

God bless,
Fr. Justin Damien Dean, OSB

Sunday, January 30, 2011


My monthly update (slightly late).

Where to begin... WARRRRRR EAGLE! Of course!! It is great to be an Auburn Tiger!!

Lots going on in the monastery and outside of it.

I am busy in Campus Ministry at Benedictine College (BCM) and with Development at the Abbey.


- I attended the FOCUS conference in Denver with about 175 of our students... a great conference which had a significant effect on many of our students. Most were strengthened in their practice of the faith which was already central in their lives. Some were brought back. Success stories abound!! Praise God!!

- It is a pleasure to once again be the main celebrant and preach at Masses. I am scheduled to celebrate Mass at our campus chapel twice a week (and I am usually blessed with a third time when a sub is needed). And I am on the rotating schedule at the Abbey. I celebrated Mass at the latter yesterday and got to wear my Marian vestment (which is my First Mass vestment given to me by my family) as we celebrated the votive Mass of Mary, Pillar of Faith.

- I am teaching RCIA and we have a good crew... about 10-12 attended last week...

- Many students seeking spiritual direction is encouraging. These are not your ordinary college students!!

- Kansas Catholic College Student Conference (KCCSC) coming up Feb 11-13. We (BC) are hosting it - Please keep that in your prayers.

- It is just great be on this wonderful Catholic campus.


- I have been calling to thank donors and meeting the members of the Friends of St. Benedict's Abbey to get their ideas of how to improve our fundraising efforts. A great group of people with some GREAT ideas!

- I recently brought to the Development Board the idea of a Donor Newsletter. They were receptive and open to the idea and now I have to run with it to provide a sample issue for their approval (keep that in your prayers and if you have any suggestions, please send them to me!!).

Monastic Life:

It is great to be active in my priestly ministry while living in the monastery. The monastic life gives me some camaraderie, structure and discipline (though I can always use more of the latter!). It is a blessing to be around men striving for holiness and challenging me to keep up!!

Future Developments:

- Following an invitation from FOCUS, I have received permission to help out at FOCUS Summer Training for 2 weeks this summer. What a blessing it will be for me to be around so much young, dynamic, Catholic energy!! And it will hopefully be a good opportunity to make our monastery better known among the young men of FOCUS and the young men on the campuses where they will be serving next year! With God's grace (and YOUR prayers), it could lead a couple of men to seek entrance into our monastery!!

- I was approved by my superiors to host another series on marriage for EWTN with the wonderful Greg & Julie Alexander (of Alexander House fame!)! It will be taped in mid-Oct of this year. This series will focus on Marriage Enrichment.

Have you had enough yet?!? I have... and I have to go concelebrate our Sunday Mass!

God bless you all,
Father Justin Damien Dean. OSB(!)