Benedictines: September 2012 Archives

RD Pietro Vittorelli.jpgThe 191st abbot of Monte Cassino Pietro Vittorelli, 50, needs our prayers for his recovery from a stroke he suffered recently. He's recovering and doing therapy at a clinic in Switzerland.

Born in Rome, Abbot Pietro graduated in 1989 from La Sapienza (Rome) and later that year he entered the Archabbey of Monte Cassino. He was ordained a priest in 1994 following studies at Sant'Anselmo; Dom Pietro served as novice master, a consulter in bioethics as well as authoring articles in the area of Church's Social Doctrine.

With the move of the Abbot-bishop Bernardo D'Onorio to the Archdiocese of Gaeta, Dom Pietro was elected abbot in 2007.

Members of Communion and Liberation ought to make Dom Pietro's intention for good health particular in the daily prayer since the founding of the Movement has its spiritual paternity with a prior abbot-bishop of Monte Cassino, Dom Martino Matronola (+1994). We in CL are still inspired by the Rule and charism of Saint Benedict.

Saint Benedict and all Benedictine saints and blesseds, pray for Dom Pietro and us.
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Saint Joseph Seminary College located at Saint Joseph Abbey (Covington, LA) suffered a fire overnight. the fire apparently started in the computer server room. Everyone --64 students displaced-- is reported well.

The local news is noted here.

Prayers and fraternal support for the monastic community, faculty, staff and students.
St Benedict french illumination2.jpgThe Benedictine Abbots are going home now. They've been meeting in Rome since the 17th. Their work was not deliberative in any meaningful way as much as they gathered for the reason to elect an abbot primate, to gain perspective, to meet new and old monastic superiors, to hear how the worldwide Benedictines can assist one another in living the life more effectively and intensely according to the Holy Rule and the mind of the Church. Time was spent in prayer, study, and pilgrimage. How could one not spend time in prayer before the holy places of the martyrs in Rome as well as some of the central points of interest to Benedictines. Cindy Wooden from CNS published this article today as a sort of synopsis of one aspect of Benedictine life--the attraction of new members. Father Michael Casey, a Trappist monk, priest, author and speaker, addressed the assembly. He, by the way, is one of my favorite contemporary monastic thinkers. If only the abbots and other monastic superiors would listen to Father Michael. Alas, they're too timid and many can't (won't?) do the hard work necessary to figure out what they ought to do so as to not live in diminishment mode. One often gets the feeling that some monasteries would rather die than alter their Benedictine observance and the adherence to Christ and the Church. But, I will say that despite a lack of clear and intense thinking, praying and living, there are significant points of like for Benedictine monasticism in the USA.

What follows is an extract of what was published (read the text in full here):

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One of the main speakers at the Benedictine abbots' congress was Cistercian Father Michael Casey, an expert on monastic spirituality from Tarrawarra Abbey in Australia.

Maintaining tradition while responding to changing needs is an inescapable part of life, both for individuals and for religious communities, he said. "The fact that we are alive means that we are continually influenced by our past, continually interacting with our present, and looking forward to the future. It's really just a matter of personal integrity, personal vitality that we do respect and allow our past to continue speaking to us."

Pics of the St Meinrad Archabbey

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Ablen's pic of Meinrad buildings.jpgHere are some wonderful photos of the Archabbey of Saint Meinrad (in southern Indiana) by Mark S. Abeln, a photo journalist and blogger of 2010. The images are posted on Mr. Ablen's blog, Rome of the West. I hope he has time to go back to and record some of the monk's life, particularly the sacred Liturgy. 

As a Benedictine Oblate of the Venerable Archabbey of Saint Meinrad, and a friend of several monks there I am very enthused. The Abbey is a spiritual home with great men of good spiritual reputation and considerable talent. Watch for the good work of Father Denis Robinson, OSB, president and rector of the Seminary and School of Theology. 

The sites of interest:

Ab Notker Wolf.jpgAbbot Notker Wolf, 72,  was elected for the third time by the world's abbots and conventual priors who are at the quadrennial meeting currently in session at Sant'Anselmo, Rome.

Abbot Dr. Notker was the Archabbot of St Ottilien when he was elected the Abbot Primate in 2000. Abbot Notker professed vows in 1962, ordained in 1968, elected abbot in 1977, and elected the primate in 2000, 2008, and now in 2012. Abbot Notker will serve in the Office of the Primate for 4 years.

The election for the Primate's Office happened today 9am Rome time following the singing of the Office of Terce. Typically the election for Primate is chaired by the Archabbot of Montecassino, but being sick, instead of Abbot Pietro, the Abbot of Subiaco, Mauro Meaci chaired the election. Each monastic superior was called forth to drop his vote. Dom Mauro announced the tally, and called on Abbot Notker seeking to know if he accepted election. He did accept. According to law, the re-elected Abbot Primate made a profession of faith and the oath of fidelity with his hand on the Bible. All assembled then sang the Te Deum followed by a solemn blessing imparted by the Abbot Notker. Noon Mass was celebrated at the nearby Santa Sabina Church and the normal work of the Congress continued.
You might ask why I care about the Subiaco Congregation... well, I care about the Congregation because it's the largest and most diverse of all the groupings of those who follow the Benedictine Rule, and many of the monasteries do interesting things outside the typical works of parochial and educational ministries. And, because I care. Subiaco monks and nuns tend to be more focused on living the monastic life with intensity. One may also say that the English Benedictines have certain intensity in life and ministry which distinguishes them from other groupings.

The other day I mentioned that the Cassinese Congregation (the Italian monasteries of which Monte Cassino is part) was seeking re-union with the Subiaco Congregation, and today the vote was positive. Of course, the Cassinese Congregation is very much in "diminishment mode" with very few new vocations with an outdated way of doing things. The vote for the revised constitutions was also positive.

Abbot Philip of the Abbey of Christ in the Desert writes a weekly notebook. This week he notes some of the "goings on" of the 19th General Chapter.

Saint Benedict and Saint Scholastica, pray for the monks, and for us.
St Scholastica Abbey Subiaco, Italy.jpegThe General Congregation of the Subiaco Congregation of Benedictine monks are meeting this week at one of the monasteries founded by Saint Benedict, Saint Scholastica Monastery, Subiaco, Italy. 

There are four monasteries of the Subiaco Congregation in the USA: the Abbey of Christ in the Desert, Saint Mary's Monastery (Petersham, MA), Holy Cross Monastery (Chicago, IL) and Thien Tam Monastery (Dallas, TX). These monasteries comprise the English Province of the Subiaco Congregation (which the video).

The meeting of the superiors (abbots and priors) is the normal manner of doing business of and for the Congregation which unites the monasteries throughout the world. As a point of comparison, the Subiaco Congregation is the largest grouping of  monks and nuns in the world with 1,293 members (a 2010 statistic). Among the tasks for the abbots and priors is to: approve the Constitutions of the Congregation which were newly revised, vote on the request to admit the Cassinese Congregation to the Subiaco Congregation and to elect an Abbot President.

Regarding the vote of the Cassinese Congregation: if the vote is positive the Italian monasteries of this congregation would then belong to the Subiaco Congregation thus re-uniting the two.

Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception, pray for the Subiaco Congregation, and for us.

Be opened!

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Lower chapel Regina Laudis Abbey.jpgThe gospel for today has the word, "Be opened" --in other words, listen. It is a word that is most known by Christians in the Rite of Baptism where the priest touches the ears of the person to be christened saying, "Be opened."  Later in history, the word is made more famous for being the first word in the Rule of Benedict, Listen.

Today, the Mother Church recalls for us that Jesus uses mud to open the ears of a deaf man in front of Him; the Lord gives the man what he wants --the capacity to physically hear sounds-- but Jesus also gives the man to capacity to hear the Good Word, to hear the voice of the Good Shepherd and thus is indicating a more profound manner of listening. It is our belief that the heart is where our desires, our needs, our total being is transformed by the hearing of the words of Eternal Life. Jesus opens our ears 2000 years later not only as an allegory for the inner life which we all need to attend to, but for some, there is a physical healing that also happens. "Be opened" now takes on the keen sense that without the Word of Life, without the Bread of Life, we can't really understand who we are, and what we are about.

Speaking of the Saint Benedict's Holy Rule, I was at the Abbey of Regina Laudis taking in the monastic environment of the Benedictine nuns who make it a point to listen. The Abbey is a special place. The nuns' listening is not only relegated to Scripture, the Rule, and the Fathers of the Church, but to each other. It is in the Rule that we learn more poignantly that there is such a thing as mutual obedience. This is the way of the Church. That is to say, following another who witnesses and therefore teaches us the way of Christ. I wonder if the Benedictine experience of life is possible not only for women in Connecticut, but also for men. Can it be conceived that a monastic presence of men following the Church's teaching on Baptism and Saint Benedict's Holy Rule is possible in the Nutmeg State today?

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 September 2012.

Benedictines: August 2012 is the previous archive.

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