Category Archives: Benedictines

Seeing the Invisible will allow you to do the impossible

The monks of Cistercian Abbey, Spring Bank, WI, are featured in a PBS video.

These monks are proprietors of LaserMonks.com, a non-profit work providing a discount prices items for your printers and other products (some of which made by monks & nuns of other monasteries).
Watch the video…it’s fascinating to see their vocation lived.

The hard work of being a person of peace

The Benedictine ideal of the human being is not that
of one who achieves and accomplishes things, not a person with an unusual
religious gift, not a great ascetic, but the wise and mature person who knows
how to bring people together, who creates around herself or himself an
atmosphere of peace and mutual understanding.


Behind this ideal image stands a
high demand. No one can simply resolve to become a peacemaker. Only those who
have created peace within themselves can make peace
, only those who have become
reconciled with themselves, their own weaknesses and faults, their needs and
desires, their contradictory tendencies and ambitions.

Making peace is not a
program of action that one could write on one’s banners; rather, it must arise
from inner peace. And inner peace is achieved only through a hard and
unremitting struggle for inner purity and through prayer, in which one seeks to
accept everything God presents, whether one’s own weaknesses or those of
others
.

Benedict of Nursia: His Message for Today
Anselm Grun, OSB

PS: what Fr Anselm doesn’t say is that creating an atmosphere of peace is harder than it looks, but don’t stop striving…. The realization that we are person’s with great inner need, as in we need a mother or we need friendship, like we need God, is born out in our abandonment to the Divine Plan of seeking a deeper communion with God, as John rested his head on the breast of Jesus.

Visiting Bethlehem: the Abbey of Regina Laudis

Abbey of Regina Laudis chapel int.jpgOne of the blessings in Connecticut is the presence of Abbey of Regina Laudis, a monastery of nearly 40 Benedictine nuns in the hills of Litchfield, County (in the Archdiocese of Hartford). Looking out in the choir there were 5 white veil novices and 1 postulant among the other professed nuns.

I went to the abbey with Father Ignacio today so that he could celebrate the Sacrifice of the Mass for the nuns since they are without a resident chaplain. Father Ignacio is a newly ordained priest of the Bridgeport Diocese currently serving at Saint Rose of Lima Church (Newtown, CT). Mass at the abbey follows the Mass of Pope Paul VI, also called the Novus Ordo (the new Order [Mass]). Often Mass is celebrated using the Latin language except for the Scripture readings and homily. However, the Mass is often in English with the Latin chants.
Like a number of monasteries and convents the sisters are without a resident priest these days. And you can guess the reasons for this. The abbey’s past chaplain, a Benedictine monk, transfered his vow of stability from his abbey of profession to another. Thus, he had to move to his new abbey.
I was happy to be at Regina Laudis again after being away for 2 years. This time was especially happy because I was able to meet Mother Placid again after 9 years (I don’t usually call on the nuns for a visit when I stop in for a visit to the bookstore and chapel). Mother Placid is the first American vocation to stay at the Abbey with the foundress, Lady Abbess Benedict. As Providence would have it, I greeted the mother of a former student. And from a distance I saw a former classmate from the seminary. Amazing who one meets at a bucolic Benedictine monastery.
As a side note, the nuns are land based. Meaning, they farm the land by raising vegetables, tending the forest, raising a beef herd for local consumption and dairy cattle for the abbey’s use. Many of the nuns are professionally trained in the various sciences to assist in the proper use of the land. The good and proper use of the land is a particularly Benedictine characteristic. The nuns tend to the beauty of creation as a theological statement of belief in the Incarnation.
Dancing sheep ARL.jpgAdditionally, the abbey has through the years attracted women from all walks of life and pedigree: some have been lawyers, physicians, artists, poets, actresses, theologians, minor nobility and the like. Mother Foundress’ leadership and vision was the result of the integration of faith and reason. She knew deeply the Catholic tradition of the religious, artistic and intellectual life. Hers was a monastic life that is virtually unknown in the United States. Regina Laudis is likely one of 4 or 5 similar monasteries of women. Historically, Mother Benedict knew personally Popes Pius XII, John XXIII and Paul VI and all of them encouraged the Foundress to keep alive Benedictine culture, ecumenism, the Latin chants and the intellect (that is, if a woman came to the abbey is a professional credential, or later earned one, she was keep current in that field).
A good read is Antonette Bosco’s biography, Mother Benedict: Foundress of Regina Laudis

Benedictine missionary reflects

A Benedictine monk and priest for more than 50 years reflects on his vocation as a missionary in Africa. His call from the Lord may be spoken of as a call within a call found in a call. After all, he said he abandoned his will into the hands of the Divine Will. Father Damian Milliken is a monk of a missionary group of Benedictine monks who work around the world in local monasteries while doing proper missionary work of friendship, evangelization and projects of social concern. Read Father Milliken’s story.

Saint Benedict (and his 12 degrees of humility)


God our Father, You made Saint Benedict an outstanding guide
to teach men how to live in your service. Grant that be preferring your love to
everything else we may walk in the way of your commandments.

St Benedict a Bohemian artist.jpg

Famous for his work on the 12 degrees of humility, Saint Benedict proposes the following for those who want to advance in the spiritual life. The degrees of humility are given below.

The first degree of humility, then, is that a man always
have the fear of God before his eyes (cf Ps 35[36]:2), shunning all
forgetfulness and that he be ever mindful of all that God hath commanded, that
he always consider in his mind how those who despise God will burn in hell for
their sins, and that life everlasting is prepared for those who fear God. And
whilst he guard himself evermore against sin and vices of thought, word, deed,
and self-will, let him also hasten to cut off the desires of the flesh.

The second degree of humility is, when a man love not his
own will, nor is pleased to fulfill his own desires but by his deeds carried
out that word of the Lord which said: “I came not to do My own will but
the will of Him that sent Me” (Jn 6:38). It is likewise said:
“Self-will hath its punishment, but necessity win the crown.”

The third degree of humility is, that for the love of God a
man subject himself to a Superior in all obedience, imitating the Lord, of whom
the Apostle said: “He became obedient unto death” (Phil 2:8).

The fourth degree of humility is, that, if hard and
distasteful things are commanded, nay, even though injuries are inflicted, he
accept them with patience and even temper, and not grow weary or give up, but
hold out, as the Scripture said: “He that shall persevere unto the end
shall be saved” (Mt 10:22). And again: “Let thy heart take courage,
and wait thou for the Lord” (Ps 26[27]:14).

The fifth degree of humility is, when one hides from his
Abbot none of the evil thoughts which rise in his heart or the evils committed
by him in secret, but humbly confesses them. Concerning this the Scripture
exhorts us, saying: “Reveal thy way to the Lord and trust in Him” (Ps
36[37]:5). And it said further: “Confess to the Lord, for He is good, for
His mercy endures forever” (Ps 105[106]:1; Ps 117[118]:1). And the Prophet
likewise said: “I have acknowledged my sin to Thee and my injustice I have
not concealed. I said I will confess against myself my injustice to the Lord;
and Thou hast forgiven the wickedness of my sins” (Ps 31[32]:5).

The sixth degree of humility is, when a monk is content with
the meanest and worst of everything, and in all that is enjoined him holds
himself as a bad and worthless workman, saying with the Prophet: “I am
brought to nothing and I knew it not; I am become as a beast before Thee, and I
am always with Thee” (Ps 72[73]:22-23).

The seventh degree of humility is, when, not only with his
tongue he declares, but also in his inmost soul believeth, that he is the
lowest and vilest of men, humbling himself and saying with the Prophet:
“But I am a worm and no man, the reproach of men and the outcast of the
people” (Ps 21[22]:7).

The eighth degree of humility is, when a monk doeth nothing
but what is sanctioned by the common rule of the monastery and the example of
his elders.

The ninth degree of humility is, when a monk withholds his
tongue from speaking, and keeping silence doth not speak until he is asked; for
the Scripture shows that “in a multitude of words there shall not want
sin” (Prov 10:19); and that “a man full of tongue is not established
in the earth” (Ps 139[140]:12).

The tenth degree of humility is, when a monk is not easily
moved and quick for laughter, for it is written: “The fool exalts his
voice in laughter” (Sir 21:23).

The eleventh degree of humility is, that, when a monk speaks,
he speak gently and without laughter, humbly and with gravity, with few and
sensible words, and that he be not loud of voice, as it is written: “The
wise man is known by the fewness of his words.”

The twelfth degree of humility is, when a monk is not only
humble of heart, but always lets it appear also in his whole exterior to all
that see him; namely, at the Work of God, in the garden, on a journey, in the
field, or wherever he may be, sitting, walking, or standing, let him always have
his head bowed down, his eyes fixed on the ground, ever holding himself guilty
of his sins, thinking that he is already standing before the dread judgment
seat of God, and always saying to himself in his heart what the publican in the
Gospel said, with his eyes fixed on the ground: “Lord, I am a sinner and
not worthy to lift up mine eyes to heaven” (Lk 18:13); and again with the
Prophet: “I am bowed down and humbled exceedingly” (Ps 37[38]:7-9; Ps
118[119]:107)

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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