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 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

                

            

            

            

        

            

         

                

Prayer

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…  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 quoteswho is (more)…  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

Kindred acorns

If you watched the AFC-NFL Pro Bowl on Sunday, you know that the famous Mannings played on opposite teams.  Each a great quarterback in his own right, Peyton and Eli wowed spectators the entire game.  The brothers played in different halves, so fans doubled their viewing pleasure.  I told Steven that the game was a win-win and cheered for both sides.

Nature, nurture

Still, what’s the attraction for the fans?  Is it that the brothers followed in their dad’s footsteps or that they have a great family dynamic?  I can’t decide which impacted them more.  Nature or nurture?

The Manning brothers are indeed talented and highly regarded in their professional lives.  Moreover, fans love them, even if their public presence is different: Peyton’s commercials exude a comedic flair; Eli’s, focus on purposeful public service.

Also during Sunday’s game, Steven and I got the answer to our big question this season: Is Ronde Barber, cornerback for Tampa Bay, related to the charismatic Tiki, former running back for the NY Giants?

What a hoot to watch Tiki interview his mirror image on the TV screen!  The Barber brothers are identical twins with more than football in common.  Not only do they write books together, but they also host The Barber Shop on Sirius NFL radio.  Tiki and Ronde are equally personable and bright, but Tiki writes children’s books.  Another difference?  Tiki has two sons; Ronde, two daughters.

Although their parents divorced when they were kids, their dad was a star running back; so, again, which influenced them more?  Nature or nurture?

Religious siblings

In the case of the Mannings and the Barbers, the acorns didn’t fall far from the oak, but have you ever pondered the nature-nurture factor among our Catholic saints?

Until a few days ago, I’d only read about one saint, the Little Flower, whose four sisters were nuns, too.

Considering that their mom died when Thérèse, the youngest, was four, one can only imagine the enormity of parenting five daughters, let alone instilling such impeccable Christian values in one’s children.  No wonder Pope Benedict XVI beatified their parents, Marie Zélie and Guérin Martin, in Lisieux on October 19, 2008!

This week the church celebrates the feast days of three siblings: a nun whose twin brother founded the Benedictine Order and two missionary brothers whose linguistic giftedness lit the darkness.  Moreover, among these siblings, Saints Benedict, Cyril, and Methodius share the distinction of being Europe’s co-patrons.

Scholastica

Scholastica (c. 480-543; Feb. 10th), foundress of the Benedictine Sisters, lived about five miles away from her twin brother, Benedict of Nursia, Italy.  Since rules prohibited members of the order from entering each other’s residence, the siblings met halfway between his Monte Cassino monastery and her convent to discuss spiritual matters.

After one such meeting, Scholastica begged Benedict to spend the night so that they could spend more time together, but he refused.  When Benedict learned that Scholastica asked for God’s intervention, he was furious.

How dare she waste God’s time on such a trivial request!

“I asked a favor of you, and you refused it.  I asked it of God, and He has granted it!”

Scholastica died three days later.

In his Dialogues (c. 540-604), St. Gregory the Great wrote that God honored Scholastica’s request because she’d always placed him first in her life; and, as a gift to her brother, God allowed Benedict to witness his twin’s ascent to heaven as a dove.

One has to wonder…  Could Scholastica have sensed her death was near?  Might she have wanted time to talk about heaven with Benedict?  How would he have felt had he not spent the extra time with his sister before her death?

Because of her devotion to God St. Scholastica is known as the saint of right relationships, and she’s also the patroness of convulsive children and nuns.

Scholastica’s Benedictine Sisters seek God through prayer, work, silence, and community.  They believe that silence invites God’s presence and grows their heartfelt efforts for others in the world around them (YouTube, n. d.).

Cyril and Methodius

Unlike the quiet Benedictines, brothers Cyril (Constantine, c. 827) and Methodius (Michael, c. 826) carried the message of Christianity with voiced intent. 

Sons of prominent parents, a Greek father and a Slavic mother, their uncle provided them protection and opportunities when their father died.  Constantine studied in Constantinople where he became a deacon and learned Arabic and Hebrew.  Michael was a government official until he entered the monastery, received the sacraments, and changed his name to Methodius.

In 860, the brothers were sent out as missionaries to prevent Judaism from taking hold in the Khagan, an effort which wasn’t altogether a failure since some of the people embraced Christianity.

On returning home, Constantine became a university professor.

In 862, Constantine and Methodius were invited to preach Christianity in the territories belonging to Great Moravia so that Prince Rastislav could rid his lands of the German missionaries who taught in Latin.

During the next four years, Constantine and Methodius fulfilled their true mission in life through their wholehearted belief that people should practice their faith in their native language.  The brothers’ extraordinary background, education, and multilingual giftedness prepared Constantine and Methodius for their lifetime achievement.  Creating the basis for the Cyrillic alphabet, still used by Russians today, resulted in the Slavic language through which translations of written church materials were possible and future missionaries could teach.  This great feat earned Constantine and Methodius the title of saints, “equal to the apostles” (Orthodox Wiki, 2008),

Around 866, the brothers were summoned to Rome to defend their work.

At that time, Constantine took his monastic vows and changed his name to Cyril.  He died soon after, never returning to Great Moravia where he and Methodius had been made welcome.  Methodius became bishop and then archbishop before being imprisoned and released; but constant opposition debilitated him.

Eventually, however, he returned to Great Moravia and, together with his wife, continued to spread Christianity until his death in 885.

Building community

Like the Pro Bowl athletes, this week’s sibling saints, Scholastica and brothers Cyril and Methodius, appear to have received much support and encouragement from family members and interested others.  Never mind the healthy, although sometimes overwhelming, doses  of discomforting disequilibrium sprinkled along life’s path.

So, which influenced the call to service— nature or nurture?

Realistically, heredity and environment are both to be credited, of course.  The important thing, Christians will say, is that each individual fulfilled his or her mission, respectively, by building community within God’s kingdom.

Prayer

O God, to show us where innocence leads you made the soul of your virgin, Saint Scholastica, soar to heaven like a dove in flight.  Grant through her merits and her prayers that we may so live in innocence as to attain to joys everlasting.  This we ask through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, forever and ever. Amen.

July 11, 2013

“Your way of acting should be different from the world’s way; the love of Christ must come before all else” (St. Benedict).

July 11, 2014

“It is well to deny ourselves that which is permitted in order to avoid more easily that which is not” (St. Benedict).

December 28, 2014

If you wish to have pious, good children, you must first of all yourselves be God-fearing and lead good lives.  As the tree, so will the fruit be (St. John Vianney).

December 4, 2015

The first necessity is to find in your soul a respect for your vocation.  Once you have this sense of mission, this sense of dedication to a cause more worthwhile than any purely personal claim, the rest can follow.  Prayer, self-sacrifice, loyalty, perseverance, and in fact the whole list, come spontaneously to the soul who concentrates upon the vocation over the hill.  These virtues come spontaneously…but, of course, this does not mean that they come easily (Dom Hubert van Zeller, Holiness for Housewives and other Working Women).

February 2, 2016

“It is well to deny ourselves that which is permitted in order to avoid more easily that which is not” (St. Benedict).

National Shrine of St. Maximilian Kolbe – Libertyville, IL

Links of interest…  Barber: Identical twins / playmates / Ronde / Tiki…  Benedictine benedictions…  Beatification of St. Thérèse’s parents (more)…  Benedictine Sisters (video)…  Catholicism & baseball: Lessons to teach…  Chapel of the patron saints of Europe…  Genetics are not as predictive as we might think…  Manning: book / Cooper / Eli / Peyton / weirdly alike…  Pope Benedict…  Pro Bowl…  Sisters of St. Benedict (IN):  Monday messages / prayer requests / stories / virtual tour / ways of prayingwebsite…  Society of the Little Flower…  St. Benedict: joyful aging / luminous star of history / option for today / spirit of community / St. Thérèse: Father & child / three things to know about his medal…  St. Scholastica: about (more) / Benedict’s sister (twin) / book / feast (Feb 10) / icon (more) / litany / stories…  Sts. Cyril & Methodius: about (more) / apostles / (more) / brothers / co-patrons / death (Cyril) / enlighteners / feast (more – more) / July 7 / love & evangelism / memorial / origin & ethnicity / patron saints / prayer (more – readings – vocations) / profile (more) / veneration…  What was Old Church Slavic…  What would Cyril & Methodius do

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