Tag Archives: Benedictines

Father John Oetgen, OSB, RIP

Fr John Oetgen.jpg

On 10 October 2009, Father John Oetgen, OSB, PhD, 85, died in the monastery of his monastic profession, Belmont Abbey (Mary, Help of Christians), Belmont, North Carolina. He was 65 years professed of monastic vows and 58 years a priest. Abbot Placid Solari celebrated the Mass of Christian Burial for Father John on Tuesday, 13 October in the Basilica of Mary, Help of Christians; he was buried in the abbey cemetery.
O God, Who did raise Your Servant Father John to the dignity of priest in the apostolic priesthood, grant, we beseech You, that he may be joined in the fellowship with Your Apostles forevermore.
I was speaking with one of the monks of Belmont Abbey two weeks ago, shortly before Father John’s death, and I realized intuitively that the end was near for a dear priest, monk and acquaintance. I got to know Father John on my visits to Belmont and when I had the privilege to being there for two months this past spring I had the opportunity to get to know him better. Though diminished in body he was not frail in mind or spirit. His presence, though strained because of his physical weakness was a significant example to me of placing trust in the Lord. One good connection I had with Father John was caring for his Saint Francis garden: I was elated when he came to visit me there on his way back from the doctor’s.
An appreciative interview with Father John published in the Spring of 2008 in Crossroads, the Belmont Abbey College magazine which gives a sense of who Father John was and why.
In February 2009, Abbot Placid gave him the Sacrament of Anointing, which I know he did several times later, in the company of the monastic community. My thoughts were posted here.

The Oblates of Belmont Abbey posted this obit for Father John.

The Gaston Gazette posted this obit for Father John.
May Father John Oetgen’s memory be eternal.

The response to God’s word is telling

First comes the word of God that addresses me, touches
me, calls me into question, wounds and judges me, but also heals and frees me.
Both prayer and silence can only be an answer to God’s word and may not precede

Thus Benedict requires that prayer should be frequent, but short. In it the
monastic is to respond to the word of God and express his or her readiness to
follow God’s demands with deeds. Thus we find in Benedict’s Rule no teaching on
mystical prayer, but very sober instruction to open one’s daily life to God
again and again in every situation

What is crucial is not our doing, but
living before God
, in God’s presence, listening to God’s word that addresses us
and shows us the way. In prayer the monastic responds that she or he has heard
God’s word and is now ready to follow it.

Benedict of Nursia His Message for
Anselm Grun OSB

Seeing the Invisible will allow you to do the impossible

The monks of Cistercian Abbey, Spring Bank, WI, are featured in a PBS video.

These monks are proprietors of LaserMonks.com, a non-profit work providing a discount prices items for your printers and other products (some of which made by monks & nuns of other monasteries).
Watch the video…it’s fascinating to see their vocation lived.

The hard work of being a person of peace

The Benedictine ideal of the human being is not that
of one who achieves and accomplishes things, not a person with an unusual
religious gift, not a great ascetic, but the wise and mature person who knows
how to bring people together, who creates around herself or himself an
atmosphere of peace and mutual understanding.

Behind this ideal image stands a
high demand. No one can simply resolve to become a peacemaker. Only those who
have created peace within themselves can make peace
, only those who have become
reconciled with themselves, their own weaknesses and faults, their needs and
desires, their contradictory tendencies and ambitions.

Making peace is not a
program of action that one could write on one’s banners; rather, it must arise
from inner peace. And inner peace is achieved only through a hard and
unremitting struggle for inner purity and through prayer, in which one seeks to
accept everything God presents, whether one’s own weaknesses or those of

Benedict of Nursia: His Message for Today
Anselm Grun, OSB

PS: what Fr Anselm doesn’t say is that creating an atmosphere of peace is harder than it looks, but don’t stop striving…. The realization that we are person’s with great inner need, as in we need a mother or we need friendship, like we need God, is born out in our abandonment to the Divine Plan of seeking a deeper communion with God, as John rested his head on the breast of Jesus.

Visiting Bethlehem: the Abbey of Regina Laudis

Abbey of Regina Laudis chapel int.jpgOne of the blessings in Connecticut is the presence of Abbey of Regina Laudis, a monastery of nearly 40 Benedictine nuns in the hills of Litchfield, County (in the Archdiocese of Hartford). Looking out in the choir there were 5 white veil novices and 1 postulant among the other professed nuns.

I went to the abbey with Father Ignacio today so that he could celebrate the Sacrifice of the Mass for the nuns since they are without a resident chaplain. Father Ignacio is a newly ordained priest of the Bridgeport Diocese currently serving at Saint Rose of Lima Church (Newtown, CT). Mass at the abbey follows the Mass of Pope Paul VI, also called the Novus Ordo (the new Order [Mass]). Often Mass is celebrated using the Latin language except for the Scripture readings and homily. However, the Mass is often in English with the Latin chants.

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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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