Tag Archives: Benedictine saints and blesseds

Saint Wilfrid

St Wilfrid.jpg

O God, by Whose grace blessed Wilfrid Thy Bishop did shine with such evident signs of holiness: grant, we beseech Thee, that we may ever be defended by his protection as by his teaching we have been taught to desire heavenly things.


The 7th century Benedictine saint, Wilfrid, who was abbot of his community, elected of bishop of York and who was a wildly talented man and influential is commemorated today. While relatively unknown in this part of the world, he is well-known in England because his tireless zeal for God’s Kingdom. He is credited for acquiring land, building monasteries and churches, patronage of secular and sacred art, and for moving the Church in England from an independent Church to one more obedient to the authority of Rome. The veneration of Wilfrid ought not to be forgotten. Today, let us pray for the Church in England, including the bishops and Benedictines there. Regarding the Benedictines, I am particularly thinking of the monks of Ampleforth, Douai, and Downside Abbeys and the nuns at Stanbrook and Tyburn.

Blessed Columba Marmion


Marmion2.jpg

God, our Father, you called your servant, Columba, to the
monastic life. You bestowed on him the grace to understand the mysteries of
your Son and to make him known as the ideal for all who have been baptized.
Grant that we may learn from his example to live in Christ by opening our
hearts in joy to the Spirit of your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with
you and the Holy Spirit, One God, for ever and ever. Amen.

The Church observes
the feast of Blessed Columba Marmion today. He was an Irishman who became a monk in Belgium,
a diocesan priest who fell in love with the Benedictine way life, its emphasis on seeking God and who served as abbot. Dom Columba died on January
30, 1923. Marmion’s liturgical memorial, however, is observed not on his anniversary
of death but on the anniversary of receiving the abbatial blessing, October 3,
1909. At that time the first Sunday of October was the Solemnity of the Most Holy Rosary
of the Blessed Virgin Mary; in this era the feast of Our Lady of the Rosary is
observed on October 7th.

Two pieces to reflect up on…

The
whole of the Christian life consists in carrying Christ to birth within us and
in having Him live there’. This, of course is nothing more than a paraphrase of St. Paul’s
injunction in Gal. 4:19: ‘until Christ is formed in you’. For Marmion this is not just our
final goal, it is our daily, essential task:  to form Christ within us, through the Graces of the
sacraments and our daily encounter with God in prayer. (Mark Tierney O.S.B,
“The Life and Times of Columba Marmion”)

And

… Revelation teaches us that there is
an ineffable paternity in God. God is a Father: that is the fundamental dogma
which all the others suppose, a magnificent dogma which leaves the reason
confounded, but ravishes faith with delight and transports holy souls. God is a
Father. Eternally, long before the created light rose upon the world, God
begets a Son to whom He communicates His nature
, His perfections, His beatitude
His life, to beget is to communicate [By the gift of a similar nature ] being
and life. You are My Son this day have I begotten You [Ps 2:7; Heb 1:5; 5:5],
from the womb before the day – star, I begot you [Ps 110:3]. In God, then, is
life, life communicated by the Father … Creatures can only lisp when they
speak of such mysteries… the Father, and the Son, with one same and indivisible
Divine Nature, and both, although distinct from one another [on account of
their personal properties, ‘of being Father’ and ‘of being Son’] are united in
a powerful, substantial embrace of love, whence proceeds that Third Person, Whom
Revelation calls by a mysterious name: the Holy Ghost
.

Such is as far as faith
can know it, the secret of the inmost life of God; the fullness and the
fruitfulness of this life are the source of the incommensurable bliss that the
ineffable Society of the three Divine Persons possesses.

And now God – not in
order to add to His plenitude, but by it to enrich other beings – exceeds, as
it were, His Paternity. God decrees to call creatures to share this Divine
life
, so transcendent that God alone has the right to live it, this eternal
life communicated by the Father to the Only Son, and by them, to the Holy
Spirit … To these mere creatures God will give the condition and sweet name
of children
. By nature, God has only one Son; by love, He wills to have an innumerable
multitude: that is the grace of supernatural Adoption. (Dom Columba Marmion,
OSB, Spiritual Writings.  Ed. P.
Lethiellex. Maredesous Abbey, 1998.)

A very brief note on the canonization
process of Dom Columba can be read here

Saint Gregory the Great

Gregory was a mirror for monks, a father to the City, beloved of all the world.
O God, Who did bestow upon the soul of Thy servant Gregory the rewards of eternal happiness, mercifully grant that we who are oppressed by the weight of our sins, may be relieved through his intercession.

Ecstacy of Gregory the Great PPRubens.jpg

“Son of man, I have set you as a watchman over the house of Israel.” The Lord here calls the preacher a watchman. A watchman stands on a height so that he can see what is coming. So, too, those who set as guardians over people ought to stand on a height by their manner of life so that their watchful care may benefit others.
It is hard for me to say these words. They wound me, for my speech is not worthy of my role as preacher, and my life does not measure up to what I preach. I do not deny my guilt; I see my sloth and negligence. Perhaps a loving Judge will be moved to pardon me because I admit my fault.
When I lived in the monastery, I could avoid idle talk and keep my mind almost continuously fixed on prayer. But once I accepted the pastoral burden, many things required and divided my attention, so that my former recollection became impossible. I am forced now to discuss the affairs of churches and monasteries and even quite often, the lives and actions of individuals. I must deal with civic business, barbarian invasions, and the wolves that prey on the flock committed to my care.
When the mind is so divided and harried, how can it return to itself and recollect itself for preaching? How is it to avoid withdrawing from that ministry?
Who am I, then? What kind of watchman am I, when I myself do not stand on the heights for preaching but lie low in the valley of weakness? Still, the omnipotent Creator and Redeemer of humankind can give me, unworthy though I am, lofty inspirations and an effective tongue; for it is out of love of Christ that I do not spare myself in speaking about him.
(from the Homilies on Ezekiel by Pope Saint Gregory the Great)
And one more comment by Gregory us …on sacred Scripture,

The Holy Bible is like a mirror before our mind’s eye. In it we see our inner face. From the Scriptures we can learn our spiritual deformities and beauties. And there too we discover the progress we are making and how far we are from perfection. (Gregory the Great)

Saint Bernard of Clairvaux

Vision of St Bernard with Sts Benedict & John Evan Fra Bartolomeo.jpg

Bernard, the mellifluous Doctor, a friend of the Spouse, wonderful herald of the Virgin Mary, shepherd in this bright vale, did shine brilliantly.
O God, Who did give Thy people blessed Bernard as a minister of eternal salvation, we beseech Thee; grant that we may deserve to have him as an intercessor in heaven, whom we had as a teacher of life on earth.

“Take away free will, and there is nothing left to be saved. Take away grace, and there is no way of saving. Salvation can only be accomplished when both cooperate.”

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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