Tag Archives: Benedictines

Dorothy Day and the Benedictines

I found the following file on my computer this morning by accident –I wasn’t looking for it, but I was happy to find it. I’ve been harping on the Benedictine influence upon Dorothy Day and the importance the Rule of Benedict and the influence various monks had Day. For example, we have a good example of Dom Virgil Michel working with Dorothy Day at the Catholic Worker. Another is Brother Victor-Antoine d’Avila Latourrette. Day’s sainthood cause is being studied at the moment and these things matter, in my opinion.

Virgil Michel, O.S.B., and the Benedictine Influence on the CW Movement:

Virgil Michel, Fellow Worker in Christ
by Dorothy Day

To us at the Catholic Worker, Father Virgil was a dear friend and adviser, bringing to us his tremendous strength and knowledge. He first came to visit us at our beginnings on East Fifteenth Street. He was like Peter Maurin in the friendly simple way he would come in and sit down, starting right in on the thought that was uppermost in his mind, telling us of the work he was engaged in at that particular moment and what he was planning for the future. He was at home with everyone, anywhere. He could sit down at a table in a tenement house kitchen, or under an apple tree at the farm, and talk of St. Thomas and today with whoever was at hand. He had such faith in people, faith in their intelligence and spiritual capacities, that he always gave the very best he had generously and openheartedly.

He was interested in everything we were trying to do, and made us feel, at all the Catholic Worker groups, that we were working with him. When he came in it was as though we had seen him just a few weeks before. He was at home at once, he remembered everybody, he listened to everybody.

Orate Frates, January, 1939

Our Lady of Monte Vergine

OL of Monte VergineOn these U.S. shores a devotion to the Mother of God under the title of Our Lady of Monte Vergine is unknown by most people. There are, however, those of us who know Italy and the presence of the Benedictine abbey on Monte Vergine that inspires us to use this title to Mary. From the image herewith it is difficult to grasp that the icon is quite large, with a height of over 12 feet and width of over 6 feet; it shows the Mary seated on a throne with the Infant Jesus seated on her lap. Historians call icon of the Mother and Child, “of Constantinople” (because it is said to have been brought to Italy by King Baldwin of Jerusalem) given to the Benedictine monks in 1310. King Baldwin. The image is dark, so the icon is often referred to as one of the “Black Madonnas”; a title given to several images of the Holy Virgin Mother.

The famous Benedictine sanctuary located in the village of Montevergine (of Campanian region of Italy); the “Monte Vergine” comes from the religious history going back to the pre-Christian era when there was a temple of Cybele existed. A chapel of the Blessed Virgin was built in the seventh century. In 1119, Saint William of Vercelli founded the monastery that still exists. Saint William was a hermit who came back to his native Italy after making a pilgrimage to the shrine of Santiago de Compostela (Spain).

Saint William had the reputation for sanctity inspiring many to live in cells on the mountain. Monasticism still is present there. The first true church was constructed in 1126, and was dedicated to the Blessed Virgin.

Today, it is reported that over one-and-one-half million pilgrims yearly pay homage to Our Lady of Montevergine. The most popular day is Pentecost. There have been numerous miracles attributed to this portrait of the Mother of God and her Divine Son.

70th Anniversary of the Destruction and Reconstruction of Abbey of Montecassino

MontecassinoToday, the Holy Father was represented by Ennio Cardinal Antonelli, President Emeritus of the Pontifical Council for the Family to be his Special Envoy at remembrance celebrations at the Abbey of Montecassino on March 21. As papal envoy, the Cardinal will attend the 70th Anniversary of the Destruction and Reconstruction of Abbey of Montecassino. The date is the anniversary of the death of Saint Benedict of Norcia.

Montecassino as a community of Benedictine monks founded in 529 by the saint, suffered several destructions and reconstructions of the centuries, the last one being 15 February 1944 bombing by the Allied troops in the Second World War. In four months, the Battle of Montecassino there was about 200,000 causalities (on both sides).

The monks oversaw an immediate and exact reconstruction at the war’s end between 1948 to 1956. Joseph Breccia Fratadocchi led the reconstruction.

The Benedictines still live at Montecassino.

Benedictine Abbot speaks of the monastic vocation

Abbot James receiving vows of Br BernardOne of the missions if you will, of the Communio blog, is to share the Good News, to share the ways in which the Lord is incarnated today. One of the areas I show concern for is the monastic vocation, particularly the beauty of the life given to us through the Rule of Benedict and lived in Benedictine monasteries. Recently, the abbot of St Anselm’s Abbey (Washington, DC) gave a radio interview attending to the Benedictine vocation in which he opens up a few facets of the life. Abbot James’ interview can be listened to here.

St Anselm’s Abbey is a Benedictine monastery located in NE Washington on 30 acres monks first started in 1924 locally before moving to its present place on South Dakota Avenue. The Abbey is part of the international English Benedictine Congregation; two other US monasteries belong to the EBC (St Louis Abbey and Portsmouth Abbey).

The monks St Anslem’s come from all over the USA; you might say that the Holy Spirit has called many to a life that has a certain richness providing the common life with a variety of ages, experience, and intellectual interests and the like. Over the years the Abbey has been a family with abundant gifts in the men who professed vows there. Abbot James mentions that recently three monks made first vows, and some others are coming to discern a monastic vocation in February.

Benedictines pray and work. In fact, it is said that the first work of a monk is pray but recalling the Rule of Benedict a monk also has to contribute to the sustenance of the common life. There is a regular, daily, round of prayer –the Divine Office–, the Sacrifice of the Mass, personal prayer which informs and forms the work is the education at CUA, Trinity College, and since 1942 a middle and high school for boys, a guesthouse where guests are received as Christ Himself. Hospitality is never lacking in a Benedictine monastery.

Abbot James speaks of the booklet From 5-9 in the interview which described the monastic life and inspired him to take the step to follow Christ as a monk at St Anslem’s Abbey. The process of discernment allows for gentle movements of the Holy Spirit to work on the soul.

Also in the interview Abbot James appeals to an insight which sums up the Benedictine gift offered by the famed Dom David Knowles who said:

the monk who in ordinary circumstances takes to any work with a zeal which burns out his fire of strength and health is departing from what is for him the way of salvation. It is not a virtue for the monk, as it might be for the missionary, to lack time in which to attend the common recitation of the Divine Office, read a certain amount, and mix with his community. And hence there should be in the Benedictine monk a certain restfulness, a contentment, not in doing nothing but in doing the familiar, even the monotonous and the ritual; an ability to remain physically unmoved and unexcited, to produce, in fact, that stability which his Founder [St. Benedict] made a distinguishing and on occasion a unique religious vow, the vow of stability, the family vow” (The Benedictines: A Digest for Moderns (St. Leo, FL: The Abbey Press, 1962), 36).

The Benedictine vocation first articulated through Saint Benedict and developed since the 6th century is one of prudence, discretion, balance, moderation; the seeking of the face of God and the pursuit of Truth. The way of salvation —the pursuit of heaven, is the essential part for all who call themselves Christian, but it is even more heightened by those who live the consecrated life according to the holy Rule of Benedict.

Saint Benedict and Saint Anslem, pray for us.

Benedictine monk says prayer and teaching manifest God’s presence

One of my friends, Brother Ignacio Gonzalez, was recently recognized with 200 Catholics in the Archdiocese of Washington with the Manifesting the Kingdom Award given for outstanding service to the local Church.

Brother Ignacio is a Benedictine monk of St Anselm’s Abbey. In addition to the monastic way of life, the monks of his community conduct St Anselm Abbey School. he teaches religion in the school. Brother Ignacio, a native of Texas, is a former US Marine.

Read the story, pray for vocations to Benedictine life.

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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