Tag Archives: Benedictines of Jesus Crucified

Sister Marie-Zita –50 years of Benedictine monastic witness

The 6th century rule of life by Saint Benedict states that a monk (nun) vow stability, obedience and conversatio morum (fidelity to a monastic manner of life). A Benedictines’s “fidelity to a monastic manner of life” frequently spoken of as “conversion” instead of “fidelity,” so as to echo a centuries-long tradition of concept of conversio rather than conversatio. (Scholars have various opinions about the right word conveying what Benedict really meant and what was in the water at the time; conversatio means in our context monastic manner of life.)

Theologically for those who follow the Benedictine charism, conversatio means a person’s ongoing conversion to the Triune God lived in the monastic life which deepens virtue and extroverts grace. Conversatio, conversio, brings to mind that person seeks a return, a moral conversion, an upright moral life, an intense relationship with the Lord. The true conversatio is a recognizable sign of Christian maturity.

A sign of one’s maturity as a Christian is a life of generativity. That is, the adult Christian is going to be a witness to others of that particular union he or she has with the Trinity in a way that fruit is produced. The mature person does not live a life of reductions, but is filled with wonder and awe, and is willing to change even when it is difficult. Moreover, the mature Christian knows that he or she is not defined by the sins of youth, or the sins of the present. Grace in an a mature Christian, therefore, always is extroverted in some way.

The adult Christian comes his or her maturation in fidelity to the gospel, the sacraments, Church teaching and tradition, and mutual obedience by following (listening). The trouble is, most of us are asleep. We are converted when we can say with certitude that we are awake and that in Christ Jesus lives in me.

With outstretched hands the monk or nun sings the Suscipe (Psalm 118:116): Suscipe me, Domine, secundum eloquium tuum et vivam, et non confundas me ab expectatione mea. (Receive (or, sustain) me, O Lord, according to thy word and I shall live, let me not be disappointed in my hope.)

Today, a friend, Benedictine Sister Marie-Zita of the Heart of Jesus celebrated the 50th anniversary of professing her Benedictine vows as a nun of the Benedictines of Jesus Crucified. Her stability is lived at the Monastery of the Glorious Cross, Branford, CT. She gave thanks, we all gave thanks to God for a life of seeking the face of God in community. With hands held up in prayer Sister Zita stated her prayer to be sustained according to the Word.

Mass was offered by Dominican Father Jacob Restrick and the homily preached by Father Damien Schill with concelebrating priests Abbot Caedmon Holmes, OSB, of Portsmouth Abbey, Father David Borino, Father Robert Usenza and Father Gerry Masters. Deacon Sal assisted. About a 100 family and friends were in attendance.

I am grateful for the friendship I share with the nuns of this School of the Lord’s Service; I am elated that God has given Sister Zita the grace to mature in the monastic way of life.

Ut in omnibus glorificetur Deus.

Mother Marie des Douleurs, the anniversary of death of a spiritual mother of mercy

Mother Marie des Douleurs.JPGToday marks the 29th anniversary of death of Mother Marie des Douleurs, known in history as Suzanne Wrotnowska (1902-1983), the foundress of the Congregation of Benedictines of Jesus Crucified. A true spiritual mother of all who need mercy, especially women who would not be able to enter the monastic life due physical impediments. Mother Marie’s spiritual maternity extended also to priests who haven’t repented of their sin.

The vocation of a Benedictine sister of Jesus Crucified is to be a victim, a total offering of self to the Lord for priests in view of who we know our Messiah to be, Jesus Christ, priest and head of the Church (Christ the King). The law of the gift is lived par excellence in union with those in most need of mercy. The vocation is especially needed today for those priests, bishops and deacons who are public sinners and who have not repented of their sins. We are all aware of our own sin, we all need forgiveness and to forgive, we also note that not all the clergy have been living a life of purity of heart. And for this intention a Benedictine of Jesus Crucified promises to offer prayer and sacrifice.

A friend, Father Mark tells us, upon learning from Father Luc de Wouters, OSB, who wrote the biography of Mother Marie, who said that she was facing death Mother Marie said,

In the eventide of my life, I have such a need of recollection, such a need to obey and to humble myself. I am unworthy of having been chosen to found the Congregation. I suffer being pulled between heaven and earth. The cross grows heavy. The Lord gave me as my portion the souls of guilty priests…my own soul disappears beneath an accumulation of iniquities! But I had asked for this humiliation! How is that the Lord was able to make use of so little a thing? His fidelity, His consuming love, this all my life, my light my death.

Mother Marie des Douleurs is also the author of Joy Out of Sorrow (1965).

In the US, there is one monastery of 17 nuns at the Monastery of the Glorious Cross, Branford, CT.

The biography of Mother Marie is written by Father Luc de Wouters, OSB, Le Sperpent et la croix, is available by writing to Soeur Marie-Isabelle, OSB, Monastère Saint Benoît, 25330, Nans-sous-Sainte Anne, France.

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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