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August 31, 2013

St. Benedict and Spiritual Combat (Part 2 of 3)

The Medal of St. Benedict, according to an old tradition, became widely known through the following
Medal of St. Benedict
occurrence. Bruno, who would one day become Pope Leo IX, had in his youth been bitten by a venomous reptile, in consequence of which he was seriously ill for two months. He had lost the use of speech and in a short time was reduced to a skeleton. All hopes of his recovery had been abandoned when suddenly he beheld a luminous ladder that reached to heaven from which descended a venerable old man wearing the habit of a monk. It was St. Benedict, bearing in his hand a radiant cross with which he touched the swollen face of Bruno, and instantly cured him. Then the apparition disappeared.

Pope St. Leo IX
Bruno, who had been healed in such a miraculous manner, later entered the Order of St. Benedict. He ascended the papal throne in the year 1048, under the name of Leo IX and was renowned in the Church for his sanctity, his devotion to the Holy Cross, and to St. Benedict. He was later canonized. Through this pope the Medal of St. Benedict was enriched with special blessings, and its veneration spread far and wide.

To learn more about the images on the Medal of St. Benedict: http://www.osb.org/gen/medal.html

August 28, 2013

St. Benedict and Spiritual Combat (Part 1 of 3)

In The Ratzinger Report, Pope Benedict XVI said: “Whatever the less discerning theologians may say, the devil, as far as Christian belief is concerned, is a puzzling but real, personal and not merely symbolic presence.  He is a powerful reality, a baneful superhuman freedom directed against God’s freedom… On his own, man has not the power to oppose Satan, but united with Jesus we can be certain of vanquishing him”. 
Known to have frequent battles with the evil one, St. Benedict found the power to defeat Satan by means of the sign of the Cross.  As a powerful intercessor against demons, St. Benedict also taught his disciples to use the Sign of our Redemption against the assaults of Satan, and in other dangers as well.  St. Maurus and St. Placid, his first and most renowned disciples, wrought numerous miracles through the powerful sign of the Holy Cross.

For more on St. Benedict’s use of the Sign of the Cross & his combat with Satan, Read these Chapters from Book Two of the Dialogues:

CH 2: HOW HE OVERCAME A GREAT TEMPTATION OF THE FLESH: http://www.osb.org/gen/greg/dia-04.html#TopOfPage

-   CH 3: HOW Benedict, BY THE SIGN OF THE HOLY CROSS, BROKE A DRINKING-GLASS IN PIECES: http://www.osb.org/gen/greg/dia-05.html#TopOfPage

-   CH 4: HOW Benedict REFORMED A MONK THAT WOULD NOT STAY AT HIS PRAYERS: http://www.osb.org/gen/greg/dia-06.html#TopOfPage

-   CH 8: HOW A LOAF WAS POISONED, AND CARRIED FAR OFF BY A CROW:  http://www.osb.org/gen/greg/dia-10.html#TopOfPage
    CH 11: HOW VENERABLE BENEDICT REVIVED A BOY, CRUSHED TO DEATH WITH THE RUIN OF A WALL: http://www.osb.org/gen/greg/dia-13.html#P89_36708
    CH 13: OF THE BROTHER OF VALENTINIAN THE MONK, WHOM THE MAN OF GOD BLAMED FOR EATING IN HIS JOURNEY: http://www.osb.org/gen/greg/dia-15.html#P94_40064
    CH 16: OF A CERTAIN CLERGYMAN, WHOM VENERABLE BENEDICT FOR A TIME DELIVERED FROM A DEVIL: http://www.osb.org/gen/greg/dia-18.html#P105_47082

-   CH 25: HOW A MONK, FORSAKING THE ABBEY, MET WITH A DRAGON ON THE WAY: http://www.osb.org/gen/greg/dia-27.html#P154_67772

-   CH 30: HOW BENEDICT DELIVERED A MONK FROM THE DEVIL: http://www.osb.org/gen/greg/dia-32.html#P170_73635

August 26, 2013

Monks Begin a New Semester of Seminary

While some monks attend seminary in order to attain a Master of Arts degree in subjects such as Systematic Theology, Sacred Scripture, or Monastic Studies (so that they might go on to teach in our college or seminary), other monks attend seminary in order to pursue a degree required for Priestly Ordination (Master of Divinity Degree).

The purpose of the Master of Divinity Degree is to prepare the monk (or diocesan seminarian) for ordained ministry and for general pastoral and religious leadership responsibilities. However, a monk does not choose this pursuit of ordination based on his own judgment. Rather, through his own careful discernment and the prayerful discernment of the Archabbot, a monk may be called upon by his abbot to study for the priesthood.

Listening to the wisdom of the Holy Rule, St. Benedict tells us, “Any Abbot who asks to have a priest or deacon ordained should choose from his monks one worthy to exercise the priesthood” (Ch 62).

This monk must constantly be on guard against conceit and pride: “Just because he is a priest, he may not therefore forget the obedience and discipline of the Rule, but make more and more progress toward God” (Ch 62).

August 25, 2013

Steelers Football, Monks and Friendship

"A unique and powerful bond was formed at an NFL training camp held at a Catholic college campus."

August 24, 2013

Today is the 108th Anniversary of the Basilica's Dedication!

Saint Vincent Archabbey Basilica: One Hundred Years

by Brian D. Boosel, O.S.B.

Nestled among the emerald green foothills of the Laurel Ridge Mountains of Southwestern Pennsylvania, at a place called Saint Vincent, there

is to be found a jewel of human achievement and architectural wonder, in praise of God: the Saint Vincent Archabbey Basilica. The story of this grand church is situated within the stories of the many immigrant peoples who first came to Pennsylvania beginning in the mid-eighteenth century. It was the determination, zeal, and dedication of these peoples that formed the spiritual foundation of this sacred space. Thus, to understand the significance of this noble structure, it is necessary to understand the significance of the events around which this place called Saint Vincent came to be.

The tale of Saint Vincent begins in 1766—three years following the turbulent end of the French and Indian War. King George III of England granted a gentleman by the name of John Fraser some three hundred acres of land for development. Subsequently, Mr. Fraser sold the tract of land to a man named James Hunter, who, after having built a small log cabin on the land, named it Sportsman’s Hall. In January 1790, a Franciscan friar from Holland, Father Theodore Brouwers,

O.F.M, sailed to America to become a missionary. At the behest of Bishop John Carroll, Father Brouwers came to Southwestern Pennsylvania and purchased the property from Hunter. It was here that he established—in the log cabin—a Roman Catholic parish. The parish was first called “Sportsman’s Hall Parish,” then later Saint Vincent. In 1835 the growing congregation built a brick church. It stood behind the present-day basilica. When it came time to bless the church, the people of this parish wrote to the Bishop of Philadelphia, Bishop Kendrick. The Bishop’s custom was to name the church for whatever saint’s day it happened to be when he arrived at a church. He arrived at this parish on the feast of Saint Vincent de Paul. Today, 215 years later, this vibrant parish seeks to serve God and neighbor as the oldest Catholic parish west of the Allegheny Mountains. 

To Read the Whole Article: http://www.sacredarchitecture.org/articles/saint_vincent_archabbey_basilica_one_hundred_years/

Back to School!

After a peaceful summer of “Ora et Labora” (prayer and work), the junior monks will rejoin their diocesan classmates on Monday, August 26, for another year of studies at St. Vincent Seminary.

Saint Vincent Seminary is the fourth oldest Roman Catholic Seminary in the United States, dating back to our founder, Archabbot Boniface Wimmer, in 1846.

Since then nearly 2500 men have been ordained to the priesthood, and among our distinguished alumni are 30 bishops, archbishops, and cardinals.

For More Info on the St. Vincent Seminary: http://www.saintvincentseminary.edu/home

August 22, 2013




Pope St. John Paul II
The Consecrated Life, deeply rooted in the example and teaching of Christ the Lord, is a gift of God the Father to his Church through the Holy Spirit. By the profession of the evangelical counsels the characteristic features of Jesus — the chaste, poor and obedient one — are made constantly "visible" in the midst of the world and the eyes of the faithful are directed towards the mystery of the Kingdom of God already at work in history, even as it awaits its full realization in heaven.

In every age there have been men and women who, obedient to the Father's call and to the prompting of the Spirit, have chosen this special way of following Christ, in order to devote themselves to him with an "undivided" heart (cf. 1 Cor 7:34). Like the Apostles, they too have left everything behind in order to be with Christ and to put themselves, as he did, at the service of God and their brothers and sisters. In this way, through the many charisms of spiritual and apostolic life bestowed on them by the Holy Spirit, they have helped to make the mystery and mission of the Church shine forth, and in doing so have contributed to the renewal of society.

To read the whole text: 

August 20, 2013

Vocation Pilgrimage to Rome!

Ever been on a Vocation Discernment Pilgrimage to Rome?  Come, Pray, and See the Foundations of Benedictine Monasticism!

Each year the St. Vincent Archabbey Vocation Office sponsors The Footsteps of St. Benedict Pilgrimage, a spiritual journey for young, single, Catholic men (age 18-35) who are exploring a Religious Vocation.  

Monte Cassino

The 2013-2014 tentative schedule:
  • Fri. Dec 27: Leave from your most convenient airport for Rome
  • Sat. Dec 28: Meals and Prayer at St. Anselmo, the international Benedictine House of Studies, and free time in Rome
  • Sun. Dec 29: Visit Norcia, birthplace of St. Benedict and his twin sister St. Scholastica
  • Mon. Dec. 30: Free day until Solemn Vespers with Pope Francis in St Peter’s Basilica
  • Tues. Dec 31: Mass - Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God with Holy Father & Tour of St. Paul's Outside the Walls
  • Wed. Jan 1: Free day in Rome (Tour churches in Rome, Roman Forum, Circus Maximus, Coliseum)
  • Thurs. Jan 2: Visit Subiaco Abbey, location of Saint Benedict’s cave and first monastery
  • Fri. Jan 3: Visit Mt. Cassino, Benedict’s famous Abbey where he wrote his Holy Rule
  • Sat. Jan 4: Papal Audience, Vatican Museum Tour, and free day in Rome
  • Sun. Jan 5: Return to U.S.A.
Subiaco Abbey
More information about attending the Discernment Pilgrimage can be found on our Vocation Website:

And don't forget to ask about our Vince Sarni Family Scholarship of $700! 

Norcia Abbey Church

August 18, 2013

Another Successful Year of Steelers Training Camp at St. Vincent College

Today marks the end of this year's Steelers Pre-Season Training Camp, an event the Monks of St. Vincent have been hosting since 1966.    

While the opening of the 48th annual Pittsburgh Steelers Summer Training Camp at Saint Vincent College gets extensive media
Steelers Practice Scrimage
attention in newspapers, radio and television and attracts tens of thousands of fans to the campus, their first visit to Saint Vincent College in 1966 started quietly.

A review of the Latrobe Bulletin archives revealed that the presence of Steelers at Saint Vincent in 1966 was secondary to reports about local baseball leagues and Arnold Palmer's appearance in the 48th annual PGA tournament.

The first public mention of the Steelers coming to Latrobe appeared in a story by Sports Editor Steve Kittey on July 5, 1966: “It seems summer has just reached us, but already all the National Football
Archabbey Basilica viewed from the Practice Fields
League teams are about set to open their training camps. For our pride and joy in the NFL, Pittsburgh, the moment of truth is fast approaching for it and new coach Bill Austin. This Friday, Austin will hold an early week of workouts for 51 players, most of whom are rookies. Next week, the entire squad will gather under the auspices of Austin’s watchful eye. Site of the training camp is the University of Rhode Island in Kingston, Rhode Island. The final two weeks of the Steelers’ training camp will be held on the campus of Saint Vincent College."

Fr. Paul Meets with Steelers Players

August 15, 2013

Solemnity of the Assumption of Mary

Mass Reading 1: Rv 11:19a; 12:1-6a, 10ab

God's temple in heaven was opened, and the ark of his covenant could be seen in the temple.

A great sign appeared in the sky, a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars.  She was with
child and wailed aloud in pain as she labored to give birth. Then another sign appeared in the sky; it was a huge red dragon, with seven heads and ten horns, and on its heads were seven diadems.  Its tail swept away a third of the stars in the sky and hurled them down to the earth. Then the dragon stood before the woman about to give birth, to devour her child when she gave birth.  She gave birth to a son, a male child, destined to rule all the nations with an iron rod. Her child was caught up to God and his throne.  The woman herself fled into the desert where she had a place prepared by God.  

Then I heard a loud voice in heaven say: "Now have salvation and power come, and the Kingdom of our God and the authority of his Anointed One."

Reflection on the Reading

From the earliest days of the Church, "The woman clothed with the Sun" has been a clear reference to Mary, the Mother of God and "Queen of Heaven". "The Immaculate Virgin, preserved free from all stain of original sin, when the course of her earthly life was finished, was taken up body and soul into heavenly glory, and exalted by the Lord as Queen over all things, so that she might be the more fully conformed to her Son, the Lord of lords and conqueror of sin and death.  The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin is a singular participation in her Son's Resurrection and an anticipation of the resurrection of other Christians" (966 CCC).

As seen by this reading from the book of Revelation, Mary's "Queenship" has its roots in Sacred Scripture.  In addition to this passage, Mary's Queenship can also be noticed in the Annunciation, when Gabriel announced that Mary's Son would receive the throne of David and rule forever.  How could a Son be King if His Mother was not a Queen?  Overall, Mary's Queenship is a share in Christ's Kingship.

For more on Mary’s Queenship: https://www.americancatholic.org/features/saints/saint.aspx?id=1115

August 14, 2013

Assumption of Mary

Assumption of Mary
While Scripture reveals nothing about Mary’s death, St. John Damascene (d. 749) recorded a story reportedly shared at the Council of Chalcedon in 451 AD that Mary had died in the presence of the Apostles, but when the tomb was opened they found it empty, “wherefrom the Apostles concluded that they body was taken up to Heaven”.  From this testimony the Church has taught that Mary was assumed bodily and now tastes the Resurrection for which all Christians hope.    

August 12, 2013


On August 12, the Junior Monks will begin a week long Retreat on Chestnut Ridge.

Monastery Ridge House
Beginning in the mid 19th century, our founder, Archabbot Boniface Wimmer, utilized timber from monastery property on Chestnut Ridge in order to construct buildings on St.Vincent Campus. Similarly, in the 20th century, the monks continued to use the Ridge grounds; however, this time it was utilized more for the purposes of
Ridge Barn
farming.  Today, although it still functions as farm land, the natural peace and silence of the Ridge is used most effectively as a place of retreat where monks
Ridge Chapel
 simultaneously find time for prayer, leisure, and fraternity.        

More Photos of the Ridge:

Ridge Chapel
Chapel, Chapel Entrance & Chapel Ambulatory (i.e. Walkway)
Chapel Altar, Choir Stalls & Monk at Prayer

Ridge Scenery

Hike in the Woods, Fishing Pond & Apple Orchard

Blue Berry Bushes & Camp Fire
Br. Canice at Swimming Pond & Ridge Hermitage 

August 9, 2013

Benedictine Vows (Part 3 of 3)

After a year of discerning one's vocation in the Novitiate, a Benedictine Monk Professes Three Vows: Obedience, Conversion of Life, and Stability.  I hope to offer a separate reflection on each of these vows; today we will take of the vow of "Stability" by which a monk seeks to live the monastic life in the context of a specific community, supporting the community through his work and prayer. Below is a passage taken from Thomas A. Kempis' spiritual masterpiece, The Imitation of Christ.

True Solace is to be Sought in God Alone

Devout persons always carry Jesus, their Consoler, with them, and say to Him: "Be with me, Lord Jesus, in every place and at all times, that I may have the special grace to forgo all human solace for love of You; and if Your comfort is withdrawn, let Your will and Your just trial of me be like the greatest comfort.  For He will not always rebuke, nor will He remain angry forever (Ps 103:9)

August 7, 2013

Benedictine Vows (Part 2 of 3)

After a year of discerning one's vocation in the Novitiate, a Benedictine Monk Professes Three Vows: Obedience, Conversion of Life, and Stability.  I hope to offer a separate reflection on each of these vows; today we will take of the vow of "Conversion of Life" by which a monk promises to take up his Cross each day, dying to self in his loving service to God and to neighbor. Below is a passage taken from Thomas A. Kempis' spiritual masterpiece, The Imitation of Christ.      

Interior Conversion

Our Lord says: "The Kingdom of God is in your midst" (Lk 17:21). The only way your soul will find rest is to turn to God with your whole heart and abandon this wretched world.  Learn to despise exterior things and give your attention to the inner things; then you will see the Kingdom of God come within you...

Lose no time, then, faithful soul, in preparing your heart to meet Christ, the Beloved, so that He may come and live in you. Does He not say: "Whoever loves Me will keep My word,... We will come to him and make Our abode with him" (Jn 14:23)?  Therefore, make room for Him in your heart and shut out all others... 

When our Lord lived on earth He was looked down upon by people, and in the hour of His greatest need, He was left by His friends to bear insults and shame. 

Can you dare to complain when Christ was so willing to suffer and be despised?  Do you expect all to be your friends and patrons, when Christ was surrounded by enemies and slanders?

If all goes well with you on earth, how can you expect to be crowned in Heaven for a patience you never practiced?  How can you be Christ's friend if you will not be opposed? Therefore, you must suffer with Christ and for Christ, if you want to reign with Him...

Those who love Jesus and the truth, who lead an interior life free from unruly affections, can turn to God at will, life themselves up in spirit and repose in Christ with joy.

August 5, 2013

Benedictine Vows (Part 1 of 3)

After a year of discerning one's vocation in the Novitiate, a Benedictine Monk Professes Three Vows: Obedience, Conversion of Life, and Stability.  I hope to offer a separate reflection on each of these vows; today we will begin with the vow of "Obedience" by which a monk strives to hear and obey the Word of God in the person of the Abbot.  Below is a passage taken from Thomas A. Kempis' spiritual masterpiece, The Imitation of Christ.        


Thomas A. Kempis
To be obedient, to live under a superior - not seeking our own will - is great virtue.  It is safer to obey orders than to give them.  Many obey more out of necessity than for Charity's sake.  These find it burdensome and complain easily; but they will never have liberty of spirit until they submit wholly to authority for the love of God.  

Go where you will, but you will never find rest except in humble obedience to the rule of your superior. Many are deceived by thinking that a change of location will solve their difficulties.

In reality, all of us are inclined to do our own will and agree more readily with those who hold with our views.  But if we want to have the presence of God among us, then we must be willing to give up our own way in order to live in love and harmony with others.  Surely there are no persons so wise that they know everything.

Therefore, listen to the opinions of others and do not trust too much in your own point of view.  Perhaps you are right, but by setting aside your own will and following another out of love for God, you will profit by it.

I have often heard it said that it is surer to take advice than to give it!  It is good to listen to every person's advice; but when it is sound, to disagree is sheer stubbornness.  

August 2, 2013

Fr. Jean-Luc & St. Vincent Students Attend World Youth Day!

Fr. Jean-Luc reflects on his Trip to  World Youth Day in Brazil

Fr. Jean-Luc (holding the American Flag), students from St. Vincent College and youth from Brazil celebrate at World Youth Day 

My life as a Benedictine Monk of Saint Vincent Archabbey is never dull. Our Archabbey's apostolates, the work that we do, are varied. My work in Campus Ministry with students of Saint Vincent College took me to Brazil for World Youth Day. We prayed the Stations of the Cross and attended Mass offered by our Holy Father Pope Francis. Also, we had the opportunity to meet Catholic young people from all over the world.

Benedictine monks have for centuries played an important role in the work of evangelization through founding educational institutions. Our monks are so blessed to be sharing in the New Evangelization! 

August 1, 2013

St. Benedict on Prayer

From the Rule of St. Benedict: Chapter 20 (Reverence in Prayer)

When we wish to suggest our wants to persons of high station, 
we do not presume to do so 
except with humility and reverence. 
How much the more, then, 
are complete humility and pure devotion necessary 
in supplication of the Lord who is God of the universe! 
And let us be assured 
that it is not in saying a great deal that we shall be heard (Matt 6:7),
but in purity of heart and in tears of compunction. 
Our prayer, therefore, ought to be short and pure, 
unless it happens to be prolonged 
by an inspiration of divine grace. 
In community, however, let prayer be very short, 
and when the Superior gives the signal let all rise together.

Reflection on Chapter 20 

In Chapter 20, St. Benedict’s instruction on “Reverence in Prayer” requires us to have certain dispositions: humility, devotion, purity of heart, and tears of compunction.  Firstly, when we pray to God, we must approach Him with “humility” and “devotion” because this is how God first approached us; in “humility” God took on flesh and became man, and in “devotion” to us He poured out His life for the sake of our Salvation.  Therefore, in “humility” we approach God as one who is redeemed at His cost, and in “devotion” we offer ourselves wholly to Him as one who seeks to do His Will. 

Secondly, God does not judge our prayers by their many words, but by our “purity of heart and tears of compunction”.  Jesus said, “Blessed are the pure of heart, for they shall see God” (Mt 5:8).  When man is blinded by worldly desire, he cannot “see God,” but when man’s heart solely desires God, he approaches God with the reverence due to Him alone.

Finally, reverence in prayer requires “tears of compunction”.  Tears indicate that we have been touched by Grace.  Therefore, they are both tears of sorrow for our sins and tears of joy for the salvation that has been won for us!     

Pax et Gaudium

O.S.B. Vocation Awareness

O.S.B. Vocation Awareness