March 31, 2015

Leadership Change Coming to the Monastery

Of his own free initiative, Abbot Charles Wright, O.S.B., has chosen for reasons of age to step down this coming July 8, his eightieth birthday, from the office of abbot (“father,” the superior) of Prince of Peace Abbey, the Benedictine monastery in Oceanside, California.  Last year saw the fiftieth anniversary of his profession of vows as a monk of the monastery and the twentieth anniversary of his election as its abbot.  The monks of Prince of Peace Abbey will hold their election of a new abbot on August 11 of this year.  According to the monastery’s constitution, its abbot remains in office as long as he may personally choose, including for life.

March 08, 2015

The Jewish temple ritual of goat eviction on the Day of Atonement

I have posted my homily for today, the third Sunday of Lent.

Click HERE for it.

February 24, 2015

Since Lent Culminates in Holy Week: My Own Thoughts on the “Obscenity” of Mel Gibson’s Movie, "The Passion of the Christ"

I disagree with claims that the physical sufferings of Christ were the worst the world has ever known.  Victims who survive full-body, third-degree burns probably suffer physically more— and longer— than Christ suffered physically.

The saving import of Christ’s suffering is not in its physical intensity, but in the fact that he died.  However, his interior MORAL suffering is what we cannot begin to measure.  A perfect man, whose intellect and emotional life were never clouded by sin and its distortions, whose consciousness was more awake than sinners can experience or imagine— THAT kind of man can suffer with an INTERIOR totality, openness and vulnerability that NONE of us can experience or imagine.  Christ was that man.  He OPENED HIS BEING to shoulder, to take on, to take away WITHIN himself the sins of the world.

Gibson’s movie, "The Passion of the Christ”, made an obvious graphic point of literal portrayal of the OBSCENITY of the physical violence perpetrated on Christ.  The movie leaves the viewer with the emotional rawness of having viewed OBSCENE physical violence, violent physical OBSCENITY.  However, the Word of God himself in the Four Holy Gospels and the entire New Testament DOES NO SUCH THING!

[The crucifixion image here is from the Beuronese school of art.]

February 21, 2015

A Homily for the First Sunday of Lent, 23 February 2015

It is not my turn to preach at the monastery's Mass this Sunday.

February 19, 2015

The Church has an official "Examination of Conscience."

However, most Catholics, even priests, are not aware of it.

The Church's published "Rite of Penance" ("confession") has an appendix with the following good and thorough Examination of Conscience."

Click HERE for it.

February 18, 2015


Matthew 6:1-6, 16-18

Some years ago, a parish used that reading at its Lenten penance service for which I preached a short homily.

Click HERE for it.

April 05, 2012

Suitable habits for Benedictine monks and nuns

[I first published this post several years ago.  It's still drawing questions and comments.]

A business suit consists of several items of clothing.

In the religious orders, our uniform or suit is called a “habit”.

The Order of St. Benedict (who died in A.D. 547) is the oldest religious order in the Church. From before A.D. 840 until shortly after A.D. 1200, there was almost no other religious life in the Church except the monks and nuns who lived by the regulations of St. Benedict.

The Benedictine habit is the forerunner of the habits of most religious orders that have come into being.

For the most part, the traditional Benedictine habit is simpler and has fewer elements than the habits of most other religious orders, especially those of women.

Here are the parts of the Benedictine habit. (You can click on the pictures to see larger versions.)


TUNICThe tunic is black, loose and long, covering the wrists, ankles and the base of the neck. On top of the tunic, at the waist, goes the cincture (belt)— made of black leather or black cloth. (Benedictines do not use cinctures made of rope or cord like the Franciscans.)


SCAPULAROver the tunic and the cincture goes the scapular. It was originally an apron for work, but over time it began to be seen as a symbol of the work of the Cross, and was made increasingly longer and worn all the time, not just for work. The scapular is a long panel of cloth with a hole in the middle for the head. It is shoulder-wide, straight-sided, ankle-length and square-cornered. The scapular hangs nearly to the ankles both in front of the body and behind. [The small devotional scapular that many Catholics wear is a symbolic miniature of the full-size scapular that monks and nuns have as part of the habit. The miniature devotional scapular has a front panel and a back panel like the full-sized habit scapular.]


WIMPLEBenedictine nuns wear a white, cloth wimple— a covering that drapes around the throat, chin, cheeks and head. An extra band of cloth covers the forehead.


VEILA “novice” is a new Benedictine-in-training who has not yet made vows. Over the wimple, a novice-nun wears a white veil. A nun receives a black veil when she makes vows.

A Benedictine monk has a black hood.The modern Benedictine monk’s hood is streamlined, but in past centuries it was much larger.


CUCULLAAt Mass and at Community Prayer, Benedictines add a formal, black gown, the cuculla over the habit. It has wide, deep, long sleeves, and also usually has broad vertical pleats or folds that hang the full length from the shoulders to the ankles. The cuculla is the ancestor of academic gowns, judicial chamber robes and choir robes.


Benedictines do not attach or wear a rosary as part of their habit. They also do not normally wear any visible medal, pin, emblem or crucifix. However the superior of a Benedictine monastery (an abbot for monks, an abbess for nuns) wears a pectoral cross on a chain like a bishop.

The abbot, Blessed Columba Marmion;
and St. Scholastica, the twin sister of St. Benedict.