Tag Archives: Benedictines

Getting a handle on Benedictine life — Subiaco style

You might ask why I care about the Subiaco Congregation… well, I care about the Congregation because it’s the largest and most diverse of all the groupings of those who follow the Benedictine Rule, and many of the monasteries do interesting things outside the typical works of parochial and educational ministries. And, because I care. Subiaco monks and nuns tend to be more focused on living the monastic life with intensity. One may also say that the English Benedictines have certain intensity in life and ministry which distinguishes them from other groupings.

The other day I mentioned that the Cassinese Congregation (the Italian monasteries of which Monte Cassino is part) was seeking re-union with the Subiaco Congregation, and today the vote was positive. Of course, the Cassinese Congregation is very much in “diminishment mode” with very few new vocations with an outdated way of doing things. The vote for the revised constitutions was also positive.
Abbot Philip of the Abbey of Christ in the Desert writes a weekly notebook. This week he notes some of the “goings on” of the 19th General Chapter.
Saint Benedict and Saint Scholastica, pray for the monks, and for us.

Subiaco Congregation of monks meet

St Scholastica Abbey Subiaco, Italy.jpegThe General Congregation of the Subiaco Congregation of Benedictine monks are meeting this week at one of the monasteries founded by Saint Benedict, Saint Scholastica Monastery, Subiaco, Italy. 

There are four monasteries of the Subiaco Congregation in the USA: the Abbey of Christ in the Desert, Saint Mary’s Monastery (Petersham, MA), Holy Cross Monastery (Chicago, IL) and Thien Tam Monastery (Dallas, TX). These monasteries comprise the English Province of the Subiaco Congregation (which the video).
The meeting of the superiors (abbots and priors) is the normal manner of doing business of and for the Congregation which unites the monasteries throughout the world. As a point of comparison, the Subiaco Congregation is the largest grouping of  monks and nuns in the world with 1,293 members (a 2010 statistic). Among the tasks for the abbots and priors is to: approve the Constitutions of the Congregation which were newly revised, vote on the request to admit the Cassinese Congregation to the Subiaco Congregation and to elect an Abbot President.
Regarding the vote of the Cassinese Congregation: if the vote is positive the Italian monasteries of this congregation would then belong to the Subiaco Congregation thus re-uniting the two.
Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception, pray for the Subiaco Congregation, and for us.

A Swan Song

In view of the
swan episode that I experienced a few weeks ago St Louis Abbey with their swan walking the street, I thought you’d want to know
that Abelard the Abbey swan was found dead yesterday morning by the maintenance staff
of the Priory School (St Louis Abbey). My friend Father Ambrose wrote me about
this event. They think he was probably killed by coyotes or maybe by a big dog. 

Whether you have a liking for birds, I am sorry about this. Abelard was a
beautiful animal. He was already 18 years old; in captivity, swans can live
into their twenties. So he was already old by swan standards; and I think his
mind was going. In fact, after I left, he wandered off several more times and
had to be brought back. I think he had the swan version of Alzheimer’s. Also,
several of the monks think he missed Father Michael (who used to take care of
him and give him bread scraps, etc.). So he was old and debilitated, and in the
natural order of things, another species brought about his demise.

Now the
Priory has all those odious Canada geese.

Abeland died on my friend’s priestly
ordination anniversary, the feast of St. Augustine. Abelard came to live with the
monks as a gift from Father Bernard, back in 1998.

You may want to see Father Augustine’s update on the Juniors at St Louis Abbey!!!

Benedictine abbots to meet in Rome

Badia Primaziale arms.jpgThe Office of the Abbot Primate announces…

Almost 300 monastics will gather in Rome, 17-25
September 2012, for the international Congress of Benedictine Abbots and
Conventual Priors at the Primatial
Abbey of St. Anselm
on the Aventine Hill. Preceding the Congress,
new monastic superiors will participate, 15-16 September 2012, in an
orientation program. 25 representatives from Communio Internationalis
(CIB), an association of Benedictine sisters and
nuns, will also attend the Congress. The Abbot Primate has invited ecumenical
guests from the Orthodox and Reformed traditions.

The two keynote speakers are
Prof. Michael Hochschild presenting his research on the viability of
Benedictine monasteries, and Fr. Michael Casey
offering a paper on autonomy in Benedictine life. In addition,
a wide range of workshops will address current topics in monastic life; such
as, Benedictine identity, stress and burnout, associate membership programs,
management of monasteries, individualism in the monastery, relationship with
Benedictine women, new forms of Benedictine presence in society, ecumenism, the
paschal mystery in the sacred liturgy, new directions for inter-monastic
dialogue, new structures for AIM, the changing role of the Athenæum S. Anselmo,
the sexual abuse crisis, the role of the abbot, communio in the confederation,
and the formation of “traditionalist” candidates.

The assembled
abbots and conventual priors will have the opportunity to visit in pilgrimage
the monasteries of Subiaco,
Montecassino, Norcia, and Camaldoli, which is
celebrating its 1000th anniversary this year. Nearly half of the 250 abbots and
conventual priors will reside in the Collegio S.
, with the others, including CIB representatives and
ecumenical guests, housed in area religious houses and hotels.

An important
item on the agenda is the election of the abbot primate of the Benedictine
Confederation. According to the Lex Propria of the Benedictine
, the abbot primate is elected for an eight-year term,
and renewable thereafter every four years. There is no term limit to the office
of abbot primate. The current abbot primate, Dr. Notker Wolf OSB, a monk of St.
Ottilien Archabbey in Bavaria, is completing 12 years of service, having been
re-elected in 2008. 

Your prayers for the success of the Congress are greatly

Monks brewing liquid bread

Ampleforth Abbey Beer.jpgNews flash! A growing number of Benedictine monasteries are brewing beer in the USA and in Europe.

Originating in Babylonia and Mesopotamia, around the area of Georgia, about the year of 6,000 BC, beer was brewed. Fast forward several years and you’ll find Benedictine monks perfecting the brewing beer. Rich in vitamin B, beer was seen as safer than drinking water and it had nutritional value, hence, liquid bread.

The monastic communities in Italy, Germany, the Czech Republic, Ireland,  Austria, Belgium and the Netherlands among others have been busy with the brew.

Recently, monasteries have been starting up companies like Abbey Beverage Company (of the Abbey of Christ in the Desert) to meet a demand boutique beers. One can also point to the monasteries of Ampleforth (UK), La Cascinazza (Italy), Norcia (Italy), and Spencer (MA) as new brewers.

Drink up!

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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