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Being Benedictine

Living Benedictine values in everyday life

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Fr. Mauritius Wilde

125 Years: A Big Day for Benedictines!

Celebrating the 125th Jubilee of the Benedictine Confederation, Pope Francis addressed Abbot Primate Gregory Polan, Fr. Prior Mauritius Wilde and other Benedictines, expressing his gratitude “for the important contribution that the Benedictines have made to the life of the Church, in every part of the world, for almost fifteen hundred years.”

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Sant’ Anselmo, the seat of the Benedictine Confederation, is the home of the Abbot Primate and eighty monks from over thirty countries around the world. It was a thrill for me to visit Fr. Mauritius Wilde, Prior of Sant’ Anselmo, for a tour of the academic center, prayers with the monks, and a formal address for the Fourth International Oblate Congress. It was Pope Leo XIII, Fr. Mauritius shared, who said, “You Benedictines need a place in Rome. He saw two things: he certainly saw it was difficult for him to control us Benedictines, so he wanted to have a representative in Rome and he created the office of the Abbott Primate, the highest representative of all Benedictines.”

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On April 18, 1893, the first stone of Sant’Anselmo was laid on the Aventine Hill.  “In this celebration of the Jubilee of the Benedictine Confederation we wish to recall the commitment of Pope Leo XIII, who in 1893 wanted to unite all the Benedictines by founding a common house of study and prayer, here in Rome”, Pope Francis said. On July 12, 1893, Pope Leo XIII officially established the Benedictine Confederation.

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Pope Francis recognizes the various gifts of Benedictine spirituality, especially its motto “ora et labora,” prayer and work, and also study. An important part of prayer and listening to God is the practice of Lectio Divina.  He states, “In our era, when people are so busy that they have no time to listen to God, your monasteries and convents become oases, where men and women of all ages, backgrounds, cultures or religions can discover the beauty of silence and rediscover themselves, in harmony with creation, allowing God to restore proper order in their lives. This makes it possible for God to bring a right order into their lives again.” Hospitality, St. Benedict’s instruction to, “let all guests who arrive be received like Christ”, the Benedictine charism of receiving strangers, Pope Francis stated, “is quite important for the new evangelization … There is no conflict between a contemplative life and service to others.”

The Pope also praised the commitment of the Benedictines in ecumenism, interfaith dialogue and education.  Finally,  he notes the principal of stability, “is also important for people who come to look for you. Christ is present in this encounter: He is present in the monk, in the pilgrim, in the needy.”

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It is through the monastery and St. Benedict Center that I learned about the 1500-year-old Benedictine principals of stability, hospitality, obedience, conversion of life, and prayer. I am eternally grateful for the good prayer and work of the Benedictine monks, sisters, authors, and oblates that I walk this journey with. I believe as Pope Leo XIII said, “The more difficult the times are, the more we must reach our hands out to the Orders, both old and new, because all are necessary, in the north as in the south, in the East as in the West. […] For what concerns the Benedictine Order, the sap of this old trunk is not dried up. You will have proof of this.”

For more information and original sources:

Audience with the Monks of the Benedictine Confederation, 19.04.2018, Holy See Press Office

Video: Pope to Benedictines: Your monasteries and convents allow people to hear God’s voice, RomeReports.com

Pope Francis marks anniversary of Benedictine Confederation, Vatican News

Jubilee of the Foundation of the Benedictine Confederation, Sant’Anselmo

 

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Happy Feast Day of St. Benedict!

Happy Feast Day of St. Benedict!

On March 21, Benedictines around the world celebrate the “transitus of St. Benedict, the day Benedict entered eternity. “Transitus” in Latin means passing from one state to the next—death is not the end of life, but the transition into eternity with God.  It is one of two days that St. Benedict is recognized on the Benedictine calendar. Since this feast day is always during Lent, another commemoration date was set when Pope Paul VI declared St. Benedict the Patron of Europe at the rededication of the Church at Monte Cassino on July 11, 1964. July 11 is the Feast of St. Benedict for the Universal Church. Only Mary, the mother of Jesus and John the Baptist are remembered with both their birthdays and their day of entry into heaven.

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Montecassino Abbey, Italy. St. Benedict penned the Rule in this Abbey.


Continue reading “Happy Feast Day of St. Benedict!”

You Will Be With Me Wherever I Go

“Wherever you send me
There will I find you
Wherever you lead me
There will I go
Into all nations
All situations
You will be with me wherever I go.”
-Patrick on the Water, Garrison Doles

I stumbled upon a special song today called “Patrick on the Water”. The writer, Garrison Doles, was inspired by the life of St. Patrick—born in Britain, kidnapped by raiders, and enslaved in Ireland. Years later, after escaping, he felt called by the land where he had been held captive to travel back. The song tells this story while incorporating “The Deer’s Cry” or “St. Patrick’s Breastplate”, a prayer attributed to St. Patrick.

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What does it mean to follow God’s call wherever it may lead, “into all nations/all situations”? How can I trust that God “will be with me wherever I go”? Continue reading “You Will Be With Me Wherever I Go”

Embracing the Cross

Sometimes there is a lot on our plate. Sometimes it is just too much what we have to bear. It is then that we realize what Jesus meant when he said everybody has to carry his cross,” begins Fr. Mauritius Wilde in his blog post, Embracing the Cross.

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There are times in our lives when we feel that we have reached our limit, that what we have to bear seems more than we can cope with. It may be an overwhelming sense of loneliness, or grief, or seemingly insurmountable challenges, an accumulation of daily frustrations, or doubt, fear, anger, disappointment, or betrayal.

It may feel like a total exhaustion of mind, body, and spirit.

Sometimes these burdens are carried for some time and then, finally, come glimpses of light, a bit of relief. Other burdens may last for long periods of time, even a lifetime. We call these burdens, “our cross to bear.” Often, we make these exclamations melodramatically, but other times we know this is our truth—it isa cross. It is everyone’s truth.

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But how do we manage our burdens? How do we willingly carry our cross? Continue reading “Embracing the Cross”

2018 Word of the Year….drumroll, please

You know how spiritual gurus encourage you to pick a word of the year, something profound and inspirational to help you navigate a new year? Well, I found mine the other day. I had contemplated some lofty sounding words, but I don’t even remember them now because when this word fell on me, I knew it was the one.

My word for the year is going to be cushion.

When I have a lot of activity then I need to cushion it with some non-activity, some silence and solitude. When I have a lot of sitting, I need to cushion it with more standing and walking around (this I’ve learned from my back injury.) I love the “vorfreude”, the anticipation of travel, but my adventures need to be cushioned with the feeling of contentment when arriving home, sweet home. And the times when I think I can pour just a bit more information into my brain by reading one more article or one more chapter, I shall give myself a cushion, the needed space for new thoughts and ideas to bubble up. Continue reading “2018 Word of the Year….drumroll, please”

Rome ~ Layers Like Lasagna

There are layers of history in Rome—“layers like lasagna”—one tour guide suggested. Literally, layers were built on top of layers, buildings that had been destroyed by war and natural disaster were covered with dirt and new buildings were erected over ruins. Symbolically, many Christian churches were built over ancient pagan sites.

The architecture, art, and religious history communicate something spiritual, a deeper story with layers of meaning, like lasagna. I’ll share some of my favorite places, and the journey, from my trip to Rome to attend the World Congress of Benedictine Oblates:

St. Peter’s Basilica and the Scavi tour Continue reading “Rome ~ Layers Like Lasagna”

Pilgrimage Day for the World Congress of Benedictine Oblates, Part 4

Hearing from speakers, having small group discussions, sharing meals and worshipping in daily prayers and Mass were on the agenda for 5 out of the 6 days of the conference. The exception, Wednesday, November 8, was a special day for the participants of the 4th World Congress of Benedictine Oblates.

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Our morning started with attending the General Audience of Pope Francis at St. Peter’s Square. We were delighted to be seated on the platform, very near where the Holy Father was also seated. His message on the Eucharist was followed with a welcome for visiting groups with a special mention of Benedictine Oblates. For many oblates, this was one of the most magical moments of the week. Continue reading “Pilgrimage Day for the World Congress of Benedictine Oblates, Part 4”

Spiritual Lessons from The Little Prince

If you haven’t started The Little Prince podcast series with Fr. Mauritius Wilde, you must. The third in the series was just released and it packs a punch.

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If you haven’t read The Little Prince, no worries. It’s helpful, but not at all necessary to benefit from the lessons of the Antoine de Saint-Exupéry classic. You can find the book and chapter summaries HERE.
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The author points to “sicknesses of our times.  Jesus said it was not the healthy that need a doctor, but the sick,” Fr. Mauritius points out. We do not always achieve the ideal in our lives, but we take comfort that Jesus still meets us where we are. It is Jesus that went to the margins–to the broken people, the lepers, the Pharisees. It is the Little Prince who invites us in a compassionate way to welcome our “oddness”, to accept that all people have limitations.

We all experience feelings of judgment, shame, fear, and expectations. “Everybody has spots in their life that they are ashamed of.  And that’s okay. This is the place where Jesus goes. He is so merciful, so tender. He never tried to shame people. Never. He knew they were struggling enough already with their shame,” Fr. Mauritius shares.

Fr. Mauritius’ message, through the story of The Little Prince, meets us right where we are with our inadequacies and imperfections, the expectations that we put on ourselves and others, and our heartfelt desire for authenticity.

The Little Prince, the movie, is also worth an evening on the couch with popcorn. More information about the 2015 animated movie HERE.

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Lord, You Know Me: Friendships and Loneliness

A new blog post from Fr. Mauritius Wilde, Prior of Sant’ Anselmo in Rome, that honors both friendship, which God touches, and loneliness, which can only be filled with God. It captures the essence of the book Anam Cara, by John O’Donohue, which I treasure. He writes, “You should never belong to something that is outside yourself…(it is) important to find a balance in your belonging.” Read the rest of Fr. Mauritius’ blog HERE.

He refers to the friendship of God, who is with us from the beginning as our “secret companion”, our truest friend. Christ is our true companion, nearer to us than any other. There is a danger to become too attached to our friendships, but we must not forget the Source of all friendships, our friendship in Christ. It is too easy to forget that God is our great love, our best friend.

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Lord, You Know Me

It is wonderful to have a friend who knows you well, with whom you have walked for many years. With whom you can share everything; who knows your story. With whom a conversation does not start at zero, you can just jump into it. To have a person who understands and who knows you, is a great gift of God.

However, sometimes not even a friend can reach my heart. This is an odd experience. Sometimes we are just left with ourselves, left alone. We cannot find a partner that adequately responds to our feelings, our story, our thoughts, situation or needs. But these moments that can be filled with darkness and sadness can also turn into a very precious experience. The situation breaks us open to realize that our loneliness is not an accident, but the reflection of our deepest call as human beings that goes beyond what another human being can grasp or understand. We realize that our loneliness touches the dimension of God; it is a result of the fact that we are immediate to God. This is the monk’s moment. The term monk stems from the Greek word “monachos” which means “single, solitary”.

Through God’s grace, we are able in these moments of aloneness to talk to Christ or to God and find his ear. And his response is always exactly what we need. We realize: HE understands, HE knows. His presence resonates with everything I utter and express. I feel understood, appreciated, loved. I feel liked by him as by a good friend. But even better, and in a perfect way. Nothing is missing.  Read more at WildeMonk. 

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