July 11, 2008

SAINT BENEDICT

The universal calendar of the Church celebrates July 11 as the memorial of St. Benedict. A Benedictine monastery has the privilege of choosing to celebrate today as a solemnity, meaning that if July 11 were to fall on a Sunday the monastery would celebrate the solemnity of St. Benedict in place of the Sunday.

The Benedictine calendar has an additional day for celebrating St. Benedict, March 21, the anniversary of his death in A.D. 547.

Except for Sacred Scripture, no other document has had so great an influence of the development of Western European civilization as the “Rule” (or “Regulations”) that St. Benedict wrote for monasteries.

As the Church spread from Southern Europe into Middle and Northern Europe, the Church planted monasteries to serve as centers of evangelization, catechesis, worship, collective agricultural economy, and education. The typical pattern in founding a new monastery was to send a combined team of monks and laity to a new location to build a monastery and a village.

Many, possibly most, European towns have or had a Benedictine monastery as their historic center and origin.

One “archaeological” remnant that shows some of the Benedictine roots of Western culture is the cuculla, the full monastic liturgical garment. The cuculla’s modern secular and religious descendants are academic gowns, judge’s chamber robes, and church choir robes.

A second contribution of Benedictine monasticism at least to the English language is the use of the word “chapter” to refer to the local branch of a widespread organization. Benedictine monks gathered for daily meetings at which they read aloud a chapter from the regulations of St. Benedict. They came to call all their meetings of any sort “chapter meetings.” We still refer to all of a monastery’s monks in perpetual vows as that monastery’s “chapter.”

Pope Pius XII called St. Benedict the Father of Europe.


3 Comments:

Blogger DilexitPrior said...

Does your monastery celebrated the solemnity on March 21st or July 11th? (can both be celebrated as solemnities?)q

9:24 AM  
Blogger Father Stephanos, O.S.B. said...

We have permission to pick which one to celebrate as a solemnity; then we must celebrate the other as a feast.

My monastery chooses to celebrate March 21 as a feast.

We celebrate July 11 as a solemnity.

1:37 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I celebrated the feast of St. Benedict, while on retreat, with the members of Blue Cloud Abbey in SD. I believe a "sister house" of Prince of Peace Abbey.

8:29 AM  

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