Tag Archives: Benedictine

Anniversary of the Dedication of Belmont’s Abbey Church

This place was made by God, an inestimably holy place. It is without reproof.

Most people are accustomed to celebrating anniversaries: wedding, ordination, religious profession, moving to a new place, etc. From time immemorial the Church has celebrated the anniversary of a church’s dedication; there are notable examples of this in the liturgical calendar, e.g., Dedication of the Lateran Basilica. Today, in the life of the Diocese of Charlotte and the monks of Mary Help of Christian – Belmont Abbey, the Abbey Basilica is honored because of it consecration in 1965 by Abbot Walter Coggin, abbot nullius. Dom Agostino celebrated the conventual Mass. The wonderful drama of the Liturgies since first Vespers last evening has been the 12 dedication candles lit. They are rearely lit even in the most liturgically sensible places that seeing them glow is just wonderful. Wouldn’t it be a good thing if pastors lit the dedication candles on all the feasts of the Lord and the feasts of the apostles!

BAC Abbey Basilica.JPG

In 1892 Abbot-Bishop Leo Michael Haid blessed and laid the cornerstone for the abbey church which in time became the cathedral for the Apostolic Vicariate (founded in 1910). This church had two significant uses: it was the church in which the monks daily prayed and it was the heart of Catholic life for the state of North Carolina. According to the monks, the cathedral was only blessed in the 19th century because there was a mortgage and it had a wooden altar. The cathedral was renovated in 1964-65 and it needed to be properly consecrated which was done on this date in 1965. As history would have it, the abbey church was still the cathedral but by 1960 the territory had been reduced to the land on which the abbey and cathedral sat. The Diocese of Raleigh had been established in 1924 and preparations for the erection of the Diocese of Charlotte were on the way, ultimately coming in 1972.

The point of the festive Mass on such an anniversary and the use of special antiphons used in the Divine Office is honor God by keeping sincere our worship in the saving love of this church. It is also a keen reminder that we find our refuge in the Lord while praying in spirit and truth.

 Some points from recent ecclesial documents may help focus our attention on the meaning of the Church:

The church building is a sign and reminder of the immanence and transcendence of God –who chose to dwell among us and whose presence cannot be contained or limited to any single place. …Churches are signs of the pilgrim church on earth; they are images that proclaim the heavenly Jerusalem. (Built of Living Stones, no. 50)

The dedication of a church, especially a cathedral, is a significant and rare event in the life of a Christian community. It involves more than merely setting aside a building for the celebration of sacred things, since the people who plan, build, and dedicate a sacred

place are themselves the Church, “that is, the temple of God built of living stones, where the Father is worshiped in spirit and in truth. Rightly, then, from early times the name ‘church’ has also been given to the building in which the Christian community gathers to hear the Word of God, to pray together, to celebrate the Sacraments, and to participate in the Eucharist.” (Rite for the Dedication of a Church and an Altar, chapter 2, no. 1); this building is both the house of God on earth (domus Dei) and a house fit for the prayers of the saints (domus ecclesiae). (Built of Living Stones, no. 16).

In the end, the text from a hymn used at a church’s dedication speaks volumes:

O how amiable are thy dwellings: thou Lord of hosts!

My soul hath a desire and a longing to enter into the courts of the Lord:

My heart and my flesh rejoice in the living God.

Yea, the sparrow hath found her a house,

and the swallow a nest where she may lay her young:

even the altars, O Lord of hosts, my King and my God.

Blessed are they that dwell in thy house: they will be always praising thee.

The glorious Majesty of the Lord our God be upon us:

prosper thou the work of our hands upon us.

O prosper thou our handywork, O prosper thou our handywork.

O God our help in ages past, Our hope for years to come,

Our shelter from the stormy blast, And our eternal home.

(Text Psalms 84 & 90; Isaac Watts (1674-1748)

What is a Benedictine Oblate?

An Oblate of Saint Benedict is a Christian individual (lay people and diocesan priests) who is associated with a particular
Rule of St Benedict.jpgBenedictine monastery, usually one that is close to where one lives, in order to enrich his or her Christian way of life. An Oblate forms and sustains a spiritual bond with the monastery where the oblation is made. So, the hope is that those making an oblation actually share in a spiritual union that is based in friendship with a particular monastic community. Bonded in prayer, love and commitment, Oblates are partners in the prayer and works of the monastery and with the professed monks, nuns and oblates search for God together with the goal of arriving at our destiny: the Beatific Vision, God.

 

Benedictine Medal.jpg

Oblates are most often Catholics, but practicing members of the Christian ecclesial communities are also welcome to be Oblates. But for Catholic Oblates, there is a crucial connection between the Holy Eucharist and sacred Scripture, devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary and faithfulness to the Church teaching. The hope is that an Oblate conforms his or her life according the Gospel, the Rule of Saint Benedict and the constitutions (customs) of a particular family of monks or nuns, e.g., the American-Cassinese Congregation, the Swiss-American Congregation or the English Benedictine Congregation or whatever monastic family in which you make your oblation. An example could be that as monks take a new name upon entering the monastic life so too do some Oblates take on an “oblate name” demonstrating a change of heart and mind. This name is not for legal use, mind you.

Some simple duties of a Benedictine Oblate are:

-daily praying of Lauds and Vespers (and praying the other Hours are encouraged)

-daily Lectio Divina

-daily reading of a chapter of the Rule of Saint Benedict (no more than 3-4 paragraphs)

-frequent reception of the sacraments of Holy Communion and Confession (according to your Church)

-keep some portion of the day in silence as possible

-be committed to ongoing spiritual, intellectual and human formation

-if possible, see a spiritual director

-keep an awareness of the Trinitarian life in front of you, that in all things God may be glorified

-keep the bond of friendship with the monastery of oblation in the unity of prayer and other support

-and perhaps doing some charitable work as possible.

As a Christian the Oblate seeks God by striving to become a saint in his or her daily life; this is accomplished by integrating a life of prayer and work because they manifest Christ’s presence to society.

Available websites:

A good example of Oblate Statutes comes from the Monastery of the Glorious Cross (Branford, CT). The former chaplain wrote the statutes with the sisters.

Saint Benedict and Saint Scholastica, pray for us!
Saint Maurus and Saint Placid, pray for us!
Saint Henry and Saint Frances of Rome, pray for us!

88th anniversary of death of James Gibbons, cardinal

James Cardinal Gibbons

Archbishop of Baltimore

Cardinal Priest of Santa Maria in Trastevere

James Gibbons.jpg23 July 1834, born

30 June 1861, ordained priest

3 March 1868, Vicar Apostolic of North Carolina & later ordained bishop

30 July 1872, bishop of Richmond

20 May 1877, archbishop of Baltimore

7 June 1886, created cardinal

24 March 1921, died

 

Of the many things the Cardinal arranged for the possession by the Benedictines of Caldwell Place, Gaston County, North Carolina, on which Mary, Help of Christians – Belmont Abbey sits. He also ordained Abbot Leo Michael Haid, a bishop and arranged for him to be the vicar apostolic of North Carolina. Haid prayed one of the absolutions for the Cardinal at his funeral. The monks of Belmont Abbey remembered the Cardinal at Mass.

March 21 or July 11: will the real Benedictine feast take a stand?

A question of what is the difference between the March and July observances of the feast of Saint Benedict.


san benito.jpgThe July feast was the one celebrated in France, as being the date of the alleged translation of his bones to the Abbey of Fleury. Monte Cassino always disputed this claim made by Fleury, and it does seem doubtful, as the remains of Benedict and Scholastica (datable to the correct period) were found in the tomb at Monte Cassino after the Second World War.

The Church, however, certainly never rejected the July 11 feast, as the celebration of the translation of the bones is really not about Fleury-vs.-Monte Cassino but rather the establishment of a cultus of Saint Benedict beyond Italy, as a saint of universal importance for the whole Church and for all the monks of the West. So this feast (which is more convenient for a solemn celebration since it falls outside of Lent) was made by Pope Paul VI the feast of Saint Benedict as Patron of Europe, later changed to be a “co-patron” of Europe.

March 21 is the feast of Saint Benedict’s death. It more specifically concerns his entry into heaven and his role as Father of Western Monasticism.

Sun and Seed

Weather-wise, the day was spectacular. The day was spent at the modest lake house the abbey has had for many years on Lake Norman, just north and west of Belmont Abbey. Among many things the five of us did together today was to plant grass seed to cover the bare spots in the “lawn.” The day away also afforded us the opportunity to foster the companionship and devotion (to the Lord): we prayed the Office of Sext and had lunch. By the way, are you aware that a bale of straw costs $4.75? I think it’s a little expensive for straw! But I suppose the farmer is worth his wage.

Brother Anthony was tired of sowing seed so he showed the inspirational video “The Everyday,” a narrative about the monkish life at Mount Savior Monastery in New York state. Mount Savior was founded in 1950 by Father Damasus Winzen in order to live a monastic life without an outside work like a school or parish and to be most devoted to the Divine Office.

In all the day was a nice getaway with confreres. And let’s hope that it rains soon and that the birds don’t get fat on the seed.

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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