Category Archives: Benedictines

St Benedict’s Prologue to the Holy Rule: orienting 2013

The new year needs a proper orientation: may I propose that we need to listen, that is, to be silent (once in a while) and to attend to what the Lord, the Church, friends and family are saying. Here I think we would do well to hear what a master has to say about our work. A few years ago Pope Benedict spoke about an ancient form of the spiritual life, Benedictinism, that is often misunderstood, and yet it corresponds to the heart. Known as the Patriarch of Western monasticism, Benedict of Nursia, is the father of compassion, a man of blessing, a forthright teacher. The Pope said that,

St. Benedict’s spirituality was not an interiority removed from reality. In the anxiety and confusion of his day, he lived under God’s gaze and in this very way never lost sight of the duties of daily life and of man with his practical needs. Seeing God, he understood the reality of man and his  mission” (April 9, 2008).
A tender word from Saint Benedict’s Holy Rule is important for all of us to reflect upon as we begin 2013. The saint is clear that the Rule is not for the holy people or for people who are well-versed in the spiritual life. On the contrary what we see here  in the Prologue we read that our following (listening), our friendship with Christ is a work of which we ought to be diligent in doing if we are to reach our goal: heaven. Only in doing the hard work, some will say rightly so, doing battle, the distance between ourselves and God be lessened. Benedict is truly a father with an emphasis on mercy and honesty. His approach cultivates in all of us, I hope, a humane and reasonable way of living.
What distances the self from God? The truthful assessment of our life is our personal sin, the “slothful disobedience” we engage in. Overcoming sin, by Grace, is the work of each one of us, pope to peasant, PhD-holder to high school student. All we need to do is begin. Notice the emphasis I’ve placed for your concentration.

St. Benedict of Nursia writing the Benedictine...

Saint Benedict of Nursia writing his Rule ~a 1929 portrait at Heiligenkreuz Abbey, Austria by Herman Nieg.

L I S T E N carefully, my child, to your master’s
precepts, and incline the ear of your heart (Prov. 4:20). Receive willingly and
carry out effectively your loving father’s advice, that by the labor of
you may return to Him from whom you had departed by the sloth of

To you, therefore, my words are now addressed, whoever you may
be, who are renouncing your own will to do battle under the Lord Christ, the
true King
, and are taking up the strong, bright weapons of obedience.

And first
of all, whatever good work you begin to do, beg of Him with most earnest prayer
to perfect it
, that He who has now deigned to count us among His children may
not at any time be grieved by our evil deeds. For we must always so serve Him with
the good things He has given us, that He will never as an angry Father
disinherit His children
, nor ever as a dread Lord, provoked by our evil actions,
deliver us to everlasting punishment as wicked servants who would not follow
Him to glory.
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St Benedict’s Abbey elects Father James Albers 9th abbot

James R. Albers OSB.jpgThe monastic chapter of Saint Benedict’s Abbey (Atchison, KS) elected Father James Robert Albers, 41 as the 9th abbot earlier today. Until now, he’s served the monastic community as the Prior and vocation director.

Abbot James was born 19 October 1971, entered the abbey in 1996 and ordained in 2000.
The Benedictine community here was founded in 1857; it was given the rank of an abbey on 7 April 1876. Saint Benedict’s Abbey administers Benedictine College (1858), Maur Hill Prep School (1919); in 2003 the Prep merged with Mount Scholastica Academy (1863) to build a more dynamic and stronger school known as Maur Hill-Mount Academy. Saint Benedict’s Abbey is a member of the American Casinesse Congregation.
The monks also have a dependent Mosteiro São José in Goiás, Brazil.
The newly elected Abbot James succeeds Abbot Barnabas Senecal who was elected 8th abbot on 30 May 1994 and re-elected on 27 December 2002.
Forward, always forward.
May Our Lady of Guadalupe, Saint Benedict, Saint Scholastica with all Benedictine saints pray for the abbey and for Abbot James before the Throne of Grace.
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Kansas monks set to elect new abbot

St Benedict Abbey KS.jpgLater today the monks of Saint Benedict’s Abbey
(Atchison, KS) enter into a special chapter (the group of solemnly processed)
to begin the process of electing a new Abbot.

Abbot Barnabas Senecal, 75, is leaving the abbatial office. The Constitutions of the American Casinesse Congregation of monks has the abbot submitting a resignation on his 75th birthday. Abbot Barnabas has served for the last 18 1/2 years.

Please keep the monks in your
thoughts and prayers as they gather to elect a new Father in Christ.

The abbey recently saw two monks profess temporary vows and three men enter the novitiate.

May the
Holy Spirit guide the hands of the monks. Saint Benedict, pray for the monks.

The New Evangelization and St Benedict

Some Year of Faith initiatives

The monks, nuns and oblates of Saint Mary’s Monastery and Saint Scholastica Priory in Petersham, MA, had a day of reflection on October 20th that covered the New Evangelization and the Benedictine charism. Dr. Philip Zaleski, an Oblate of the monastery and Father Christophe Vuillaume, OSB, a monk at Saint Mary’s gave the two presentations.

Audio files

The Year of Faith and the New Evangelization

Saint Benedict and  the Life of Faith

Dr Zaleski is a professor at Smith College and a published author, and Dom Vuilaume is a priest and monk who as served at the request of the Subiaco Congregation in various locations,as of now he’s serving at Saint Mary’s.

The Monastery is celebrating 25 years of foundation this year. The monks belong to the Subiaco Congregation which is one of the largest groupings of monks and nuns in the world. Most often monasteries in the Subiaco Congregation do not engage in outside works and rely on the generosity of others. At Saint Mary’s. the Divine Office is prayed according to the traditional form of the Antiphonale Monasticum; Holy Mass is celebrated according to the Novus Ordo with the ordinary of the Mass prayed in Latin.

The nuns of Saint Scholastica Priory follow a traditional monastic life. They share the monastic church with the monks for some of the prayer times and Mass but have their own work. They were blessed recently to have two novices profess simple vows.

Mother Marie des Douleurs, the anniversary of death of a spiritual mother of mercy

Mother Marie des Douleurs.JPGToday marks the 29th anniversary of death of Mother Marie des Douleurs, known in history as Suzanne Wrotnowska (1902-1983), the foundress of the Congregation of Benedictines of Jesus Crucified. A true spiritual mother of all who need mercy, especially women who would not be able to enter the monastic life due physical impediments. Mother Marie’s spiritual maternity extended also to priests who haven’t repented of their sin.

The vocation of a Benedictine sister of Jesus Crucified is to be a victim, a total offering of self to the Lord for priests in view of who we know our Messiah to be, Jesus Christ, priest and head of the Church (Christ the King). The law of the gift is lived par excellence in union with those in most need of mercy. The vocation is especially needed today for those priests, bishops and deacons who are public sinners and who have not repented of their sins. We are all aware of our own sin, we all need forgiveness and to forgive, we also note that not all the clergy have been living a life of purity of heart. And for this intention a Benedictine of Jesus Crucified promises to offer prayer and sacrifice.

A friend, Father Mark tells us, upon learning from Father Luc de Wouters, OSB, who wrote the biography of Mother Marie, who said that she was facing death Mother Marie said,

In the eventide of my life, I have such a need of recollection, such a need to obey and to humble myself. I am unworthy of having been chosen to found the Congregation. I suffer being pulled between heaven and earth. The cross grows heavy. The Lord gave me as my portion the souls of guilty priests…my own soul disappears beneath an accumulation of iniquities! But I had asked for this humiliation! How is that the Lord was able to make use of so little a thing? His fidelity, His consuming love, this all my life, my light my death.

Mother Marie des Douleurs is also the author of Joy Out of Sorrow (1965).

In the US, there is one monastery of 17 nuns at the Monastery of the Glorious Cross, Branford, CT.

The biography of Mother Marie is written by Father Luc de Wouters, OSB, Le Sperpent et la croix, is available by writing to Soeur Marie-Isabelle, OSB, Monastère Saint Benoît, 25330, Nans-sous-Sainte Anne, France.

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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