Category Archives: Benedictines

New Abbess of Regina Laudis

Today, began a new transition in the life of the Benedictine community of the Abbey of Regina Laudis with the election of Reverend Mother Lucia Kuppens as the Third Abbess. The new abbess succeeds Mother Abbess David Serna. An announcement is made here.

The Most Reverend Leonard Paul Blair, STD,  Archbishop of Hartford, offered Mass and presided over the election.

Mother Lucia, a Boston native, is a 1973 graduate of Connecticut College and she earned a PhD from Yale in English Literature having written a dissertation on Shakespeare’s portrayal of male and female relationships in a process of dis-integration. she entered the Abbey in 1979. Of recent time, Mother Lucia has been the community’s cellarer and the project manager of the abbey’s renovation and expansion project.

Mother Hildegard (formerly of Regina Laudis and now at the daughter house, Our Lady of the Rock Monastery on Shaw Island, WA) relates something Mother Lucia once said:  “Regina Laudis had something solid and deep. Its members radiated a joy that was increasingly hard to come by as the experiments of the ´60s began to fade, and idealism turned to cynicism.”

Blessings to Mother Lucia and the Benedictine nuns.

Brew Evangelization –Benedictine styled

Norcia monksThe idea of sharing anew the beautiful, the true and the good of the Catholic faith with baptized Catholics, with other Christians, and with those justing seeking Someone greater, is popular these days. The words we are using to describe this sharing of faith is the new evangelization. Saint John Paul got the ball rolling again after a hiatus from the time of Blessed Paul VI and the Fathers of the Second Vatican Council with promoting a new way of bring the Lord’s Good News to society again. But for him the new evangelization isn’t about a program as much as it is manner of conversion.

As typical, we see the use of the word “evangelization” used in a variety of ways but without a distinct and concrete definition. In my estimation few have really grasped the concept of it means to be engaged in evangelization. So many want to bolster the numbers of people in the pews, or get parish programs going or some such thing superficial thing. The difficult task is forming in a new way invested Catholics. There are times you get the sense that the “same-old” is being repackaged: it is new wine in old wine skins. The new evangelization becomes in many places more of the ghetto mentality and a perpetuation of an immature Christianity. That’s a long way of saying that we need a more creative approach in sharing the faith in bold ways.

Certainly we don’t need gimmicks. We do, however, need an honest approach that is human connected to the divine.

The Benedictine monks are getting to the heart of what I am aiming at with the new evangelization: beer brewing for the Kingdom of God. Indeed, the brewing of beer (and drinking the beer) can be a de-regulated way of getting to the heart of the faith, getting to the creator and how He is manifested in His creation. Brewing and drinking beer is a very human experience that will penetrate the heart and mind to think a little more deeply about spiritual things and how to live for and with Christ.

Here is an article, “Brew Evangelization.” Read this fine article and the links embedded. One of my interests is to see the Benedictine charism flower again. AND it is beginning to do just that….

Benedictine nuns ranching

St Walburga nunsBenedictines historically live close to the land. Since the 6th century the Benedictines have also been pioneers in every field of study known to humanity. Here is a NPR story on the Benedictine nuns of the Abbey St Walburga (Virginia Dale, CO).

 The Benedictines of St Walburga Abbey is a faithful group of women of a variety ages, experience, education and talent. I am happy to see that they are working the land in a meaningful way.

Saints Mary, Martha, and Lazarus of Bethany

Raising Lazarus Martha and Mary Hunterian PsalterOn the Universal liturgical calendar of the Church today’s feast is for Saint Martha of Bethany. Yet, on the Benedictine liturgical calendar the Church honors the three of Bethany: Mary, Martha, and Lazarus  described in the Gospels as saints. Revealed in sacred Scripture, these people are acclaimed as the much-loved friends of Jesus (according to Luke and John). In the Gospel of Luke ewe read the well-known story of hospitality noting Martha as a symbol of the active life and Mary of the contemplative. The Lord holds both women in tension of what the disciple is to be: a contemplative in action.

The Lord’s raising of Lazarus from the dead is an anticipation of resurrection and a sign of eternal life for the rest of us who are baptized into the Mystical Body of Christ. Resurrection from the dead becomes, with this pericopy a powerful “game-changer” in the life of every human being. The death and subsequent raising of Lazarus evokes in each of us the acknowledge that we do not make ourselves, that God is the only Creator of who we are and what we are about as persons (not as individuals). This gesture of the Lord’s invites each of us to a deeper faith in the Messiah.

So, why is honoring all three characters crucial in our Christian life? Each person: Mary, Martha and Lazarus are convicted in the friendship with Jesus. If friendship, then fidelity, and perseverance, gratitude and hospitality.

Why is this a true feast for Benedictine monks, nuns, sisters and Oblates (laity)?

Saint Benedict sees all persons as a gift of God. The greatest gift was the person of Jesus who received as the giftedness of each person when he said: “I was a stranger, and you welcomed me.” Our Holy Father Saint Benedict is quite direct in how we treat the stranger, how welcome the person who presents himself at the door, we definitive statements. In Chapter 53 of Rule of Saint Benedict we read:

All guests who present themselves are to be welcomed as Christ, for he himself will say: I was a stranger and you welcomed me (Matt 25:35). Proper honor must be shown to all, especially to those who share our faith (Gal 6:10) and to pilgrims. Once a guest has been announced, the superior and the brothers are to meet him with all the courtesy of love. First of all, they are to pray together and thus be united in peace, but prayer must always precede the kiss of peace because of the delusions of the devil. All humility should be shown in addressing a guest on arrival or departure. By a bow of the head or by a complete prostration of the body, Christ is to be adored because he is indeed welcomed in them. After the guests have been received, they should be invited to pray; then the superior or an appointed brother will sit with them. The divine law is read to the guest for his instruction, and after that every kindness is shown to him. The superior may break his fast for the sake of a guest, unless it is a day of special fast which cannot be broken. The brothers, however, observe the usual fast. The abbot shall pour water on the hands of the guests, and the abbot with the entire community shall wash their feet. After the washing they will recite this verse: God, we have received your mercy in the midst of your temple (Ps 47 [48]:10). Great care and concern are to be shown in receiving poor people and pilgrims, because in them more particularly Christ is received; our very awe of the rich guarantees them special respect.

The hospitality shown by the the Holy Three is what we come to know as their personal mission given by God, their personal “I Am” and not mere kindness to the other. In the person of Jesus we meet his enjoyment of their company because it show us how the beauty of human friendship and love is at the core of our DNA. The Church’s honoring Saints Mary, Martha and Lazarus is a sign of hope and promise for all who are in Christ Jesus.

Can we live as the Saints of Bethany? Can we live as Saint Benedict shows us?

Regina Laudis at Phase II of renovation project

Regina Laudis monasteryJean Dunn of Voices News wrote an article giving an overview of the New Horizons Renovation Project at the Benedictine Abbey of Regina Laudis (Bethlehem, CT).

Founded in 1947, the Abbey of Regina Laudis has been living in buildings cobbled together from factory and farm buildings; the 37 nuns live very simply. Hence this is the first comprehensive renovation of the monastery buildings.

The Benedictine nuns began their renovation project in 2011 and now they’re doing phase 2.

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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