Tag Archives: Benedictine saints and blesseds

Saint Romuald, monk

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Today is the feast of Saint Romuald, monk, abbot, and founder of the Camaldolese Benedictines. Romuald was a mid-10th century man of an aristocratic family who after living a life of craziness and witnessing immorality of friends and family, he move to follow the Lord caused him to radically live differently than the norm.

Camaldolese Benedictines are not well known in the USA. There are only three foundations of the Camaldolese monks and nuns in the USA: 2 in California (monks) and one in New York State (nuns).

The Camaldolese monks in Rome, for example, have as their main church, Saint Gregory the Great. From there, Gregory sent the Benedictines to England. Today, the Camaldolese monks have somewhat an ecumenical outreach to non-Catholics, and they have had an on-going relationship with the Archbishop of Canterbury.

In 2007, Pope Benedict wrote to the Camaldolese Order on the feast of Saint Peter Damian. Read the letter. It speaks of the charism of the Camadolese vocation as one of solitude and communion. This is not an esoteric vocation: it is a manner of living that grounds a person in the essential.

In 2012, the Camadolese Benedictines observed a 1000 years of being a faithful community in the Church, known as the Holy Hermitage of Camaldoli. At this time, Pope Benedict said,

“Saint Romuald, the father of the Camaldolese monks, striving for an eremitic life and discipline, wandered through Italy for many years, building monasteries and tirelessly promoting the evangelical life among monks.”

And so, what does this say to us? The life of Romuald and what Benedict has highlighted, we can form our lives around the principles of silence, prayer, communion with God and others, living according to Good News. This is a serious proposition. This is what Jesus asks of us.

With the Church, we pray:

O God, who through Saint Romuald renewed the manner of life of hermits in your Church, grant that, denying ourselves and following Christ, we may merit to reach the heavenly realms on high.

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Saint Augustine of Canterbury

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The “Apostle of the English,” Saint Augustine of Canterbury is the one most credited for proclaiming the Gospel and organizing the Church in England in late sixth and early seventh centuries, a mission given to him by Pope Saint Gregory the Great.

We know little of Augustine’s birth or of his early life. Scholars think, however, he was as a Roman, in fact, a member of a noble family. The vocation he followed was to the monastic life  under the Rule of Saint Benedict. Augustine’s Benedictine life was lived in a recently for formed colony of monks under Gregory, later pope, saint, and doctor of the Church.

What know of Augustine’s mission is in light of Pope Gregory’s missionary impulse for the deeper conversion of the Anglo-saxons. Data tells us that in around 595, five years into Gregory’s 14-year pontificate, Augustine was sent, with about 40 monks, to England to develop a plan for evangelization. Even though the gospel had been planted in England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland, the faith was weak or not well taught and so it was thought that the people needed to be evangelized anew. The mission was given in June 596 but the monks didn’t end up leaving until the spring of 597. In time, Augustine‘s talents surfaced and was nominated the superior and then archbishop.

Through the preaching of the monks, King Ethelbert would later convert, and eventually even be canonized; his wife Bertha became exemplary in the practice of the faith.

Augustine and Gregory both died in 604.

Saint Augustine, pray for Great Britain, and us.

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Saint Bede the Venerable

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Today in 725, Saint Bede the Venerable, the sole English Doctor of the Church died, at his monastery in Jarrow. His liturgical memorial is kept today. Here is the account of his death.

“On Tuesday 24th May 735 Bede took grievously ill but continued to teach, he cheerfully suggested to his pupils that they learn quickly as he may not be with them long. The next day Bede taught until nine in the morning. He then dictated part of his book to Wilbert. That evening Wilbert said to Bede “Dear master, there is still one sentence that we have not written down.” Bede said “Quick, write it down.” Wilbert then said “There; now it is written down.” Bede replied “Good. You have spoken the truth; it is finished. Hold my head in your hands, for I really enjoy sitting opposite the holy place where I used to pray; I can call upon my Father as I sit there.” 

“And Bede then as he lay upon the floor of his cell sang the Gloria and as he named the Holy Spirit he breathed his last breath. His only possessions – some handkerchiefs, a few peppercorns and a small quantity of incense were shared amongst his brother monks as he had wished.

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Saints Odo, Maiolus, Odilo, Hugh, and Blessed Peter the Venerable, Abbots of Cluny

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Lord our God, you are the shield and glorious reward of those who walk blamelessly before you. Keep us steadfast in your holy service so that, by the example and intercession of the blessed abbots of Cluny, we may with open hearts run the path of perfect charity

The Benedictine liturgical calendar honors the holy abbots of Cluny, Saints Odo, Majolo, Odilo, Hugh, and Blessed Peter the Venerable. 

Saint Odo, the second abbot of Cluny, born circa 878, and he died on 18 November, 942. He reformed several monasteries in Aquitaine, northern France, and Italy, and was entrusted with some important political missions;

Saint Majolus or Maieul born in 906, and died in 994. Otto II desired to make him pope in 974 but he refused;

Saint Odilo, fifth abbot of Cluny, born around 962 and died on 31 December 1048. The number of monasteries in the Cluniac congregation (mainly by reforming existing monasteries) increased from 37 to 65 under his abbacy; we worked to achieve a truce, that is, ‘the peace of God’ that restricted warfare; he acted charitably which saved thousands during a time of famine and he is most remembered for introducing the Feast of All Saints into the Roman liturgical calendar;

Saint Hugh the Great was born at Semur (Brionnais in the Diocese of Autun, 1024 and died at Cluny, 28 April, 1109. A friend of Pope Saint Gregory VII Hugh played a key role in the reform of the clergy, and was widely recognized for his sanctity even during his lifetime.

Saint Anselm of Canterbury

Anselm statue canterbury cathedral outside.jpgYou might be surprised to read this, not all theologians root their work in theology in prayer, personal and communal, of personal devotion, liturgical and lectio divina. I am somewhat confident that some Catholic theologians have a beautiful relationship with the Divine Majesty; that they care, in an intense way, about their spiritual lives through a regular practice of daily prayer, meditation, by availing themselves to the sacraments, attendance at Mass and even the daily singing of the Divine Office. However, you would never know that theologians, particularly Catholics, have rely on prayer for their work  because rarely talk about their experiences of prayer. A notable Jesuit spiritual director and writer once said that if you can’t articulate the pattern of your prayer, you aren’t praying.

Yesterday I heard Cardinal William Levada speak at More House of Yale University on a new apologetic for the new evangelization and it struck me that in addition to neglecting the role of suffering as part of framing this a new apologetic, he neglected to speak about personal and liturgical prayer. No doubt that he say you have to pray, but the absence of speaking about the place of prayer in apologetics and evangelization is telling.
Just as a priest who never prays the Divine Office, attend to the sacrament of love and Mercy, see a spiritual director, practice lectio divine, and do spiritual reading, theologians who likewise neglect these things aren’t really helping us to build a culture of prayer, study, service and community. That is, the proclamation of the gospel will be stunted.

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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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