St. Benedict’s

Steven and I ended up at St. Benedict’s by chance the morning of June 11, 2017.  That is, we’d hoped to attend ten o’clock Mass at Immaculate Heart of Mary in Harlingen and had even shown up early.  But, on entering, we’d found the church empty.

Oh! I thought.  We have the church all to ourselves!  How often does this happen?  I can take all the photos I want and not bother anyone!

We had no reason to think— no way of knowing, really— that Sunday’s English Masses at ten and twelve had been consolidated until the sacristan informed us about eleven-thirty Mass.

Patsy’s worst fear came true! I thought, vividly recalling our first conversation, February twenty-sixth, when we’d met after ten o’clock Mass.  She was concerned that dwindling numbers at the Masses would mean trouble for her church, and now this?  I need to contact her to learn more!

Change of plans

Since we had a commitment three hours away, we couldn’t wait around; so I suggested Mass in San Benito.

Decades ago (in another lifetime) I’d attended an all-day catechist’s conference at
St. Benedict’s, so Steven googled Mass times on his cell phone.

“If we leave right now, we can make it to eleven o’clock Mass,” Steven said, hoping to hurry me up.

“Just three more photos,” I declared, refusing to be rushed.  And then we were off on another of our impromptu adventures.

St. Benedict’s

We arrived with time to spare and, as I took photos here and there outdoors, Steven was warmly greeted by a very nice man— an usher or the sacristan, perhaps?

“Thank you for visiting St. Benedict’s this morning!” he smiled as he made his way into church even before nine-thirty Mass ended.

Then a welcoming woman approached.

Josie told us about “the many roles” she fulfills within the parish besides serving on the finance council, and she shared the church community’s present goals to make renovations and replace the broken stained-glass windows.  But what impressed me most was the unspoken manner through which she glowingly promoted St. Benedict’s.

                

            

            

                

          

      

      

                  

         

            

            

      

September 9, 2017

From the moment I first entered St. Benedict’s, cake came to mind— not just any kind of cake, but the yummy-white sheet cake with the delicious plain-white frosting.  The gold standard as per my taste buds!  The church is so impeccably maintained that its goodness made me long for more, so we returned for five o’clock Mass.

We’d barely crossed the street from the parking lot when a tall priest smiled a curious but enthusiastic “hello” as he briskly made his way from church to the rectory.

Very nice! I thought.  He knows we’re not part of his flock, but he welcomed us warmly nonetheless.  How inclusive!

Then, on passing through the tiny foyer into the nave, we were greeted by a sweet, cherubic woman handing out missals for Mass.

“I don’t need one— I’ve got the Word among us— but he does,” I smiled, motioning to Steven behind me.

We took our usual place— center aisle seat, fifth pew on the left— and knelt to pray before I got up to photograph the altar and the windows, since the one in the back was no longer boarded up.

Once I was back near the entrance, the joyful greeter took a free moment to comment on the newly restored stained-glass windows and added that “the statues are next, in case you don’t see them the next time you visit.”

By the time we left St. Benedict’s that evening, Steven and I had met seven lovely parishioners, starting with Janie Corona.  The two ladies in the pew behind us, lively and inquisitive, engaged Steven about the metal crosses on his belt while I retook photos of the stained-glass windows.  A couple, Simon and Delia who’d occupied one of the front pews, delighted us with neighborly conversation before departing for home.  Then Fr. Tinajero, chatting with his flock, took a few minutes to meet us before Henry, proud son of Deacon Juan Manuel Sanchez, introduced his dad and spoke with us like friends visiting his house on a Sunday afternoon.

As we turned to leave, I saw Janie standing with a friend.  Only this time she held some colorful posters.

“Take one,” she insisted.  “It’s for our fall festival, October seventh and eighth.”

“I’ll tell you what.  Let me photograph it for my ‘St. Benedict’s’ post so that others can read it and hopefully attend.”

Janie and her friend smiled and thanked us.  But, really?  Even as we walked away and then drove past, we were the grateful ones for having been so graciously accepted into their church community that evening.

                

            

            

            

        

            

         

                

November 4, 2017

What a delightful greeting as we walked into church!

To be engaged in brief yet meaningful exchanges on entering was refreshing, but to be hugged by the deacon’s wife— “the mother of St. Benedict’s,” I later told Steven— was sweet, sincere, and exactly what St. Benedict’s is all about: Family, acceptance, unity.

Tencha Sanchez and her partner set the tone for Mass as they greeted parishioners by name and handed out missals.  Then, on seeing a high-school aged young woman, Tencha gently probed, “I haven’t seen you at Mass lately.”

Just as quickly, the girl smiled, undaunted.  “That’s because I’ve been attending Sunday morning Mass with my mom.”

“Okay,” Tencha twinkled on hearing that the young woman takes Mass seriously.

Next I noticed a small woman beaming brightly from the last pew not three feet away.

Janie Corona! 

We hugged hello before I asked about the church carnival.

“We doubled what we earned the year before!” Janie eagerly shared.

I was so happy that I hugged her again.  I knew that they had all come together to achieve that lofty goal.

Then, later as we departed?  A heartfelt despedida, of course!  An open invitation for Mass again soon and a loving hug that only “the mother of St. Benedict’s” could bestow.

                

         

December 10, 2017

                

                

            

Prayer to St. Benedict

Admirable saint and doctor of humility, you practiced what you taught, assiduously praying for God’s glory and lovingly fulfilling all work for God and the benefit of all human beings.  You know the many physical dangers that surround us today often caused or occasioned by human inventions.  Guard us against poisoning of the body as well as of mind and soul and thus be truly a blessed one for us.  Amen.

        

Quotes

The eleventh degree of humility in the Rule of Benedict treats a situation like this quite specifically.  “Do only those things sanctioned by the community,” the sixth-century document reads.  Take counsel.  Listen.  Seek direction.  While moving ahead stay close to the kind of counsel that has strengthened the community in the past.  Stay close to the spiritual well whose life-giving water has brought you to this point.  The value of this saying is immeasurable.  It is much more than an exciting new answer, the effects of which no one knows.  It is a reaffirmation of spirituality based in experience, grounded in the wisdom of the elders, and rooted in self-control (Joan Chittister in In God’s Holy Light: Wisdom from the Desert Monastics).

O gracious and holy Father, give us wisdom to perceive you, diligence to seek you, patience to wait for you, eyes to behold you, a heart to meditate upon you, and a life to proclaim you through the power of the spirit of Jesus Christ, our lord (St. Benedict).

Links of interest…  Angels & Saints at Ephesus…  Applying St. Benedict’s rule to families…  Benedict option for today / not for me…  Benedictine benedictions…  Church in San Benito, TX: facebook / Mass times (more)…  Escrivá Option: An alternative to the Benedict Option…  Fifty years later – the influence of Benedictine monks & nuns…  Humility rules: St. Benedict’s twelve step guide to genuine self-esteem…  Liberating power of the St. Benedict medal (spiritual weapons)…  Key to avoiding distraction…  Sisters of St. Benedict: dome blog / facebook / gift shop & bakery / website…  St. Benedict (index) / about (more) / college / July 11medal (bracelet – jubilee – more – seven things to know) / monastic innovatormemorial / prayers: litany – novena – prayers (more) / video (based on book – writings of Rafael) / rule / ten helpful quotes / tips on preparing mealswho is (more)…  Tough conversations: Hard choices, staying on the path…  What does a wise old abbot know about a good love story

WP posts…  Budding relationships…  Church doctors…  Kindred acorns…  Mary’s Immaculate Heart…  Pink divinity…  San Giuseppe…  Sensory overload…  Unexpected detours

2 Responses

  1. What a wonderful post! Thank you, Dr. Lanoux, for your wonderful comments and pictures of our St. Benedict community. We are blessed for our church, our priest, and our parishioners. Our church is always happy to welcome all our brethren. This welcoming atmosphere encouraged my family to become full-time members. We feel blessed for that warmth each time we attend. May God bless you, and thank you again for your inspiring words.

    • Dear Elvira, you are indeed blessed to be part of such a beautiful, caring, inclusive church community. We are grateful to have found you and tickled pink to be remembered each time we return. Steven keeps saying, “We’re ordinary people, yet they treat us special.” But that’s hospitality in the truest sense! God bless you sweetly! Thanks for dropping by! Deli

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