Tag Archives: Benedictine saints and blesseds

Saint Bernard of Clairvaux

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‘What shall I render unto the Lord for all His benefits towards me?’ (Ps. 116:12). Reason and natural justice alike move me to give up myself wholly to loving Him to whom I owe all that I have and am. But faith shows me that I should love Him far more than I love myself, as I come to realize that He hath given me not my own life only, but even Himself. Yet, before the time of full revelation had come, before the Word was made flesh, died on the Cross, came forth from the grave, and returned to His Father; before God had shown us how much He loved us by all this plenitude of grace, the commandment had been uttered, ‘Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul and with all thy might’ (Deut. 6:5), that is, with all thy being, all thy knowledge, all thy powers. And it was not unjust for God to claim this from His own work and gifts. Why should not the creature love his Creator, who gave him the power to love? Why should he not love Him with all his being, since it is by His gift alone that he can do anything that is good? It was God’s creative grace that out of nothingness raised us to the dignity of manhood; and from this appears our duty to love Him, and the justice of His claim to that love. But how infinitely is the benefit increased when we bethink ourselves of His fulfillment of the promise, ‘thou, Lord, shalt save both man and beast: how excellent is Thy mercy, O Lord!’ (Ps. 36:6f). For we, who ‘turned our glory into the similitude of a calf that eateth hay’ (Ps. 106:20), by our evil deeds debased ourselves so that we might be compared unto the beasts that perish. I owe all that I am to Him who made me: but how can I pay my debt to Him who redeemed me, and in such wondrous wise? Creation was not so vast a work as redemption; for it is written of man and of all things that were made, ‘He spake the word, and they were made’ (Ps. 148:5). But to redeem that creation which sprang into being at His word, how much He spake, what wonders He wrought, what hardships He endured, what shames He suffered! Therefore what reward shall I give unto the Lord for all the benefits which He hath done unto me? In the first creation He gave me myself; but in His new creation He gave me Himself, and by that gift restored to me the self that I had lost. Created first and then restored, I owe Him myself twice over in return for myself. But what have I to offer Him for the gift of Himself? Could I multiply myself a thousand-fold and then give Him all, what would that be in comparison with God?

Saint Augustine of Canterbury

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Father, by the preaching of Saint Augustine of Canterbury, You led the people of England to the gospel. May the fruits of his work continue in Your Church.

One of the benefits of being in Rome these days is to be where things began. In this case, seeing where we believe Pope Saint Gregory the Great sent Augustine from to Canterbury, England as a monk, bishop and missionary. Augustine died in 604.

It was also fitting that the Mass I attended today was celebrated by the English monk and professor of Liturgy at Sant’Anselmo, Father Paul Gunter. The Mass prayers came alive with the English accent!

Blessed Maria Gabriella Sagheddu: Apostle for Spiritual Ecumenism


Thumbnail image for Bl Maria Gabriella Sagheddu.jpgLord God, eternal Shepherd, You inspired the blessed virgin, Maria Gabriella, generously to offer up her life for the sake of Christian unity. At her intercession, hasten, we pray, the coming of the day when, gathered around the table of Your word and of Your Bread from heaven, all who believe in Christ may sing Your praises with a single heart, a single voice.

Blessed Maria Gabriella, Sardinian by birth in 1914, she died a Trappistine nun in 1939 at Grottaferrata, having entered the monastery four years earlier. Taking up the invitation to work for spiritual ecumenism among Christians from Father Paul Couturier who stressed that all Christians must learn to pray together for unity in union with Jesus’ own prayer for the same (Jn 17). Couturier advocated a spiritual unity founded on common prayer, charity, friendship, mutual forgiveness and humility which precedes doctrinal and hierarchical unity.

Father Couturier’s work found a natural habitat in the monastic life which then became fruitful among the wider church (he called the latter the invisible monastery). As a side note, Couturier was greatly influenced by the his work in Lyon, France and by Dom Lambert Beaudoin and the monks of the Belgian abbey of Amay-sur-Meuse (now at Chevetogne).

Blessed Maria Gabriella’s offering of self in 1938 for the spiritual ecumenism made known by Father Paul Couturier was a renewal of the same offering made on the day of her monastic profession of vows: not only to give her early life for Christian unity also to die for unity. This self-gift was closely connected to the notion that the profession of monastic vows is not isolated from the Church universal but deeply at the center of it because of the desire to totally give oneself to God. It is THE reversal of the sin of disunity that is based on ego and not on personal conversion.

Pope John Paul II beatified her on January 25, 1983. Blessed Maria Gabriella is buried at the Trappistine abbey of Our Lady of Saint Joseph at Vitorchiano (near to Viterbo) where her original community moved. She is known as the Apostle for Spiritual Ecumenism.

I recommend to you Sister Martha Driscoll, OCSO’s A Silent Herald of Unity: The Life of Blessed Maria Gabriella Sagheddu (Cistercian Publications, 1990).

Saint Anselm: beauty as as order

St Anselm detail.jpgSaint Anselm is a towering figure in monastic, theological and philosophical circles whose works take diligence in getting your mind around. Even centuries later he speaks with precision. Saint Anselm of Canterbury (c. 1033-1109) an Italian by birth, Anselm held various academic and ecclesial titles; he was the archbishop of Canterbury from 1093 until his death in 1109. The Church tells us he is the father of scholasticism and famous for the ontological argument for God’s existence. Though never formally canonized –the process was not developed then– Anselm was acknowledged a saint by Clement XI and named a Doctor of the Church (1 of 33). One point I noticed recently about Saint Anselm and the promotion of truth is this…

…when each single creature keeps, either by nature or by reason, its proper place [in the order of things] –it is said to obey God and to honor him. … When a rational nature wills what it ought to, it honors God –not because it confers anything on Him but because it willingly submits itself to His will and governance. And, as best it can, it stays in its proper place in the universe and preserves the beauty of the universe. 
Cur Deus Homo, 1:15
So what Saint Anselm is saying, the premise from which order and beauty is deduced is Saint Benedict’s intention that the monk [and today, all Christians] seek the glory of God in all things. For Anselm and therefore us, beauty in keeping the proper order of things is obediential in front of God; that is, it is about keeping a fitting sense of friendship with the Trinitarian God. On this feast of Saint Anselm, let us prefer nothing to Christ seeking God’s glory above all.
You may be interested in reading Pope Saint Pius X’s encyclical for the 800th anniversary of Saint Anselm’s birth, Communium rerum (1909).

Cistercian Martyrs of England

We beseech Thee, almighty God, grant that we who celebrate the heavenly birth of the blessed English Cistercian Martyrs, may be strengthened by their intercession in the love of Thy Name.

English Cistercians.jpgUnder King Henry VIIIs order, many Cistercian monks were cruelly
put to death for Catholic faith, the some may argue about pretexts. In the
months of March and May 1537, died for the Catholic faith


Dom John Harrison,
Abbot of Kirkstead, with Dom Richard Wade, Dom William Small and Dom Henry
Jenkinson;

Dom John Paslew, Abbot of Whalley, with Dom William Haydock and Dom
Richard Eastgate.

The Abbot of Fountains
and a monk of Louth Park.

In 1538, these Cistercians were martyred:

Dom Robert
Hobbes, Abbot of Woburn,
with Dom Rudolph Barnes and Dom Laurence Blunham.

The Church also acknowledges
as authentic confessors of the faith: Dom Thomas Mudd, monk of Jervaulx,
who died on September 7, 1583;

Dom John Almond, who died on April 18, 1585;

Dom
Gilbert Browne, the last Abbot of Sweetheart, who died on March 14, 1612.

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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