Benedictines: August 2011 Archives

Sr Teresita.jpgA Cistercian nun at 103 years, is leaving the monastery for the first time in 84 years to meet Pope Benedict while he's in Spain for World Youth Day.

Sister Teresa entered the Monasterio de Buenafuente del Sistal on the very day of Benedict's birth, 16 April 1927. Aside from a distraction of the Spanish Civil War (1936-39) that caused the nuns to flee fighting, Sister Teresa has lived her vocation as a cloister nun in that place.

A journalist for El Mundo, Jesús García, authored a book about 10 nuns, of whom Sister Teresa was included, titled, ¿Qué hace una chica como tú en una sitio como éste? (2011; What is a Girl Like You Doing In A Place Like This?)

Sister's monastery was founded in the 13th century, and for 20 years was the religious superior.

Attention in Prayer

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This morning on my train ride into the City, I was reading a monograph by Archabbot Lambert Reilly, OSB, the emeritus archabbot of St Meinrad Archabbey, "Prayer: A Conversation with God." I recommend it. Why? Because I need to be reminded that prayer is not a monologue but a dialogue; it is the heart speaking to the Heart. I also have to remember it is not about me exclusively but about Him who is greater than I.

The Archabbot is conversational in his presentation; one would be tempted to think that there's a lot of words but no content because he's narrating his experience. On the contrary, this essay-turned-talk is full of good advice on prayer; it was prepared for Benedictine Oblates but is applicable to many others. Get the piece if you can.

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Archabbot Lambert speaks of three types of attention in prayer:

1. "the attention by which we are lost in God." A short-lived experience of God; a gift from Himself; no strings attached; +Lambert quotes Saint Teresa of Avila: "Don't seek the consolations of God; seek the God of consolations."

Wednesday's edition of L'Osservatore Romano Pope Benedict's Wednesday General Audience where he reminded us that the monastic is an essential value for humanity and for the Church, today. The Pope's emphasis on beauty and silence to appreciate and to listen God's promptings of the desires of the heart is important. We ought to pay attention. Watch the Rome Reports news video.

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The editor writes, "Monasteries are true and proper oases of the spirit in which God speaks to humanity. The Pope said this to faithful at the General Audience of Wednesday, 10 August, that was held in the courtyard of the Papal Residence at Castel Gandolfo."

Dear Brothers and Sisters! In every age, men and women who have consecrated their lives to God in prayer - like monks and nuns - have established their communities in particularly beautiful places: in the countryside, on hilltops, in valleys, on the shores of lakes or the sea, or even on little islands. These places unite two elements which are very important for contemplative life: the beauty of creation, which recalls that of the Creator, and silence, which is guaranteed by living far from cities and the great means of communication. Silence is the environmental condition that most favors contemplation, listening to God and meditation. The very fact of experiencing silence and allowing ourselves to be "filled," so to speak, with silence, disposes us to prayer. The great prophet, Elijah, on Mount Horeb - that is, Sinai - experienced strong winds, then an earthquake, and finally flashes of fire, but he did not recognize the voice of God in them; instead, he recognized it in a light breeze (cfr. 1 Rev 19:11-13). God speaks in silence, but we need to know how to listen. This is why monasteries are oases in which God speaks to humanity; and there we find the courtyard, a symbolic place because it is a closed space, but open toward the sky. 
Anselm Atkinson.jpgThe Rt. Rev. Anselm Atkinson, OSB until now the Superior of St. Mary's Monastery, Petersham, MA (for the last 21 years) and Abbot-Visitor for the English speaking province of the Subiaco Congregation of the Order of St. Benedict has been elected as the third Abbot of Petersham's motherhouse and the monastery of his profession (1976) and priest in 1982, Pluscarden Abbey in Scotland. Pluscarden was refounded in 1948.

Abbot Anselm succeeds Abbot Hugh Gilbert, OSB who will be ordained and installed on August 15 as the Bishop of Aberdeen. 

Congratulations to Abbot Anselm!

Ad Multos Annos!

Vincent de Paul Bataille.jpgAbbot Vincent de Paul Bataille, emeritus abbot of Marmion Abbey, was elected for six-year term by the capitulars of the 44th General Congregation Swiss American Congregationon Monday, August 8, 2011. As the new Abbot President he'll over see certain parts of the monastic life of little more than a dozen monasteries (see a previous blog post).

Abbot Vincent saw to the renovation of Marmion Abbey, the building of the abbey church, and attracting new vocations to the abbey, plus several additions to the academy. He earned the MA (Music) University of Notre Dame, MEd from DePaul University, Chicago. He taught Math and Language at Marmion Academy, and held the position of Dean of Students at the Academy. 

For a period of time he was appointed the Prior of Priory of San José, Guatemala before being elected the 4th Abbot of Marmion Abbey and President of Marmion Academy, Aurora, Illinois, in 1991. Until now he's been the Vocation Director for Marmion Abbey, and a member of the Abbot President's Council, Swiss-American Congregation.

May God grant Abbot Vincent the graces needed for certain and clear leadership.

Saint Benedict and Saint Scholastica, pray for us.
Blessed Columba Marmion, pray for us.

Monks in the Newark hood

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Fr Edward of Newark Abbey.jpegThe Newark, New Jersey colony of Benedictine monks have been involved with the teaching of youth and parish work since their founding in 1857. The monks, priests and brothers, live a life of prayer, work within the context of the fraternal life that engages one's freedom to serve the Lord in unique ways.

A recent film, The Rule, documents the life and work of the Benedictine monks of Newark Abbey.

Neither the lives of the monks nor the lives of the students would be classified as easy; certainly complacency is not a virtue with the monks and their students.

Read Marcia Worth's article "Monks in the Hood."

Benedictine abbots meet

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St Benedict medal.jpgToday begins the 44th General Chapter of the Swiss American Benedictine Congregation. The ruling abbots and conventual priors with elected delegates will be at Westminister Abbey in Mission British Columbia, Canada.

Among the business items to be worked on: the election of the new abbot praeses (abbot president) for the congregation because Abbot Peter Eberle finishes his term of service; to listen to the reports of the abbeys; and the election to admit to the congregation (or not) of the Monastero di San Benedetto (Norcia, Italy).

As a note, the abbot president is not a superior general of an order, that is, he is not superior of monks in autonomous (and fully functioning) monasteries, but he does have executive powers as a major superior of the Congregation, and therefore his direct power is limited. His concern is for "the welfare of the whole Congregation" and is concerned for the Confederation, too. But the Praeses has 23 items to which he pays attention.

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 August 2011.

Benedictines: July 2011 is the previous archive.

Benedictines: September 2011 is the next archive.

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