From the martyrology: St John Climacus (March 30)



From the martyrology:

"On Mount Sinai, Abbot St. John Climacus."

St John Climacus (c525-606) is famous for his work The Ladder of Divine Ascent, which is traditionally read during Lent in Eastern monasteries.

Pope Benedict XVI gave a General Audience on him in 2009:

"...And I am proposing the figure of John known as Climacus, a Latin transliteration of the Greek term klimakos, which means of the ladder (klimax). This is the title of his most important work in which he describes the ladder of human life ascending towards God. He was born in about 575 a.d. He lived, therefore, during the years in which Byzantium, the capital of the Roman Empire of the East, experienced the greatest crisis in its history. The geographical situation of the Empire suddenly changed and the torrent of barbarian invasions swept away all its structures. Only the structure of the Church withstood them, continuing in these difficult times to carry out her missionary, human, social and cultural action, especially through the network of monasteries in which great religious figures such as, precisely, John Climacus were active.

John lived and told of his spiritual experiences in the Mountains of Sinai, where Moses encountered God and Elijah heard his voice. Information on him has been preserved in a brief Life (PG 88, 596-608), written by a monk, Daniel of Raithu. At the age of 16, John, who had become a monk on Mount Sinai, made himself a disciple of Abba Martyr, an "elder", that is, a "wise man". At about 20 years of age, he chose to live as a hermit in a grotto at the foot of the mountain in the locality of Tola, eight kilometres from the present-day St Catherine's Monastery. Solitude, however, did not prevent him from meeting people eager for spiritual direction, or from paying visits to several monasteries near Alexandria. In fact, far from being an escape from the world and human reality, his eremitical retreat led to ardent love for others (Life, 5) and for God (ibid., 7). After 40 years of life as a hermit, lived in love for God and for neighbour years in which he wept, prayed and fought with demons he was appointed hegumen of the large monastery on Mount Sinai and thus returned to cenobitic life in a monastery. However, several years before his death, nostalgic for the eremitical life, he handed over the government of the community to his brother, a monk in the same monastery.

John died after the year 650. He lived his life between two mountains, Sinai and Tabor and one can truly say that he radiated the light which Moses saw on Sinai and which was contemplated by the three Apostles on Mount Tabor!

He became famous, as I have already said, through his work, entitled The Climax, in the West known as the Ladder of Divine Ascent (PG 88, 632-1164). Composed at the insistent request of the hegumen of the neighbouring Monastery of Raithu in Sinai, the Ladder is a complete treatise of spiritual life in which John describes the monk's journey from renunciation of the world to the perfection of love. This journey according to his book covers 30 steps, each one of which is linked to the next. The journey may be summarized in three consecutive stages: the first is expressed in renunciation of the world in order to return to a state of evangelical childhood. Thus, the essential is not the renunciation but rather the connection with what Jesus said, that is, the return to true childhood in the spiritual sense, becoming like children. John comments: "A good foundation of three layers and three pillars is: innocence, fasting and temperance. Let all babes in Christ (cf. 1 Cor 3: 1) begin with these virtues, taking as their model the natural babes" (1, 20; 636). Voluntary detachment from beloved people and places permits the soul to enter into deeper communion with God. This renunciation leads to obedience which is the way to humility through humiliations which will never be absent on the part of the brethren. John comments: "Blessed is he who has mortified his will to the very end and has entrusted the care of himself to his teacher in the Lord: indeed he will be placed on the right hand of the Crucified One!" (4, 37; 704).

The second stage of the journey consists in spiritual combat against the passions. Every step of the ladder is linked to a principal passion that is defined and diagnosed, with an indication of the treatment and a proposal of the corresponding virtue. All together, these steps of the ladder undoubtedly constitute the most important treatise of spiritual strategy that we possess. The struggle against the passions, however, is steeped in the positive it does not remain as something negative thanks to the image of the "fire" of the Holy Spirit: that "all those who enter upon the good fight (cf. 1 Tm 6: 12), which is hard and narrow,... may realize that they must leap into the fire, if they really expect the celestial fire to dwell in them" (1,18; 636). The fire of the Holy Spirit is the fire of love and truth. The power of the Holy Spirit alone guarantees victory. However, according to John Climacus it is important to be aware that the passions are not evil in themselves; they become so through human freedom's wrong use of them. If they are purified, the passions reveal to man the path towards God with energy unified by ascesis and grace and, "if they have received from the Creator an order and a beginning..., the limit of virtue is boundless" (26/2, 37; 1068).

The last stage of the journey is Christian perfection that is developed in the last seven steps of the Ladder. These are the highest stages of spiritual life, which can be experienced by the "Hesychasts": the solitaries, those who have attained quiet and inner peace; but these stages are also accessible to the more fervent cenobites. Of the first three simplicity, humility and discernment John, in line with the Desert Fathers, considered the ability to discern, the most important. Every type of behaviour must be subject to discernment; everything, in fact, depends on one's deepest motivations, which need to be closely examined. Here one enters into the soul of the person and it is a question of reawakening in the hermit, in the Christian, spiritual sensitivity and a "feeling heart", which are gifts from God: "After God, we ought to follow our conscience as a rule and guide in everything," (26/1,5; 1013). In this way one reaches tranquillity of soul, hesychia, by means of which the soul may gaze upon the abyss of the divine mysteries.

The state of quiet, of inner peace, prepares the Hesychast for prayer which in John is twofold: "corporeal prayer" and "prayer of the heart". The former is proper to those who need the help of bodily movement: stretching out the hands, uttering groans, beating the breast, etc. (15, 26; 900). The latter is spontaneous, because it is an effect of the reawakening of spiritual sensitivity, a gift of God to those who devote themselves to corporeal prayer. In John this takes the name "Jesus prayer" (Iesou euche), and is constituted in the invocation of solely Jesus' name, an invocation that is continuous like breathing: "May your remembrance of Jesus become one with your breathing, and you will then know the usefulness of hesychia", inner peace (27/2, 26; 1112). At the end the prayer becomes very simple: the word "Jesus" simply becomes one with the breath.

The last step of the ladder (30), suffused with "the sober inebriation of the spirit", is dedicated to the supreme "trinity of virtues": faith, hope and above all charity. John also speaks of charity as eros (human love), a symbol of the matrimonial union of the soul with God, and once again chooses the image of fire to express the fervour, light and purification of love for God. The power of human love can be reoriented to God, just as a cultivated olive may be grafted on to a wild olive tree (cf. Rm 11: 24) (cf. 15, 66; 893). John is convinced that an intense experience of this eros will help the soul to advance far more than the harsh struggle against the passions, because of its great power. Thus, in our journey, the positive aspect prevails. Yet charity is also seen in close relation to hope: "Hope is the power that drives love. Thanks to hope, we can look forward to the reward of charity.... Hope is the doorway of love.... The absence of hope destroys charity: our efforts are bound to it, our labours are sustained by it, and through it we are enveloped by the mercy of God" (30, 16; 1157). The conclusion of the Ladder contains the synthesis of the work in words that the author has God himself utter: "May this ladder teach you the spiritual disposition of the virtues. I am at the summit of the ladder, and as my great initiate (St Paul) said: "So faith, hope, love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love' (1 Cor 13: 13)!" (30, 18; 1160).

At this point, a last question must be asked: can the Ladder, a work written by a hermit monk who lived 1,400 years ago, say something to us today? Can the existential journey of a man who lived his entire life on Mount Sinai in such a distant time be relevant to us? At first glance it would seem that the answer must be "no", because John Climacus is too remote from us. But if we look a little closer, we see that the monastic life is only a great symbol of baptismal life, of Christian life. It shows, so to speak, in capital letters what we write day after day in small letters. It is a prophetic symbol that reveals what the life of the baptized person is, in communion with Christ, with his death and Resurrection. The fact that the top of the "ladder", the final steps, are at the same time the fundamental, initial and most simple virtues is particularly important to me: faith, hope and charity. These are not virtues accessible only to moral heroes; rather they are gifts of God to all the baptized: in them our life develops too. The beginning is also the end, the starting point is also the point of arrival: the whole journey towards an ever more radical realization of faith, hope and charity. The whole ascent is present in these virtues. Faith is fundamental, because this virtue implies that I renounce my arrogance, my thought, and the claim to judge by myself without entrusting myself to others. This journey towards humility, towards spiritual childhood is essential. It is necessary to overcome the attitude of arrogance that makes one say: I know better, in this my time of the 21st century, than what people could have known then. Instead, it is necessary to entrust oneself to Sacred Scripture alone, to the word of the Lord, to look out on the horizon of faith with humility, in order to enter into the enormous immensity of the universal world, of the world of God. In this way our soul grows, the sensitivity of the heart grows toward God. Rightly, John Climacus says that hope alone renders us capable of living charity; hope in which we transcend the things of every day, we do not expect success in our earthly days but we look forward to the revelation of God himself at last. It is only in this extension of our soul, in this self-transcendence, that our life becomes great and that we are able to bear the effort and disappointments of every day, that we can be kind to others without expecting any reward. Only if there is God, this great hope to which I aspire, can I take the small steps of my life and thus learn charity. The mystery of prayer, of the personal knowledge of Jesus, is concealed in charity: simple prayer that strives only to move the divine Teacher's heart. So it is that one's own heart opens, one learns from him his own kindness, his love. Let us therefore use this "ascent" of faith, hope and charity. In this way we will arrive at true life."

From the martyrology: St Eustasius, March 29


a c7th document from Luxeuil
From the martyrology:

"In the monastery of Luxeuil, the death of Abbot St. Eustasius, a disciple of St. Columban, who had under his guidance nearly six hundred monks.  Eminent in sanctity, he was also renowned for miracles."

Saint Eustace of Luxeuil (c560? - 629), also known as Eustasius, was the second abbot of Luxeuil from 611. He succeeded after his teacher Saint Columbanus, to whom he had been a favourite disciple and monk, was exiled by Theuderic II. He had been the head of the monastic school.

Luxeuil represents the Irish school of monasticism that was increasingly adopted in Gaul during this period, but whose extreme asceticism was rapidly softened by the adoption of much of the Benedictine Rule.


During his abbacy, the monastery contained about 600 monks, and practised the 'laus perennis', with successive choirs ensuring that the Office was continually celebrated.   The monastery as a well-known seminary that produced both bishops and saints.

St Eustace was noted for his humility, continual prayer, and fasting. During his administration, as well as during the rule of his successor Saint Waldebert, Luxeuil acquired a high reputation for learning.

Ordo for November 2012



Herewith the Benedictine Ordo according to the general calendar for the Order, and rubrics approved in 1961/2, with page references to the Monastic Diurnal (MD) published by Farnborough Abbey.

You will of course need to add in any local feasts celebrated in your monastery, parish, diocese and country.

Note that EF=Roman Extraordinary Form calendar.

Please let me know if you find any errors, or have any questions on the Ordo.

THE ORDO

Thursday 1 November – All Saints, Class I

MD [331] ff :
Matins: all proper to the feast
Lauds: Antiphons and proper texts of the feast with festal psalms
Prime to None: Antiphons and proper texts of the feast, psalms of Tuesday
Vespers: Antiphons and proper texts from I Vespers, MD [328], psalms from the Common of Martyrs, MD [328], Magnificat antiphon, MD [336]

Friday 2 November – All Souls, Class I

MD [337]:
Matins: All as for Office of the Dead except for the readings and responsories
Lauds and Vespers: of the Dead from (163) with the additional prayers set out for the feast.
Note that at Prime to None the usual Deus in adjutorium, hymn and antiphon are omitted; see the instructions MD [338] ff.
Compline begins with the examination of conscience and Confiteor, and includes the Nunc Dimittis, MD [342]

Saturday 3 November – Our Lady on Saturday [EF – St Martin of Pores, Memorial, **in some places, St Winifred]

Matins: One reading for Saturday I of November
Lauds to None: See MD (129)ff

Vespers – First Sunday of November, MD 459*; collect of Twenty-Third Sunday, MD 482*

Sunday 4 November – Twenty-Third Sunday after Pentecost; St Charles Borromeo, Bishop and Confessor, Memorial [EF, Class III]

Matins: First Sunday of November
Lauds: Psalm schema 1 (50, 117, 62); hymn Aeterne Reum Conditor; canticle antiphon MD 482*; commemoration, MD [344-5]
Prime to None: All as for Sunday in the psalter, with collect MD 482*
Vespers: Canticle antiphon and collect, MD 482*

Monday 5 November – Class IV

Matins: Note: three readings from henceforward (first week of November)
All as in the psalter for Monday with collect MD 482*

Tuesday 6 November – Class IV

All as in the psalter for Tuesday with collect MD 482*

Wednesday 7 November – Class IV

All as in the psalter for Wednesday with collect MD 482*

Thursday 8 – The Four Crowned, Martyrs, Memorial

All as in the psalter for Thursday with collect MD 482*; for the commemoration at Lauds, MD [345]

Friday 9 November – Dedication of the Archbasilica of the Most Holy Saviour (St John Lateran), Class II

MD [345]: All from the Common for the dedication of a Church, MD (114) ff except for the readings at Matins, which are of the feast for Nocturns I&II

Saturday 10 November – Office of Our Lady on Saturday; St Theodore, Martyr, Memorial [EF: St Andrew Avellino, Confessor, Class III]

Matins: Reading 3 for Second Saturday of November
Lauds to None: MD (129)ff; at Lauds, for the commemoration, MD [346]

Vespers – Third Sunday of November, MD 460*; collect of the fifth Sunday after Epiphany, MD 485*

Sunday 11 November – Twenty-fourth Sunday after Pentecost (Fifth Sunday after Epiphany)

Matins: Third Sunday of November for Nocturns I&II readings
Lauds: Psalm schema 1 (50, 117, 62); hymn Aeterne Reum Conditor; canticle antiphon MD 485*;
Prime to None: All as for Sunday in the psalter, with collect MD 485*
Vespers: Canticle antiphon and collect, MD 485*

**Commemoration of St Martin at Lauds and Vespers, MD[348-9] &MD [352]

Monday 12 November – St Mennas, Martyr, Memorial [EF: St Martin, Class III]

All as for Monday in the psalter with collect MD 485*; at Lauds for the commemoration, MD [352-3]

Tuesday 13 November – All Saints of the Benedictine Order, Class II [EF: St Didacus, Cl III]

All as for the feast, MD 353] ff

Wednesday 14 November – All Souls of the Benedictine Order, Class II [EF: St Josaphat, Class III]

MD [360]ff : All as for All Souls Day, MD [337] ff except for the collects (note the separate collect for Prime and Compline)

Thursday 15 November - St Albert the Great, Memorial [EF: Class III]

All as in the psalter for Thursday with collect MD 485*; for the commemoration at Lauds, MD [362-3]

Friday 16 November – Class IV [EF: St Gertrude, Class III]

All as in the psalter for Friday with collect MD 485*

Saturday 17 November – St Gertrude the Great OSB, Class III (Class II for nuns) [EF: St Gregory Thaumaturgus, Bishop, Confessor, Class III;**in some places, St Hilda]

MD [363]ff:
Matins: Invitatory antiphon, hymn and three readings and responsories of the feast (if Class II, antiphons, readings and responsories of the feast, psalms from the Common of Virgins)
Lauds: Antiphons and proper texts of the feast, festal psalms
Prime to None: Antiphons and proper texts of the feast, psalms of Saturday

Vespers – Fourth Sunday of November, MD 460*; collect of the Sixth Sunday after Epiphany, MD 486*

Sunday 18 November – Twenty-Fifth Sunday after Pentecost (texts of Sixth after Epiphany)

Matins: Fourth Sunday of November for Nocturns I&II readings
Lauds: Psalm schema 1 (50, 117, 62); hymn Aeterne Reum Conditor; canticle antiphon MD 486*;
Prime to None: All as for Sunday in the psalter, with collect MD 486*
Vespers: Canticle antiphon and collect, MD 486*

Monday 19 November – Class IV [EF: St Elizabeth, Cl III]

All as in the psalter for Monday with collect MD 486*

Tuesday 20 November – Class IV [**In some places: St Mechtild OSB, Class III **St Edward, Class III; EF: St Felix of Valois, Class III]

All as in the psalter for Tuesday with collect MD 486*

For St Edmund see MD 58**

Wednesday 21 November – Presentation of the BVM, Class III; Commemoration of St Columba, Abbot

Matins: Invitatory antiphon and hymn from the Common of feasts of the BVM; reading three of the feast
Lauds and Vespers: Antiphons and psalms of Wednesday; rest from the Common of feasts of the BVM except for the canticle antiphons, collect, and commemoration at Lauds, MD [371] ff
Prime to None: Antiphons and texts from the Common of feasts of the BVM with psalms of Wednesday and collect, MD [371]

Thursday 22 November – St Caecilia, Virgin and Martyr, Class III

MD [373] ff:
Matins: Invitatory antiphon and hymn from the Common of Virgins; reading three of the feast
Lauds: Antiphons and proper texts of the feast, MD [373] ff with festal psalms
Prime to None: Antiphons and proper texts of the feast, MD [373] ff with psalms of Thursday
Vespers: Antiphons, chapter and hymn from Lauds, MD [373] ff; psalms from Common of Virgins MD (84); responsory and Magnificat antiphon, MD [377]

Friday 23 November – St Clement I, Pope and Martyr, Class III; St Felicitas, memorial

MD [377]ff:
Matins: responsories and reading three of the feast.
Lauds: Antiphons and proper texts of the feast with festal psalms
Prime to None: Antiphons of Lauds, proper texts of the feast, psalms of Friday
Vespers: Antiphons from Lauds; proper texts and psalms from Common of a martyr, MD (36); Magnificat antiphon, MD [382]

Saturday 24 November – Office of Our Lady; St John of the Cross, Confessor and Doctor; St Chrysogonus, Martyr; Memorials [EF: St John, Class III]

Matins: Reading 3 for Fourth Saturday of November
Lauds to None: MD (129)ff; at Lauds, for the commemoration, MD [382-3]
Vespers – Fifth Sunday of November, MD 461*; collect of the last Sunday after Pentecost, MD 487*

Sunday 25 November – Twenty Sixth and last Sunday after Pentecost; St Catherine, Virgin and Martyr, memorial

Matins: Fifth Sunday of November for Nocturns I&II readings
Lauds: Psalm schema 1 (50, 117, 62); hymn Aeterne Reum Conditor; canticle antiphon MD 487*; for the commemoration see MD [383-4]
Prime to None: All as for Sunday in the psalter, with collect MD 487*
Vespers: Canticle antiphon and collect, MD 487*

Monday 26 November – St Sylvester OSB, Abbot, Memorial [EF: Class III]

All as for Monday in the psalter with collect MD 487*; for the commemoration at Lauds, MD [384]

Tuesday 27 November – Class IV

All as for Tuesday in the psalter with collect MD 487*

Wednesday 28 November – Class IV

All as for Wednesday in the psalter with collect MD 487*

Thursday 29 November - St Saturinus, Memorial [**in some places Blessed Richard, Hugo, John, abbots and companions, martyrs, memorial]

All as for Thursday in the psalter with collect MD 487*; for the commemoration at Lauds, MD [385]

Friday 30 November - St Andrew, Apostle, Class II

MD [2] ff:
Matins: Invitatory antiphon and hymn from Common of Apostles; antiphons and readings of the feast, psalms from Common of Apostles
Lauds: Antiphons and proper texts of the feast with festal psalms
Prime to None: Antiphons and proper texts of the feast with psalms of Friday
Vespers: Antiphons, Chapter, hymn of Lauds, MD [2]ff; responsory and Magnificat antiphon of the feast, MD [7] ff; psalms from the Common of Apostles, MD (13)

St John Capistrano (EF memorial: March 28)



From the martyrology:

"St. John Capistrano, confessor, a priest of the Order of Friars Minor, who is mentioned on the 23rd of October."

St John Capistrano (1386-1456) was an Italian Franciscan Friar who was famous as a preacher, theologian, and inquisitor.  At the age of 70 he led a crusade against the invading Ottoman Empire, successfully raising the siege of Belgrade along with the Hungarian military commander John Hunyadi, even leading his own contingent into battle.

St John is one of those saints who if he lived today would surely be a blogger: when he was not preaching, he employed himself in writing tracts against heresy of every kind. He also assisted St Bernardine of Siena in the reform of the Franciscan Order.

He died of the plague in the wake of the battle against the Ottomans.

A saint of Syria: St John Damascene, Memorial (March 27)




From the martyrology:

"St. John Damascene, priest, confessor, and doctor of the Church, whose birthday is commemorated on the 6th of May."

Today is the feast of St John Damascene (645-749), a fascinating figure because he is the only Father and Doctor who lived and worked under Muslim rule - he was a public servant to the Islamic ruler of Damascus before becoming a monk. 

Indeed, living under Islamic rule, unsatisfactory though it was for contemporary Christians in terms of the ability to freely worship and more (the saint regarded that religion as essentially a Christian heresy), actually allowed him to continue his efforts despite the Iconoclast heresy that had taken hold in the Eastern Church of his time.

He is often regarded as the last of the Fathers, and was a contemporary of St Bede the Venerable (d735).

Here is Pope Benedict XVI's General Audience on the saint from a few years back:

"Today I should like to speak about John Damascene, a personage of prime importance in the history of Byzantine Theology, a great Doctor in the history of the Universal Church. Above all he was an eyewitness of the passage from the Greek and Syrian Christian cultures shared by the Eastern part of the Byzantine Empire, to the Islamic culture, which spread through its military conquests in the territory commonly known as the Middle or Near East. John, born into a wealthy Christian family, at an early age assumed the role, perhaps already held by his father, of Treasurer of the Caliphate. Very soon, however, dissatisfied with life at court, he decided on a monastic life, and entered the monastery of Mar Saba, near Jerusalem. This was around the year 700. He never again left the monastery, but dedicated all his energy to ascesis and literary work, not disdaining a certain amount of pastoral activity, as is shown by his numerous homilies. His liturgical commemoration is on the 4 December. Pope Leo XIII proclaimed him Doctor of the Universal Church in 1890.

In the East, his best remembered works are the three Discourses against those who calumniate the Holy Images, which were condemned after his death by the iconoclastic Council of Hieria (754). These discourses, however, were also the fundamental grounds for his rehabilitation and canonization on the part of the Orthodox Fathers summoned to the Council of Nicaea (787), the Seventh Ecumenical Council. In these texts it is possible to trace the first important theological attempts to legitimise the veneration of sacred images, relating them to the mystery of the Incarnation of the Son of God in the womb of the Virgin Mary.

John Damascene was also among the first to distinguish, in the cult, both public and private, of the Christians, between worship (latreia), and veneration (proskynesis): the first can only be offered to God, spiritual above all else, the second, on the other hand, can make use of an image to address the one whom the image represents. Obviously the Saint can in no way be identified with the material of which the icon is composed. This distinction was immediately seen to be very important in finding an answer in Christian terms to those who considered universal and eternal the strict Old Testament prohibition against the use of cult images. This was also a matter of great debate in the Islamic world, which accepts the Jewish tradition of the total exclusion of cult images. Christians, on the other hand, in this context, have discussed the problem and found a justification for the veneration of images. John Damascene writes, "In other ages God had not been represented in images, being incorporate and faceless. But since God has now been seen in the flesh, and lived among men, I represent that part of God which is visible. I do not venerate matter, but the Creator of matter, who became matter for my sake and deigned to live in matter and bring about my salvation through matter. I will not cease therefore to venerate that matter through which my salvation was achieved. But I do not venerate it in absolute terms as God! How could that which, from non-existence, has been given existence, be God?... But I also venerate and respect all the rest of matter which has brought me salvation, since it is full of energy and Holy graces. Is not the wood of the Cross, three times blessed, matter?... And the ink, and the most Holy Book of the Gospels, are they not matter? The redeeming altar which dispenses the Bread of life, is it not matter?... And, before all else, are not the flesh and blood of Our Lord matter? Either we must suppress the sacred nature of all these things, or we must concede to the tradition of the Church the veneration of the images of God and that of the friends of God who are sanctified by the name they bear, and for this reason are possessed by the grace of the Holy Spirit. Do not, therefore, offend matter: it is not contemptible, because nothing that God has made is contemptible" (cf. Contra imaginum calumniatores, I, 16, ed. Kotter, pp. 89-90). We see that as a result of the Incarnation, matter is seen to have become divine, is seen as the habitation of God. It is a new vision of the world and of material reality. God became flesh and flesh became truly the habitation of God, whose glory shines in the human Face of Christ. Thus the arguments of the Doctor of the East are still extremely relevant today, considering the very great dignity that matter has acquired through the Incarnation, capable of becoming, through faith, a sign and a sacrament, efficacious in the meeting of man with God. John Damascene remains, therefore, a privileged witness of the cult of icons, which would come to be one of the most distinctive aspects of Eastern spirituality up to the present day. It is, however, a form of cult which belongs simply to the Christian faith, to the faith in that God who became flesh and was made visible. The teaching of Saint John Damascene thus finds its place in the tradition of the universal Church, whose sacramental doctrine foresees that material elements taken from nature can become vehicles of grace by virtue of the invocation (epiclesis) of the Holy Spirit, accompanied by the confession of the true faith.

John Damascene extends these fundamental ideas to the veneration of the relics of Saints, on the basis of the conviction that the Christian Saints, having become partakers of the Resurrection of Christ, cannot be considered simply "dead". Numbering, for example, those whose relics or images are worthy of veneration, John states in his third discourse in defence of images: "First of all (let us venerate) those among whom God reposed, he alone Holy, who reposes among the Saints (cf. Is 57: 15), such as the Mother of God and all the Saints. These are those who, as far as possible, have made themselves similar to God by their own will; and by God's presence in them, and his help, they are really called gods (cf. Ps 82[81]: 6), not by their nature, but by contingency, just as the red-hot iron is called fire, not by its nature, but by contingency and its participation in the fire. He says in fact : you shall be holy, because I am Holy (cf. Lv 19: 2)" (III, 33, col. 1352 a). After a series of references of this kind, John Damascene was able serenely to deduce: "God, who is good, and greater than any goodness, was not content with the contemplation of himself, but desired that there should be beings benefited by him, who might share in his goodness: therefore he created from nothing all things, visible and invisible, including man, a reality visible and invisible. And he created him envisaging him and creating him as a being capable of thought (ennoema ergon), enriched with the word (logo[i] sympleroumenon), and orientated towards the spirit (pneumati teleioumenon)" (II, 2, pg 94, col. 865a). And to clarify this thought further, he adds: "We must allow ourselves to be filled with wonder (thaumazein) at all the works of Providence (tes pronoias erga), to accept and praise them all, overcoming any temptation to identify in them aspects which to many may seem unjust or iniquitous, (adika), and admitting instead that the project of God (pronoia) goes beyond man's capacity to know or to understand (agnoston kai akatalepton), while on the contrary only he may know our thoughts, our actions, and even our future" (ii, 29, pg 94, col. 964c). Plato had in fact already said that all philosophy begins with wonder. Our faith, too, begins with wonder at the very fact of the Creation, and at the beauty of God who makes himself visible.

The optimism of the contemplation of nature (physike theoria), of seeing in the visible creation the good, the beautiful, the true, this Christian optimism, is not ingenuous: it takes account of the wound inflicted on human nature by the freedom of choice desired by God and misused by man, with all the consequences of widespread discord which have derived from it. From this derives the need, clearly perceived by John Damascene, that nature, in which the goodness and beauty of God are reflected, wounded by our fault, "should be strengthened and renewed" by the descent of the Son of God in the flesh, after God had tried in many ways and on many occasions, to show that he had created man so that he might exist not only in "being", but also in "well-being" (cf. The Orthodox Faith, II, 1, pg 94, col. 981). With passionate eagerness John explains: "It was necessary for nature to be strengthened and renewed, and for the path of virtue to be indicated and effectively taught (didachthenai aretes hodòn), the path that leads away from corruption and towards eternal life.... So there appeared on the horizon of history the great sea of love that God bears towards man (philanthropias pelagos)".... It is a fine expression. We see on one side the beauty of Creation, and on the other the destruction wrought by the fault of man. But we see in the Son of God, who descends to renew nature, the sea of love that God has for man. John Damascene continues: "he himself, the Creator and the Lord, fought for his Creation, transmitting to it his teaching by example.... And so the Son of God, while still remaining in the form of God, lowered the skies and descended... to his servants... achieving the newest thing of all, the only thing really new under the sun, through which he manifested the infinite power of God" (III, 1, pg 94, col. 981c-984b).

We may imagine the comfort and joy which these words, so rich in fascinating images, poured into the hearts of the faithful. We listen to them today, sharing the same feelings with the Christians of those far-off days: God desires to repose in us, he wishes to renew nature through our conversion, he wants to allow us to share in his divinity. May the Lord help us to make these words the substance of our lives. "

Passion Sunday (March 24-25)




First Passion Sunday, or the Fifth Sunday of Lent in Ordinary Form, actually marks the start of a new liturgical season in the Extraordinary Form.  The liturgical (though not penitential) season of Lent is officially over from I Vespers this Sunday, as we move into Passiontide. 

Passiontide was traditionally a period of more intensive fasting than the earlier period of Lent, as Easter draws nearer.

If you need to refresh your memory on the rubrics for the Office during this period, you can find a summary of them here.

St Gabriel the Archangel (March 24, Extraordinary Form)

c14th Georgia
From the martyrology:

"The Feast of St. Gabriel Archangel, who was sent by God to announce the Incarnation of the Divine Word."

St Benedict (March 21)


From the martyrology:

"At Monte Cassino, the birthday of the holy abbot St. Benedict, who restored and wonderfully extended the monastic discipline in the West, where it had almost been destroyed.  His life, brilliant in virtues and miracles, was written by Pope St. Gregory."

October 2012


Herewith the Benedictine Ordo according to the general calendar for the Order, and rubrics approved in 1961/2, with page references to the Monastic Diurnal (MD) published by Farnborough Abbey.

You will of course need to add in any local feasts celebrated in your monastery, parish, diocese and country.

Note that EF=Roman Extraordinary Form calendar.

Please let me know if you find any errors, or have any questions on the Ordo.

THE ORDO

Monday 1 October - Class IV [EF: Commemoration of St Remigius]

All as in the psalter for Monday with collect (of Eighteenth Sunday after Pentecost) MD 477*

Tuesday 2 October – The Holy Guardian Angels, Class III

MD [291]ff:
Matins: Invitatory antiphon, hymn and one reading of the feast.
Lauds: Festal psalms with antiphons and propers from MD [291]ff
Prime to None: Antiphons, chapter, versicle and collect of the feast
Vespers: Antiphons of Lauds, Psalms of Sunday except for the last (Ps 137), proper texts MD [295]ff

Wednesday 3 October – St Teresa of the Child Jesus, Memorial [EF, Cl 3, **in some places, Class I]

All as for Wednesday in the psalter with collect MD 477*; for the commemoration at Lauds, MD [297]

If Class I, MD 45**

Thursday 4 October – St Francis, Confessor, Class III

MD [298]:
Matins: One reading of the feast.
Lauds to Vespers: psalms and antiphons of Tuesday; rest from the Common of a Confessor, MD (78) with collect, MD [298]

Friday 5 October – SS Maurus and Placid, confessors, Disciples of St Benedict, Class III

MD [299]ff:
Matins: Invitatory antiphon, hymn and one reading of the feast.
Lauds: Festal psalms with antiphons and propers from MD [299]ff
Prime to None: Antiphons, chapter, versicle [and collect] of the feast, MD [302-4]
Vespers: Antiphons of Lauds, Psalms of Sunday, proper texts MD [303]ff

Saturday 6 October – Our Lady on Saturday; St Bruno, Confessor, Memorial [EF, Cl 3]

Matins: Reading for Saturday I of October
Lauds to None: MD (129)ff; at Lauds make a commemoration, MD [305]
Vespers of first Sunday of October, MD 457*/Nineteenth Sunday after Pentecost, collect MD 478*

Sunday 7 October – Nineteenth Sunday after Pentecost, Class II

MD 478*:
Matins: First Sunday of October
Lauds: Psalm schema 1 (50, 117, 62); hymn Aeterne Reum Conditor [note change of hymn]; canticle antiphon MD 478*
Prime to None: All as for Sunday in the psalter, with collect MD 478*
Vespers: Canticle antiphon and collect, MD 478*

Monday 8 October – Class IV [EF: St Brigid, Widow, Cl 3]

All as in the psalter for Monday with collect MD 478*

Tuesday 9 October – Class IV [EF: St John Leonardi, Cl 3]

All as in the psalter for Tuesday with collect MD 478*

Wednesday 10 October – Class IV [EF: St Francis Borgia, Cl 3]

All as in the psalter for Wednesday with collect MD 478*

Thursday 11 October – Class IV [EF: Maternity of Our Lady, Cl 2]

All as in the psalter for Thursday with collect MD 478*

Friday 12 October – Class IV*** in some places, St Wilfrid OSB, Class III

All as in the psalter for Friday with collect MD 478*

For St Wilfrid: MD 45**

Saturday 13 October – Our Lady on Saturday [EF/in some places, St Edward, King and Confessor, Class 2/3]

Matins: Reading of Saturday 2
Lauds to None: MD (129)ff

For St Edward, see MD 45**

I Vespers – Second Sunday of October, MD 458*; collect of Twentieth Sunday, MD 479*

Sunday 14 October – Twentieth Sunday after Pentecost, Class II; St Callistus, Pope and Martyr, memorial

MD 479*:
Matins: Second Sunday of October
Lauds: Psalm schema 1 (50, 117, 62); hymn Aeterne Reum Conditor; canticle antiphon MD 479*; for the commemoration of the saint, MD [314]
Prime to None: All as for Sunday in the psalter, with collect MD 479*
Vespers: Canticle antiphon and collect, MD 479*

Monday 15 October – St Teresa, Virgin, Class III

MD [314]ff:
Matins: Invitatory antiphon, hymn and one reading of the feast.
Lauds and Vespers: Psalms and antiphons of Saturday with chapter, hymn etc from MD [315]ff
Terce to None: Chapter and versicle from Common of Virgins; collect, MD [316]

Tuesday 16 October – Class IV***in some places, St Gall, Abbot [EF: St Hedwig, Widow, Class III]

All as in the psalter for Tuesday with collect MD 479*

For St Gall, see MD 46**ff

Wednesday 17 October – Class IV [EF: St Margaret Mary Alocoque, Cl 3]

All as in the psalter for Wednesday with collect MD 479*

Thursday 18 October – St Luke, Evangelist, Class II

MD [317]ff:
Matins: All from the Common of Apostles except readings and responsories for Nocturns II &III
Lauds to Vespers: All as for the Common of Apostles, MD (9), with collect from MD [317-8]

Friday 19 October – Class IV [EF: St Peter of Alcantara, Class III]

All as in the psalter for Friday with collect MD 479*

Saturday 20 October – Our Lady on Saturday [EF: St John Cantius, Class III]

Matins: Reading for Fourth Saturday
Lauds to None: See MD (129)
Vespers – Fourth Sunday of October, MD 458-9*; collect of Twenty-First Sunday, MD 480*

Sunday 21 October – Twenty first Sunday after Pentecost, Class II; St Hilarion, Abbot, Memorial

Matins: Fourth Sunday of October
Lauds: Psalm schema 1 (50, 117, 62); hymn Aeterne Reum Conditor; canticle antiphon MD 480*; commemoration, MD [318]
Prime to None: All as for Sunday in the psalter, with collect MD 480*
Vespers: Canticle antiphon and collect, MD 480*

Monday 22 October – Class IV

All as in the psalter for Monday with collect MD 480*

Tuesday 23 October – Class IV [EF: St Antony Mary Claret Class III]

All as in the psalter for Tuesday with collect MD 480*

Wednesday 24 October – Class IV [EF/***in some places, St Raphael, Class I/III]

All as in the psalter for Wednesday with collect MD 480*

**MD 51ff**

Thursday 25 October – SS Chrysanthus and Daria, Martyrs, Memorial

All as in the psalter for Thursday with collect MD 480*; For the commemoration at Lauds, see MD [327]

Friday 26 October - Class IV [EF: Commemoration of St Evaristus]

All as in the psalter for Friday with collect MD 480*

Saturday 27 October – Our Lady on Saturday

Matins: Reading for Fifth Saturday
Lauds to None: See MD (129)ff

I Vespers of Christ the King, MD [318] ff

Sunday 28 October– Feast of Christ the King, Class I

All is of the feast, see MD [322] ff

[nb SS Simon and Jude not celebrated this year]

Monday 29 October – Class IV

All as for Monday in the psalter, collect of the twenty-second Sunday, MD 481*

Tuesday 30 October - Class IV

All as for Tuesday in the psalter with collect MD 481*

Wednesday 31 October – Class IV

Matins to None: All as for Wednesday in the psalter with collect MD 481*

I Vespers of All Saints, MD [328]ff

St Benedict Novena Day 9 (March 20): The Tyburns and Australia


And on this final day of the novena of St Benedict, can I beg your prayers for Australia?

While Australia does have a number of Benedictine monasteries, Australia has no Benedictine monasteries using either the traditional Mass or Office.

The Tyburn nuns

The country has one conservative monastery of Benedictines, in the form of the Tyburn Nuns, aka the Benedictine Adorers of the Sacred Heart of Jesus of Montmartre. 

This is a rapidly growing Congregation dedicated to Eucharistic Adoration, with monasteries in a number of countries, including a number of new foundations.  The Congregation does not practice stability, but moves sisters around the Order's monasteries as needed.

Benedictine Monasticism in Australia

But most monasteries in Australia are struggling, with relatively few vocations, and an ageing demographic.

The Monastery of New Norcia in Western Australia, which played a key role in Australia's catholic history, struggles on having literally turned itself into a living museum. 

There is also the Monastery of Arcadia in New South Wales.

And for women, the Monastery of Jamberoo in New South Wales, gained some fame a few years back through a reality tv show called 'The Abbey'. 

Please do keep Australia's monasteries, and Australians in Benedictine monasteries around the world, especially in your prayers for the recovery of traditional religious life!

And please pray for the restoration of traditional Benedictine religious life around the world...

Novena Prayer

O glorious St. Benedict, sublime model of all virtues, pure vessel of God's grace! Behold me, humbly kneeling at thy feet. I implore thy loving heart to pray for me before the throne of God. To thee I have recourse in all the dangers which daily surround me. Shield me against my enemies, inspire me to imitate thee in all things. May thy blessing be with me always, so that I may shun whatever God forbids and avoid the occasions of sin.

Graciously obtain for me from God those favors and graces of which I stand so much in need, in the trials, miseries and afflictions of life. Thy heart was always so full of love, compassion, and mercy toward those who were afflicted or troubled in any way. Thou didst never dismiss without consolation and assistance anyone who had recourse to thee. I therefore invoke thy powerful intercession, in the confident hope that thou wilt hear my prayers and obtain for me the special grace and favor I so earnestly implore (mention your intentions here), if it be for the greater glory of God and the welfare of my soul.

Help me, O great St. Benedict, to live and die as a faithful child of God, to be ever submissive to His holy will, and to attain the eternal happiness of heaven. Amen.

[For the special intention (Magnificat antiphon of the feast): O pattern of heavenly life, our guide and teacher Benedict, whose soul is now rejoicing with Christ in heaven: protect thy flock, dear shepherd, and by thy holy prayer support them; and with thyself as leader showing that brightened way, make them enter the heavens.]

SS Cuthbert and Wulfram OSB (March 20)



Today I'd like to draw your attention to two saintly monks mentioned in the martyrology, SS Wulfram of Sens, and St Cuthbert.

St Cuthbert

From the martyrology:

"In England, the death of St. Cuthbert, bishop of Lindisfarne, who from his childhood until his death was renowned for good works and miracles."

St Cuthbert (634-687) was an Anglo-Saxon monk, bishop and hermit whose life was written by St Bede.

Cuthbert was in the Kingdom of Northumbria in the mid-630s, some ten years after the conversion of King Edwin to Christianity in 627.


He decided to become a monk after seeing a vision on the night in 651 that St Aidan, the founder of Lindisfarne, died, but seems to have seen some military service first. He was quickly made guest-master at the new monastery at Ripon, soon after 655, but had to return with Eata to Melrose when Wilfrid was given the monastery instead. About 662 he was made prior at Melrose, and around 665 went as prior to Lindisfarne. In 684 he was made bishop of Lindisfarne but by late 686 resigned and returned to his hermitage as he felt he was about to die, although he was probably still only in his early 50s.

St Cuthbert had a reputation for piety, diligence, and obedience. After the Synod of Whitby, St Cuthbert seems to have accepted the Roman customs, and his old abbot, Eata, called on him to introduce them at Lindisfarne as prior there. His asceticism was complemented by his charm and generosity to the poor, and his reputation for gifts of healing and insight led many people to consult him, gaining him the name of "Wonder Worker of Britain". He continued his missionary work, travelling the breadth of the country from Berwick to Galloway to carry out pastoral work.

St Wulfram

From the martyrology:

"In the monastery of Fontanelle in France, St. Wulfram, bishop of Sens, who resigned his bishopric, and after having performed miracles, departed out of this life."

St Wulfram (640-703) was a Frank. He became Archbishop of Sens in 692, but resigned from the see in 695 and retired to the Benedictine Monastery of Fronenelles (probably in Rouen).

He went on mission to Frisia, where he proved extremely effective.  Acorrding to the wikipedia:

"...in Frisia, St. Wulfram converted the son of King Radbod and was allowed to preach. The custom was that people, including children, were sacrificed to the local gods having been selected by a form of lottery. Wulfram, having remonstrated with Radbod on the subject, was told that the king was unable to change the custom but Wulfram was invited to save them if he could. The saint then waded into the sea to save two children who had been tied to posts and left to drown as the tide rose. According to the story, the turning point came with the rescue of a man, Ovon, who had been chosen by lot to be sacrificed by hanging. Wulfram begged King Radbod to stop the killing, but the people were outraged at the sacrilege proposed. In the end, they agreed that Wulfram's God could have a chance to save Ovon's life, and if he did, Wulfram and the God could have him. Ovon was hanged, and left for a couple of hours, while Wulfram prayed. When the Frisians decided to leave Ovon for dead, the rope broke, Ovon fell - and was alive. Ovon became Wulfram's slave, his follower, a monk, and then a priest at Fontenelle Abbey. The faith of the missionaries (and their power to work miracles), frightened and awed the people who turned from their old ways, and were baptized."

He subsequently retired back to his monastery, and died there in 703. 

St Benedict Novena Day 8 (March 19): Flavigny and Le Barroux


Continuing today this novena for traditional Benedictine religious life, I want to mention today the monasteries of Flavigny and Le Barroux in France.

Patronal feast of Flavigny

Today is in fact the patron feast of the Monastery of Flavigny, which is bi-ritual, was founded in 1972 and today has around 50 monks. 

The monastery has an unusual charism (for Benedictines), of running Ignatian Retreats, not only at the monastery itself and in various locations around France, but around the world, including England and Australia.

Among its many works to note are the excellent newsletter, featuring inspiring stories of saints and others which you can subscribe to, as well as a web facility to arrange for masses to be offered.

Le Barroux

And of course, this series would be incomplete without a mention of the monasteries of Le Barroux.

The famous foundation of Dom Gerard Calvet in southern France started from just one monk, whose books are all well worth reading (some are available in English).  The monks live stream a number of their offices, so if you are in their time zone, do listen in!

The monks have also made a foundation at La Garde, where they are in the process of building a monastery.

As well as the monks there is also an associated Monastery of Nuns.  Founded in 1979 they now have around 30 nuns, and recently put out a CD through Decca.

Novena Prayer

O glorious St. Benedict, sublime model of all virtues, pure vessel of God's grace! Behold me, humbly kneeling at thy feet. I implore thy loving heart to pray for me before the throne of God. To thee I have recourse in all the dangers which daily surround me. Shield me against my enemies, inspire me to imitate thee in all things. May thy blessing be with me always, so that I may shun whatever God forbids and avoid the occasions of sin.

Graciously obtain for me from God those favors and graces of which I stand so much in need, in the trials, miseries and afflictions of life. Thy heart was always so full of love, compassion, and mercy toward those who were afflicted or troubled in any way. Thou didst never dismiss without consolation and assistance anyone who had recourse to thee. I therefore invoke thy powerful intercession, in the confident hope that thou wilt hear my prayers and obtain for me the special grace and favor I so earnestly implore (mention your intentions here), if it be for the greater glory of God and the welfare of my soul.

Help me, O great St. Benedict, to live and die as a faithful child of God, to be ever submissive to His holy will, and to attain the eternal happiness of heaven. Amen.

[For the special intention (Magnificat antiphon of the feast): O pattern of heavenly life, our guide and teacher Benedict, whose soul is now rejoicing with Christ in heaven: protect thy flock, dear shepherd, and by thy holy prayer support them; and with thyself as leader showing that brightened way, make them enter the heavens.]

St Joseph (March 19)



From the martyrology:

"In Judea, the birthday of St. Joseph, spouse of the Most Blessed Virgin Mary, Confessor and Patron of the Universal Church.  Pope Pius IX, yielding to the desires and prayers of the whole Catholic world, declared him Patron of the Universal Church."

St Benedict Novena Day 7 (March 18): Emerging communities in France and Italy



Today in this novena series for the revival of traditional Benedictine religious life, I wanted to highlight two emerging communities of men.

Monastère Saint-Benoît, La Garde-Freinet

The first is the very new indeed Monastery of St Benedict in the tradition friendly diocese of Frejus-Toulon.  It was founded just last December. 

The community, like their website, is bilingual, and the Prior is actually English (you can read an interview with him on the New Liturgical Movement blog), and its monks include Dom Alcuin Reid who did most of the editing of the Farnborough Monastic Diurnal while he was there. 

The website includes a new page which has some nice pictures, and seems to be being updated regularly, As a new community it is particularly in need of material support!

Benedictines of the Immaculate, Italy
The second group is the Benedictines of the Immaculate, a breakaway group from the Monastery of Le Barroux (which I'll talk about tomorrow), seeking a stricter observance. 

Sadly, despite Summorum Pontificum and subsequent legislation, it sometimes seems that the battles of the last forty or so years have to be fought over and over again though.  Certainly that seems to be the challenge facing the Eponymous Flower blog records details of a "discussion" going on with the diocesan bishop over attempts to impose the novus ordo and concelebration on members of the community.

Novena Prayer

Do keep both of these communities, and other emerging groups, in your prayers.

O glorious St. Benedict, sublime model of all virtues, pure vessel of God's grace! Behold me, humbly kneeling at thy feet. I implore thy loving heart to pray for me before the throne of God. To thee I have recourse in all the dangers which daily surround me. Shield me against my enemies, inspire me to imitate thee in all things. May thy blessing be with me always, so that I may shun whatever God forbids and avoid the occasions of sin.

Graciously obtain for me from God those favors and graces of which I stand so much in need, in the trials, miseries and afflictions of life. Thy heart was always so full of love, compassion, and mercy toward those who were afflicted or troubled in any way. Thou didst never dismiss without consolation and assistance anyone who had recourse to thee. I therefore invoke thy powerful intercession, in the confident hope that thou wilt hear my prayers and obtain for me the special grace and favor I so earnestly implore (mention your intentions here), if it be for the greater glory of God and the welfare of my soul.

Help me, O great St. Benedict, to live and die as a faithful child of God, to be ever submissive to His holy will, and to attain the eternal happiness of heaven. Amen.

[For the special intention (Magnificat antiphon of the feast): O pattern of heavenly life, our guide and teacher Benedict, whose soul is now rejoicing with Christ in heaven: protect thy flock, dear shepherd, and by thy holy prayer support them; and with thyself as leader showing that brightened way, make them enter the heavens.]

Fourth Sunday of Lent (Laetare Sunday, March 18)


Codex Egberti, c980-993

The Gospel this Sunday is St John 6:1-15, the miracle of the loaves and fishes:

"After this Jesus went to the other side of the Sea of Galilee, which is the Sea of Tiberias. And a multitude followed him, because they saw the signs which he did on those who were diseased. Jesus went up on the mountain, and there sat down with his disciples.

Now the Passover, the feast of the Jews, was at hand. Lifting up his eyes, then, and seeing that a multitude was coming to him, Jesus said to Philip, "How are we to buy bread, so that these people may eat?" This he said to test him, for he himself knew what he would do. Philip answered him, "Two hundred denarii would not buy enough bread for each of them to get a little." One of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter's brother, said to him, "There is a lad here who has five barley loaves and two fish; but what are they among so many?"

Jesus said, "Make the people sit down." Now there was much grass in the place; so the men sat down, in number about five thousand. Jesus then took the loaves, and when he had given thanks, he distributed them to those who were seated; so also the fish, as much as they wanted.

And when they had eaten their fill, he told his disciples, "Gather up the fragments left over, that nothing may be lost." So they gathered them up and filled twelve baskets with fragments from the five barley loaves, left by those who had eaten.

When the people saw the sign which he had done, they said, "This is indeed the prophet who is to come into the world!" Perceiving then that they were about to come and take him by force to make him king, Jesus withdrew again to the mountain by himself."

Monasteries of Jouques and Rosans - St Benedict Novena (Day 6), March 17



Continuing this series on the renewal of traditional Benedictine religious life, today I want to highlight the Monastery of Jouques, located near Aix-en-Provence in France.

Jouques Nuns

Jouques is the most successful by far of the traditional monasteries of Benedictine nuns with the Extraordinary Form mass and full traditional chant Office, certainly in terms of vocations.

The monastery was founded in 1967, and achieved abbey status in 1981.  It has around 60 nuns, and generally has several novices and postulants.  Their founding abbess retired last year, and her successor, Mother Teresa Dardaine, received the abbaliale blessing in June 2011.  The monastery supports itself through the sale of its products.

It has also made two foundations. 

The first, the Monastery of Rosans, located in the hautes-Alpes region of France, achieved abbey status in 2002.

The third is in Benin in Africa.

Please do keep these wonderful nuns in your prayers.

Novena Prayer

O glorious St. Benedict, sublime model of all virtues, pure vessel of God's grace! Behold me, humbly kneeling at thy feet. I implore thy loving heart to pray for me before the throne of God. To thee I have recourse in all the dangers which daily surround me. Shield me against my enemies, inspire me to imitate thee in all things. May thy blessing be with me always, so that I may shun whatever God forbids and avoid the occasions of sin.

Graciously obtain for me from God those favors and graces of which I stand so much in need, in the trials, miseries and afflictions of life. Thy heart was always so full of love, compassion, and mercy toward those who were afflicted or troubled in any way. Thou didst never dismiss without consolation and assistance anyone who had recourse to thee. I therefore invoke thy powerful intercession, in the confident hope that thou wilt hear my prayers and obtain for me the special grace and favor I so earnestly implore (mention your intentions here), if it be for the greater glory of God and the welfare of my soul.

Help me, O great St. Benedict, to live and die as a faithful child of God, to be ever submissive to His holy will, and to attain the eternal happiness of heaven. Amen.

[For the special intention (Magnificat antiphon of the feast): O pattern of heavenly life, our guide and teacher Benedict, whose soul is now rejoicing with Christ in heaven: protect thy flock, dear shepherd, and by thy holy prayer support them; and with thyself as leader showing that brightened way, make them enter the heavens.]

St Patrick (Class I in many places); St Joseph of Arimathea


From the martyrology:

"At Downpatrick in Ireland, the birthday of St. Patrick, bishop and confessor, who was the first to preach Christ in that country, and who became illustrious by great miracles and virtues."

Also in the martyrology today:

"At Jerusalem, St. Joseph of Arimathea, noble senator and disciple of our Lord,. who took his Body down from the Cross and buried it in his own new sepulchre."

From the martyrology: Canadian Jesuit martyrs (March 16)



From the martyrology:

"In the territory of Canada, Saints John de Brébeuf, Gabriel Lalemant, Anthony Daniel, Charles Garnier, and Noel Chabanel, priests of the Society of Jesus, who in the mission of the Hurons, on this and other days, after many labours and most cruel torments, bravely underwent death for Christ."

St Benedict Novena Day 5: Fontgombault and its daughter houses


Today in this novena leading up to the feast of St Benedict, I want to highlight the efforts of Fontgombault Abbey in France.

Founded in 1948, Fontgombault is a Solesmes Congregation monastery that has retained the EF Mass and is by far the most successful of any of the traditional Benedictine communities when it comes to vocations.

This is a monastery that has truly fought the good fight for the cause of traditionalism. It was briefly forced to utilize the new Mass under threat of excommunication – but reverted back to the traditional missal the instant it became possible to do so!

The monastery itself has over one hundred monks.

And it has made four foundations – Randol (1971), Tiers (1984), Gaussan (1994), and Clear Creek in the United States (1999).

Clear Creek Monastery

Most readers here will perhaps be most familiar with Clear Creek, which is now an abbey in its own right. I mentioned earlier in this series in relation to its associated sisters. Clear Creek is in the process of building a monastery, and needs your support…

Fontgombault itself recently elected a new abbot, and there is a nice story about Pope Benedict XVI greeting the new abbot and his predecessor over at Eponymous Flower Blog.

Novena prayer

O glorious St. Benedict, sublime model of all virtues, pure vessel of God's grace! Behold me, humbly kneeling at thy feet. I implore thy loving heart to pray for me before the throne of God. To thee I have recourse in all the dangers which daily surround me. Shield me against my enemies, inspire me to imitate thee in all things. May thy blessing be with me always, so that I may shun whatever God forbids and avoid the occasions of sin.

Graciously obtain for me from God those favors and graces of which I stand so much in need, in the trials, miseries and afflictions of life. Thy heart was always so full of love, compassion, and mercy toward those who were afflicted or troubled in any way. Thou didst never dismiss without consolation and assistance anyone who had recourse to thee. I therefore invoke thy powerful intercession, in the confident hope that thou wilt hear my prayers and obtain for me the special grace and favor I so earnestly implore (mention your intentions here), if it be for the greater glory of God and the welfare of my soul.

Help me, O great St. Benedict, to live and die as a faithful child of God, to be ever submissive to His holy will, and to attain the eternal happiness of heaven. Amen.

[For the special intention (Magnificat antiphon of the feast): O pattern of heavenly life, our guide and teacher Benedict, whose soul is now rejoicing with Christ in heaven: protect thy flock, dear shepherd, and by thy holy prayer support them; and with thyself as leader showing that brightened way, make them enter the heavens.]

Thursday in the Third Week of Lent: halfway there!



Pope Felix offers the Basilica of
SS Cosmas and Damian to the saints.

Thursday of the Third Week of Lent is the official half-way point of Lent, though we defer any real celebration of it until the coming Sunday (Laetare).  In fact we are really already past the mid-way point, due to a number of 'get out of Lent' solemnities coming up (St Patrick's Day in many places, St Joseph, St Benedict and the Annunciation).

Nonetheless, the collect of the day is of SS Cosmas and Damian, reflecting the official Station Church in Rome of the day (there is one for each day of Lent where pilgrims are supposed to go, singing the litany of the saints).  Their actual feast day is September 27.

According to Dom Gueranger's Liturgical Year, these saints are thought to have been physicians, and so were deemed particularly suitable to offer their aid to us, fatigued as we must be from fasting...

Regardless of the extent or otherwise of of our fasting, Dom Gueranger urges us to pray to the two martyrs for strength to persevere in our Lenten disciplines.  Sounds like good advice!

Ordo for September 2012


British Library, Additional MS 18851
c1480s
Herewith the Benedictine Ordo according to the general calendar for the Order, and rubrics approved in 1961/2, with page references to the Monastic Diurnal (MD) published by Farnborough Abbey.

You will of course need to add in any local feasts celebrated in your monastery, parish, diocese and country.

Note that EF=Roman Extraordinary Form calendar.

Please let me know if you find any errors, or have any questions on the Ordo.

THE ORDO

Saturday 1 September - Saturday of Our Lady

[***In some places, St Vibiana; EF: Commemoration of St Giles, Abb & of 12 Holy Brothers, MM]

Matins: Reading for Saturday 1 in September
Lauds to None: MD (129)ff

**For St Vibiana: MD 43**

I Vespers of First Sunday of September, MD 452-3*; Collect MD 473-4*:

Sunday 2 September – Fourteenth Sunday after Pentecost

MD 473-4*:
Matins: Readings for Sunday I in September
Lauds: Psalm schema 1 (50, 117, 62); hymn Ecce iam lucis; canticle antiphon MD 473*
Prime to None: All as for Sunday in the psalter, with collect MD 473-4*
Vespers: Canticle antiphon and collect, MD 473-4*

Monday 3 September - St Pius X, Pope and Confessor, 3rd class [***In some places St Seraphia]

Matins: One reading, of the feast.
Lauds and Vespers: Psalms and antiphons of Thursday, with the rest from the Common of a Confessor Bishop, MD (64)
Terce to None: Chapter and versicle from the Common; collect, MD [258]

**For St Seraphia, MD 43**

Tuesday 4 September – Class IV

All as in the psalter for Tuesday with Collect MD 473-4*:

Wednesday 5 September – Class IV [EF: St Laurence Justinian, Cl 3]

All as in the psalter for Wednesday with Collect MD 473-4*:

Thursday 6 September - Class IV

All as in the psalter for Thursday with Collect MD 473-4*:

Friday 7 September - Class IV [**In some places, St Cloud, Confessor, Class I]

All as in the psalter for Friday with Collect MD 473-4*:

**For St Cloud, MD [258]

Saturday 8 September - Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Class II [EF: with a commemoration of St Hadrian, Martyr]

See - MD [259]ff.
Matins: Three Nocturns, with invitatory antiphon, hymn and readings of the feast, rest from Common of feasts of the BVM
Lauds: Antiphons and proper texts for the feast with festal psalms.
Prime to None: Antiphons of Lauds with chapter and versicles, MD [262-3]
Vespers: Antiphons and proper texts for the feast, MD [263] with psalms from the Common of Feasts of Our Lady at Vespers, with a commemoration of the Sunday, MD 453* and collect MD 474-5*

Sunday 9 September - Fifteenth Sunday after Pentecost; St Gorgonius, Martyr, Memorial

MD 474-5*:
Matins: Readings for the Second Sunday in September
Lauds: Psalm schema 1 (50, 117, 62); hymn Ecce iam lucis; canticle antiphon and collect MD 474-5*; for the commemoration, MD [264-5].
Prime to None: All as for Sunday in the psalter, with collect MD 474-5*
Vespers: Canticle antiphon and collect, MD 474-5*

Monday 10 September – Class IV [EF: St Nicholas of Tolentino, Confessor, Class III]

All as for Monday in the psalter with collect (of Sunday) MD 474-5*.

Tuesday 11 September - SS Protus and Hyacinth, Martyrs, Memorial

All as for Tuesday in the psalter with collect MD 474-5*; at Lauds, make a commemoration using the texts from MD [265]

Wednesday 12 September – Class IV

All as for Wednesday in the psalter with collect MD 474-5*

Thursday 13 September - Class IV

All as for Thursday in the psalter with collect MD 474-5*

Friday 14 September – Exaltation of Holy Cross, Class II

See MD [266]
Matins: Three nocturns, all texts proper to the feast.
Lauds – Festal psalms (of Sunday) with antiphons and proper texts from MD [266]ff
Prime to None: Antiphons of Lauds; chapter, versicle and collect of the feast, MD [269] ff
Vespers: Antiphons of Lauds (omit fourth); psalms of Sunday; proper texts of the feast from MD [270]ff

[nb start of monastic Lent]

Saturday 15 September – The Seven Sorrows of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Class III [EF: Class II]

Matins: Two nocturns - Invitatory antiphon, hymn and one reading of the feast.
Lauds: Antiphons and proper texts, MD [273]ff; festal psalms.
Prime to None: Antiphons of Lauds; chapter, versicle and collect, MD [276] ff

I Vespers of Third Sunday of September, MD 453-4*; Collect MD 475-6*

Sunday 16 September – Sixteenth Sunday after Pentecost; SS Cornelius, Pope and Cyprian, Bishop, Martyrs, Memorial

MD 475-6*:
Matins: Third Sunday of September
Lauds: Psalm schema 1 (50, 117, 62); hymn Ecce iam lucis; canticle antiphon MD 475-6*; at Lauds make a commemoration of the saints, using the texts from MD [278]
Prime to None: All as for Sunday in the psalter, with collect MD 475*
Vespers: Canticle antiphon and collect, MD 475-6*

Monday 17 September – St Hildegarde OSB, Virgin, Memorial [EF: Commemoration of the Imprinting of the Stigmata of St Francis]

All as in the Office for Monday throughout the year with collect MD 475*; at Lauds, make a commemoration of the saint using the texts from MD [278-9]

Tuesday 18 September – Class IV [EF: St Joseph of Cupertino, cl 3]

All as in the Office for Tuesday throughout the year with collect MD 475*

Wednesday 19 September – Ember Wednesday, Class II

All as in the psalter for Wednesday except for:
 canticle antiphons at Lauds and Vespers and collect, MD 454*;
 closing prayers are said kneeling.

Thursday 20 September – Class IV [EF: Commemoration of St Eustace and his companions]

All as in the Office for Thursday throughout the year with collect MD 475*

Friday 21 September - St Matthew, Apostle and Evangelist, Class II; Commemoration of Ember Friday

MD [279]:
Matins: Three nocturns, all from the Common of Apostles except readings for Nocturns II&III
Lauds to Vespers: All from the Common of Apostles, MD (9), with the collect from MD [279]; for the commemoration at Lauds and Vespers, MD 455*

Saturday 22 September – Ember Saturday, Class II; St Maurice and Companions, Martyrs, Memorial

All as in the psalter for Saturday except for Benedictus antiphon and collect, MD 456*; the concluding prayers are said kneeling; for the commemoration at Lauds, MD [280]

I Vespers of the Fourth Sunday of September, MD 456*; Collect of the Seventeenth Sunday, MD 476*

Sunday 23 September - Seventeenth Sunday after Pentecost, Class II; St Linus I, Pope and martyr, Memorial

MD 476-7*:
Matins: Fourth Sunday of September
Lauds: Psalm schema 1 (50, 117, 62); hymn Aeterne Reum Conditor; canticle antiphon MD 476-7*; for the commemoration, MD [280-1]
Prime to None: All as for Sunday in the psalter, with collect MD 476*
Vespers: Canticle antiphon and collect, MD 476-7*

Monday 24 September – Class IV [EF: Commemoration of Our Lady of Ransom]

All as for Monday in the psalter with collect MD 476*

Tuesday 25 September – Class IV

All as for Tuesday in the psalter with collect MD 476*

Wednesday 26 September - Class IV [EF: Commemoration of SS Cyprian and Justina]

All as for Wednesday in the psalter with collect MD 476*

Thursday 27 September - SS Cosmas and Damian, Martyrs, Memorial [EF: Class III]

All as for Thursday in the psalter with collect MD 476*; at Lauds, make a commemoration of the saints, MD [281]

Friday 28 September - Class IV [EF: S Wenceslaus, Class III]

Matins to None: All as for Friday in the psalter with collect MD 476*

First Vespers of St Michael, MD [282]: Antiphons and proper texts of the feast with psalms of Sunday

Saturday 29 September - The Dedication of St Michael the Archangel, Class I

See MD [284]ff:
Matins: Three nocturns with proper texts of the feast
Lauds: Antiphons and proper texts of the feast, MD [284]ff with festal psalms
Prime to None: Antiphons of Lauds, chapter versicles and collect, MD [287]ff
Vespers: All as for I Vespers except the fourth psalm and Magnificat antiphon, see MD [289]ff [with a commemoration of the Sunday, MD 457*, collect MD 477*

Sunday 30 September - Eighteenth Sunday after Pentecost, Class II

MD 477*:
Matins: Fifth Sunday of September
Lauds: Psalm schema 1 (50, 117, 62); hymn Aeterne Reum Conditor; canticle antiphon MD 477*
Prime to None: All as for Sunday in the psalter, with collect MD 477*
Vespers: Canticle antiphon and collect, MD 477*

St Benedict Novena Day 4: The Monks of Christ in the Desert

Continuing today my series highlighting monasteries around the world and the cause of the revival of Benedictine religious life, I wanted to focus today on the monks of the Monastery of Christ in the Desert.

An intriguing community who share their wisdom...

This is a monastery I find fascinating firstly because it is one of the few thriving Novus Ordo monasteries.  It has continued to attract vocations and grow, and at the same time has a group of about eight other monasteries that are associated with, either as their own foundations, by assisting groups to get started, or helping existing monasteries who are struggling.  Some of these include the relatively new Nuns of Our Lady of the Desert, who are now formally associated with Australia's Jamberoo nuns, and a Vietnamese foundation in the US.

It is intriguing secondly because of the often confrontly honest weekly epistles of its abbot, whose wisdom I've personally learnt a lot from, both from his Abbot's notebook editions, and his commentary on the Rule (also available from their website).

And thirdly because this is a monastery that started out seemingly as a new agey experiment of the kind only too common in recent decades, but has gradually found its way back to the mainstream of Benedictine practice!  Abbot Lawrence has described this process as follows:

"In my early years as a monk in this community, we experimented all the time…At one point we had only Buddhist cushions on the floor of the Church and not a single place to sit, except on the floor. We went through a phase when we sang only four part harmonies as in the Russian Orthodox tradition and we had icons everywhere… We went through a period of trying various practices of the Native Americans. At one time we did not even let the priest presiding at Holy Mass wear vestments... Out of all of that experimentation, slowly our community took shape. We began to make choices that put us into the heart of the Church instead of always on the fringes. For some, those choices made us appear much more traditional and perhaps more rigid."


The monastery eventually adopted traditional habits, rediscovered Gregorian chant and Latin, returned to the use of the full weekly psalter in the Office, and made other changes toward recovery of the tradition.  

Accordingly, this monastery provides hope that the many seemingly lost monasteries out there can yet be reformed and recover the tradition!

The monks are about to put out a new CD of Gregorian Chant, and in the lead up to it, are releasing a series of videos on their home page.  The introductory one can be found below.

Please keep the monks and their associated communities, and their efforts more generally in your prayers.


Novena Prayer

O glorious St. Benedict, sublime model of all virtues, pure vessel of God's grace! Behold me, humbly kneeling at thy feet. I implore thy loving heart to pray for me before the throne of God. To thee I have recourse in all the dangers which daily surround me. Shield me against my enemies, inspire me to imitate thee in all things. May thy blessing be with me always, so that I may shun whatever God forbids and avoid the occasions of sin.


Graciously obtain for me from God those favors and graces of which I stand so much in need, in the trials, miseries and afflictions of life. Thy heart was always so full of love, compassion, and mercy toward those who were afflicted or troubled in any way. Thou didst never dismiss without consolation and assistance anyone who had recourse to thee. I therefore invoke thy powerful intercession, in the confident hope that thou wilt hear my prayers and obtain for me the special grace and favor I so earnestly implore (mention your intentions here), if it be for the greater glory of God and the welfare of my soul.

Help me, O great St. Benedict, to live and die as a faithful child of God, to be ever submissive to His holy will, and to attain the eternal happiness of heaven. Amen.

[For the special intention (Magnificat antiphon of the feast): O pattern of heavenly life, our guide and teacher Benedict, whose soul is now rejoicing with Christ in heaven: protect thy flock, dear shepherd, and by thy holy prayer support them; and with thyself as leader showing that brightened way, make them enter the heavens.