Tag Archives: Benedictines

Create a space for silence, Bishop Hugh Gilbert tells us

Silence is misunderstood by so many people today. Some friends and family think that being silent is horrible, or that it is a punishment for something. Silence may have been used as a weapon, but in reality, it is not and silence ought not be used as such, ever. The new bishop of Aberdeen (Scotland), Hugh Gilbert, delivered his first pastoral letter on the subject of silence. As a Benedictine he is attune to the contours of silence as Saint Benedict exhorts followers of his Rule for Beginners to live in an atmosphere of silence. Could what Bishop Hugh offers be of assistance to us?

We live in a noisy world. Our towns and cities are full of noise. There is noise in the skies and on the roads. There is noise in our homes, and even in our churches. And most of all there is noise in our minds and hearts.

The Danish philosopher Kierkegaard once wrote: ‘The present state of the world and the whole of life is diseased. If I were a doctor and I were asked for my advice, I should reply: “Create silence! Bring people to silence!” The Word of God cannot be heard in the noisy world of today. And even if it were trumpeted forth with all the panoply of noise so that it could be heard in the midst of all the other noise, then it would no longer be the Word of God. Therefore, create silence!’

‘Create silence!’  There’s a challenge here. Surely speaking is a good and healthy thing? Yes indeed. Surely there are bad kinds of silence? Yes again. But still Kierkegaard is on to something.

There is a simple truth at stake. There can be no real relationship with God, there can be no real meeting with God, without silence. Silence prepares for that meeting and silence follows it. An early Christian wrote, ‘To someone who has experienced Christ himself, silence is more precious than anything else.’ For us God has the first word, and our silence opens our hearts to hear him. Only then will our own words really be words, echoes of God’s, and not just more litter on the rubbish dump of noise.

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Male religious life revives

A recent article in the National Catholic Register by Trent Beattie, “Surprising Revival for Men in Religious Life” notes that tide may be turning for some religious orders of men, especially those who remain faithful to prayer, orthodox theological reflection as proposed by the Church, a common life and work and the wearing of a religious habit. Beattie highlights the Texas Carmelites, Connecticut’s Franciscan Brothers of the Eucharist and the Oklahoma Benedictines of the Creak Creek abbey. All of the groups are beautiful expressions of the work of the Holy Spirit today.

Our Lady of the Way, pray for us.

Belmont Abbey College files suit against government

A great example of religious freedoms being trampled is what’s happening with Belmont Abbey College. This is exactly what Archbishop Dolan and Bishop Lori are working on with the new Ad Hoc Committee of the USCCB on Religious Freedom (see previous posts linked on the right).

Belmont Abbey College is being forced by Federal government to provide contraceptives to employees of the College going against the clear, consistent and well-known Catholic teaching. This is not merely the teaching of a small and localized group of “conservative monks” or an over zealous bishop, but the teaching of a global Church founded by Jesus Christ.
The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty is handling the lawsuit.
The story in The Washington Post can be read here.
Let’s beg the Holy Spirit’s guidance for Abbot Placid Solari, the College President and the lawyers. May Saint Benedict guide the hearts and minds of the monks.

Adalbert de Vogüé, RIP

Vogüé.jpgAnyone who knows even a little of the scholarship on the Rule of St Benedict knows the name of this famous monk who has done a tremendous amount of work in this area. Father Adalbert was indeed a force to be reckoned with, even if you disagreed with him. One could not escape Father’s orbit. Sadly, I mention his death.

“The Abbey of Pierre qui Vire announces the painful and enigmatic death of P. Adalbert de Vogüé OSB, 86. His body was found 2 km from the monastery after a search of eight days. He probably died Friday, 14 October 2011.

The publication of Community and Abbot in the Rule of Saint Benedict (1960) began a distinguished career of research and publication concerning the Rule of Saint Benedict and early monastic literature. He served frequently on the faculty of thePontifical Athanæum of Saint Anselm in Rome before taking up the hermit’s life in 1974 near his monastery. The monks will celebrate the Mass of Christian Burial, Wednesday, 26 October, 11 a.m. Donne-lui, Seigneur, le repos éternel.”

H/T Brother Richard Oliver, OSB @osb.org

Mother Dolores Hart speaks about her life and Faith

On Saturday I drove up to the Abbey of Regina Laudis situated in Bethlehem, Connecticut, to purchase cheese and note cards made by the Benedictine nuns there. Cheese is a homemade product of the nuns of this monastery made from milk of 5 dairy cows. But in addition to cheese and note cards I picked up a beautiful DVD interviewing Mother Dolores Hart, OSB. In 2000, Chantal Westerman interviewed Mother Dolores for an hour long presentation called “Conversations with Remarkable People: Mother Dolores Hart.”

Dolores Hart Life.jpg

From this conversation I learned a few things and a new perspective among which Mother Dolores was not only an actress but also a carpenter who made chairs and tables but also coffins for the nuns in her earlier life at the abbey and she took the time to welcome guests. Patricia Neal was of particular interest. (A convert to Catholic before her death, Neal died in August 2010 and is buried at Regina Laudis Abbey.) Of particular interest to me was not Hart’s work in Hollywood but her concrete witness of Christian faith. Ms Westerman asked Mother how she understood faith and the phrase “I am spiritual but not religious.” Mother answered (my notes):
Faith is remembering the exquisite gifts of God given us in particulars of space and time and people; faith is having the guts to say ‘yes’ when you have no idea what the ‘yes’ means; the ‘yes’ is given in response to a mystery.
With regard to the spiritual/religious distinction often made: the two are complementary and have a convergence.

Indeed! There is no separation between spiritual and religious. The soul needs integration of each to make any real sense.

If you can get a copy of the DVD from the Abbey, do so. I recommend it. And stay for Vespers (the Church’s evening prayer) daily beautifully sung by the 40 nuns.
You may be interested in other blog posts on Regins Laudis and Mother Dolores Hart found here.

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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