Wednesday, March 21, 2012

The Feast of St. Benedict

Like a star in the darkness of night, Benedict of Nursia brilliantly shines, a glory not only to Italy but of the whole Church.

~ Pope Pius XII from  Fulgiens Radiatur (on St. Benedict)

                                             Saint Benedict: lived from 480-547A.D.

He is the twin brother of St. Scholastica, Abbess of Plumbariola, and Foundress of the "sister" Order of Benedictines.

St. Benedict is the Patron of:

*  Monks

* against fever

* against gall stones

* against inflammatory diseases

* against kidney disease

St Benedict at Prayer (Master of Messkirch, 1538)

* against nettle rash

* against poison

* against temptations

* against witchcraft

* agricultural workers

* bee keepers
* cavers

* civil engineers

* coppersmiths

* dying people

* Europe

* farm workers

* farmers

* Italian architects

The Founder of the Benedictine Order, St. Benedict is known as the father of Western Monasticism as most monks today still follow his rule. In his time he founded twelve small monastaries, the most famous of which is Monte Cassino, the "cradle of the Benedictine Order, which housed at one time or another such great saints as:

Saint Apollinaris of Monte Cassino

Saint Bernard Valeara of Teramo

Saint Bonitus of Monte Cassino
 •Saint Clinius of Pontecorvo
Saint Constantine of Monte Cassino
Saint Deusdedit of Montecassino
 •Saint Maurus
 •Saint Petronax of Monte Cassino
 •Saint Placid

(Source: Saint's SQPN)

There are a bazillion other saints hailing from the Benedictine Order!  You can find an exhaustive list here.

* In St. Benedict's  iconography he is often shown with an abbot's staff and a raven, since it was a raven that brought him his daily bread while he lived as a hermit in the desert. Jealous monks one (at least) tried to poinson St. Benedict's wine, but at the sign of the cross over the goblet, it shattered, saving the abbot from the poison.  This is the meaning of the snake within the goblet. Known for his gift of prophesy, St. Benedict is also shown with a closed book, indicating the mystery of his knowlege.

Things to do for the feast:

* Order your own copy of the original Rule of St. Benedict, or read it here.

* Get a copy of Louis de Wohl's novel of St. Benedict, Citadel of God, to add to your Lenten reading list.
Or, for the kids, pull out your copy of St. Benedict: Hero of the Hills by Mary Fabian Windeatt, or order one here.

* Since St. Benedict is the patron of beekeepers, you could read up today on bees and bee keeping.  (I've always wanted to keep bees!)  In some parts of France's still customary for bee-keepers to have a medal of St. Benedict affixed to their hives.  Here is the prayer for the Benedictine Blessing of Bees prayed on this day:

O Lord, God almighty, who hast created heaven and earth and every animal existing over them and in them for the use of men, and who hast commanded through the ministers of holy Church that candles made from the products of bees be lit in church during the carrying out of the sacred office in which the most holy Body and Blood of Jesus Christ thy Son is made present and is received; may thy holy blessing descend upon these bees and these hives, so that they may multiply, be fruitful and be preserved from all ills and that the fruits coming forth from them may be distributed for thy praise and that of thy Son and the holy Spirit and of the most blessed Virgin Mary.

* Learn about the medal of St. Benedict here.  There are few sacramentals more powerful against the devil than the St. Benedict medal!  Here is an exerpt from An Exorcist Tells His Story that illustrates this fact:
"One of the most famous instances of diabolical possession, which many books report, thanks to the accuracy of the historical documentation, concerns two brothers, the Burners, in Illfur, Alsatia. The two brothers were freed in 1869, following a series of exorcisms. It is reported that among the many, extremely vicious, actions of the demon was a plan to overturn the coach that transported the exorcist, a monsignor, and a nun. The devil was foiled in his intent only because the coach driver, at the last minute, was given a medal of Saint Benedict to protect him on the journey, and the good man devoutly put it in his pocket."
(H/T:  Annie at Under Her Starry Mantle)

* Appropriate cuisine for today would be to cook with honey, in light of St. Benedict's connection with bees.  Since it's Lent, we won't be making desserts, but you can find a very cool beehive cake here, with a recipe from Martha Stewart, that uses a mold, which you could order here, if you had the time.  Or you can go over to Catholic Cuisine for a no-mold-required beehive cake with adorable bee cookies (originally planned there for the Feast of St. Ambrose, but perfectly good for St. Benedict's feast, as well!)  Cathy and I are going to experiment this aftenoon, though, with making a beehive-shaped loaf of bread.  We'll let you know if it turns out!

*  For a coloring page, you can click and print the above black and white image of St. Benedict, above.  Or you can find a page here.

* But, the best thing to do on the Feast of St. Benedict is follow his motto: Ora et Labora ~
 Work and Pray.

Praying:  Dan and I got to start off the day with Mass -- and I --  (not that I'd brag, mind you -- but it was a special blessing!) -- got to attend Mass offered by a Benedictine priest!  We're praying today for blessings on all the Benedictine Religious throughout the world, but especially for our Father Bernard and for the repose of the soul of good Fr. Abbot Leonard who passed away near the first of the year. 

We're also praying for the repose of the soul of my husband's grandfather, Lee Spratt, who died yesterday at the age of 94.  May his soul, and the souls of all the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace!  Also praying for the suffering people in Japan.

And working:  Heaven knows, there's no end to that!  I have laundry to catch up on.  And papers to grade.  And floors to sweep. And sheets and blankets to wash.   And spinach to plant.  And a pantry to organize.  Etc., etc., etc.  A list that never ends....  So, I'd better get off of here and get after it...

For insights and meditations on Praying While You Work, run over to the online reprint in progress.  Here's a recent quote:

Let it be said straightaway that for anyone to attempt at the beginning of her spiritual course the practice of attending to the presence of God every two or three minutes is to prepare for a nervous breakdown.  The strain of recalling the mind at frequent intervals can only lead to disgust and a great longing to be free of the whole business of the spiritual life.  So for most people a more gradual introduction to the practice of the presence of God -- even a quite different way into it -- must be found.
~ Dom Hubert Van Zeller


Glorious St. Benedict who taught us the way to religious perfection by the practice of self-conquest, mortification, humility, obedience, prayer, silence, retirement and detachment from the world, I kneel at your feet and humbly beg you to take my present need under your special protection (mention here). Vouchsafe to recommend it to the Blessed Virgin Mary, and lay it before the throne of Jesus. Cease not to intercede for me until my request is granted. Above all, obtain for me the grace to one day meet God face to face, and with you and Mary and all the angels and saints to praise Him through all eternity. O most powerful Saint Benedict, do not let me lose my soul, but obtain for me the grace of winning my way to heaven, there to worship and enjoy the most holy and adorable Trinity forever and ever. Amen.

Pray 1 Our Father, 1 Hail Mary, and 1 Glory Be.

(Reprinted from 3-21-11)

1 comment:

Bia said...

HOW DO YOU DO ALL THIS???? wonderfully researched ... a wealth of information.

i saw monte cassino from a distance, but we didn't have time to visit. maybe next time ...