Tag Archives: Benedictine

The NEW Blackfriars Films … Come, my Way, my Truth, my Life

Blackfriars filmsThe New York Province of Dominicans have brought together several media initiatives and created for themselves a new media division under the sponsorship of the Province of Saint Joseph with the debut of Blackfriar Films. They are off and running…

Here we have a treat with Father Austin Dominic Litke, OP, Father Robert Koopman, OSB and Leah Sedlacek performing a new arrangement of the beautiful 17th century hymn, “Come, My Way, My Truth, My Life.” The beautiful scenery of New York City is the God-given canvas for preaching Gospel and sharing the Christian faith with the world.

Father Austin is a campus minister at NYC and Father Robert is a monk of Saint John’s Abbey (MN) where he’s a music educator and artist.

In case you want to meditate on the beautiful words Father Austin is singing, here they are:

Come, my Way, my Truth, my Life:
such a way as gives us breath,
such a truth as ends all strife,
such a life as killeth death.

Come, my Light, my Feast, my Strength:
such a light as shows a feast,
such a feast as mends in length,
such a strength as makes his guest.

Come, my Joy, my Love, my Heart:
such a joy as none can move,
such a love as none can part,
such a heart as joys in love.

@ started with the Benedictine monks

@The theory of how the image ‘@’ came into being is passing through cyberspace, again, these days. We all know that monks of all types, Benedictines, Cistercians, Augustinians, etc., had much to do with culture. This is particularly true, I believe with the Benedictine and Cistercian monks who worked out tools for writing but also useful things for art, cooking, gardening and beer making to name just a few ideas. What was helpful and labor-saving in the monastery had applications for the rest of the world.

Here is a 2009 story on @ found at Wired.

Just the other day the Huffington Post published this note about the ubiquitous @.

The point is not raise your awareness about the history of the @. It is to help you recall that things don’t fall out of the sky on to your plate, or your computer screen. A real person has had to dream and work out the tool used.

Our intellectual and religious history needs to be recalled and honored. Much of the world that uses email has to use ‘@’ to send a message. Next time you do, pray for the Benedictines.

The freshness of Saint Bernard

Saint Bernard was the brother of Saint Humbeline. At 22, he and four of his blood brothers with 25 friends, entered the new form of monastic life at Citeaux; at some point later, another brother and his father joined him. The monks at the Abbey of Citeaux were reformed Benedictines. In a short time Bernard became the abbot of Clairvaux with a constituency of nearly 700. One of his spiritual sons became Blessed Eugene III, pope.

Bernard (+1153), Cistercian abbot, saint, and Doctor of the Church, is no easy thinker to face alone. You really do need God’s grace to help you get through his works. Challenging is a good word when thinking of Saint Bernard.

History credits Bernard with the foundation of no fewer than 163 monasteries in his lifetime. When Bernard died, historians labeled the Cistercians as the first true Order in the Church with nearly 343 communities. He singularly did more than any other for the Cistercian order than any.

As one Benedictine nun said of Saint Bernard, he was angry a lot of the time, a brilliant writer even when he nothing to say, at odds with Abelard, condemned for preaching the Second Crusade, and kind to Jews at a time when no one was kind to Jews (we know of a German rabbi saying his community received help and protection from the holy abbot).

Bernard’s love of family, affection for others, and capabilities are well-known, but so are his limitations. One of the power-broker churchmen of the time, Cardinal Haimeric, thought that Bernard was meddling in matters above above his competence. The Cardinal cleverly said, “It is not fitting that noisy and troublesome frogs should come out of their marshes to trouble the Holy See and the cardinals.”

And Bernard’s response, “”Forbid those noisy troublesome frogs to come out of their holes, to leave their marshes . . . Then your friend will no longer be exposed to the accusations of pride and presumption.”

One of the theological positions Bernard held was not holding to the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception of Mary. This doesn’t make Bernard a questionable man of the Church because the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception was not defined until the 19th century. And yet, he sang eloquently of the Virgin Mary.

Questions of the parameters of justification John Calvin to quote Bernard in his heretical teaching. Bernard was a solid theologian that led Pope Pius VIII to name him a Doctor of the Church and the “last of the Fathers.”

Benedictine monasticism according to the observance of Le Barroux

I just watched a very fascinating video on the life of the Benedictine monks of the Abbey of Saint Mary Magdalene of Barroux, in short they are referred to as the monks of Le Barroux. It is a young community in history and in membership. An exemplary life according to an older and venerable way of being a Benedictine.

The documentary, “Watchmen of the Night” (2008), covers all the aspects and then some of Benedictine life, or may merely say, a life of truly living the New Testament. A viewer is intensely engaged in an hour long video that’ss in French with English subtitles.

Their work is “to pray in silence, and to pray to God in heaven.” With a clear ultimacy, monks serve no purpose; monks serve a someone. This is a difficult concept to accept for many people in this era: 5-6 hours of prayer, study, and work all for God. It’s a life totally and unconditionally oriented to the Eschaton.

The monastic life is one of many facets in Christian discipleship; it’s a vocation not given to all; and yet it’s an essential vocation in the life of the Church because of a definitive focus on the contemplative life. While all Christians are called to a life of contemplation, not all are called to a seriously focused life as a monk or a nun; all are called to be in relationship with the Lord though liturgical prayer, study, sacraments, mental prayer, and work, but not all are called to live this way in a community.

As the founder of Le Barroux, Dom Gerard (1927-2008) once said, “The monks unintentionally built Europe. It is an adventure that is primarily if not exclusively interior. They are moved by a thirst for the absolute, a thirst for another world. These monasteries, pointing to heaven, an obstinate reminder that there is another world of which this world is but an image, the herald, and the prefiguration.” So we follow the path given to us Christ.

The monks of Le Barroux are unique in some ways, others not so. In the American context Benedictines generally don’t (can’t, won’t?) do what these monks do, which is OK.  I have to say, though, Le Barroux’s observances are beautiful. We don’t have to be clones but we have to have a freedom for excellence, which is not what we get in many American Benedictine monasteries. Too many are lackluster and ideological and unwilling to change. I happen to think we would do well to honestly look at Le Barroux to understand their way of proceeding, thus making an examination of conscience, not for the purpose of being “Barroux in the USA”, but to see how we all can walk more closely to what is proposed for salvation in the New Testament, the tradition of Holy Mother the Church and what the Benedictine sensibility-through-the-ages (the Holy Rule and the historical Benedictine charism) have to say today. In my limited knowledge Le Barroux gives a hermeneutic of continuity. The point, then, is to understand the contours of Grace and not to be too zealous by going beyond the grace God has given. Immature zeal will always frustrate the good in front of us.

A monk and his Coke at 92

 

Father Bernardo Francesco Gianni, a Benedictine monk of the Olivetan Benedictine tradition posted this image of one the monks with whom he lives, Don Nicola. This witness of Christ and the Benedictine charism is 92 years old celebrating 75 years of monastic profession. He’s enjoying pranzo with a Coke.

Our Lady, Queen of monks, pray for more vocations.
Saint Benedict and Saint Scholastica, pray us.
Saint Bernard Tolomei, pray for Don Nicola.

May God bless Don Nicola today, and in the years to come.

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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