Benedictines: October 2012 Archives

6 monks get their groove

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bph CD2012.jpgLast week (17 October 2012) six monks from two monasteries, The Abbey of Christ in the Desert (NM) and and Mount Saviour Monastery(NY) met in NYC to have their 3 minutes of fame on the Today Show.

The monks  sang "Alleluia Iustus Germinabit" from their new album produced by Sony Masterworks, "Monks in the Desert: Blessings, Peace and Harmony." The CD will make a great Christmas gift...

It's exciting to see Benedictine monks, including a friend, Abbot Philip, signing the Church's chant in such a public way! You come to realize that the sacred music tradition is not dead. Several monasteries in the USA continue to sing the chant for Divine Worship. 

The NBC people titled the segment, "6 monks get their groove on"...

Congrats to Abbot Philip and the monks...

If you want to see a little about the monastic life as it is at Mount Saviour, see their DVD, "The Everyday: Benedictine Life at Mount Saviour" (available at the Mount Saviour website).
Portsmouth CofA.jpegThe month of October is devoted to the theme of Our Lady of the Holy Rosary. The Rosary is the official prayer for the Year of Faith. As Pope Benedict recently said, "I would like to suggest to everyone to renew the prayer of the Rosary in the upcoming Year of Faith. With the Rosary, we allow ourselves to be guided by Mary, model of faith, in meditating on the mysteries of Christ."

On May 4, 2012, Abbot Caedmon, the religious superior and chancellor of Portsmouth Abbey and Portsmouth Abbey School dedicated the new shrine of Our Lady of Lourdes. I wrote a post on it, "Portsmouth Abbey Monks Dedicate Lourdes Grotto."

The Portsmouth Abbey folks have finally produced a beautiful background video on the meaning of the Grotto for the monastic community, the school and the greater Catholic community. "The Grotto at Portsmouth Abbey" may be watched here. The video is the fruit of Jamie Macguire with the assistance of several monks. It's well done, and informative.

This is the first of many good things to come from Portsmouth Abbey and School in light of the Year of Faith.

May Our Lady of Lourdes, Mother of the Rosary, pray for Portsmouth Abbey and for us.

Two new Doctors of the Church

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Procession of St Hildegard's relics 2012.jpgToday, the Holy Father proclaimed two new Doctors of the Church, the highest honor for saints because of their exemplary lives and insightful doctrine.

Saint Hildegard of Bingen (1098-1179) is the fourth woman Doctor of the Church. Saint Hildegard was a 12th century German  Benedictine nun, writer, composer, philosopher, polymath, and mystic. The sainted abbess was also the founder of several monasteries. On 10 May 2012, Pope Benedict formally proclaimed her a saint by an equivalent of canonization, and therefore added her to the Church's roster of saints (Roman Martyrology) extending her liturgical feast throughout the world.

Pope Benedict also proclaimed Saint John of Avila (1500-1569), a Doctor of the Church. He's known as the Apostle of Andalusia, priest, reformer, educator, mystic, author, and patron of the early Carmelite Reform and the Jesuits.

May Saints Hildegard and John of Avila bless the work of the Synod of Bishops on the New Evangelization.

Just about a week ago did Mother Placid Dempsey, nun of the Abbey of Regina Laudis, make her way to the Lord. Her final act of earthly love to the One whom she committed herself to in this life, and lived in communio with for 85 years, accepted the invitation of the Lord for life eternal. Mother Placid was the first Benedictine nun of Regina Laudis that I met; we were introduced by a mutual friend, Palma. And boy was she helpful in a time of my life that needed reassurance.

It's amazing to read all the things one does in life when one dies; her obit shines but a little light on a person many only aspire to be. Mother Placid was a unique woman of faith. I am grateful for the times we've met in her lucid years. Her diminishment was hard to watch. The last time I saw her in person a few years ago following Mass it was as though we met for the first time. The illness bore her mind away but her smile was all I needed. I think it was she behind the grill at the abbey church that walked with help in and out choir. I offered my prayer for Mother. 

Someone characterized Mother Placid perfectly: "Wise, impish, witty, given to sharp spiritual insights and equally pointed...." All of which was true to my experience and for which I am grateful.

With the Church, let us pray,

Grant, we pray, almighty God, that the soul of your servant Mother Placid, who for love of Christ walked the way of perfect charity, may rejoice in the coming of your glory and together with her sisters may delight in the everlasting happiness of your Kingdom.

The obit posted by the Abbey follows.

Mother Placid.jpg

Reverend Mother Placid (Patricia Ann) Dempsey, 85, consecrated nun of the Abbey of Regina Laudis, died September 27, 2012 at the Abbey after a long illness. Described as a tiny giant, Mother Placid--artist, poet, and guest mistress for over 50 years--touched the lives of thousands of people.

Patricia Ann Dempsey was the youngest of four children of William Ambrose Dempsey, New York City trial lawyer, and Kathleen Costello Dempsey, teacher and housewife. The Dempseys migrated to America at the time of the great famine in Ireland and settled in Pennsylvania where Mother Placid's grandmother ran a saloon in the mountain mining town of White Haven. The Costellos were metal craftsmen for centuries in Ireland. Her maternal grandfather was instrumental in bringing the Knights of Columbus to Brooklyn.

Patricia grew up in Brooklyn, and described the atmosphere of her home as "...warm and intellectually stimulating with discussions of cultural matters, philosophical questions, and legal matters". After graduating from St. Angela Hall Academy High School, she received her Bachelor's Degree in Art from Marymount College (Tarrytown NY) in 1949. In both high school and college she was awarded honors for her art. She was active in all aspects of drama, especially scenery design and construction. She also participated in many cultural and charitable activities, including social activities for the blind, infirm and pre-school children.

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 October 2012.

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