Tag Archives: Benedictine

Benedict speaks to Abbots and Abbesses


Thumbnail image for Benedict XVI.jpg

Address of His Holiness Benedict XVI

to the Participants

In the International Benedictine Abbots’ Conference

Papal Summer Residence, Castel Gandolfo
Saturday, 20 September 2008

Dear Father Abbots,
Dear Sister Abbesses,

I receive you with great joy on the occasion of the International Congress for which all the Abbots of your Confederation and the Superiors of independent Priories meet in Rome every four years to reflect on and discuss ways to embody the Benedictine charism in the present social and cultural context and respond to its ever new challenges to Gospel witness. I first greet the Abbot Primate, Dom Notker Wolf and thank him for what he has said on behalf of all. I likewise greet the group of Abbesses who have come representing the Communio Internationalis Benedictinarum, as well as the Orthodox Representatives.

In a secularized world and an epoch marked by a disturbing culture of emptiness and meaninglessness, you are called to proclaim the primacy of God without compromise and to advance proposals for possible new forms of evangelization. The commitment to personal and communitarian sanctification that you pursue and the liturgical prayer that you encourage equip you for a particularly effective witness. In your monasteries, you are the first to renew and to deepen daily the encounter with the Person of Christ, whom you always have with you as guest, companion and friend. For this reason your convents are places where in our time too men and women hasten to seek God and learn to recognize the signs of Christ’s presence, charity and mercy. With humble trust, you never tire of sharing with those who turn to your spiritual care the riches of the Gospel message, which are summed up in the proclamation of the love of the merciful Father who is ready to embrace every person in Christ. Thus you will continue to make your precious contribution to the vitality and sanctification of the People of God, in accordance with the special charism of Benedict of Norcia.

Dear Abbots and Abbesses, you are custodians of the patrimony of a spirituality anchored radically to the Gospel, “per ducatum evangelii pergamus itinera eius”, as St Benedict says in the Prologue to the Rule. It is precisely this that engages you to communicate and give to others the fruits of your inner experience. I know and deeply appreciate the generous and competent cultural and formative work carried out by so many of your monasteries, especially for the young generations, creating an atmosphere of brotherly acceptance that favours a unique experience of Church. In fact, it is of primary importance to prepare young people to face their future and measure up to the many demands of society, having as a constant reference the Gospel message, which is ever timely, inexhaustible and life-giving. Devote yourselves, therefore, with fresh apostolic zeal to youth who are the future of the Church and of humanity. Indeed to build a “new” Europe it is necessary to start with the new generations, offering them the possibility of coming into close contact with the spiritual treasure of the liturgy, of meditation and of lectio divina.

This pastoral and formative action is in fact more necessary than ever for the whole human family. In many parts of the world, especially Asia and Africa, there is a pressing need for vibrant places of encounter with the Lord, in which, through prayer and contemplation, the individual may recover peace with himself and peace with others. Therefore, do not fail to meet with an open heart the expectations of all those, outside of Europe too, who express a keen desire for your presence and your apostolate in order to draw from the riches of Benedictine spirituality. Let yourselves be guided by the deep desire to serve every person charitably, irrespective of their race or religion. With prophetic freedom and wise discernment, may your presence be meaningful wherever Providence calls you to settle, always distinguishing yourselves for the harmonious balance of prayer and work that is a feature of your way of life.

St Benedict in a Psalm.jpg

And what should be said of the famous Benedictine hospitality? It is a special vocation of yours, an experience that is fully spiritual, human and cultural. May balance exist here too: may the heart of the community be wide open but in proportion to the times and forms of hospitality. You will thus give the men and women of our day a possibility of deepening the meaning of life within the infinite horizon of Christian hope, cultivating inner silence in communion with the Word of salvation. A community capable of authentic fraternal life, fervent in liturgical prayer, in study, in work, in cordial availability to your neighbour who is thirsting for God, is the best impetus for inspiring in hearts, especially those of young men, the vocation to monastic life and in general a fruitful journey of faith.

I would like to address a special word to the representatives of the Benedictine nuns and sisters. Dear sisters, like other religious families you too are suffering from the lack of new religious vocations. Do not let yourselves be disheartened but face these painful situations of crisis calmly, aware that it is not so much success that is asked of each one as faithful commitment.

What should be absolutely avoided is a weakening of spiritual attachment to the Lord and to one’s vocation and mission. On the contrary, by persevering in it faithfully we profess most effectively, also to the world, our firm trust in the Lord of history, in whose hands are all the times and destinies of individuals, institutions and peoples; and let us also entrust ourselves to him with regard to the actuation in history of his gifts. Make your own the spiritual attitude of the Virgin Mary, happy to be the “ancilla Domini“, totally available to do the will of the heavenly Father.

Dear monks, nuns and sisters, thank you for this pleasant visit! I accompany you with my prayers so that at your meetings during these days of your Congress you may discern the most appropriate ways to witness visibly and clearly in your life-style, work and prayer, to your commitment to a radical imitation of the Lord. May Mary Most Holy sustain your every project of good, help you above all to keep God before your eyes and accompany you maternally on your journey. As I invoke an abundance of heavenly gifts to support all of your generous resolutions, I warmly impart a special Apostolic Blessing to you and to the entire Benedictine Family.

© Copyright 2008 – Libreria Editrice Vaticana

 

 

Notker Wolf, Benedictine Abbot Primate re-elected

 

Thumbnail image for Notker Wolf arms.jpgOn Thursday afternoon, 25 September 2008, the assembled delegates of the Congress of Abbots re-elected the Most Rev. Dr. Notker Wolf, OSB, to a term of four years as the ninth Abbot Primate of the Benedictine Confederation.

 

Abbot Notker was born 21 June 1940 and professed first vows on 17 September 1962 as a monk of the St. Ottilien Congregation. He was ordained a priest, 1 September 1968, and elected Archabbot of St. Ottilien, 1 October 1977.

 

The Benedictine Congress of Abbots elected him Abbot Primate and Abbot of Sant’Anselmo, 7 September 2000, for a term of eight years. His first official act after his re-election today was to re-appoint all officials both at Sant’Anselmo and elsewhere. 

 

Wolf is a musician who performs traditional Benedictine chant and Christian rock.  He
Notker Wolf.jpgplays an electric guitar for Christian rock group Feedback.

 

The Primate is an author in his spare time. In 2008, Wolf published Out of the Blue (Munich: Rowohlt) and Rules for Life: The Ten Commandments – provocation and guidance for today (Freiburg: Herder). In 2009 his book, God bless you! New ideas for living here (Munich: Rowohlt) will be released.

 

May God grant him many blessings!

 

Pope Benedict meets with Benedictines

On 20 September 2008, Pope Benedict XVI met with the Benedictine abbots and abbesses at Castel
Benedetto.jpgGandolfo, his summer residence.

 

The Pope’s address in Italian is found here while we wait for the English translation. The Zenit summary is here.

The Catholic News Agency makes this report.

Vatican Radio posted this story.

In part the Pope Benedict said: the witness of the Benedictine monks, nuns and sisters is particularly important  “in a de-sacralized world and an age marked by the worrying culture of the void and the absurd. This is the reason why your monasteries are places where men and women, also in our age, run to seek God and to learn to recognize the signs of the presence of Christ, of his charity and of his mercy.”


St Benedict in a Psalm.jpg 

The Pope asked the Benedictines to “allow themselves to be led by the profound desire to serve all men with charity, without distinctions of race or religion,” and to found new monasteries “where Providence calls you to establish them.”

 

The Pope focused the attention of the Benedictine superiors to the work of evangelization and to formative and cultural work that can be done particularly in Europe, “especially in favor of the new generations. Dedicate yourselves to young people with renewed apostolic ardor, as they are the future of the Church and of humanity. To build a ‘new’ Europe, it is necessary to begin with the new generations, offering them the possibility to profoundly approach the spiritual riches of the liturgy, of meditation and of lectio divina.” [While the pope has Europe on his mind he would also support this building up of Catholic culture in the new world, too.]

 

The abbots are in Rome at an international congress held every 4 years.

Benedictine Abbots to meet in Rome

The 2008 Congress of Abbots also occurs every four years which gathers the nearly 260

St Benedict6.jpgBenedictine abbots from around the world to discuss topics of interest. The Abbot Primate Notker Wolf said the purpose of the Congress  “Promotes the union of the Confederation, by extending its contacts with its many souls.” The meeting will take place at the Abbey of Saint Anselm from the 18th to 27th September.  

 

Among the presenters will be the esteemed Preacher to the Papal Household Father Raniero Cantalmessa, OFM Cap, who will make a presentation entitled, “What the Spirit is Saying to the Churches.” Plus, the recently retired Abbot General of the Trappists, Abbot Bernardo Olivera will deliver a talk called “Experiences as a Monk and as a Monastic Superior.”

Abbot Notker said there will be workshops and committee work on some major subjects, such as the monasteries with diminishing numbers of monks and nuns, ecumenical and inter-faith dialogue, matters pertaining to the African monasteries, the relation between monasticism

Thumbnail image for Notker Wolf2.jpgand the Church, and the relationship between between abbots and priests. The congress will also be attended by the Benedictine sisters and nuns who will be involved in a discussion about the relations between men’s and women’s monasteries. Discussions will also happen on the work and funding of the various institutes and academic departments, including the Pontifical Liturgical Institute, at Sant’Anselmo.

 

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Formation as a Benedictine

Now that I’ve been here for little more than 2 months Father Abbot Giles has drawn together some things to study. Monastic formation is not just for beginners but properly speaking it is a work for a lifetime. A postulant is not a technical member of the community but someone asking the question if it is his vocation to live God’s call in a particular religious community; in this case, is Saint Mary’s Abbey the place to be a monk.

Since in July the Abbot and I have read together the Rule of Saint Benedict now it is time to go deeper. So, we’re going to be reading Benedictine Father Terrence Kardong’s magisterial work on the Holy Rule and some chapters in Benedictine Sister Aquinata Bockman’s study on the Rule.

Also, Father Hiliary, the novice and junior master, is walking me through the house customary. This is an agreed upon set of house customs, that is, “how we do things here.”

Through July and August a small book club was formed to discuss Fr Jeremy Driscoll’s book What Happens at Mass, a wonderful introduction for some and an appropriate reminder for others on the theology of the Mass. It is a thorough exposition on the Church’s theology of the Mass. This work is not as comprehensive as Driscoll’s Theology at the Eucharistic Table, which is aimed at Master’s students and above.

Above all, what sets a monk’s formation apart from others is the daily practice of Lectio Divina. The supreme gift of monasticism to the Church.

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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