Tag Archives: Rule of St Benedict

Lenten Reading according the Rule of St Benedict

During this time of Lent each one is to received a book from the library, and is to read the whole of it straight through. These books are to be distributed at the beginning of Lent (RB 48:15, 16)


This portion of the Rule of Saint Benedict gives a real good sense of what monks, nuns, sisters and oblates practice during Lent: they savor the good Word, they taste the wisdom of those seeking God. Reading is very important to Saint Benedict, and to his spiritual children done through the ages. Reading enlivens the imagination and transforms the heart and informs one’s behavior.


Lenten books are distributed to the members of a Benedictine community by the superior usually at “chapter meeting” just before Lent begins. Oblates ought to speak with their Oblate Director or their spiritual director for guidance. In most monasteries and in many of the Oblate programs there is a “Bona Opera” (Good Works) card that is filled out, given to the superior for approval. On the card one would name the book to be read.


To help make the Lenten experience of reading more profitable, Lenten reading may be a community exercise beginning shortly after supper until Compline. Or, you can adjust your schedule accordingly.


Pick a good spiritual book!

St Benedict’s Prologue to the Holy Rule: orienting 2013


The new year needs a proper orientation: may I propose that we need to listen, that is, to be silent (once in a while) and to attend to what the Lord, the Church, friends and family are saying. Here I think we would do well to hear what a master has to say about our work. A few years ago Pope Benedict spoke about an ancient form of the spiritual life, Benedictinism, that is often misunderstood, and yet it corresponds to the heart. Known as the Patriarch of Western monasticism, Benedict of Nursia, is the father of compassion, a man of blessing, a forthright teacher. The Pope said that,


St. Benedict’s spirituality was not an interiority removed from reality. In the anxiety and confusion of his day, he lived under God’s gaze and in this very way never lost sight of the duties of daily life and of man with his practical needs. Seeing God, he understood the reality of man and his  mission” (April 9, 2008).

A tender word from Saint Benedict’s Holy Rule is important for all of us to reflect upon as we begin 2013. The saint is clear that the Rule is not for the holy people or for people who are well-versed in the spiritual life. On the contrary what we see here  in the Prologue we read that our following (listening), our friendship with Christ is a work of which we ought to be diligent in doing if we are to reach our goal: heaven. Only in doing the hard work, some will say rightly so, doing battle, the distance between ourselves and God be lessened. Benedict is truly a father with an emphasis on mercy and honesty. His approach cultivates in all of us, I hope, a humane and reasonable way of living.
What distances the self from God? The truthful assessment of our life is our personal sin, the “slothful disobedience” we engage in. Overcoming sin, by Grace, is the work of each one of us, pope to peasant, PhD-holder to high school student. All we need to do is begin. Notice the emphasis I’ve placed for your concentration.


St. Benedict of Nursia writing the Benedictine...

Saint Benedict of Nursia writing his Rule ~a 1929 portrait at Heiligenkreuz Abbey, Austria by Herman Nieg.

L I S T E N carefully, my child, to your master’s
precepts, and incline the ear of your heart (Prov. 4:20). Receive willingly and
carry out effectively your loving father’s advice, that by the labor of
obedience
you may return to Him from whom you had departed by the sloth of
disobedience.


To you, therefore, my words are now addressed, whoever you may
be, who are renouncing your own will to do battle under the Lord Christ, the
true King
, and are taking up the strong, bright weapons of obedience.


And first
of all, whatever good work you begin to do, beg of Him with most earnest prayer
to perfect it
, that He who has now deigned to count us among His children may
not at any time be grieved by our evil deeds. For we must always so serve Him with
the good things He has given us, that He will never as an angry Father
disinherit His children
, nor ever as a dread Lord, provoked by our evil actions,
deliver us to everlasting punishment as wicked servants who would not follow
Him to glory.
Enhanced by Zemanta

Are you living in Christ now?


Saint Benedict has a special place in his Rule for eternity.
The eternal life is usually a subject that many people run away from because in
order to fully enjoy eternity one needs to confront death. Well, that’s what
many think. The Lord’s promise of eternal life and many of benefits can be
enjoyed before one dies. In fact, that’s what the sacraments give us: a
foretaste of eternity. Baptism opens the door, washes away sin, imparts grace,
and makes one an adopted child of God; the Eucharist nourishes our spiritual
life, and builds communion with the Trinity; Confirmation imparts the Gifts of
the Holy Spirit and Beatitude, etc. Sacraments give the faithful a share in
Beatitude if lived in a state of grace and according to the Eight Beatitudes. 

The
question really is what the Apostle Paul said, and what is adhered to by true Christians, particularly saints, “To
me to live is Christ,” (Mihi Vivere Christus)” (Phil: 1, 21). Living means being closely united, in communion, with Christ. Catholics live in Christ by living the sacraments and according to Scripture but the teaching of the saints also illumine our path.

A verse in
the Prologue to Saint Benedict’s Rule refocuses us:

“If we wish to reach eternal
life, even as we avoid the torments of hell, then – while there is still time,
while we are in this body and have time to accomplish all these things by the
light of life – we must run and do now what will profit us for all eternity.” (Prologue
42 – 44,RB).

The teaching, some have said, can be interpreted to mean that Saint
Benedict is urging his disciples to put into daily practice right now what we will
be doing for all eternity: that is, giving glory and praise to God. How we give
God glory and praise is done through our daily lives of personal and communal prayer,
in faithfulness and obedience to the Divine Majesty. This was the source of someone
who knows God: a lifelong fidelity, joyfulness, and an openness to Wonder. The
position of wonder speaks to our youthful spirit and joy was keeping our eyes,
our mind and our heart fixed on Jesus Christ and the promise of the Hundredfold.

Do you wish to reach your ultimate destiny, eternal life? What will you do to run along the path?

Profession of vows, celebration of 50 years of monastic vows

Trust in the Lord and do good, and you will dwell in the land and be secure.
Find your delight in the Lord, and he will grant your heart’s desire.
(Ps 37; Introit for Mass for Religious)

These days there are celebrations of profession of vows and recognition of 50 years of monastic profession. The vocation to the monastic life is the search for God (cf. Rule of St Benedict) by the serious living of the gospel and one’s baptism. It is a glorious vocation, one that entering the narrow gate is not easy but eloquent for its witness.

Three friends are living their vocation with fresh eyes. Each called by the Lord to follow and to be see-ers of the Kingdom (cf. Ratzinger) in this manner is sacrificial oriented to life eternal (cf. Spe Salvi, 12).

Br Pietro Berretta OSB.jpg

Benedictine Brother Pietro, a monk of the Monastery of Saint Peter and Paul (outside Milan, Italy) professed his first vows (temporary profession), Father Hilary of the Abbey of Saint Mary (Morristown, NJ) celebrated his 50th annviersary, and Benedictine Sister Marie Rita celebrated her 50th anniversary of profession of monastic vows. There are several others I could mention but let me satisfy this desire to recognize the sign of profession for service of the Kingdom and one’s salvation.

Brother Pietro studied medicine and follows the lay ecclesial movement of Communion and Liberation. His monastery is a  diocesan rite monastery following the Rule of SaInt Benedict and the teachings of the Servant of God Father Luigi Giussani. Pietro gave up a promising career in medicine to follow and seek the face of Christ more intimately in an Italian monastery. I can’t help but think of Pietro’s vocation as a witness poignant today in postmodern Italy where monasteries are virtually empty. His monastery receives postulants regularly and I am grateful for his YES.

Father Hilary is a monk and a priest of Morristown, NJ’s Abbey of Saint Mary where he teaches in the Delbarton School and he works in the community as novice and formation director. In the American Cassinese Congregation of monks the 50 year julibilarian receives from the abbot the baculus (a craved stick; this one is made in Ireland) with the liturgical phrase exhorting the monk, “Use the baculus not so much as a support for bodily strength, but rather to obtain spiritual fortitude from our Savior, Jesus Christ, who has called us all to himself in the gospel, saying, Come to me all you who labor and are burdened, and I will refresh you, for my yoke is easy, my burden light.” Hilary’s quiet demeanor is a stable form of living the manner set out by the Lord and Benedict.

Sr Rita and Fr Peter JohnSister Rita is the Prioress of the Monastery of the Glorious Cross, Branford, CT. Her’s is a vocation to lead a group of women who daily surrender to the Lord their health and mobility uniting themselves more and more eucharistically.

At Sister’s Jubilee Mass more than 75 friends attended with spiritual assistance of Father Peter John Cameron, OP celebrating the Mass and preaching, with Abbot Caedmon Holmes, OSB (of Portsmouth Abbey), Father Prior Vincent DeLucia, OP (St Mary’s Priory, New Haven), Father Jacob Restrick, OP (Hawthorne, NY) Father David Borino (Archdiocese of Hartford), Father Robert Usenza (Diocese of Bridgeport and Father Paul Halovich and Deacon Fusco (also of Hartford).

Sister Rita’s sister Canossian Daughter of Charity Sister Margaret flew in from China where she is a missionary to be present. The Canossian sisters have the great Saint Josephine Bakhita as one of them.

As you may know, monks and nuns profess the monastic vows of conversion of manners, stability and obedience according to the Rule of Saint Benedict. Benedictines live a life with a quality being subtle.

With the Church we pray,

O God, who inspire and bring to fulfillment every good intention, direct your servants into the way of eternal salvation, and as they have left all things to devote themselves entirely to you, grant that, following Christ and renouncing the things of this world, they may faithfully serve you in their neighbor in a spirit of poverty and humility of heart.

I’ve blogged about Monastery of Saint Peter and Paul (Monastero Ss. Pietro e Paolo), Cascinazza (Milan), before here.

Be living sacraments of Christ’s presence in the world leading all to eternal life

I am slowly reading a book written by Dom Michael Casey, a Cistercian monk from the Abbey of Tarrawara (Australia), The Road to Eternal Life, a series of reflections on the Prologue of the Rue of St Benedict. With all the talk of being a good witness and yesterday’s emphasis on our destiny in Christ, I thought Dom Michael’s reflection on boasting in the Lord makes some sense for us today. I recommend the book.

“And again he says, ‘Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord’.” (2 Cor 10:17 quoted in the Rule of St Benedict, Prologue v. 32)

The one in the New Testament who speaks most about boastfulness is Saint Paul. He sees boasting as an expression of an autonomy that weakens a person’s total reliance on God-that is, it weakens faith. Those who think that religion is simply a matter of conforming to the precepts of the law, or perhaps so twisting the precepts of the law so that they are comfortable, have not yet learned the art of putting their trust in God, relying on God’s mercy. They are locked into the schemes of self-perfection that they themselves have crafted. The end of such self-assurance can be only disaster. As Saint Ignatius of Antioch wrote to Polycarp, “The one who boasts has already come to nothing”.

Read more ...

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.
coat of arms

Categories

Archives

Humanities Blog Directory