Tag Archives: St Benedict

St Benedict

Today is the summer feast of the Holy Patriarch Benedict.

It is a day to heed the advice of Benedict: seek the Lord and listen to him. It is also a day to celebrate the feast with beer made by monks.

Benedict’s vision for monastic life is that the monk/nun live in community. One’s life in a stable, permanent community locates and lives the reality of the Lord’s Incarnation. We are keenly reminded that in Benedict’s experience human interaction shows an experience of Christ: the abbot holds the place of Christ; Christ in the guest, in the young monks, and in the seniors. Ultimately, no one is excluded in the Benedictine vision monastic life: every human interaction the monk/nun meets the Lord, in the flesh. This is keenly true for the Oblate and every other person.

I am remembering the words of Saint John Paul II had for the sons and daughters of Benedict: “May every Benedictine community present itself with a well-defined identity, like a “city on a hill,” distinct from the surrounding world, but open and welcoming to the poor, to pilgrims and to all who are searching for a life of greater fidelity to the Gospel!”

As with all solemn feasts in the Tradition of the Church there is an octave. It is a way to continue to enjoy and relish and to attend to the graces of the feast! Over the next 8 days how will you celebrate St Benedict? What grace will you beg from the Holy Spirit? How will you live the charism bequeathed to us by Benedict and his children through the ages?

St Benedict

Saint Benedict is a spiritual master who zeros-in on the key spiritual teaching of Christianity: nothing is preferred to the love of Christ. We do this by making a total gift of self, by a life of humility and forgetting self thus putting on the new person.

Saint Bernard’s only sermon Benedict says: “His holiness will preach to us, his offering of himself instructs us, his justice encourages us.”

Benedict and the charism he has bequeathed to us is demonstrated in one’s attention to the sacred Liturgy, an emphasis on charity and the practice of unconditional hospitality. All this leads to a peace that never fails.

The Rule of Benedict has the dimension of living in fraternal context. This was one of the points that the Cistercians promoted in their Charter of Charity of 900 years ago by Saint Stephen Harding, it is also the emphasis of many educational enterprises, religious and ecclesial communities, e.g., Communion and Liberation.

On this feast of Saint Benedict, let us listen attentively to the Lord and to the Rule of this Man of Blessing.

St Benedict’s feast today

Today, July 11, is the blessed feast of St. Benedict of Norcia, patriarch of western monasticism, and one of the patrons of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation.

St. Benedict gives inspiration to us not to build a frozen model of Christian or one that forgets the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the Tradition of the Church.

Saint Benedict educates us by demonstrating for us not to prefer anything to the love of Christ. In the Gospel we here St. Peter say: “here is that we have left everything to follow you.” Can you say the same?

Let us hold each other in prayer through the intercession of St. Benedict praying for Fr. Carron and the Movement. Additionally, let recall before the Throne of Grace all the monks, nuns, sisters and oblates who live by the Rule of St. Benedict.

Benedict’s sole concern

The Church invites us today, through the figure of St. Benedict, to choose the path of an uncompromising holiness: to forsake our own treasures, so as to receive in  return the hundredfold promised by Jesus, and as our inheritance, eternal life.

If the Church applies to St. Benedict the reading from the Book of Ecclesiasticus we have just heard, it is because it bears witness to the fruitfulness of the offering of one’s life. Already before his life of retreat, Benedict did not leave indifferent those who came in contact with him, as testified for instance by the miracle of the sieve broken and made whole. This shining forth led Benedict towards retreat, so as to consecrate himself to God alone.

But even under the bushel, the lamp kept shining. Benedict became the Father of Western monasticism, and also the Father of Europe. After Benedict’s death, Europe was to become covered by thousands of monasteries and priories. During unsettled times, they appeared to many as places of shelter, places where one could live reconciled with one’s brothers, reconciled with God, and reconciled with nature. In these schools of the Lord’s service, monks would dwell so as to serve God alone.

Were the times in which Benedict was living more unsettled than the times we are living in today? One could not claim that. Yet, it is certain that in today’s monasteries Benedict’s disciples still have to give the testimony of their faithfulness to the answer they gave to the Lord on the day of their solemn consecration, that answer which is the one the rich young man should have given, “Uphold me, O Lord, according to Thy word, and I shall live.” In return, the Lord promises not that which is merely just, but a hundredfold, and as our inheritance, eternal life.

This hundredfold promised to the monk is from now on already a life of fraternity inside the community; it is a peace conducive to seeking God. This hundredfold is also the grace to be able to gather to sing the praises of God in choir, or also to gather in the daily manual work.

Benedict’s sole concern was to seek God, and as he did that, he became one of the main evangelizers of Europe. Today, Europe has grown old, its faith has grown cold. In the eyes of our contemporaries, the world no longer appears as the splendid work of a loving Maker, but as the fruit of a cold and soulless chance. Although telescopes may bring our eyes ever farther towards the ends of the universe, our hearts no longer know how to consider our closest friend as a being who is loved by God, or creation as a gift to be respected. The eyes of our hearts have grown dimmer, and have eventually become obscure.

Amidst silence and darkness, the monastery bell should still resound, a messenger of divine Love in a world no longer able to love, a messenger of the monks, who pray for those who no longer pray.

Dom Jean Pateau
Abbot of Our Lady of Fontgombault

St Benedict

The Rule of Saint Benedict
Who can measure the extraordinary influence that these few pages have exercised during fourteen centuries on the general education of the Western world? St. Benedict, however, only thought of God; he has thought only of souls desirous of ascending to God; he only wanted, in the quiet simplicity of his faith, to establish a school of divine service: Dominici schola servitii. It is precisely because of this jealous search for the unique necessity that God has blessed the Rule of the monks with a singular grace of fruitfulness, and that Saint Benedict has taken rank in the lineage of the great patriarchs.

Dom Paul Delatte, Commentary on the Rule of St. Benedict, Introduction, p. II.

About the author

Paul A. Zalonski is from New Haven, CT, follows the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation, and is an Oblate of Saint Benedict, works as a monastery farmer and a keeper of honey bees. Contact Paul at paulzalonski[at]yahoo.com.
coat of arms