Sunday, March 11, 2012

Novena to St Benedict for the restoration of Benedictine religious life: starts March 12

c17th  SS Benedict and Scholastica are depicted in the upper panel
alongside the Transfiguration

The feast of St Benedict is on March 21, so if you would like to make the traditional novena to the saint, you will need to start tomorrow (March 12). 

A copy of the novena prayer can be found below, but I'll also include it each day in a post for the novena.

Pray for the restoration of Benedictine religious life

And this year, as well as for our own sanctification, I'd like to ask you to join me in praying for the restoration of traditional Benedictine religious life.

It is my conviction that Catholicism will fall in the West unless religious life is restored.  Without the splendid monastic liturgy, the sacrifices, and the example of truly committed religious, how can priests and the laity go on, how can the West be won?

The laity can help in this battle, first and foremost by supporting those monasteries already out there, and also by praying for new monasteries to be established in places and countries that lack them.

In terms of existing monasteries, they generally need:
  • our prayers above all, for their success;
  • vocations - so consider whether you have properly discerned your own, or can do more to encourage a family member of friend;
  • financial support - some few are well-endowed, or have schools and other business activities which more than pay for them, but these days, particularly in the case of the traditionally inclined monasteries, these are few and far between and most live pretty much hand to mouth!  So consider buying their products through their website, visiting them for a retreat, or making a donation outright;
  • some monasteries have specific needs for goods which you may be able to help out with; and
  • free (or cheap) labour - some monasteries have work days or other ways of volunteering your services....
If you are an oblate, your first obligation is of course to the monastery to which you made your oblation and whose spiritual benefits you share in especially.  But most of us can spare at least a prayer for other monasteries.  Some monasteries offer goods and services you might benefit from.  And some monasteries - particularly the newer ones in the process of just starting out, or building a monastery - are worth your consideration more generally.

Monasteries to note

In order to highlight this intention, and the ways in which we can help, I plan to highlight a number of Benedictine monasteries each day through the novena period.

Each day I'll provide a little information and some links on a mix of traditionalist monasteries, conservative monasteries that are doing good things, monasteries I know of that have some traditionalist monks amongst them, and monasteries that particularly need our practical or spiritual help one way.

I'm obviously going to have to be pretty selective here, as there are only nine days to cover them all, so you are mostly going to get my selected favourites!  But do feel free to contact me and let me know of any you think should be highlighted, or to add the name of the monastery you are an oblate of, or should otherwise be highlighted in the comments box.

The St Benedict Novena Prayer (and the special intention)

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.]

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