Tag Archives: Benedictine saints and blesseds

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)

Saint Alice of Schaerbeek


Saint Alice of Schaerbeek.jpg

Saint Alice of Schaerbeek, a 13th century
Cistercian-Benedictine nun, was known for her intense love of Christ. Since
1702 the Cistercians have been remembering Saint Alice liturgically.

She’s the
patron saint of those living with leprosy, the blind and paralyzed.

Saint Augustine of Canterbury


St Augustine of Canterbury.jpg

O God, Who by the preaching and wondrous deeds of blessed
Augustine, Thy Confessor and Bishop, did vouchsafe to enlighten the English
nation with the light of true faith; grant that his intercession the
hearts
  of the erring may return to
the unity of Thy truth, and that we may be one mind in doing Thy holy will.

 

Saint Augustine of Canterbury (d. 604), was the first bishop
of Canterbury, sent by Pope Saint Gregory the Great to evangelize the pagan
English peoples.

Saint Augustine had been a monk of Saint Gregory’s monastery
on the Caelian Hill in Rome. In 595/596  he was sent to England first as the abbot of a group of
monks. He established himself at Canterbury, the capital of the then powerful
Kingdom of Kent, and in time baptized King Ethelbert.

Augustine is credited for laying the very foundation of the Ecclesia Anglicana because of his pastoral vision. That he was a close associate to Gregory the Great one thinks that the friendship had some role in the former’s zeal for the Kingdom. Augustine’s method of evangelizing England was not notable: he sent missionaries to all parts of England –how else would you preach the Gospel. But what was notable was his establishing Benedictine monastic life there, especially adjacent to the cathedral. So, looking at English ecclesial life you will notice the pattern of cathedrals have abbeys attached to them.

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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