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The Order of Saint Benedict

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January, February, and March 2015

Rev. 26 February 2015


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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 <>. 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: <>.

The Missionary Benedictines of St. Ottilien have also launched a new website at <>. 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.

What's New OSB
What's New auf Deutsch Aktuelle Meldungen (Erbe und Auftrag, Monastische Welt).
What Was New OSB, October, November, and December 2014, and further back (1995-; archive).

The monks of Saint John's Abbey welcome comments, questions and suggestions from readers. Send items for inclusion in "What's New" to the <Webkeeper>.

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