Elders of the Benedictines:
A Portrait and Interview Project
Brother Victor J. Frankenhauser, O.S.B., b. 1920
Q: How does the Benedictine tradition serve as foundation for the way you live your physical life?
A: . . . I believe God created me specifically to be a lay brother. It is my calling in life. When Vatican II came and eliminated so many of the distinctions between lay brothers and priests in the community I felt we brothers lost much of our identity. I'm afraid that when lay brothers who developed in the monasteries during the 1940s and 1950s pass away there will be no one left that remembers what it was like to truly be a lay brother in the old way. In many ways I feel the lay brothers were the real monks of the monastery, as they were home at the monastery doing the work of the monastery. They kept the home fires burning. The priests were many times busy teaching, going to school, or doing parish work. Our abbot for many years, Abbot Cuthbert, used to come back from visitations to other monasteries and call our brothers the "cream of the crop." About the only requirement for a brother at that time was that the candidate truly seek God and could contribute some useful service to the monastery. Among them were the most dedicated and sincere monks one could find anywhere. I'm concerned all they did will be forgotten