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The Order of Saint Benedict

What's New

January, February, and March 2015

Rev. 28 March 2015

 

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March 2015

Idaho Benedictines Elect Prioress

The Benedictine women of the Monastery of St. Gertrude, Cottonwood, Idaho, elected Sr. Mary Forman OSB as prioress, 4 March 2015. Her installation is scheduled for 13 June 2015. She succeeds Sister Clarissa Goeckner OSB, who served as prioress for ten years. Currently Sister Mary is an Associate Professor in Monastic Studies at the School of Theology, Saint John's University in Collegeville, Minnesota. She also teaches at the College of St. Benedict, St. Joseph, MN.

Benedictine Leads Prayer for U.S. Congress

Fittingly during the Year of Consecrated Life, Fr. Elias Correa-Torres OSB, Belmont Abbey, North Carolina, opened the U.S. House of Representatives in prayer, 23 March 2015. Fr. Elias prayed, “Bless the work of the People’s House; inspire all those who labor in it with your wisdom and truth. Give them a spirit of enthusiasm and joy in their worthy efforts, and may they find fulfillment in their service.” (Video.) Father Elias serves as formation director, vocation director, and subprior for Belmont Abbey. Father Elias earned a graduate degree in theology at Saint John's University School of Theology and Seminary. Pope Francis will address both houses of the U.S. Congress, 24 September 2015.

Wangler

Subiaco Abbey Elects Seventh Abbot

The monastic chapter of Subiaco Abbey, Arkansas, elected Very Rev. Prior Leonard Wangler OSB, Tuesday, 24 March 2015, as the seventh abbot. Born in Fort Worth, Texas, Abbot Leonard, 71, succeeds Abbot Jerome Kodell OSB, 75, who served as abbot for 25 years. Abbot Leonard made his profession of vows in 1963 and became a priest in 1970. Subiaco Abbey, founded 15 March 1878, belongs to the Swiss-American Congregation and is composed of 43 monks. Subiaco ministries include Subiaco Academy (a college-prep boarding and day school for boys), pastoral service in six parishes for the Diocese of Little Rock, retreat ministries, and an Angus breeding farm.
 

Transitus of St. Benedict - 21 March

Like the great Saint Joseph, devotion to whom was fostered at Monte Cassino, Saint Benedict is a potent patron at the time of one's death. On the margin of the medal of St. Benedict, encircling the figure of Benedict, are the Latin words: Eius in obitu nostro præsentia muniamur (May we be strengthened by his presence in the hour of our death). An additional prayer to Saint Benedict for a happy death is available online.

Several miracles associated with the Transitus (Passing) of Saint Benedict are reported by Pope St. Gregory the Great. In Chapter 37 of the second book of his Dialogues, Gregory relates how Benedict, the man of God, prophecies the time of his death at Monte Cassino and communicates the news of his death to distant monks. By permission of the Congregation for Divine Worship, today's celebration ranks as a solemnity in the American-Cassinese and some other monastic congregations.

Election in Venezuela

On 14 March 2015, the community of St. Joseph’s Abbey at Güigüe, Valencia, Venezuela, elected Fr. Marco Antonio González Acosta OSB Prior Administrator for a period of five years. The new prior administrator was born in 1969 and professed monastic vows in 1996. Until his election he served the community as claustral prior and bursar. The election followed upon the resignation of Abbot José María Martínez Barrera OSB (68) who had been at the head of the Ottilien Congregation's community from 1979 to 2002 and from 2007 to 2014. The community currently has eight monks in solemn vows, one oblate, and two novices.

St. Frances of Rome - 9 March

The celebration of the Feast of St. Frances of Rome (1384-1440; canonized 1608), married woman, religious founder, and patroness of Benedictine Oblates, is usually superceded, as happens this year because it occurs in Lent. The following optional prayer, however, may be used at Lauds, Mass, and Vespers:

O God, who, among the other wonders of your grace, favored your servant Frances with the familiar companionship of an angel: grant, we beseech you, that helped by her prayers we may likewise one day be admitted into the company of the Holy Angels.
Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

New Newsletters

The American Benedictine Academy's March 2015 issue of The American Monastic Newsletter is available online as a PDF document. The issue includes information about the ABA Monastic Essay Competition. Awards are given only in convention years so the deadline for entries is next year, 31 March 2016.

Articles from the spring 2013 edition of Regula are coming soon to the website of The Friends of Saint Benedict (Anglican). If you did not receive a copy of Regula and would like to join the mailing list, send an email to <info@benedictfriend.org>.

February 2015

Oprah Welcomes Sister Joan

Sister Joan Chittister OSB, Benedictine Sisters of Erie, is the guest on Oprah Winfrey's Super Soul Sunday, Sunday, 1 March 2015 (11 a.m. ET and PT), and online at <supersoulsunday.com>. Sister Joan and Oprah discuss life, religion, God, women and numerous other topics in this hour-long interview. Sister Joan, author of over 50 books, is an international speaker and advocate of peace, justice, and rights for all people -- in church and in society.

Ash Wednesday - 18 February

"On the Observance of Lent" is Chapter 49 of the Rule of Saint Benedict. Surprisingly, Benedict legislates joy: "Thus everyone of his own will may offer God 'with joy of the Holy Spirit' (1 Thess. 1:6) something above the measure required." A different "Reflection" by Father Don Talafous OSB appears every day. In line with St. Benedict's instructions, daily reading of Fr. Don's brief reflections could be a helpful practice during Lent. Liturgical Press offers a wide selection of resources for Lent and Easter.

At 4:30 p.m., Pope Francis visists the Benedictines on the Aventine Hill. All gather at the Collegiate Church of St. Anselm for Statio and a penitential procession. At 5 p.m. at the Basilica of St. Sabina, is the blessing and imposition of the ashes.

Monastic Books

Benedictine Men and Women of Courage

Benedictine Men and Women of Courage: Roots and History is a revised and updated Nov. 2014 issue of the out-of-print book by S. Ann Kessler OSB, now available from Lean Scholar Press. Dr. Neville Kelly is the collaborator who undertook this present issue. Among the 480 pages are acclaims from S. Joan Chittister OSB; Kathleen Norris OblSB; Abbot Fidelis Rupert OSB, Münsterschwarzach Abbey; Brother Benet Tvedten OSB, formerly of Blue Cloud, now of Assumption Abbey, Richardton; S. Linda Kulzer OSB, St. Benedict's; a prominent Spanish attorney –- author of a multivolume Spanish language Benedictine history; and a couple prominent laymen, authors of scholarly works -- including a Professor Emerita of Medieval Studies from an Ohio university.

Monastic Prisons and Torture Chambers

Monastic Prisons and Torture Chambers. Crime and Punishment in Central European Monasteries, 1600-1800 (Cascade, 2013) by Ulrich Lehner, Marquette University, is based on archival research and an analysis of early modern monastic canon law. The author introduces the reader to how crimes were prosecuted in a monastic setting and how they were punished.

Architecture for Liturgy

Saint Benedict's Abbey and Mount St. Scholastica Monastery, Atchison, Kansas, will host Architecture for Liturgy: a liturgy week, 26-29 May 2015. "Liturgy Week 2015 is intended for anyone interested in the dimensions inherent in liturgy that prompt a fuller celebration which in turn requires a more developed architectural and artistic expression." For questions about the event contact Fr. Daniel McCarthy OSB.

Solemnity of Saint Scholastica

Reliquary bust, ca. 1500
Reliquary bust, ca. 1500

Tuesday, 10 February, Benedictines celebrate the devout life and peaceful death of Saint Scholastica of Nursia (480-547). Pope St. Gregory the Great writes about the spiritual friendship between Saint Benedict and his twin sister in chapters 33 and 34 of the Second Book of Dialogues. He uses a story to teach a lesson in the efficacy of prayer.

The visit Benedict made to his sister suggests that their monasteries were not far distant. Such has remained the pattern, and many Brother/Sister monasteries are geographically close. Through collaboration in the apostolate and in prayer, men and women Benedictines support each other in fidelity to the Holy Rule.

In the next chapter of the Dialogues, Gregory recounts how three days later Benedict, "lifting up his eyes to heaven, beheld the soul of his sister that had departed her body ascend into heaven in the likeness of a dove." He gave orders that they both should be buried at Monte Cassino. Saint Benedict was soon thereafter laid to rest beside her in the crypt of Monte Cassino Abbey. "As their souls had always been one in God while they lived, so their bodies continued together after their deaths."

In Rome on this day, the Holy Father  celebrates the Vigil of the World Day of the Sick, 11 February. St. Benedict writes about the care of the sick in chapter 36 of his Rule. Pope Francis echoed the teaching of St. Benedict when he said, "To care for a sick person, to welcome him and serve him is to serve Christ. The sick are Christ's flesh" (VIS).
 

Nuns Elect Third Abbess of Regina Laudis

The Benedictine nuns of Regina Laudis Abbey, Bethlehem, Connecticut, elected Rev. Mother Lucia Kuppens OSB as their third abbess, 1 February 2015. Most Rev. Leonard P. Blair, STD, Archbishop of Hartford, celebrated Mass and presided over the election. Abbess Lucia succeeds Rev. Mother David Serna OSB, abbess emerita.

January 2015

Election in Africa

On 24 January the Ottilien monks of Prince of Peace Priory at Tigoni, Limuru, Kenya, have elected a new conventual prior. Very Rev. John Baptist Oese Imai OSB, 37, will serve for six years. At the time of his election Prior John was parish priest in Nairobi. He had served earlier as novice master of the community. His predecessor as prior was Fr Lawrence Emukulu Mukuru OSB who completed a six-year mandate.

Pope Francis at Saint Paul Outside the Walls

Sunday, 25 January 2015, the Holy Father presided at Second Vespers of Sunday at the Basilica of San Paolo Fuori le Mura. The service concluded the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity as well as the Ecumenical Colloquium of religious men and women organized by the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated life and Societies of Apostolic Life (CICLSAL). The colloquium was dedicated to consecrated life in four Christian traditions: Catholic, Anglican, Orthodox, and Protestant. Three days ended with the celebration of Vespers at three different churches: the Chiesa del Gesù (22 January), the Russian Orthodox Church of Santa Caterina d'Alessandria (January 23) and the Anglican Church "All Saints Church" (January 24).

Philippa Hitchen of Vatican Radio spoke with Bishop Brian Farrell, secretary of the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of Christian Unity, about how the theme for the Week of Christian Unity highlights the role of women in churches. The Holy Father met with the participants of the ecumenical colloquium stressing the role of consecrated religious in the search for Christian unity.

New Book by Abbot Primate Notker Wolf OSB

Book cover

Spiritus loci -- the spirit of the place. A spiritual travel book.

From the rich personal experience of Abbot Primate Dr. Notker Wolf OSB in cooperation with journalist Alfons Kifmann, an exceptional illustrated travel book has been created. Thirty-one spiritual places in Austria (4), the Czech Republik (2), France (5), Germany (13), Italy (3), Israel (1), and Switzerland (3), are not only described in their historical significance, but also in their special meaning as "spiritual locations" brought to life in words and pictures. Because it is designed for travelers, the book appears in a compact and convenient size.

Abbot Notker describes the concept of the book as follows: "We need and look for places where we can live and die, places to be happy and mourn. We want to celebrate and to rest, to play sports and games, to enjoy entertainment and recreation. We are looking for places of unique, unsullied nature and places of highly developed culture, the fine arts, and distinctive architecture. Targets popular with tourtists draw us as much as places where we can savor solitude."

Is there a "spirit of the place," and how can we find it? Spiritus loci -- the spirit of the place, is intended as a help in the search to find and to feel the spirit, the magic of places. Proceeds from sales of the book benefit the fund for the physical renovation of Sant’Anselmo, Rome.

Spiritus loci -- the spirit of the place (Regensburg: Schnell & Steiner), 272 pages, softcover, 129 colored pictures, € 19.95, ISBN 978-3-7954-2905-8. Amazon, $16.62.

Renovated Websites

The venerable Abbey of Montecassino has redesigned its website with the new address: <www.abbaziamontecassino.org/abbey/>.

The Missionary Benedictines of St. Ottilien have also launched a new website at <www.ottilien.org/>. It is also available in an English version.

Maurus rescues Placid

Saints Maur and Placid - 15 January

Pope St. Gregory the Great tells the story of Benedict's young disciples, Maur and Placid, in Chapter 7 of the 2nd book of his Dialogues. Responding in perfect obedience, Maur was able to rescue little Placid from drowning. Follow the link to read the chapter and see a charming watercolor of the event by Jeanne Kerremans from L'Admirable Légende de Saint Benoît (1948).
 

The Charisms of Religious Congregations

Sister Joan L. Roccasalvo CSJ began 7 January a series of essays on religious life. The first informative and insightful installment is published by Catholic News Agency. In tune with Pope Francis, Sr. Joan reminds us that a charism "is given not for the glory or satisfaction of the recipient but as a responsibility to benefit others." Part two (14 January) discusses academics and aesthetics as significant elements of consecrated life.
 

Diploma in Group Facilitation, Conflict Resolution, Community Building, and Leadership Skills

Ealing Abbey, London, and NAOS-Institute are working together to offer formation programmes at the Centre for Integral Humanism, Ealing.

Applications are now being received for the 2015-2016 Diploma in Group Facilitation, Conflict Resolution, Community Building, and Leadership Skills. The Diploma will run on ten weekends from Saturday/Sunday, 28-29 March 2015, to Saturday/Sunday, 13-14 February 2016, plus one four-day intensive, 8/9, 10/11 October 2015.

The essence of this course is to improve the quality of relationships between people and to optimize the interaction between personal awareness and a role in collective change. The focus is on people who work in health and education, social movements, NGOs, and faith communities. Some bursaries are available to communities that would find it difficult to meet the costs.

Benedictine Founds Prison Nursery

The Neue Zürcher Zeitung reports on 3 January about the nursery that Fr. Peter Meienberg OSB of Uznach Abbey has set up in Nairobi's biggest prison for women. Fr Peter has been working as a missionary in East Africa since 1961. He is the founder of Faraja Trust that maintains several charitable institutions in and near the Kenyan capital.

Flying the Friendly Skies

David Segal, "The Haggler" at the New York Times, documents the case of a Benedictine monk from the Monastery of Christ in the Desert and his frustration with United Airlines.


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