July 12, 2012
St. Benedict (480-547) lived in the sixth-century Italy when the great Roman Empire was in a state of chaos. Rome had fallen to the barbarians in 410 and war was a constant threat. During this turmoil the young Benedict left his native Nursia to attend school in Rome. However, disgusted with the paganism and immorality, the youth renounced the world and fled for a cave in Subiaco, some thirty miles west of Rome, and became a hermit.
At Subiaco, it did not take long for this holy man's reputation and the stories of his great miracles to spread through the land. Soon after, a group of monks arrived at his cave requesting Benedict to be their Abbot. However, frustrated with Benedict's strict way of life, the monks tried to poison him. Leaving these defiant monks behind, Benedict went on to establish twelve monasteries before founding the monastery of Monte Cassino where he would go on to write the Holy Rule which is still followed by monks throughout the world even to this day. It was there that Benedict would spend the rest of his earthly life. Supported by his Brothers, Benedict died standing with his hands raised in praise of God.
July 7, 2012
During Morning Prayer, on July 10, Shawn will be clothed with the monastic habit and begin the year long novitiate. For St. Benedict, the meaning of the novitiate year is quite simple, yet touches the depth of the human heart: "The concern must be whether the novice truly seeks God and whether he shows eagerness for the Work of God, for obedience and trials" (RB 58). Living the monastic life, as a year of discernment, the novice monk shares the communal life of the monks. Under the care of the Novice Master, Shawn will discover what it means to "seek God" in this monastery, seeking God through a regular routine of prayer, study, work, and recreation.
"Listen carefully, my son, to the Master's instructions, and attend to them with the ear of your heart. This is advice from a father who loves you; welcome it, and faithfully put it into practice"
(Prologue of the Rule of St. Benedict)
July 5, 2012
Br. Basil, Br. Rafael, Br. Theophilus & Br. Miguel"Let easy admission not be given to one who newly comes to change his life; but as the Apostle said, 'Try the spirits, whether they be of God' (1 Jn 4:1). If, therefore, the newcomer keeps on knocking, and after four or five days it is seen that he patiently bears the harsh treatment offered him and the difficulty of admission, and that he perseveres in his request, let admission be granted him." (From the Holy Rule of St. Benedict-Ch 58)
On July 10, after living the monastic way of life for one year, studying the Holy Rule of St. Benedict and learning the Psalter, four men will profess the Benedictine Vows of Stability, Obedience and Conversion of Life.
"Sustain me oh Lord as you have promised that I may live and disappoint me not in my hope"
During the retreat the young monks had a wonderful chance to experience life at a different monastery, meet other young monks, and learn about various monastic topics such as the Life of St. Benedict according to Pope St. Gregory the Great's Dialogues, the Material Culture of Medieval Monasticism and the History of the Missionary Benedictines.