Category Archives: Benedictines

Saint Mary’s Abbey patronal feast day: Immaculate Conception

All honor to you, Mary! From you arose the sun of justice, Christ our God.

(Communion Antiphon)

Immaculate Conception Murillo.jpg

Today is the patronal feast of the Abbey of Saint Mary, Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception. The abbey honors the Blessed Virgin Mary under the title of the Immaculate Conception, a solemn feast of the Church begun by Blessed Pope Pius IX on this date in 1854. In 1857, this Benedictine abbey was founded, first in Newark, which moved to Morristown, New Jersey.

This Marian feast acknowledges a dogma believed by Western Christians that states Mary was born without Original Sin. That is, she was free from sin in order to collaborate with God in the work of our redemption by giving birth to Jesus.

A later feast of Mary, Our Lady of Lourdes (February 11) remembers the Virgin appearing to Saint Bernadette Soubirous 18 times between February 11 and July 16, 1858. On March 25th of that year Mary identified herself as “I am the Immaculate Conception.” Today, also marks the end of the anniversary year of this dogma, 150 years!

The Church in many places in the West has observed this feast since the 8th century; likewise there are Churches in the East that have honored Mary under this title, or one similar.

The Abbey’s celebration was connected with Delbarton School. Father Abbot Giles with the members of the monastic community celebrated the Sacrifice of the Mass at 10 am. The full student body was present. Father Abbot spoke about the need to be men of prayer and of the importance of having a true devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary as the monks of old did, and the monks of today, do. He noted that you can see the monks walking the property praying the rosary or sitting in front of the Blessed Sacrament doing so.

O Mary, conceived without sin,

pray for us you have recourse to you.

Benedictines center is haven for Israelis, Palestinians


Dormition Abbey3.jpgJERUSALEM (CNS) — Perched atop Jerusalem’s Mount Zion, just outside the walls of the Old City, the Benedictine Dormition Abbey has long been a place of informal encounters among all residents of the city. Through its concert series held monthly in the basilica, the Benedictine monks have brought adherents of various traditions and many tourists to their monastery to be inspired by the beauty of the music and the monastery. They also quietly have hosted other ecumenical meetings, peace dialogues and interreligious gatherings over the years. But following the outbreak of the second intifada, the monks sensed an urgent need for a more formalized format for peace encounters as a response to the suffering in the Holy Land, said Benedictine Father Johannes Oravecz, a monk at the abbey and director of the new Beit Benedict Peace Academy. But with the increasing level of violence and the ever-growing impasse in Palestinian-Israeli dialogue, the monks felt an urgent need to do more. Thus, in 2003 at the height of the intifada when they presented their annual peace award to two young peacemakers — one Israeli and one Palestinian — the monks realized that they were in a unique position to create a peace academy where both Israelis and Palestinians felt safe and comfortable to meet.

 

Pope Benedict address priests, nuns, sisters & consecrated men & women


Benedict XVI arms.jpgAddress of the Holy Father Benedict XVI

To the Participants in the

Plenary Assembly of the Congregation

For Institutes of Consecrated Life

And Societies of Apostolic Life

 

Clementine Hall
Thursday, 20 November 2008

 

 

 

Your Eminences,
Venerable Brothers in the Episcopate and in the Priesthood,
Dear Brothers and Sisters,

 

I meet you with joy on the occasion of the Plenary Assembly of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life which is celebrating 100 years of life and activity. Indeed, a century has passed since my venerable Predecessor, St Pius X, with his Apostolic Constitution Sapienti Consilio of 29 June 1908, made your Dicastery autonomous as a Congregatio negotiis religiosorum sodalium praeposita, a name that has subsequently been modified several times. To commemorate this event you have planned a Congress on the coming 22 November with the significant title: “A hundred years at the service of the consecrated life”. Thus, I wish this appropriate initiative every success.

 

Today’s meeting is a particularly favourable opportunity for me to greet and thank all those who work in your Dicastery. I greet in the first place Cardinal Franc Rodé, the Prefect, to whom I am also grateful for expressing your common sentiments. Together with him I greet the Members of the Dicastery, the Secretary, the Undersecretaries and the other Officials who, with different tasks carry out their daily service with competence and wisdom in order to “promote and regulate” the practice of the evangelical counsels in the various forms of consecrated life, as well as the activity of the Societies of Apostolic Life (cf. Apostolic Constitution Pastor bonus, n. 105). Consecrated persons constitute a chosen portion of the People of God: to sustain them and to preserve their fidelity to the divine call, dear brothers and sisters, is your fundamental commitment which you carry out in accordance with thoroughly tested procedures thanks to the experience accumulated in the past 100 years of your activity. This service of the Congregation was even more assiduous in the decades following the Second Vatican Council that witnessed the effort for renewal, in both the lives and legislation of all the Religious and Secular Institutes and of the Societies of Apostolic Life. While I join you, therefore, in thanking God, the giver of every good, for the good fruits produced in these years by your Dicastery, I recall with grateful thoughts all those who in the course of the past century of its activity have spared no energy for the benefit of consecrated men and women.

 

This year the Plenary Assembly of your Congregation has focused on a topic particularly
2 nuns.jpgdear to me: monasticism, a forma vitae that has always been inspired by the nascent Church which was brought into being at Pentecost (Acts 2: 42-47; 4: 32-35). From the conclusions of your work that has focused especially on female monastic life useful indications can be drawn to those monks and nuns who “seek God”, carrying out their vocation for the good of the whole Church. Recently too (cf. Address to the world of culture, Paris, 12 September 2008), I desired to highlight the exemplarity of monastic life in history, stressing that its aim is at the same time both simple and essential: quaerere Deum, to seek God and to seek him through Jesus Christ who has revealed him (cf. Jn 1: 18), to seek him by fixing one’s gaze on the invisible realities that are eternal (cf. 2 Cor 4: 18), in the expectation of our Saviour’s appearing in glory (cf. Ti 2: 13).

 

Christo omnino nihil praeponere [prefer nothing to Christ] (cf. Rule of Benedict 72, 11; Augustine, Enarr. in Ps 29: 9; Cyprian, Ad Fort 4). These words which the Rule of St Benedict takes from the previous tradition, clearly express the precious treasure of monastic life lived still today in both the Christian West and East. It is a pressing invitation to mould monastic life to the point of making it an evangelical memorial of the Church and, when it is authentically lived, “a reference point for all the baptized” (cf. John Paul II, Orientale lumen, n. 9). By virtue of the absolute primacy reserved for Christ, monasteries are called to be places in which room is made for the celebration of God’s glory, where the mysterious but real divine presence in the world is adored and praised, where one seeks to live the new commandment of love and mutual service, thus preparing for the final “revelation of the sons of God” (Rm 8: 19). When monks live the Gospel radically, when they dedicate themselves to integral contemplative life in profound spousal union with Christ, on whom this Congregation’s Instruction Verbi Sponsa (13 May 1999) extensively reflected, monasticism can constitute for all the forms of religious life and consecrated life a remembrance of what is essential and has primacy in the life of every baptized person: to seek Christ and put nothing before his love.

 


Trap2.jpgThe path pointed out by God for this quest and for this love is his Word itself, who in the books of the Sacred Scriptures, offers himself abundantly, for the reflection of men and women. The desire for God and love of his Word are therefore reciprocally nourished and bring forth in monastic life the unsupressable need for the opus Dei, the studium orationis and lectio divina, which is listening to the Word of God, accompanied by the great voices of the tradition of the Fathers and Saints, and also prayer, guided and sustained by this Word. The recent General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, celebrated in Rome last month on the theme: The Word of God in the life and mission of the Church, renewing the appeal to all Christians to root their life in listening to the Word of God contained in Sacred Scripture has especially invited religious communities to make the Word of God their daily food, in particular through the practice of lectio divina (cf. Elenchus praepositionum, n. 4).

 

Dear brothers and sisters, those who enter the monastery seek there a spiritual oasis where they may learn to live as true disciples of Jesus in serene and persevering fraternal communion, welcoming possible guests as Christ himself (cf. Rule of Benedict, 53, 1). This is the witness that the Church asks of monasticism also in our time. Let us invoke Mary, Mother of the Lord, the “woman of listening”, who put
BVM sub tuum.jpgnothing before love for the Son of God, born of her, so that she may help communities of consecrated life and, especially, monastic communities to be faithful to their vocation and mission. May monasteries always be oases of ascetic life, where fascination for the spousal union with Christ is sensed, and where the choice of the Absolute of God is enveloped in a constant atmosphere of silence and contemplation. As I assure you of my prayers for this, I cordially impart the Apostolic Blessing to all of you who are taking part in the Plenary Assembly, to all those who work in your Dicastery and to the members of the various Institutes of Consecrated Life, especially those that are entirely contemplative. May the Lord pour out an abundance of his comforts upon each one.

 

Some data:

Currently, there are 12,876 monks living in 905 monasteries and 48,493 contemplative nuns living in 3,520 monasteries, two-thirds of which are found in Europe. Spain has, by far, the most of any country.

The story is carried here.

 

Benedictine All Souls

It is a treasured monastic tradition to pray for the dead, to visit the cemetery and to recall
triumph of death.jpg
lives of those who have gone ahead of us to receive the Lord’s mercy. Some groups of monks have the custom of praying an entire Psalter for their deceased confreres, concluding each psalm with the verse, “Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them.” Generally the Mass and private devotions are all that mark the day in many monasteries.

 

The Mass offered today is offered for all the departed monks, nuns, sisters and oblates who persevered in their consecration under Saint Benedict’s guidance. After death, the monks, nuns, sisters and oblates buried in the monastery’s cemetery are not abandoned, not forgotten by their monastic family who remain on earth. The Mass, psalmody, and other prayers, like the rosary or particular litanies to effect in God’s plan their purification and obtain the beatific vision.

 

O God, giver of pardon and lover of humankind, we beseech your mercy that through the intercession of blessed Mary ever-virgin, and of all the Benedictine saints, our brothers and sisters, relatives and benefactors who have passed out of this life, may be admitted into the fellowship of everlasting bliss.

Benedictine All Souls

And making a gathering, he [Judas] sent twelve thousand drachms of silver to Jerusalem for sacrifice to be offered for the sins of the dead, thinking well and religiously concerning the resurrection, (For if he had not hoped that they that were slain should rise again, it would have seemed superfluous and vain to pray for the dead,) And because he considered that they who had fallen asleep with godliness, had great grace laid up for them. It is therefore a holy and wholesome thought to pray for the dead, that they may be loosed from sins. (2 Maccabees 12:43-46)

Cemetery2.jpgOn All Souls Day I joined the community of monks here at Saint Mary’s Abbey for the annual and traditional prayers at the cemetery. There the gathered monks read aloud more than 100 names of the deceased confreres buried in the two cemeteries (here and in East Orange, NJ) since the founding of the abbey in 1857. After each set of names was read aloud we sang the Kyrie. At the conclusion we sang the traditional hymn at the burial of a monk in the American Cassinese Congregation, the “Ultima” (see below). It was a terse but moving experience especially since this was a time in which many of the monks remembered their friends who have gone before them marked with the sign of faith.

Ultima in mortis hora,                         When death’s hour is then upon us,
Filium pro nobis ora,                           To your Son pray that he grant us,
Bonam mortem impetra,                     Death, both holy and serene,
Virgo, Mater, Domina.                        Virgin Mary, Mother, Queen.

 

 

A prayer you may offer at the cemetery when visiting your friends and relatives:

 

Almighty God and Father, by the mystery of the cross, you have made us strong; by the sacrament of the resurrection you have sealed us as your own. Look kindly upon your servants, now freed from the bonds of mortality, and count them among your saints in heaven. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.

 

Into your hands, O Lord, we humbly entrust our brothers and sisters. In this life you embraced them with your tender love; deliver them now from every evil and bid them enter eternal rest.

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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