Benedictines: July 2011 Archives

Sr Placida at Abbey of St. Gertrud, Alexanderdorf, Germany.jpegIn this photo taken July 28, 2011 Sister Placida scales hosts at the Benedictine Abbey of St. Gertrud's host bakery in Alexanderdorf, Germany, about 50 kilometers (31 miles) south of Berlin. Pope Benedict XVI will not visit the Benedictine Abbey of St. Gertrud, but preparations for his trip are nevertheless in full swing, with the nuns baking thousands of communion wafers to be blessed by the pope at Masses during his September tour. (Photo/Markus Schreiber)
ladies quilting at Benet Lake.jpgBenedictine abbeys are places where the culture of prayer, study, charitable work and arts and crafts can breathe with ease. That's the genius of Saint Benedict and the leadership of monasticism through 1500 years. Few religious orders have such an expansive sense of culture as the Benedictines (or share in across the world). Art aids one in his or seeking God and a better sense of self.

The monks of Saint Benedict's Abbey, a monastery of monks in the Swiss-American tradition just outside Milwaukee and an hour's drive from O'Hare Airport, have a retreat house where individuals and groups come to pray, study and rest in the Lord.

The arts have had a significant, yet humble place in Benedictine life. Making art is one way to bring together a deeper level of fraternity, balance and healing in the distracted world. Some Benedictines are musicians, others are scholars, weavers, quilters, calligraphers gardeners, beer makers, vestment makers, organists and horn players, others are apiarists and the so on. In his Rule for Monasteries, Saint Benedict's 57th chapter "On the Artisans of the Monastery" fosters a spirit of human expression that has limits based on virtue as yet another but crucial way to glorify God. Benedict says,

Visiting a friend

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Abbot Leo & PAZ.jpg
Abbot Leo, retired abbot of St Benedict's Abbey, Benet Lake, WI.
Abbot Leo is the director of the Benet Lake retreat house.
Periodically the Benedictine monks, nuns and sisters meet to discuss issues pertaining the sacred Liturgy and sacred music as done in their monasteries. They met two weeks ago at the Archabbey of Saint Meinrad for the meeting and decided to formally merge the liturgical and musicians' groups into one: The Monastic Worship Forum. This work has been in process since 2009. The purpose of the Forum is to provide support, education, and formation in the sacred Liturgy for monastic contexts in order that God maybe glorified.

Benedictine monk Father Godfrey Mullen chairs the committee that will lead the Forum. Father Godfrey earned his doctorate in Liturgy from the Catholic University of America and serves as the VP for Saint Meinrad Seminary and the Archabbey's director of Liturgy.

The new website can be found here.

Blessed Ildefonso Schuster, and all Benedictine saints and blesseds, pray for us.

CL logo.jpgToday is the 31st anniversary of the foundation of Fraternity of Communion and Liberation. The narrative of the Fraternity's founding is told in "The Greatest Grace in the History of the Movement" by Giorgio Feliciani (Traces, February 2007). Here's the story.

A priest in the direct service of the Holy See, Monsignor Mariano De Nicolò, currently Bishop of Rimini [he retired 3 July 2007], happened to review, as part of his official duties, a file that illustrated and documented the Movement's desiderata. Feeling that these aspirations deserved attention and further study, he suggested to Father Francesco Ricci, who at the time was sharing responsibility for the Movement with Father Giussani [for more about this priest, who died in 1991, see Francesco Ricci. Una passione, cento passioni, San Martino in Strada, Lit. Citienne, 1996], that he consult with Monsignor Giuseppe Lobina, an expert in Canon Law who, along with a solid formal training, had an unusual amount of experience with ecclesiastical praxis.

This advice was promptly taken and, only a few months later, Monsignor Lobina, after acquiring all the necessary information in various meetings with CL figures and Father Giussani himself, was drawing up what would soon be the Statute of the Fraternity, which has remained largely unchanged up to now.

Monsignor Lobina also undertook to find the ecclesiastical authority willing to approve the Movement, and found him in Abbot Martino Matronola, who, as provost [abbot] of the monastery of Montecassino, had the same powers over the surrounding territory as the bishop of a diocese. This acceptance was even more welcome because Father Giussani felt that the concept of his Movement was very close to that of the Benedictines (see Giussani, op.cit., pp. 74-75).

The formal establishment of the Fraternity came shortly thereafter in a very discreet, unassuming way. On July 11, 1980-the solemnity of Saint Benedict, Patron of Europe, on the fifteenth centenary of his birth-a small group of twelve stood together with Father Giussani in front of the Abbot to be constituted as a canonical association. On that same day, Monsignor Matronola,* by a specific formal decree, granted juridical status in the Church to the ecclesial movement called "Fraternity of Communion and Liberation" and approved its statutes and "works of apostolate and individual and social formation," placing it under the "protection of the Immaculate Virgin and our Patron Saint Benedict" (see the Bollettino Diocesano di Montecassino, no. 3, 1980, pp. 223-224).

Michael Komechak.jpegBenedictine culture is very interesting. I find this to be true for 2 reasons: after 1500 years of Benedictine monasticism a refined style of humanity and relationship with God is constitutive and monasteries have interesting people as monks and nuns. The famous Rule of Saint Benedict encourages the monk to praise and worship God through a proper ordering of life and interest. Few Benedictines I know are not proficient in works of culture (in the true meaning of the word) like music, vestment making, bee keeping, keeping the library, preparing good lessons for the classroom, cooking, music writing, preaching, study and the like.
kavanagh.jpgStudents of the sacred Liturgy are familiar with the scholarship and some would say "pioneering work" in the realm of adult baptism and the new (in 1972) Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA) by Father Aidan Kavanagh, a Benedictine monk and priest of the Archabbey of Saint Meinrad.

Most of Father Aidan's professional teaching life was spent away from Saint Meinrad having only taught a few years in his monastery's seminary. In discernment with his abbot, Father Aidan devoted his energies to teaching at the University of Notre Dame and then for many years Yale Divinity School (New Haven, CT).

Why mention this? Well, today is the fifth anniversary of Father Aidan's death. The necrology is always an occasion to express our gratitude to God for graces bestowed on his through his children. I am grateful for the books written by Father Aidan (he is required reading in the study of the Liturgy) and the countless peoples he taught and guided in the Christian life.

May God be merciful to Father Aidan and may his memory be eternal.
Thomas Frerking and Cardinal Burke.jpgToday, the monks of Saint Louis Abbey elected for the third time, Abbot Thomas Frerking. 

Abbot Thomas, 69, was first elected in 1995; he will serve for an 8-year term. The abbots of the English Benedictine Congregation have term limits: you can be elected indefinitely for 8 years each terms.

Abbot Thomas is a St Louis native. Harvard and Oxford University educated, Frerking studied Philosophy; he's also a Rhodes Scholar. The Abbot is a noted Thomist.

Saint Louis Abbey operates the Priory School, Saint Anselm Church and the Oratory of Saints Gregory and Augustine. Abbot Thomas is the father of a monastic community which numbers 30 monks.

May God grant, through the intercession of Saints Benedict, Scholastica and all the Benedictine saints and blesseds, the graces needed to lead the monastic community of Saint Louis Abbey.

About the author

Paul A. Zalonski is from New Haven, CT. He is a member of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation, a Catholic ecclesial movement and an Oblate of Saint Benedict. Contact Paul at paulzalonski[at]



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About this Archive

This page is a archive of entries in the Benedictines category from July 2011.

Benedictines: June 2011 is the previous archive.

Benedictines: August 2011 is the next archive.

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