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"Today the concept of truth is viewed with suspicion, because truth is identified with violence. Over history there have, unfortunately, been episodes when people sought to defend the truth with violence. But they are two contrasting realities. Truth cannot be imposed with means other than itself! Truth can only come with its own light. Yet, we need truth. ... Without truth we are blind in the world, we have no path to follow. The great gift of Christ was that He enabled us to see the face of God".Pope Benedict xvi, February 24th, 2012

The Church is ecumenical, catholic, God-human, ageless, and it is therefore a blasphemy—an unpardonable blasphemy against Christ and against the Holy Ghost—to turn the Church into a national institution, to narrow her down to petty, transient, time-bound aspirations and ways of doing things. Her purpose is beyond nationality, ecumenical, all-embracing: to unite all men in Christ, all without exception to nation or race or social strata. - St Justin Popovitch

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Friday, 10 July 2015

JULY 11th, 2015: THE FEAST OF OUR HOLY FATHER ST BENEDICT


Venerable Benedict of Nursia
Commemorated in the Orthodox Church on March 14, as a Solemnity by the Benedictine Order on March 21st, and by the Catholic Church in general on July 11th.

Troparion & Kontakion

Troparion (Tone 1)By your ascetic labors, God-bearing Benedict,You were proven to be true to your name.For you were the son of benediction,And became a rule and model for all who emulate your life and cry:"Glory to Him who gave you strength!Glory to Him who granted you a crown!Glory to Him who through you grants healing to all!"Kontakion - Tone 6You were enriched with God's grace;Your works agreed with your name,O Benedict, helpful servant of Christ God.Through prayer and fasting you were revealed to be filled with the gifts of the Spirit of God!You are a healer of the sick, the banisher of demons and speedy defender of our souls!

Saint Benedict, founder of Western monasticism, was born in the Italian city of Nursia in the year 480. When he was fourteen years of age, the saint’s parents sent him to Rome to study. Unsettled by the immorality around him, he decided to devote himself to a different sort of life.

At first St Benedict settled near the church of the holy Apostle Peter in the village of Effedum, but news of his ascetic life compelled him to go farther into the mountains. There he encountered the hermit Romanus, who tonsured him into monasticism and directed him to live in a remote cave at Subiaco. From time to time, the hermit would bring him food.

For three years the saint waged a harsh struggle with temptations and conquered them. People soon began to gather to him, thirsting to live under his guidance. The number of disciples grew so much, that the saint divided them into twelve communities. Each community was comprised of twelve monks and was a separate skete. The saint gave each skete an igumen from among his experienced disciples, and only the novice monks remained with St Benedict for instruction.

The strict monastic Rule St Benedict established for the monks was not accepted by everyone, and more than once he was criticized and abused by dissenters.

Finally he settled in Campagna and on Mount Cassino he founded the Monte Cassino monastery, which for a long time was a center of theological education for the Western Church. The monastery possessed a remarkable library. St Benedict wrote his Rule, based on the experience of life of the Eastern desert-dwellers and the precepts of St John Cassian the Roman (February 29).

The Rule of St Benedict dominated Western monasticism for centuries (by the year 1595 it had appeared in more than 100 editions). The Rule prescribed the renunciation of personal possessions, as well as unconditional obedience, and constant work. It was considered the duty of older monks to teach the younger and to copy ancient manuscripts. This helped to preserve many memorable writings from the first centuries of Christianity.

Every new monk was required to live as a novice for a year, to learn the monastic Rule and to become acclimated to monastic life. Every deed required a blessing. The head of this cenobitic monastery is the igumen. He discerns, teaches, and explains. The igumen solicits the advice of the older, experienced brethren, but he makes the final decisions. Keeping the monastic Rule was strictly binding for everyone and was regarded as an important step on the way to perfection.

St Benedict was granted by the Lord the gift of foresight and wonderworking. He healed many by his prayers. The monk foretold the day of his death in 547. The main source for his Life is the second Dialogue of St Gregory.

St Benedict’s sister, St Scholastica (February 10), also became famous for her strict ascetic life and was numbered among the saints.


SOME LINKS

The Order of St Benedict (O.S.B)
The Benedictine Order is not an "order" in the usual sense of the word.    There is a confederation of congregations and monasteries that remain autonomous in relation to the central authorities of the confederation.   There are also orders, congregations, and individual monasteries that are not members of the confederation but with every right to call themselves "Benedictines".   There are even Orthodox monasteries that follow the Rule of St Benedict; and, although they don't sign themselves "OSB", they have a perfect right to do so, and some wear the Benedictine habit.  There are also Anglican monasteries of monks and nuns, whose Benedictine identity no one disputes and who appear in the (Catholic) Benedictine Yearbook.   There are also several Lutheran Benedictine monasteries.

   
Oblates (click or contact individual monasteries)     An Oblate is a lay or clerical, single or married, person formally associated to a particular monastery. The Oblate seeks to live a life in harmony with the spirit of Saint Benedict as revealed in the Rule of Saint Benedict and its contemporary expression.)

English Benedictine Congregation
The English Benedictine Congregation (EBC) was first formed in 1216, but lapsed (or just faded away) at the Dissolution of the monasteries in 1535-40. It was revived and restored by Rome (1607-33) when numbers of Englishmen had become monks in Italian or Spanish monasteries and were coming to England as Missioners. It has been active ever since, and its General Chapter has met every four years (almost exactly so) up to the present.
Belmont Abbey, Hereford, UK
Founded as a common novciate and cathedral for Wales; it was the first post-reformation cathedral in Britain to sing the full office; it was the first place in Britain since the Reformation  to sing Gregorian chant ; it is one of the more flourishing monasteries in Britain, and it is the mother house of our foundation in Pachacamac, Lima, Peru.

Pachacamac Monastery, Lima, Peru.
This is the only monastery of cloistered monks in Peru; and, for this reason, it has no outside work.   At present, there is one English monk from Belmont and seven Peruvians.   Two are priests and all but two are in solemn vows.  The monks do their own domestic work - we have no regular employees - and we have a very active guest house, and direct many retreats.  People also come for spiritual direction, for confession, and to be anointed with the Sacrament of the Sick.   However, we have not yet discovered a means to cover all our costs.

The community of Pachacamac sends its blessings and promises of prayers to all our readers, as we celebrate the Feast of St Benedict, July 11th.  First Vespers begins in exactly one hour and a half, at 5.30pm.


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