Tag Archives: Benedictine

Quilting ladies of St Benedict’s Abbey, Benet Lake

ladies quilting at Benet Lake.jpgBenedictine abbeys are places where the culture of prayer, study, charitable work and arts and crafts can breathe with ease. That’s the genius of Saint Benedict and the leadership of monasticism through 1500 years. Few religious orders have such an expansive sense of culture as the Benedictines (or share in across the world). Art aids one in his or seeking God and a better sense of self.

The monks of Saint Benedict’s Abbey, a monastery of monks in the Swiss-American tradition just outside Milwaukee and an hour’s drive from O’Hare Airport, have a retreat house where individuals and groups come to pray, study and rest in the Lord.

The arts have had a significant, yet humble place in Benedictine life. Making art is one way to bring together a deeper level of fraternity, balance and healing in the distracted world. Some Benedictines are musicians, others are scholars, weavers, quilters, calligraphers gardeners, beer makers, vestment makers, organists and horn players, others are apiarists and the so on. In his Rule for Monasteries, Saint Benedict’s 57th chapter “On the Artisans of the Monastery” fosters a spirit of human expression that has limits based on virtue as yet another but crucial way to glorify God. Benedict says,

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Visiting a friend

Abbot Leo & PAZ.jpg

Abbot Leo, retired abbot of St Benedict’s Abbey, Benet Lake, WI.
Abbot Leo is the director of the Benet Lake retreat house.

Saint Henry: Benedictine Oblate and patron of sovereign leaders

St Henry II crowned by Christ.jpgThe Church recalls the witness of an emperor and a Benedictine Oblate, Saint Henry (972-1024), Duke of Bavaria. Henry was crowned king in Rome by Pope Benedict VIII in 1014. It is said that Henry was assisted by the saints throughout his life but especially at Mass when he was anointed king. He was an insightful leader, lay man who had concern for the discipline of the Church and who had love for the Benedictine monastic life. He was a supporter of Cluny’s reforms. It was through Saint Henry that the King of Hungary and later saint, Stephen, met Christ and was baptized.

Benedictine history tells us that he made a vow to the Abbot of Saint-Vanne in Verdun, thus, the tradition of Henry being an Oblate. (For more of what a Benedictine Oblate is, read this post).

Both he and his wife, Cunegunda were canonized by the Church and revered as saints.

A Benedictine’s art collection

Michael Komechak.jpegBenedictine culture is very interesting. I find this to be true for 2 reasons: after 1500 years of Benedictine monasticism a refined style of humanity and relationship with God is constitutive and monasteries have interesting people as monks and nuns. The famous Rule of Saint Benedict encourages the monk to praise and worship God through a proper ordering of life and interest. Few Benedictines I know are not proficient in works of culture (in the true meaning of the word) like music, vestment making, bee keeping, keeping the library, preparing good lessons for the classroom, cooking, music writing, preaching, study and the like.

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Aidan Kavanagh, monk, priest, liturgical scholar: 5th anniversary of death


kavanagh.jpgStudents of the sacred Liturgy are familiar with the scholarship and some would say “pioneering work” in the realm of adult baptism and the new (in 1972) Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA) by Father Aidan Kavanagh, a Benedictine monk and priest of the Archabbey of Saint Meinrad.

Most of Father Aidan’s professional teaching life was spent away from Saint Meinrad having only taught a few years in his monastery’s seminary. In discernment with his abbot, Father Aidan devoted his energies to teaching at the University of Notre Dame and then for many years Yale Divinity School (New Haven, CT).

Why mention this? Well, today is the fifth anniversary of Father Aidan‘s death. The necrology is always an occasion to express our gratitude to God for graces bestowed on his through his children. I am grateful for the books written by Father Aidan (he is required reading in the study of the Liturgy) and the countless peoples he taught and guided in the Christian life.

May God be merciful to Father Aidan and may his memory be eternal.

About the author

Paul A. Zalonski is from New Haven, CT, follows the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation, and is an Oblate of Saint Benedict, works as a monastery farmer and a keeper of honey bees. Contact Paul at paulzalonski[at]yahoo.com.
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