Tag Archives: Benedictine saints and blesseds

Martyrs of Viaceli

Father PioAngelo Cardinal Amato, SDB, prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints presented to Pope Francis a degree regarding the martyrdom of the Servants of God Pio Heredia and 17 Companions, monks and nuns of the Cistercian Order of the Strict Observance (Trappists) and of the Congregation of San Bernard. The designation of martyr means that a determination was made that they were killed in hatred of the faith during the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939).

The beatification is Saturday, October 3, 2015 in the cathedral of Santander, Cantabria, Spain.

The Cistercians consider the martyrdom of their brothers as a testimony to the Sermon on the Mount where our Lord, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.” Their death is a great witness “To prefer nothing to the love of Christ.” And, they did so in silence.

The beatification cause of the Cistercian Mother María Micaela Baldoví Trull, 67 and Mother María Natividad Medes Ferris, 56, Monastery of Fons Salutis, in Algemesí

Father Pio and the monks were professed at the Monasterio de Santa María de Viaceli. Here is the list of the monks:

Father Pío Heredia Zubía, 61 years
Father Amadeo García Rodríguez, 31 years
Father  Valeriano Rodríguez García, 30 years
Father Juan Bautista Ferris Llopis, 31 years
Father Eugenio García Pampliega, 33 years
Father Vicente Pastor Garrido, 31 years
Brother Álvaro González López, 21 years
Brother Marcelino Martín Rubio, 23 years
Brother Antonio Delgado González, 21 years
Brother Eustaquio García Chicote, 45 years
Brother Ángel de la Vega González, 68 years
Brother Ezequiel Álvaro de la Fuente, 19 years
Brother Eulogio Álvarez López, 20 years
Brother Bienvenido Mata Ubierna, 28 years
Brother Leandro Gómez Gil, 21 years.

Saint Frances of Rome

Frances of RomeThe Church prays at Mass today: O God, who have given us in Saint Frances of Rome a singular model of both married and monastic life, grant us perseverance in your service, that in every circumstance of life we may see and follow you.

Here is a portion of Saint Frances’ biography from a life of the saint by Sister Mary Magdalene Anguillaria, superior of the Oblates of the Tor’ de Specchi:

God not only tested the patience of Frances with respect to her material wealth, but, as I have said before and will reiterate, he also tested her own body in a variety of ways, especially through long and serious illnesses which she had to undergo. And yet no one ever observed in her a tendency toward impatience. She never exhibited any displeasure when she complied with an order, no matter how foolish.

Through the premature deaths of her sons whom she loved dearly, Frances proved her constancy. With peace of soul she always reconciled herself to the will of God and gave him thanks for all that happened. With the same constancy she endured the slander of those who abused and reviled her and her way of life. She did not show the least hint of aversion toward them, even though she knew that they judged her rashly and spoke falsely of her way of life. Rather, returning good for evil, she habitually prayed to God for them.

God had not chosen her to be holy merely for her own advantage. Rather, the gifts he conferred upon her were to be for the spiritual and physical advantage of her neighbor. For this reason he made her so lovable that anyone with whom she spoke would immediately feel captivated by love for her and ready to help her in everything she wanted. Divine power was present and working in her words, so that in a few sentences she could bring consolation to the afflicted and the anxious, calm the restless, pacify the angry, reconcile enemies and extinguish long-standing hatreds and animosities. Again and again she would prevent a planned revenge from being carried out. She seemed able to subdue the passions of every type of person with a single word and lead them to do whatever she asked.

For this reason people flocked to Frances from all directions, as to a safe refuge. No one left her without being consoled, although she openly rebuked them for their sins and fearlessly reproved them for what was evil and displeasing to God.

Many different diseases were rampant in Rome. Fatal diseases and plagues were everywhere, but the saint ignored the risk of contagion and displayed the deepest kindness toward the poor and the needy. Here empathy would first bring them to atone for their sins. Then she would help them by her eager care, and urge them lovingly to accept their trials, however difficult, from the hand of God. She would encourage them to endure their sufferings for love of Christ, since he had previously endured so much for them.

Frances was not satisfied with caring for the sick she could bring into her home. She would seek them out in their cottages and in public hospitals, and would refresh their thirst, smooth their beds, and bind their sores. The more disgusting and sickening the stench, the greater was the love and care with which she treated them.

She used to go to the Campo Santo with food and rich delicacies to be distributed to the needy. On her return home she would bring pieces of worn-out clothes and unclean rags which she would wash lovingly and mend carefully, as if they were to be used for God himself. Then she would fold them carefully and perfume them.

For thirty years Frances continued this service to the sick and the stranger. While she was in her husband’s house, she made frequent visits to Saint Mary’s and Saint Cecilia’s hospitals in Trastevere, and to the hospital of the Holy Spirit in Sassia and to a fourth hospital in the Campo Santo. During epidemics like this it was not only difficult to find doctors to care for the body but even priests to provide remedies for the soul. She herself would seek them out and bring them to those who were disposed to receive the sacraments of penance and the Eucharist. In order to have a priest more readily available to assist her in her apostolate, she supported, at her own expense, a priest who would go to the hospitals and visit the sick whom she had designated.

 Saint Peter Damian, Doctor of the Church

St Peter DamianToday is the feast of a great Benedictine monk, bishop and cardinal of the Church. The Mass prayer quotes the Rule of Benedict when it says “putting nothing before Christ” connecting the ministry of Peter with his “ardent in the service of your Church, we may be led to the joys of eternal light.” Peter was a  great reformer of the monastic life and the Church. Given the state of the Church today in some places, we need another Peter Damian.

Here is a portion of a letter by Saint Peter Damian:

“Let us rejoice in the joy that follows sadness”

You asked me to write you some words of consolation, my brother. Embittered by so many tribulations, you are seeking some comfort for your soul. You asked me to offer you some soothing suggestions.

But there is no need for me to write. Consolation is already within your reach, if your good sense has not been dulled. My son, come to the service of God. Stand in justice and fear. Prepare your soul; it is about to be tested. These words of Scripture show that you are a son of God and, as such, should take possession of your inheritance. What could be clearer than this exhortation?

Where there is justice as well as fear, adversity will surely test the spirit. But it is not the torment of a slave. Rather it is the discipline of a child by its parent.

Even in the midst of his many sufferings, the holy man Job could say: Whip me, crush me, cut me in slices! And he would always add: This at least would bring me relief, yet my persecutor does not spare me.

But for God’s chosen ones there is great comfort; the torment lasts but a short time. Then God bends down, cradles the fallen figure, whispers words of consolation. With hope in his heart, man picks himself up and walks again toward the glory of happiness in heaven.

Craftsmen exemplify this same practice. By hammering gold, the smith beats out the dross. The sculptor files metal to reveal a shining vein underneath. The potter’s furnace puts vessels to the test. And the fire of suffering tests the mettle of just men. The apostle James echoes this thought: Think it a great joy, dear brothers and sisters, when you stumble onto the many kinds of trials and tribulations.

When men suffer pain for the evil they have perpetrated in life, they should take some reassurance. They also know that for their good deeds undying rewards await them in the life to come.

Therefore, my brother, scorned as you are by men, lashed as it were by God, do not despair. Do not be depressed. Do not let your weakness make you impatient, Instead, let the serenity of your spirit shine through your face. Let the joy of your mind burst forth. Let words of thanks break from your lips.

The way that God deals with men can only be praised. He lashes them in this life to shield them from the eternal lash in the next. He pins people down now; at a later time he will raise them up. He cuts them before healing; he throws them down to raise them anew.

The Scriptures reassure us: let your understanding strengthen your patience. In serenity look forward to the joy that follows sadness. Hope leads you to that joy and love enkindles your zeal. The well-prepared mind forgets the suffering inflicted from without and glides eagerly to what it has contemplated within itself.

COLLECT
Grant, we pray, almighty God,
that we may so follow the teaching and example
of the

Saint Scholastica

St ScholasticaToday’s liturgical feast of Saint Scholastica (480-543) is indeed a special one for all of us who follow and live the Benedictine charism. Scholastica, the twin sister of Benedict was born in Norica (Italy) and some of her bones are entombed with her brother’s at the Archabbey of Montecassino. What we know of Schoalstica comes from a brief entry in a greater work by Pope Saint Gregory the Great, The Dialogues.

Sister Catherine gives a keen reflection on the place of Saint Scholastica for us today.

Our thoughts turn to the various Benedictine monasteries in the USA and abroad, especially St Scholastica Priory (Petersham), for the Saint’s intercession.

Saint Scholastica is the patron saint for nuns, but she is asked to stop lightening, rain, and storms. Perhaps she has some influence over stopping snow (for the time being)?

Here is a poetic text honoring Scholastica that is normally set to music by J. Michael Thompson:

Now set me as a seal upon your heart,
And like a seal set me upon your arm,
For love is strong, as strong as mighty death—
No flood can quench nor waters bring it harm.

 

We give you thanks, O Lord of boundless love,
That you have taken to yourself this day
Scholastica, your bride and lover fair,
Who served in love and followed in your way.

 

In Bethany with Mary, Martha, too,
You taught while Mary sat and heard your word.
So did Scholastica within her cell;
She listened well and lived out what she heard.

 

Teach us to love and thus from you obtain
That perfect joy the Holy Rule proclaims.
Teach us to follow you through thorns of life
With hearts of praise, let us your grace acclaim.

 

O God the Father, all creation’s source,
O God the Son, who died that we might live,
O God the Spirit, font of ev’ry grace,
O Triune God, our thankful hymns we give!

 

J. Michael Thompson
Copyright © 2010, World Library Publications
10 10 10 10
SURSUM CORDA

Sainted Cistercian founders: Robert Molesme, Stephen Harding and Alberic

Holy Fathers of Citteaux

From e hymn for evening Vespers for the holy founders of Citeaux:

“Bold leader of this vast array, Saint Robert, intercede today. God grant us hearts to dream anew, and strength his kingdom to pursue.

Fond lover of that hallowed place, where brothers lived as one by grace, Saint Alberic, pray we may be one heart, one mind, in unity.

Impassioned master in Christ’s school, Saint Stephen, zealot for our rule, bid God we never build on sand, but firm in faith, on rock we stand.”

You may be aware that these saints are not honored on the Roman liturgical calendar, but revered by the monks and nuns of the Cistercian and Benedictine monasteries, are the three holy founders of Citeaux (near Dijon, France): Saints Robert Molesme (centered in the image), Stephen Harding and Alberic. They began their reform of Benedictine life in 1098. The Cistercian movement is now venerable but when it was started it was very contentious as you might expect –anytime you ask people to change you run against the tide. Think of the Prophets, or in particular, the Prophet Jonah of yesterday’s reading at Mass. Let us pray for our own conversion, and that of the Church. But also for God’s abundant grace to fall on those who have made profession to the charism of Citeaux –monks, nuns, and the laity.

The early Cistercians, impelled by a burning thirst for authenticity, wished to interpret the Rule (of St. Benedict) in the light of its monastic background and to recover its original simplicity. Their life was marked by a real detachment from the world, a love of solitude and silence, poverty and simplicity, austerity and manual labor, prayer and holy reading, all within a cenobitic framework which laid great stress upon the value of fraternal charity in the common life.

There is an attractive genuinity about this reform, which was not merely an archeologizing return to the past, but a recapturing of the primitive monastic ideal and an attempt, largely successful, to express it in structures suitable to the times.

The school of spirituality which the white monks produced, dominated by St. Bernard, is no less notable for its charming huamanity than for its authentically contemplative orientation.

Monastic Spirituality
Claude Peifer, O.S.B.

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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