- Tuesday, 25 September 2012 15:45
The Benedictine Abbots are going home now. They’ve
been meeting in Rome since the 17th. Their work was not deliberative
in any meaningful way as much as they gathered for the reason to elect an abbot primate, to gain perspective, to meet new and old monastic superiors, to hear how the worldwide Benedictines can assist one another in living the life more effectively and intensely according to the Holy Rule and the mind of the Church. Time was spent in prayer, study, and pilgrimage. How could one not spend time in prayer before the holy places of the martyrs in Rome as well as some of the central points of interest to Benedictines. Cindy Wooden from CNS published this
article today as a sort of synopsis of one aspect of Benedictine life–the
attraction of new members. Father Michael Casey, a Trappist monk, priest, author and speaker, addressed the assembly. He, by the way, is one of my favorite contemporary monastic thinkers. If only the abbots and other monastic superiors would listen to Father Michael. Alas, they’re too timid and many can’t (won’t?) do the hard work necessary to figure out what they ought to do so as to not live in diminishment mode. One often gets the feeling that some monasteries would rather die than alter their Benedictine observance and the adherence to Christ and the Church. But, I will say that despite a lack of clear and intense thinking, praying and living, there are significant points of like for Benedictine monasticism in the USA.
What follows is an extract of what was published (read the text in full here):
One of the main speakers at the Benedictine abbots’
congress was Cistercian Father Michael Casey, an expert on monastic
spirituality from Tarrawarra Abbey in Australia.
Maintaining tradition while
responding to changing needs is an inescapable part of life, both for
individuals and for religious communities, he said. “The fact that we are
alive means that we are continually influenced by our past, continually
interacting with our present, and looking forward to the future. It’s really
just a matter of personal integrity, personal vitality that we do respect and
allow our past to continue speaking to us.”
Read more ...
- Monday, 24 September 2012 11:23
Here are some wonderful photos of the Archabbey of Saint Meinrad (in southern Indiana) by Mark S. Abeln, a photo journalist and blogger of 2010. The images are posted on Mr. Ablen’s blog, Rome of the West. I hope he has time to go back to and record some of the monk’s life, particularly the sacred Liturgy.
As a Benedictine Oblate of the Venerable Archabbey of Saint Meinrad, and a friend of several monks there I am very enthused. The Abbey is a spiritual home with great men of good spiritual reputation and considerable talent. Watch for the good work of Father Denis Robinson, OSB, president and rector of the Seminary and School of Theology.
The sites of interest:
- Friday, 21 September 2012 15:00
The promise of the hundredfold of the Lord is evident in the lives we lead; how we live our Baptism ought to be evident and with those who have responded to the Lord’s call to follow Him more closely in the Christian life in which we live more intensely by through the consecrated life.
As Pope Benedict said,
It is no less challenging to follow Christ today, It means learning to keep our gaze fixed on Jesus, growing close to him, listening to his word and encountering him in the sacraments; it means learning to conform our will to his. This requires a genuine school of formation for all those who would prepare themselves for the ministerial priesthood or the consecrated life under the guidance of the competent ecclesial authorities. The Lord does not fail to call people at every stage of life to share in his mission and to serve the church in the ordained ministry and in the consecrated life (48th World Day of Vocations, 2011).
The key words for us ought to be “to follow,” “to keep our gaze,” “listening,” “conforming,” and “encountering.” The crux is, to whom do we belong? Of course, I would hope that we could easily say that we belong to Christ and to His Church. But we know that while we may honestly believe this fact, it is not so every day. We say one thing but we don’t always follow and keep our gaze on the Lord. May this be our prayer and our work today!
This is the third year that I have surveyed, in representative manner, some of the US monastic communities and religious orders who have had members profess simple and/or solemn vows, new members who received the habit or have receive ordination to the Order of Deacon or Priest. While the numbers may be sobering, the point is not about numbers as much as to recognize the many testimonies of grace, the rich living of the offer God has made to our sisters and brothers to love and serve Him in religious life. Corrections welcome.
- St Vincent’s Archabbey: 4 profess simple vows; 4 profess solemn vows; 2 ordained deacons, 2 ordained priests
- St John’s Abbey: 2 monks make a profession of solemn vows; 3 professed simple vows
- St Benedict’s Abbey (Atchinson, KS): 1 monk solemn vows, 3 received as postulants, 1 postulant in Brazil
- Belmont Abbey (Charlotte, NC): 1 novice entered; 2 monks profess solemn vows
- St Martin’s Abbey: 1 entered as a novice
- Abbey of Regina Laudis: 2 entered the postulancy, 2 entered the novitiate, 3 nuns profess simple vows and 2 profess solemn vows
- St Walburga Abbey (Virginia Dale, CO): 2 nuns profess solemn vows
- St Scholastica Priory (Petersham, MA): 2 nuns profess simple vows
- Benedictines of Mary, Queen of the Apostles: 4 sisters profess simple vows, 3 novices take the habit, 1 candidate invited.
- Mount St Scholastica Monastery (Atchinson, KS): 2 received as postulants
- Monastery of the Visitation, Mont Deux Coeurs (Tyringham, MA): 1 nun professed solemn vows, 1 novice with 2 postulants entered.
- Valley of Our Lady Monastery (Prairie du Sac, WI): the Cistercian nuns simply professed 1; others entered.
Read more ...
- Friday, 21 September 2012 06:55
Abbot Notker Wolf, 72, was elected for the third time by the world’s abbots and conventual priors who are at the quadrennial meeting currently in session at Sant’Anselmo, Rome.
Abbot Dr. Notker was the Archabbot of St Ottilien when he was elected the Abbot Primate in 2000. Abbot Notker professed vows in 1962, ordained in 1968, elected abbot in 1977, and elected the primate in 2000, 2008, and now in 2012. Abbot Notker will serve in the Office of the Primate for 4 years.
The election for the Primate’s Office happened today 9am Rome time following the singing of the Office of Terce. Typically the election for Primate is chaired by the Archabbot of Montecassino, but being sick, instead of Abbot Pietro, the Abbot of Subiaco, Mauro Meaci chaired the election. Each monastic superior was called forth to drop his vote. Dom Mauro announced the tally, and called on Abbot Notker seeking to know if he accepted election. He did accept. According to law, the re-elected Abbot Primate made a profession of faith and the oath of fidelity with his hand on the Bible. All assembled then sang the Te Deum followed by a solemn blessing imparted by the Abbot Notker. Noon Mass was celebrated at the nearby Santa Sabina Church and the normal work of the Congress continued.
As an aside, the Prince of Jordan was with the monks for lunch on the 20th.
May God grant him the graces needed to fulfill his person and work.
Abbot Notker is a very generous monk with great humanity. He’s travelled the world seeking to build and encourage the communion among the Benedictines, the local churches and society. I have nothing but praise for what Abbot Notker has done for the Confederation as the Chancellor of Pontifical Athenaem of Sant’Anselmo. Under his leadership very much needed repairs of the Sant’Anselmo building have been done as well as other needed bricks and mortar repairs and upgrades and are being made, the expansion of women religious receiving an education there, building of development offices in Europe and the USA to raise funds to endow the various schools of philosophy and theology at Sant’Anselmo and asking the monks who live and work at Sant’Anselmo to have a great fidelity to the life of the project. He’s been instrumental in the founding of a Benedictine priory in Cuba and has worked with the Chinese in securing the various freedoms needed for the Church.
But with all this very good work done by the Primate and his staff, there’s much work to do. Not all is complete and Abbot Notker can’t rest on his laurels. Several things, in my considered opinion need attention: getting name recognition of Sant’Anselmo better known, especially in the USA, the greater cultivation of benefactors, the attraction of new monks, nuns and laity to teach at the Anselmo, to develop more dynamic programing in the constituent academic areas, to attract talented people –not necessarily monks, perhaps the utilization of the Oblates– to work there. Plus, it is reasonable to say that he and his staff ought to use technology much better to communicate with the world’s monks and nuns but also with the laity. There are a great amount of Oblates who love the love the Benedictine way of life and would appreciate being included more for the effective advancement of what is proposed by the Rule and the Church. It is disappointing that the Confederation doesn’t use technology viz. the Primate’s office and the school. The Curial offices on the Aventine Hill don’t need to feed the media monster but they do need to communicate more effectively using the internet, especially in the renewed emphasis the Church has placed on the proclamation of the Word of God. For example, the OSB website, Wikipedia and Confederation websites need a serious overhaul. Perhaps doing more work with the interface of monasticism and evangelization would be good as well as forming an international group of Oblates to live, work and pray as a community for the good of the Confederation.
Abbot Wolf can’t do this work all alone and in a short amount of time. He is 72 with realistically a term to work as Primate (4 years is not a long time). Abbot Notker needs our sincere prayer, fraternal and financial support.
On the Confederation, etc.
“The Benedictine Confederation was formed those monastic Congregations which, while preserving their autonomy, entered the union sanctioned by Pope Leo XIII in a the Papal Brief “Summum semper” and regularly approved by all of his successors. By order of Pope Pius XII precise legal prescision was made for this union in a Lex propria which was reviewed after the Second Vatican Council (1),”
The Benedictine Confederation was constituted and continues to exist in order that led by the Gospels, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit and directed by the Church, monastic life according to the Rule of Saint Benedict and the wise traditions of each Congregation and monastery adapted to the conditions of time and place may be fostered and fraternal assistance between Congregations in the areas of personnel, goods and works be encouraged in every way” (16).
“The Congress is not intended to be a Chapter General nor does it possess any power at variance with the autonomy of the Congregations or of monasteries; rather it serves the good of the Confederation with the limits described above (nos. 16-17)” (20).
All Benedictine saints and blesseds, pray for Abbot Notker, the Benedictine curia, and for us.
- Friday, 14 September 2012 15:08
I was reminded earlier today of a need to pray for vocations to the contemplative life. A former colleague of mine recently entered Dominican life as a cloistered nun at Saint Dominic’s Monastery in Linden, VA. It is a traditional monastery of nuns, a very young of women who make a sacrifice to pray for us and the needs of the world. The postulant, Sister Lauren (left) is seen with a veteran nun, Sister Mary Dominic.
Pray for vocations.
As an aside, the Huffington Post had this special article with pictures of those who “thought” they had a vocation
. One actually did pursue a vocation as a Benedictine nun at Regina Laudis Abbey (Bethlehem, CT), Mother Dolores Hart.