Category Archives: Benedictines

The Observance of Lent in the Rule of Saint Benedict

Although the life of a monk ought to have about it at all times the character of a Lenten observance, yet since few have the virtue for that, we therefore urge that during the actual days of Lent the brethren keep their lives most pure and at the same time wash away during these holy days all the negligences of other times.

And this will be worthily done
Monk3.JPGif we restrain ourselves from all vices and give ourselves up to prayer with tears, to reading, to compunction of heart and to abstinence.


During these days, therefore, let us increase somewhat the usual burden of our service, as by private prayers and by abstinence in food and drink. Thus everyone of his own will may offer God “with joy of the Holy Spirit” (1 Thess. 1:6)
something above the measure required of him.

From his body, that is he may withhold some food, drink, sleep, talking and jesting; and with the joy of spiritual desire he may look forward to holy Easter. Let each one, however, suggest to his Abbot what it is that he wants to offer, and let it be done with his blessing and approval.

For anything done without the permission of the spiritual father will be imputed to presumption and vainglory and will merit no reward.

Therefore let everything be done with the Abbot’s approval.


Rule of Saint Benedict, Chapter 49

Dom Germain Leo Fritz, OSB, RIP

Prayers requested for the peaceful repose of the soul of Dom Germain Leo Fritz, monk of the Abbey of Saint Mary (Morristown, NJ) who died today.

Anniversary of the Dedication of Belmont’s Abbey Church

This place was made by God, an inestimably holy place. It is without reproof.

Most people are accustomed to celebrating anniversaries: wedding, ordination, religious profession, moving to a new place, etc. From time immemorial the Church has celebrated the anniversary of a church’s dedication; there are notable examples of this in the liturgical calendar, e.g., Dedication of the Lateran Basilica. Today, in the life of the Diocese of Charlotte and the monks of Mary Help of Christian – Belmont Abbey, the Abbey Basilica is honored because of it consecration in 1965 by Abbot Walter Coggin, abbot nullius. Dom Agostino celebrated the conventual Mass. The wonderful drama of the Liturgies since first Vespers last evening has been the 12 dedication candles lit. They are rearely lit even in the most liturgically sensible places that seeing them glow is just wonderful. Wouldn’t it be a good thing if pastors lit the dedication candles on all the feasts of the Lord and the feasts of the apostles!

BAC Abbey Basilica.JPG

In 1892 Abbot-Bishop Leo Michael Haid blessed and laid the cornerstone for the abbey church which in time became the cathedral for the Apostolic Vicariate (founded in 1910). This church had two significant uses: it was the church in which the monks daily prayed and it was the heart of Catholic life for the state of North Carolina. According to the monks, the cathedral was only blessed in the 19th century because there was a mortgage and it had a wooden altar. The cathedral was renovated in 1964-65 and it needed to be properly consecrated which was done on this date in 1965. As history would have it, the abbey church was still the cathedral but by 1960 the territory had been reduced to the land on which the abbey and cathedral sat. The Diocese of Raleigh had been established in 1924 and preparations for the erection of the Diocese of Charlotte were on the way, ultimately coming in 1972.

The point of the festive Mass on such an anniversary and the use of special antiphons used in the Divine Office is honor God by keeping sincere our worship in the saving love of this church. It is also a keen reminder that we find our refuge in the Lord while praying in spirit and truth.

 Some points from recent ecclesial documents may help focus our attention on the meaning of the Church:

The church building is a sign and reminder of the immanence and transcendence of God –who chose to dwell among us and whose presence cannot be contained or limited to any single place. …Churches are signs of the pilgrim church on earth; they are images that proclaim the heavenly Jerusalem. (Built of Living Stones, no. 50)

The dedication of a church, especially a cathedral, is a significant and rare event in the life of a Christian community. It involves more than merely setting aside a building for the celebration of sacred things, since the people who plan, build, and dedicate a sacred

place are themselves the Church, “that is, the temple of God built of living stones, where the Father is worshiped in spirit and in truth. Rightly, then, from early times the name ‘church’ has also been given to the building in which the Christian community gathers to hear the Word of God, to pray together, to celebrate the Sacraments, and to participate in the Eucharist.” (Rite for the Dedication of a Church and an Altar, chapter 2, no. 1); this building is both the house of God on earth (domus Dei) and a house fit for the prayers of the saints (domus ecclesiae). (Built of Living Stones, no. 16).

In the end, the text from a hymn used at a church’s dedication speaks volumes:

O how amiable are thy dwellings: thou Lord of hosts!

My soul hath a desire and a longing to enter into the courts of the Lord:

My heart and my flesh rejoice in the living God.

Yea, the sparrow hath found her a house,

and the swallow a nest where she may lay her young:

even the altars, O Lord of hosts, my King and my God.

Blessed are they that dwell in thy house: they will be always praising thee.

The glorious Majesty of the Lord our God be upon us:

prosper thou the work of our hands upon us.

O prosper thou our handywork, O prosper thou our handywork.

O God our help in ages past, Our hope for years to come,

Our shelter from the stormy blast, And our eternal home.

(Text Psalms 84 & 90; Isaac Watts (1674-1748)

88th anniversary of death of James Gibbons, cardinal

James Cardinal Gibbons

Archbishop of Baltimore

Cardinal Priest of Santa Maria in Trastevere

James Gibbons.jpg23 July 1834, born

30 June 1861, ordained priest

3 March 1868, Vicar Apostolic of North Carolina & later ordained bishop

30 July 1872, bishop of Richmond

20 May 1877, archbishop of Baltimore

7 June 1886, created cardinal

24 March 1921, died


Of the many things the Cardinal arranged for the possession by the Benedictines of Caldwell Place, Gaston County, North Carolina, on which Mary, Help of Christians – Belmont Abbey sits. He also ordained Abbot Leo Michael Haid, a bishop and arranged for him to be the vicar apostolic of North Carolina. Haid prayed one of the absolutions for the Cardinal at his funeral. The monks of Belmont Abbey remembered the Cardinal at Mass.

March 21 or July 11: will the real Benedictine feast take a stand?

A question of what is the difference between the March and July observances of the feast of Saint Benedict.

san benito.jpgThe July feast was the one celebrated in France, as being the date of the alleged translation of his bones to the Abbey of Fleury. Monte Cassino always disputed this claim made by Fleury, and it does seem doubtful, as the remains of Benedict and Scholastica (datable to the correct period) were found in the tomb at Monte Cassino after the Second World War.

The Church, however, certainly never rejected the July 11 feast, as the celebration of the translation of the bones is really not about Fleury-vs.-Monte Cassino but rather the establishment of a cultus of Saint Benedict beyond Italy, as a saint of universal importance for the whole Church and for all the monks of the West. So this feast (which is more convenient for a solemn celebration since it falls outside of Lent) was made by Pope Paul VI the feast of Saint Benedict as Patron of Europe, later changed to be a “co-patron” of Europe.

March 21 is the feast of Saint Benedict’s death. It more specifically concerns his entry into heaven and his role as Father of Western Monasticism.

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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