Category Archives: Benedictines

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.

Sun and Seed

Weather-wise, the day was spectacular. The day was spent at the modest lake house the abbey has had for many years on Lake Norman, just north and west of Belmont Abbey. Among many things the five of us did together today was to plant grass seed to cover the bare spots in the “lawn.” The day away also afforded us the opportunity to foster the companionship and devotion (to the Lord): we prayed the Office of Sext and had lunch. By the way, are you aware that a bale of straw costs $4.75? I think it’s a little expensive for straw! But I suppose the farmer is worth his wage.

Brother Anthony was tired of sowing seed so he showed the inspirational video “The Everyday,” a narrative about the monkish life at Mount Savior Monastery in New York state. Mount Savior was founded in 1950 by Father Damasus Winzen in order to live a monastic life without an outside work like a school or parish and to be most devoted to the Divine Office.

In all the day was a nice getaway with confreres. And let’s hope that it rains soon and that the birds don’t get fat on the seed.

OSB

The Benedictine monk or nun vows obedience, stability and conversion of life.

Stability = God is not elsewhere; being in one place allows you to live your vocation in love and grace over the long haul, rejecting the novelty of moving here-and-there

Obedience = When my will is cracked open grace comes in

Conversion of Life = Our true selves are oriented toward the Divine Mystery. Why not be transformed into a living flame of love?

Enticing things to grow with nature to help (at the abbey)

Spreading…makes life more interesting, or a least it makes the flowers grow. Yesterday Gail, the abbot’s administrative assistant, brought me a gift, a token of appreciation. Well, I requested it so it’s technically not a gift. Gail brought me a feed bag of mature horse manure from her own horses; it’s mature manure I am assured. I got a phone call from Brother Anthony saying that I had a bag of … manure on the front steps. Not wanting to offend guests I quickly moved the bag to the Saint Francis garden.

Mon flower.jpg

Before the night rain fell and after vespers but before the total loss of daylight, I made a mad-dash to the garden to spread the “garden tea.” I couldn’t help but remember -and laughing riotously– at what a senior Jesuit friend of mine said of Jesuits and horse manure: if you keep Jesuits together they stink; if you spread them around, they fertilize. I think you get the point. Besides hoping for the cooperative intercession of Saint Francis, I am expecting the manure to heighten the garden’s capacities.

Much of last week I had my friend Brother Michael visiting me. It was nice to have him here. As it is said, “Hospes venit, Christus venit.”  A stranger comes, Christ comes. This saying is part of the Rule of Saint Benedict and we often find it on signs at Benedictine monasteries:  “Let every stranger be received as Christ himself.” Brother Michael is not a stranger to me but he was to members of the community for a very short time. The others we edified by his presence and I got a chance to share life with a friend.

Last Saturday we had the privilege of welcoming back to the Abbey and the College Father Dwight Longenecker, an Oblate of Saint Benedict, to speak to interested parties on Saint Thérèse of Lisieux and her “little way” as a fitting approach to living Lent. His blog, Standing on My Head is a popular read.

These last days have been interesting and boring at the same time. More painting is taking place. This time we’re doing the Compline room, the place where Night Prayer is prayed; it badly needed some fresh paint on the walls. We also did some garden work in a neglected area of the monastery gardens and we did some odds-and-ends.

One of the postulants decided to leave the abbey thus ending his discernment in following a monastic vocation. Mary, Help of Christians – Belmont Abbey is much the poorer. Andrew is 24 and a recent grad of Belmont Abbey College and Saint John’s in Annapolis. We wish him well and many blessings.

My fun reading this week is a book on the Solesmes and Dom Gueranger: 1805-1875 (Paraclete Press, 1996).

Out of service.jpgLife in a monastery is fun. Oh, yea, the flowering trees are working hard to push out the color!!!! AND now I need more manure.

Novena to St. Benedict


San Benedetto da Norcia.jpgO Glorious St. Benedict, sublime model of all virtues, pure vessel of God’s grace! Behold me, humbly kneeling at thy feet. I implore thy loving heart to pray for me before the throne of God. To thee I have recourse in all the dangers which daily surround me. Shield me against my enemies, inspire me to imitate thee in all things. May thy blessings be with me always, so that I may shun whatever God forbids and avoid the occasions of sin.

 

Graciously obtain for me from God those favors and graces of which I stand so much in need, in the trials, miseries and afflictions of life. Thy heart was always so full of love, compassion, and mercy towards those who were afflicted or troubled in any way. Thou didst never dismiss without consolation and assistance anyone who had recourse to thee. I therefore invoke thy powerful intercession in the confident hope that thou will hear my prayers and obtain for me the special grace and favor I so earnestly implore (mention it), if it be for the greater glory of God and the welfare of my soul.

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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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