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December 7, 2014

Life in Community

Today, on the Feast of St. Ambrose, the Patron Saint of beekeepers, Br. Lawrence offers us a reflection on "Bees" as a symbol for Monastic Life in Community

Monks have been marveling at God’s providence revealed in the honeybee for centuries, and have seen in the lives of bees a reflection of our own monastic life. One of our brother monks cares for a small beehive as a hobby, so that we are able sometimes to enjoy real, local wildflower honey. It is exceedingly delicious. When you visit the bees, it is amazing to see the order and zeal with which they go about their work. If at first glance the bees’ movements appear chaotic, after watching a while one can see recognizable flight patterns to and from the hive. They are never idle and work together, each for the good of the whole. When adding a new comb to a beehive, one does not need to clean it; the bees do it themselves. They repair damage to the hive with materials produced from their own bodies. When they work on a “project,” the bees are amazingly specialized in their labor, yet any individual bee’s job can change with the needs of the hive. Most importantly, bees sustain their hives by gathering pollen from the all the flowers growing around them.

Like bees, we monks find our deepest identity in giving ourselves over to the life of our community, embracing as our own the life of the community. We are called to love the community and its work, and we desire to contribute to it. Each of us, in faithfully working in our assignments given by the abbot, be they simple or “grand,” contributes in a meaningful way to the whole. Sometimes the needs of the community change, and we, through our vow of obedience, are called to be flexible and go where we are needed rather than where we may want to be. Like bees, we give of ourselves, from our hearts and bodies to build up the monastic community. But most significant is our source of life: the “flowers” of God’s grace which surround us. Graces can appear like beautiful roses or as simple and hidden clover (which are far more common). It is the task of monastic life to gather our nourishment from these graces, to pick up on the opportunities to hear God speaking to us. His graces are everywhere, if we are willing to fly to them, and we need not fly far. They are in the daily liturgy. They are in our work, in our interactions, our joys and our trials, ever growing and always beautiful, even if on the outside they appear plain or even ugly. Not every flower smells sweet, but in them bees may still be found, bringing home precious pollen to share with the hive, for our graces are not for us alone. From this, we may draw one final analogy between bees and the monastery. When bees produce honey, they always produce far more than they need, and it is this surplus abundance which we enjoy at table. Like the bees, when we are faithful to gathering in the grace of God, a monastery overflows with an abundance of sweetness and nourishment for all those who come to us, for,

The decrees of the Lord are truth, and all of them just.
They are more to be desired than gold, than the purest of gold,
and sweeter are they than honey, than honey from the comb.

Psalm 19:10-11

October 14, 2014

The Monk's Habit (Part 2)

Did you Know???
Because the symbolism of the Habit is so significant, there are special prayers that accompany each part.

Tunic: "Cloth me O Lord with the man who has been created according to God in Justice and Holiness of Truth"

Cincture: "Gird me O Lord with the cincture of gladness. Cleanse me and purify my heart that the virtues of Continence and Chastity may ever abide with me"

Scapular: "O Lord you said 'my yoke is easy and my burden is light', grant that I may accept it with that I may receive the reward of my labor"

Cowl (hood): "Place O Lord the Helmet of Salvation upon my head that I may overcome the assault of the devil"

October 8, 2014

The Monk's Habit (Part 1)

The habit is a sign of the Monk's consecration. Each part of the habit has special significance.

The tunic is symbolic of the monk's new life in Christ. He no longer wears the "old self" but has been been clothed with "The New man who has been created by God in holiness and truth".

The cincture belt represents the Monk's life as a single man, one who forsakes marriage in order to live a life of celibacy for the Kingdom of God.

The scapular represents the work of a Monk, which is praying the Psalms together in community.

And lastly, the Cowl (a hood) represents the helmet of salvation which shields the Monk in his battles with the evil one.

October 5, 2014

"Universal" Vocation Discernment

You exist as a unique and unrepeatable being, an "I" Who is capable of self – understanding, self – possession and self – determination. In His Great Providence God has a special plan for you. Pray that you may know and follow that plan.

October 1, 2014

Hallmarks of Benedictine Education (Part 10)

At Saint Vincent Archabbey many of our monks are involved in our College Apostolate. Some serve as Professors in departments such as Theology, Philosophy, Mathematics, English, Science or Business, while others work in the Library or Campus Ministry. Needless to say, our Benedictine Heritage influences the way that we educate our students as a WHOLE human person, Body, Mind, and Soul.

Thus, this series of posts will focus on the 10 Hallmarks of a Benedictine Education. 

10. Community: call for service to the common good and respect for the individual

Benedictine monastic community is rooted in a particular place in which mutual service, especially
in the mundane areas of everyday life, is demanded of everyone with no other reward than the building up of the community. Yet for Benedictines community also stretches across time and place. There is an awareness of community with the past, with the millennia-old tradition, with past
community members and friends of the monastery, with the communion of saints. There is also
solidarity with other communities across the world, monastic and non-monastic, Christian and non-
Christian, religious and non-religious, that make practical efforts to foster human well-being. Though directly grounded in a particular place, the commitments and aspirations of Benedictine life are
catholic and universal, rather than provincial.

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Pax et Gaudium

O.S.B. Vocation Awareness

O.S.B. Vocation Awareness