Category Archives: Benedictines

Pope Benedict meets with Benedictines

On 20 September 2008, Pope Benedict XVI met with the Benedictine abbots and abbesses at Castel
Benedetto.jpgGandolfo, his summer residence.


The Pope’s address in Italian is found here while we wait for the English translation. The Zenit summary is here.


The Catholic News Agency makes this report.


Vatican Radio posted this story.


In part the Pope Benedict said: the witness of the Benedictine monks, nuns and sisters is particularly important  “in a de-sacralized world and an age marked by the worrying culture of the void and the absurd. This is the reason why your monasteries are places where men and women, also in our age, run to seek God and to learn to recognize the signs of the presence of Christ, of his charity and of his mercy.”

St Benedict in a Psalm.jpg 

The Pope asked the Benedictines to “allow themselves to be led by the profound desire to serve all men with charity, without distinctions of race or religion,” and to found new monasteries “where Providence calls you to establish them.”


The Pope focused the attention of the Benedictine superiors to the work of evangelization and to formative and cultural work that can be done particularly in Europe, “especially in favor of the new generations. Dedicate yourselves to young people with renewed apostolic ardor, as they are the future of the Church and of humanity. To build a ‘new’ Europe, it is necessary to begin with the new generations, offering them the possibility to profoundly approach the spiritual riches of the liturgy, of meditation and of lectio divina.” [While the pope has Europe on his mind he would also support this building up of Catholic culture in the new world, too.]


The abbots are in Rome at an international congress held every 4 years.

Benedictine Abbots to meet in Rome

The 2008 Congress of Abbots also occurs every four years which gathers the nearly 260

St Benedict6.jpgBenedictine abbots from around the world to discuss topics of interest. The Abbot Primate Notker Wolf said the purpose of the Congress  “Promotes the union of the Confederation, by extending its contacts with its many souls.” The meeting will take place at the Abbey of Saint Anselm from the 18th to 27th September.  


Among the presenters will be the esteemed Preacher to the Papal Household Father Raniero Cantalmessa, OFM Cap, who will make a presentation entitled, “What the Spirit is Saying to the Churches.” Plus, the recently retired Abbot General of the Trappists, Abbot Bernardo Olivera will deliver a talk called “Experiences as a Monk and as a Monastic Superior.”

Abbot Notker said there will be workshops and committee work on some major subjects, such as the monasteries with diminishing numbers of monks and nuns, ecumenical and inter-faith dialogue, matters pertaining to the African monasteries, the relation between monasticism

Thumbnail image for Notker Wolf2.jpgand the Church, and the relationship between between abbots and priests. The congress will also be attended by the Benedictine sisters and nuns who will be involved in a discussion about the relations between men’s and women’s monasteries. Discussions will also happen on the work and funding of the various institutes and academic departments, including the Pontifical Liturgical Institute, at Sant’Anselmo.


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It’s pickin’ time at the abbey


Monks work. So beware of idle Benedictine monks –or any man who claimes to be monk for that matter –who don’t lift a finger to work around the house to work. Today apples were picked from the abbey orchard. The seniors among us work in the orchard. Abbot Brian, Brother Tarcicius and I spent some time this afternoon picking macintosh apples. Trees some 70 years old continue to bear fruit. Makes you wonder why these old apple trees continue to bear fruit and older institutions like Lehman Brothers collapse; the obvious notwithstanding. The good news is that some apples went to the abbey kitchen and some went to the football team. The apples were beautiful and delicious!

Saint Charles Borromeo, patron of apple orchards: pray for us!

Formation as a Benedictine

Now that I’ve been here for little more than 2 months Father Abbot Giles has drawn together some things to study. Monastic formation is not just for beginners but properly speaking it is a work for a lifetime. A postulant is not a technical member of the community but someone asking the question if it is his vocation to live God’s call in a particular religious community; in this case, is Saint Mary’s Abbey the place to be a monk.

Since in July the Abbot and I have read together the Rule of Saint Benedict now it is time to go deeper. So, we’re going to be reading Benedictine Father Terrence Kardong’s magisterial work on the Holy Rule and some chapters in Benedictine Sister Aquinata Bockman’s study on the Rule.

Also, Father Hiliary, the novice and junior master, is walking me through the house customary. This is an agreed upon set of house customs, that is, “how we do things here.”

Through July and August a small book club was formed to discuss Fr Jeremy Driscoll’s book What Happens at Mass, a wonderful introduction for some and an appropriate reminder for others on the theology of the Mass. It is a thorough exposition on the Church’s theology of the Mass. This work is not as comprehensive as Driscoll’s Theology at the Eucharistic Table, which is aimed at Master’s students and above.

Above all, what sets a monk’s formation apart from others is the daily practice of Lectio Divina. The supreme gift of monasticism to the Church.

Is Saint Benedict’s dare possible to live?

St Benedict dares.jpg

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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