Benedictines: August 2012 Archives

A Swan Song

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In view of the swan episode that I experienced a few weeks ago St Louis Abbey with their swan walking the street, I thought you'd want to know that Abelard the Abbey swan was found dead yesterday morning by the maintenance staff of the Priory School (St Louis Abbey). My friend Father Ambrose wrote me about this event. They think he was probably killed by coyotes or maybe by a big dog. 

Whether you have a liking for birds, I am sorry about this. Abelard was a beautiful animal. He was already 18 years old; in captivity, swans can live into their twenties. So he was already old by swan standards; and I think his mind was going. In fact, after I left, he wandered off several more times and had to be brought back. I think he had the swan version of Alzheimer's. Also, several of the monks think he missed Father Michael (who used to take care of him and give him bread scraps, etc.). So he was old and debilitated, and in the natural order of things, another species brought about his demise.

Now the Priory has all those odious Canada geese.

Abeland died on my friend's priestly ordination anniversary, the feast of St. Augustine. Abelard came to live with the monks as a gift from Father Bernard, back in 1998.

You may want to see Father Augustine's update on the Juniors at St Louis Abbey!!!

Badia Primaziale arms.jpgThe Office of the Abbot Primate announces...
Almost 300 monastics will gather in Rome, 17-25 September 2012, for the international Congress of Benedictine Abbots and Conventual Priors at the Primatial Abbey of St. Anselm on the Aventine Hill. Preceding the Congress, new monastic superiors will participate, 15-16 September 2012, in an orientation program. 25 representatives from Communio Internationalis Benedictinarum (CIB), an association of Benedictine sisters and nuns, will also attend the Congress. The Abbot Primate has invited ecumenical guests from the Orthodox and Reformed traditions.

The two keynote speakers are Prof. Michael Hochschild presenting his research on the viability of Benedictine monasteries, and Fr. Michael Casey OCSO offering a paper on autonomy in Benedictine life. In addition, a wide range of workshops will address current topics in monastic life; such as, Benedictine identity, stress and burnout, associate membership programs, management of monasteries, individualism in the monastery, relationship with Benedictine women, new forms of Benedictine presence in society, ecumenism, the paschal mystery in the sacred liturgy, new directions for inter-monastic dialogue, new structures for AIM, the changing role of the Athenæum S. Anselmo, the sexual abuse crisis, the role of the abbot, communio in the confederation, and the formation of "traditionalist" candidates.

The assembled abbots and conventual priors will have the opportunity to visit in pilgrimage the monasteries of Subiaco, Montecassino, Norcia, and Camaldoli, which is celebrating its 1000th anniversary this year. Nearly half of the 250 abbots and conventual priors will reside in the Collegio S. Anselmo, with the others, including CIB representatives and ecumenical guests, housed in area religious houses and hotels.

An important item on the agenda is the election of the abbot primate of the Benedictine Confederation. According to the Lex Propria of the Benedictine Confederation, the abbot primate is elected for an eight-year term, and renewable thereafter every four years. There is no term limit to the office of abbot primate. The current abbot primate, Dr. Notker Wolf OSB, a monk of St. Ottilien Archabbey in Bavaria, is completing 12 years of service, having been re-elected in 2008. 

Your prayers for the success of the Congress are greatly appreciated.

Monks brewing liquid bread

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Ampleforth Abbey Beer.jpgNews flash! A growing number of Benedictine monasteries are brewing beer in the USA and in Europe.

Originating in Babylonia and Mesopotamia, around the area of Georgia, about the year of 6,000 BC, beer was brewed. Fast forward several years and you'll find Benedictine monks perfecting the brewing beer. Rich in vitamin B, beer was seen as safer than drinking water and it had nutritional value, hence, liquid bread.

The monastic communities in Italy, Germany, the Czech Republic, Ireland,  Austria, Belgium and the Netherlands among others have been busy with the brew.

Recently, monasteries have been starting up companies like Abbey Beverage Company (of the Abbey of Christ in the Desert) to meet a demand boutique beers. One can also point to the monasteries of Ampleforth (UK), La Cascinazza (Italy), Norcia (Italy), and Spencer (MA) as new brewers.

Drink up!

Cassian and Francis ordained deacon.jpgToday, The Most Reverend Robert J. Carlson, archbishop of Saint Louis, ordained two Benedictine monks of the Abbey of Saint Mary and Saint Louis to the Order of Deacon. Brothers Francis Hein and Cassian Koeneman received this sacrament of order at the request of Abbot Thomas Frerking. May God them many years of faithful service!

The archbishop ordained these men to the Order of Deacon and next year, Deo volente, he will ordain them to the Order of Priest.

Brother Francis has been at the Dominican House of Studies (Washington, DC) and Brother Cassian has been at Rome's Angelicum.

What does the Church teach about deacons? The Catechism answers:

Deacons share in Christ's mission and grace in a special way. The sacrament of Holy Orders marks them with an imprint ("character") which cannot be removed and which configures them to Christ, who made himself the "deacon" or servant of all. Among other tasks, it is the task of deacons to assist the bishop and priests in the celebration of the divine mysteries, above all the Eucharist, in the distribution of Holy Communion, in assisting at and blessing marriages, in the proclamation of the Gospel and preaching, in presiding over funerals, and in dedicating themselves to the various ministries of charity.

Since the Second Vatican Council the Latin Church has restored the diaconate "as a proper and permanent rank of the hierarchy," while the Churches of the East had always maintained it. This permanent diaconate, which can be conferred on married men, constitutes an important enrichment for the Church's mission. Indeed it is appropriate and useful that men who carry out a truly diaconal ministry in the Church, whether in its liturgical and pastoral life or whether in its social and charitable works, should "be strengthened by the imposition of hands which has come down from the apostles. They would be more closely bound to the altar and their ministry would be made more fruitful through the sacramental grace of the diaconate." (CCC 1570-71).

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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This page is a archive of entries in the Benedictines category from August 2012.

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