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The Order of Saint Benedict

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January, February, and March 2017

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March 2017

The Passing of Saint Benedict

Stained Glass TransitusBenedictines commemorate the passing of Saint Benedict, Tuesday, 21 March 2017. Like the great Saint Joseph, devotion to whom was fostered at Monte Cassino, Saint Benedict is a fitting patron at the time of 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.

Pope St. Gregory's account below of St. Benedict's serene death ca. 543 A.D., is enhanced by testimony of Benedict's ability to forecast the day of it, and his ability to communicate the news of it remotely by signs, illustrated in stained glass at right.

Six days before he died, he gave orders for his tomb to be opened. Almost immediately he was seized with a violent fever that rapidly wasted his remaining energy. Each day his condition grew worse until finally, on the sixth day, he had his disciples carry him into the chapel where he received the Body and Blood of our Lord to gain strength for his approaching end. Then, supporting his weakened body on the arms of his brethren, he stood with his hands raised to heaven and, as he prayed, breathed his last. --Gregory the Great, Dialogues, Book 2, c. 37.

New Program at Sant'Anselmo

Sant'Anselmo University in Rome will offer a new English-speaking program, "Spirituality and Culture," beginning fall semester 2017. Subtitled "Challenges of Modern Culture to Spiritual Theology," the program presents the Benedictine spiritual tradition read in the context of modern culture.

The program of the Faculty of Theology will be fully accredited November 2017 and runs through May 2019. Successful participants will receive a licentiate in Theological Spirituality. European master's degrees and diplomas are also available. For more information, please visit the Spirituality and Culture web site.

Ash Wednesday - 1 March

Saint Benedict offers his thinking about the observance of Lent in chapter 49 of his Rule. Besides abstinence from vice, food, and drink, Benedict recommends reading, especially Sacred Scripture. The right kind of Lectio Divina can lead to that "compunction of heart" that is the mark of authentic monastic prayer.

At 4.30 p.m. in Rome, Pope Francis visits the Benedictines on the Aventine Hill. All prelates, monks, and friars gather at the Basilica of St. Anselm for Statio and a penitential procession. At 5 p.m. at the stational Basilica of St. Sabina, the Holy Father leads the Eucharist with the blessing and imposition of ashes. Watch the video.

February 2017

New Prioress in Minnesota

S. Susan OSB

The community of St. Benedict's Monastery in St. Joseph, Minnesota, elected, 25 Feb. 2017, Sister Susan Rudolph OSB as its next prioress. After her installation, 4 June 2017, she succeeds Prioress Michaela Hedican OSB as the monastery’s 17th prioress.

Sister Susan, a native of Sauk Rapids, is a graduate of the College of St. Benedict in St. Joseph, where she majored in elementary education. She holds master's degrees in theology, education, and gerontology. She is a board certified chaplain.

"I feel extremely supported by a loving community," Sister Susan said following her election (Dianne Towalski/The Visitor).

Saving Manuscripts

The Atlantic (23 Feb. 2017) profiles Fr. Columba Stewart OSB and the work of the Hill Museum & Manuscript Library preserving endangered manuscripts in Africa and the Middle East. Matteo Faggotto visited Fr. Columba on site for his article, "The Monk Who Saves Manuscripts from ISIS: Why a Christian wants to rescue Islamic artifacts."

Monastic Renewal Program

Following Saint Benedict at the Time of Pentecost runs from 22 May to 17 June 2017. The program, conducted in English, will be open to Benedictine and Cistercian monks and nuns from all over the world. Participants will be living at Collegio Sant’Anselmo that shelters a warm and vibrant community of monks from 40 different countries. The period of one month will afford plenty of time for leisure, spent either by enjoying the cloister and its neighborhood or by joining a tour of Rome, arranged daily by a member of Sant’Anselmo.

International Juniorate Congress

The International Benedictine Juniorate Congress will offer a unique formative experience for those men new to the monastic way of life. This congress, 22 June - 6 July 2017, is open also to all those responsible for monastic formation in their monasteries. Participants will gain perspectives on monastic vows, learn about the life of Saint Benedict, and become aware about Benedictine life in various parts of the world. This program will be in English, and translation will be provided as needed. Br. John Mark Falkenhain OSB is the major presenter. There will be no junior conference in the USA this summer.

+ Fr. Raymond Roh OSB Cam.

Fr. Raymond Roh OSB Cam. died Wednesday, 8 February 2017. Ordained a priest in 1959, he spent 21 years in parish ministry and Catholic education before entering the novitiate at Pecos Benedictine Abbey (New Mexico) and making his monastic profession in 1980. He became very involved in spiritual direction and charismatic renewal before being asked to make a foundation in the Diocese of Monterey in 1987. The foundation, Monastery of the Risen Christ, became an independent priory of the Olivetan Congregation in 1999. Upon being informed in 2012 that the Olivetan Congregation had decided to close the monastery because of dwindling numbers, Fr. Raymond led the efforts to transfer the community to the Camaldolese Congregation, which was accomplished earlier this year on the Feast of the Epiphany, 2017. The monks will celebrate the Mass of Christian Burial Wednesday, 15 February 2017.

+Abbot Patrick Reagan OSB

Abbot President Emeritus Patrick Reagan OSB, 79, of St. Joseph Abbey, Louisiana, and the Swiss-American Congregation, died 8 February 2017. After study at Institut Liturgique, Paris, Abbot Patrick taught at Sant'Anselmo, Rome. The chapter elected him abbot in 1982 and he served as fourth abbot until 2001. He appeared regularly in the liturgical journals Ecclesia Orans, Worship, and elsewhere. Qu'il repose en paix.

New Prior for Tororo

Abbot President Jeremias Schröder OSB announces, 8 February 2017, that he has appointed Fr. Fidelis Walwema OSB the new prior of Christ the King Priory at Tororo, eastern Uganda. Fr. Fidelis is 41 years old and has until now been subprior and novice master of the community. Prior Fidelis will oversee the next steps towards the elevation of the monastery to a conventual priory in the Benedictine Congregation of St. Ottilien.

At the same time Abbot Jeremias has relieved Fr. Edward Etengu OSB who had been prior since 2006, a period during which Tororo has seen important developments and growth. Fr. Edward is destined for another office in the Congregation.

Saint Scholastica

Scholastica

Friday, 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 on 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."

January 2017

New Camaldoli Video

Religion & Ethics Newsweekly featured, 27 January, a segment on the Public Broadcasting Service about New Camaldoi Hermitage, Big Sur, CA. The broadcast focuses on Oblates or lay associates who seek to live their lives in the spirit of the Rule of Saint Benedict. Fr. Columba Stewart OSB, a monk of Saint John's Abbey, speaks about the Benedictine charism.

Admont armsAdmont Elects 68th Abbot

Under the guidance of Rt. Rev. Christian Haidinger OSB, Abbot President of the Austrian Benedicitne Congregation, the chapter of Admont Abbey elected, 25 January 2017, Fr. Gerhard Hafner OSB to succeed Abbot Bruno Hubl OSB. Abbot Gerhard had served as prior and pastor of the abbey church. The dates for the transfer of jurisdiction and the abbatial blessing are as yet not announced.

Week of Prayer for Church Unity

Wednesday, 18 January, began the International Week of Prayer for Church Unity, first observed in January, 1908. The Octave ends on 25 January, the feast of the Conversion of St. Paul. The devotion of prayer for unity, inaugurated by the Society of the Atonement, was approved as a Catholic devotion by Pope Benedict XV in 1916. This year, the theme is "Reconciliation: The Love of Christ Compels Us." Resources for the week are available from the Pontifical Council for Promoting Church Unity, the Graymoor site, and from the World Council of Churches.

Consultors Confirmed

14 January 2017, the Holy Father confirmed numerous consultors to the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments. One Benedictine is included, Fr. D. Olivier-Marie Sarr OSB, lecturer at the Pontifical St. Anselm Liturgical Institute in Rome.

Monastery of the Risen Christ

On 6 January, Solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord, the Camaldolese congregation received Fr. Ray Roh OSB, Fr. Stephen Coffee OSB, and their community of the Monastery of the Risen Christ, San Luis Obispo, CA, as members. Monastery of the Risen Christ had been part of the Olivetan Congregation for a number of years. When the Olivetans decided that the monastery should be closed as of spring 2013, the monks officially requested that New Camaldoli Hermitage accept them as a dependent house. The three-year trial period for the transfer ended on 1 January 2017.

National Catholic Youth Choir

The choir announces the 17th season of the NCYC camp and tour: God's Word Abides Forever! NCYC has a long tradition of promoting faith and musical beauty in the lives of young singers. The choir is currently accepting applications for the mid-June 2017 Choir Camp and Tour. Singers must be entering grades 9, 10, 11, or 12 in 2017 to be eligible. Train with NCYC Conductor, André Heywood, at Saint John's Abbey and University in Collegeville, Minnesota. Camp includes a concert tour, performances, and of course fun! Campers build lasting friendships and joyous memories - all while taking their singing to a new level! Learn more, and apply online. Deadline: Friday, March 24, 2017. Scholarships are available!

Benedictine Nuns in Belgium Offer Videos

The digitally alert sisters at Bethany Priory, Loppem in West Flanders, have proved to be a hit on their own YouTube channel. The nuns also have their own Facebook page (link in Flemish).

 

What's New OSB
What's New auf Deutsch: Aktuelle Meldungen (Erbe und Auftrag, Monastische Welt).
What Was New OSB, October, November, and December 2016, and previous quarters (1995-; archive).

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