Category Archives: Benedictine saints & blesseds

St Benedict –our Father

Sts Benedict, Placid and MaurusAt the Introit, we sing today on the feast of Saint Benedict:

Let us all rejoice in the Lord, celebrating the feast in honor of Benedict, in whose happy solemnity. The angels rejoice and praise the Son of God.

Great is the Lord and greatly to be praised In the city of our God, on his holy mountain. (Ps. 47:2)

Glory to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.

In 2008, Pope Benedict XVI wrote this about this man of blessings:

The obedience of the disciple must correspond with the wisdom of the Abbot who, in the monastery, “is believed to hold the place of Christ” (2, 2; 63, 13). The figure of the Abbot, which is described above all in Chapter II of the Rule with a profile of spiritual beauty and demanding commitment, can be considered a self-portrait of Benedict, since, as St Gregory the Great wrote, “the holy man could not teach otherwise than as he himself lived” (cf. Dialogues II, 36). The Abbot must be at the same time a tender father and a strict teacher (cf. 2, 24), a true educator. Inflexible against vices, he is nevertheless called above all to imitate the tenderness of the Good Shepherd (27, 8), to “serve rather than to rule” (64, 8) in order “to show them all what is good and holy by his deeds more than by his words” and “illustrate the divine precepts by his example” (2, 12). To be able to decide responsibly, the Abbot must also be a person who listens to “the brethren’s views” (3, 2), because “the Lord often reveals to the youngest what is best” (3, 3). This provision makes a Rule written almost 15 centuries ago surprisingly modern! A man with public responsibility even in small circles must always be a man who can listen and learn from what he hears.

Benedict describes the Rule he wrote as “minimal, just an initial outline” (cf. 73, 8); in fact, however, he offers useful guidelines not only for monks but for all who seek guidance on their journey toward God. For its moderation, humanity and sober discernment between the essential and the secondary in spiritual life, his Rule has retained its illuminating power even to today. By proclaiming St Benedict Patron of Europe on 24 October 1964, Paul VI intended to recognize the marvellous work the Saint achieved with his Rule for the formation of the civilization and culture of Europe. Having recently emerged from a century that was deeply wounded by two World Wars and the collapse of the great ideologies, now revealed as tragic utopias, Europe today is in search of its own identity. Of course, in order to create new and lasting unity, political, economic and juridical instruments are important, but it is also necessary to awaken an ethical and spiritual renewal which draws on the Christian roots of the Continent, otherwise a new Europe cannot be built. Without this vital sap, man is exposed to the danger of succumbing to the ancient temptation of seeking to redeem himself by himself – a utopia which in different ways, in 20th-century Europe, as Pope John Paul II pointed out, has caused “a regression without precedent in the tormented history of humanity” (Address to the Pontifical Council for Culture, 12 January 1990). Today, in seeking true progress, let us also listen to the Rule of St Benedict as a guiding light on our journey. The great monk is still a true master at whose school we can learn to become proficient in true humanism.

Blessed Pope Eugene III

episcopal ordination of Blessed EugeneBlessed Pope Eugene III was Pope from 15 February 1145 to his death in 1153. The image here is that of the episcopal consecration of Blessed Eugene.

Eugene was the first Cistercian to become Pope. After he became a Cistercian he took the name of “Bernard” in honor of his friend, Bernard of Clairvaux. Never a shy man and passionate teacher, Saint Bernard wrote De consideratione to instruct him Eugene in papal duties. Father Bernard was appointed abbot of Tre Fontaine in Rome. Following the death of Pope Lucius II (+1145) the cardinals elected Abbot Bernard to be pope, who was not present at the conclave due to not being a cardinal. It is reported that ALL were surprised. He remained a Cistercian monk at heart.

The Dominican St. Antoninus called Pope Eugene “a great pope with great sufferings.” And, St. Bernard of Clairvaux spoke of Pope Eugene in this way: “There is no arrogance or domineering way in him.” Eugene III held synods in northern Europe at Paris, Rheims, and Trier in 1147 and 1149 that were devoted to the reform of clerical life. He also considered and approved the works of Hildegard of Bingen

He was beatified on 28 December 1872 by Pope Pius IX.

Thomas Merton wrote an essay on Blessed Eugene, “Blessed Eugenius III, Abbot of Tre Fountain, Pope,”  Cistercian Studies Quarterly (2009) 44.2: 173-180.

With the Church we pray:

Almighty ever-living God, who chose blessed Eugene III to preside over your whole people and benefit them by word and example, keep safe, we pray, by his intercession, the shepherds of your Church along with the flocks entrusted to their care, and direct them in the way of eternal salvation. Through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Blessed Joseph-Marie Cassant

Bl Joseph-Marie CassantA rather unknown Cistercian monk and Blessed of the Church is Joseph-Marie Cassant (March 6, 1878 – June 17, 1903). He eventually found his vocation with the Cistercian monks of St. Mary of the Desert (France) on December 5, 1894. Solemn vows were professed on May 24, 1900, the feast of the Ascension. Brother Joseph-Marie’s personal charism, developed with the help of his novice master, seems to be based on the contemplation of Jesus in His passion and in the cross which leads to his teaching the love of Christ: this is the way of Jesus’ heart.

In preparing for the priesthood, Brother Joseph-Marie  understood his ministry as totally eucharistic. The young brother was ordained priest on October 12, 1902. Almost immediately he was diagnosed with TB of which his sufferings were kept silent. His abbot, feeling the gravity of the situation, sent Joseph-Marie to be with his family for seven weeks despite his growing weakness. The monastery’s infirmarian was incompetent and likely advanced the effects of TB.

Saint John Paul beatified Father Joseph-Marie on October 3, 2004.

Why is Blessed Joseph-Marie important for us today? I think the summary statements found in a biography give us a deeper move into the heart of the Blessed:

The sheer ordinariness of his life has been noted by some: 16 quiet years at Casseneuil and 9 years of monastic enclosure spent in doing the simplest of things: prayer, studies, work. They are indeed simple things, but lived in an extraordinary way. They were the slightest of deeds, but performed with limitless generosity. Christ imbued his mind, clear as the water that leaps from a spring, with the conviction that God alone is our true and highest happiness and that his kingdom is like a hidden treasure or a pearl of great price.

The message of Fr. Joseph-Marie has great meaning for us today. In a world filled with distrust and often with despair but thirsting for love and kindness, his life can provide an answer, and in a special way to today’s young who seek meaning in their lives. Joseph-Marie was a youth without any standing or worth in the eyes of men. He owed the success of his life to a meeting with Jesus that redefined his very existence. He showed himself a follower of the Lord in the midst of a community of brothers, with the guidance of a spiritual father, who was to him a witness of Christ as well as one who knew to receive and to understand him.

Mother Marie-Adele Garnier canonization prayer

Marie Adele GarnierOn the Communio blog I love to portray the witnesses of holiness, those canonized and beatified already, and those in process. One such person in process for study is the Benedictine nun Mother Marie-Adèle Garnier (1838-1924), the foundress of the Adorers of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.  In the monastery Garnier was known as Mother Mary of St. Peter. The aim of this Benedictine Congregation is to glorify the Most Blessed Trinity. Today is the anniversary of her transitus.

Mother Marie-Adèle’s cause has been introduced for study about a possible canonization. Blessed Columba Marmion wrote to one of her spiritual daughters, saying, “The special characteristic of your Mother is heroic confidence in the midst of impossibilities.” With this in mind, let us together pray for this favor.

Father, all powerful and ever living God, we give you glory, praise and thanks for the life and virtue of your beloved daughter, Marie-Adèle Garnier.

Filled with the riches of your grace and preferring mother to the love of the Heart of Jesus Christ, she devoted her whole life to the adoration, praise and glory of your Name; she sacrificed herself by prayer and penance for the unity and holiness of your Church; she loved her neighbor with a charity full of humility and compassion.

Above all, she found the Sun of her life in the Holy Mass, and so was consumed with zeal for liturgical worship and Eucharistic adoration, and abandoned herself with all her heart to your most Holy Will in all things.

In your mercy Lord, hearken to our prayer: “Glorify Your Servant, Mother Marie-Adèle Garnier, that Your Servant may glorify you.”

We ask this through Our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, Who lives and reigns with You, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, One God, world without end. Amen.

Benedictine sainthood cause advances

BERNARDO DE VASCONCELOSToday, 14 June, Pope Francis received in a private audience Angelo Cardinal Amato, S.D.B., Prefect of the Congregation of the Causes of Saints. In the course of the audience with the Holy Father, he authorized the Congregation to promulgate the decrees regarding…
 
…the heroic virtue of the Servant of God Bernard of the Annunciation (in history: Bernardo de Vasconcelos) a professed monk of the Order of Saint Benedict; born 7 July 1902 and died 4 July 1932.
 
He was a monk of Singeverga monastery. He died from spinal tuberculosis.
 
Brother Bernard will now carry the title of Venerable Servant of God
Bernardo de Vasconcelos.
 
Let us pray that our new Venerable will be raised the to the altar.

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]yahoo.com.
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