Saturday, March 21, 2015

The Passing of Saint Benedict


While the universal Church honors Saint Benedict with a memorial to him as abbot in the midst of July, we Benedictines commemorate the anniversary of his death today.  Here at Sacred Heart Monastery we join Benedictines around the world in celebrating the Passing of our Holy Father Benedict with great joy.  How you might ask...

Prayer for the feast began on the eve of the day with a solemn procession of statio into first Vespers.  The solemnity continues today with chanted and sung prayer honoring Saint Benedict at Lauds and the celebration of the Eucharist the next morning.  Even in the midst of repentant Lent, our joy overflows into the hallways and offices.  The greetings of "Happy Feast!" break the morning silence and ripple cheerfully throughout the day.  After a celebratory supper (a little simpler during this Lenten season), we end the day of solemn joy the way we began, with our voices raised in the song and chanted prayer of Vespers.

St. Gregory the Great recounted the death of Benedict in chapter 37 of his Dialogues:
In the year that was to be his last, the man of God foretold the day of his holy death to a number of his disciples.  In mentioning it to some who were with him in the monastery, he bound them to strict secrecy.  Some others, however, who were stationed elsewhere he only informed of the special sign they would receive at the time of his death.   
The death of Saint Benedict depicted
in the gardens 
at his monastery
of Monte Cassino in Italy.
Six days before he died, he gave orders for his tomb to be opened. Almost immediately he was seized with a violent fever that rapidly wasted his remaining energy.  Each day his condition grew worse until finally, on the sixth day, he had his disciples carry him into the chapel where he received the Body and Blood of our Lord to gain strength for his approaching end.  Then, supporting his weakened body on the arms of his brethren, he stood with his hands raised to heaven and, as he prayed, breathed his last.   
That day two monks, one of them at the monastery, the other some distance away, received the very same revelation.  They both saw a magnificent road covered with rich carpeting and glittering with thousands of lights.  From his monastery it stretched eastward in a straight line until it reached up into heaven.  and there in the brightness stood a man of majestic appearance, who asked them, "Do you know who passed this way?" "No," they replied. 
"This," he told them, "is the road taken by blessed Benedict, the Lord's beloved, when he went to heaven."  Thus, while the brethren who were with Benedict witnessed his death, those who were absent know about it through the sign he had promised them.  His body was laid to rest in the Chapel of St. John the Baptist, which he had built to replace the altar of Apollo.
Wondering what else we do in celebration?  Ask your questions...through comments here or our Facebook site!

Happy Feast!

No comments: