Saturday, July 11, 2015

The Feast of Saint Benedict

"Come let us join with the angels and saints
in offering thanks and praise to the Lord
on the solemnity of our Father Benedict."
Greetings and Happy Feast!

Today, we conclude a week of honoring Benedict in our monastic home and join the Church in celebrating Saint Benedict.

Our Sisters joined with employees and friends in celebrating the Feast of Saint Benedict.  Our week-long celebration included a morning coffee break for the sisters and employees with wide variety of wonderful treats and even a game.  One of our office employees recorded sounds from around the monastery and we were all tested on our listening skills.  This was a wonderful play off the Prologue of Benedict's Rule:  Listen carefully, my child, to your master's precepts, and incline the ear of your heart" (Prologue: 1).  Even the responsory from our prayer reflects Benedict's call to listen:  "We listen to the words we hear God speak, a promise of life and light we seek: In love run ways we cannot clearly see until our hearts expand and set us free" (Lauds Responsory).  

Later in the week, our sisters from the Riverview living-group welcomed us to an afternoon break with root-beer floats!  This was in light of Benedict's call to "Let all guests who arrive be received like Christ, for He is going to say, 'I came as a guest, and you received Me'. And to all let due honor be shown, especially to the domestics of the faith and to pilgrims" (Rule of Benedict 53: 1-2).  All our employees, from mechanic to nurse, and sisters gathered to laugh, tell tales of the day, and even win a few door prizes.  Playfully fulfilling our Lauds Antiphon to celebrate, "Let us rejoice! Rejoice in the Lord for a feast in honor of Benedict, at whose triumph the angels rejoice and give praise to the Son of God." 

As the Feast of Benedict falls upon a Saturday this year, we invited our employees to a Thursday 'Italian' lunch of lasagna or supper of pizza with us in the dinning room.  It was wonderful to see the refectory filled with our sisters, secretaries, maintenance folk, and all who help us in our daily living. But you might be wondering, why the Italian influence on the meals in this Benedictine community with Swiss-German roots in the midst of rural South Dakota?  To remember, to celebrate, and to honor Benedict's own heritage and that of our early monks and nuns within the Benedictine tradition, and to bring this feast to our employees and friends.

"...He was born in the province of Nursia [Italy], of honorable parentage, and brought up at Rome in the study of humanity.  As much as he saw many by reason of such learning fall to dissolute and a lewd life, he drew back his foot, which he had as it were now set forth into the world, lest, entering too far in acquaintance with it, he likewise might have fallen into that dangerous and godless gulf.

Therefore, giving over his book, and forsaking his father's house and wealth, with a resolute mind only to serve God, he sought for some place, where he might attain to the desire of his holy purpose.  In this way he departed [Rome] , instructed with learned ignorance, and furnished with unlearned wisdom" (Dialogues of Gregory the Great: Book Two: prologue).

The celebration of the Saint Benedict's feast itself began Friday evening with first vespers, chanted liturgy of the hours on the eve of the feast.  Marking the solemnity of our celebration, we started with statio, a formal procession into chapel.  It continues the Saturday morning with Lauds and then a new addition...  

This year, our sisters will be celebrating significant anniversaries on the Feast of Benedict.  We will honor Sister Maribeth, our Silver Jubilarian, and Sisters Janice and Marielle, Golden Jubilarians, during the Celebration of the Eucharist.  Among sisters, family, and friends, these three sisters will be lifted up in prayer as they renew their monastic profession of stability, fidelity to the monastic way of life, and obedience.  

"When she is to be received she promises before all in the oratory stability, fidelity to monastic life and obedience.  This promise she shall make before God and His Saints, so that if she should ever act otherwise, she may know that she will be condemned by Him whom she mocks.

Of this promise of hers let her draw up a document in the name of the Saints whose relics are there and of the Abbess who is present. Let her write this document with her own hand; or if she is illiterate, let another write it at her request, and let the novice put her mark to it. 

Then let her place it with her own hand upon the altar; and when she has placed it there, let the novice at once intone this verse: "Receive me, O Lord, according to Your word, and I shall live: and let me not be confounded in my hope" (Rule of Benedict 58: 17-21). 

Please pray for our sisters as they celebrate these important anniversaries in our monastic community.

"Let us love one another with fervent love, endure one another's infirmities; patiently serve and obey one another, and prefer nothing whatever to Christ." ~Vespers Antiphon

Blessings and Joy,

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