Saturday, July 11, 2020

FEAST OF ST. BENEDICT-POPULATION DAY



Matthew, Chapter 10, verse 28

And do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; rather, be afraid of the one who can destroy both soul and body in Gehenna. 

We must be resilient in our faith to resist the devil and the suffering he inflicts by his influence on weak and sinful men. John McCain in his book Character is Destiny[1] points to the 16th President of the United States as a man who demonstrates for us the characteristic of RESILIENCE. Resilience is the ability to become strong, healthy, or successful again after something bad happens. Abraham Lincoln had known loss and grief all his life yet rather that than succumb to defeat; he somehow, always found a way to rise back up. He was inarguable a man of action. Although he was known to have chronic depression he never yielded and, in some way, resurrected from his melancholic states thinking, “To remain as I am is impossible; I must die or be better.” 


Lincoln rose to the highest office in the land after surviving a hard and poor childhood in the Indiana wilderness, a harsh father, little education, and deep loneliness. He survived the death of his brother, a sister, his mother, his first sweetheart, and his own children and his marriage to Mary Todd was troubled. As president he was considered dismal by most. 

How did Lincoln persist? He willed it. He was neither swift nor brilliant at work, but he was exhaustive; he continued. His resilience sprang from his deep conviction that America was, “the last, best hope of earth.” In the end he paid for his devotion with his life; so that the government of the people, by the people, and for the people shall not perish from the earth.

 

Feast of Saint Benedict[2]


Saint Benedict was born in Nursia in central Italy around the year 480. He was born to a noble family, and after being homeschooled, he was sent to Rome to complete his education. The teenaged Benedict was already turning toward the Lord, and when he went to Rome, he was disappointed and dismayed by the lazy, extravagant ways of the other young students. Benedict was born into a time of immense social upheaval. The once grand Roman Empire was on its last legs. The ancient city of Rome was crumbling due to decadence from within and attacks from without. Seventy years before Benedict’s birth the city fell to the invasions of the barbarians. The civil authority was in tatters, the city had been stripped of its grandeur, and the Church herself was beset with corruption and theological arguments. Benedict left the chaos of the city and sought a quiet place to study in the mountains north of Rome. Near the town of Subiaco, he found a community of holy men, and settled near them to pursue a life of prayer. Eventually Benedict was asked to be the leader of the community. When that went wrong, he left to start his own monastic community. One community soon grew to twelve, and to establish these new communities on a sound foundation Benedict, wrote his simple Rule. We mustn’t think of Benedict’s communities as the great monasteries that existed in the Middle Ages. In the sixth century, Benedict’s small communities consisted of perhaps twenty people. They scratched their living from the land just like the other peasants with whom they lived. The only difference is that Benedict’s monks observed celibacy, lived together and followed a disciplined life of prayer, work and study. This simple, serious life was to prove a powerful antidote to the decadent chaos of the crumbling Roman Empire. Saint Benedict died on March 21, 547. After receiving Communion, he died with his arms outstretched, surrounded by his brothers. He left behind a legacy that would change the world. The monasteries became centers of learning, agriculture, art, and every useful craft. In this way, without directly intending it, the monasteries deeply affected the social, economic, and political life of the emergent Christian Europe. The monastic schools formed the pattern for the later urban cathedral schools, which in turn led to the founding of universities. In this way, monasticism preserved and handed on the wisdom of both Athens and Jerusalem, the foundations of Western civilization. It is for this reason that Saint Benedict is named the patron of Europe. Benedict is a great figure in the history of Western Europe, but his life and writings also give us a sure guide for a practical spiritual life today. His practical Rule for monks in the sixth century provides principles for Christian living that are as relevant and applicable today as they have been for the last 1,500 years.

Things to do:

o   Get a St. Benedicts Medal

o   Practice the Liturgy of the Hours

Ora and Labora (Work and Prayer)[3]

THE BENEDICTINE MONASTIC OFFICE

The Divine Office is at the center of the Benedictine life. Through it the monk lifts heart and mind to Almighty God, and uniting himself to his confreres, the Church and the entire world in offering God praise and thanks, in confessing his sins, and in calling on God for the needs of all people. The office punctuates the day of the monk; like a leaven awakening his soul to make the entire day, indeed the whole of life, a gift of the self to God. Praying the hours puts the monk into the real world, sanctifying his whole life and assisting him toward his goal of unceasing prayer Ut In Omnibus Glorificetur Deus.

The Benedictine Office is a rich collection of prayer that is based on the Rule of St. Benedict. Historically it is distinct from the Roman Office also recently called the Liturgy of the Hours which, after the Second Vatican Council, was reshaped to simplify and make more practical the prayer of the hours for the secular clergy, as well as the religious who use it, and the laity who make it a part of their life of prayer.

In 1966 the Breviarium Monasticum was the universal order of Divine Office for Benedictines. In that year the monks were given a period of time for liturgical experimentation, allowing each congregation of monasteries to adapt the tradition for its particular use, under certain guidelines. To this day the Breviarium Monasticum remains official and the time of experimentation is still in effect. In that circumstance, communities are using various forms of the Divine Office, and a few communities have even elected to take the new Roman Office (Liturgy of the Hours) as a convenient guideline because of its universal use among the secular clergy.

The following is a brief, general description of the centuries old Benedictine tradition of prayer in word and action. Reference is made occasionally to the Roman Office as another point of reference. The structure of the Office described below and outlined is according to the use at St. Bernard Abbey in Cullman, Alabama.

Traditional Monastic Hours
(which became the standard for the Roman Office)

New Roman Office (Liturgy of the Hours)
(American English version uses terms in parentheses)

Matins (Vigils)

Matins (Office of Readings) – any time of day

Lauds

Lauds (Morning Prayer)

Prime

Prime omitted in New Roman Office

Terce

Terce (Mid-Morning Prayer)

Sext

Sext (Mid-Day Prayer)

None

None (Mid-Afternoon Prayer)

Vespers

Vespers (Evening Prayer)

Compline

Compline (Night Prayer)


MATINS (VIGILS)

After the last prayers of the day, called Compline, there begins the grand silence lasting through the night. Early the next morning, the monk awakes in the darkness, goes to the oratory (church) and approaches God. At a signal he stands with his confreres and makes the sign of the cross on his closed lips and sings O Lord, open my lips, and my mouth shall proclaim your praise. Traditionally, according to the Holy Rule, this is sung three times, there being a preference for threes in the liturgy for obvious reasons.


LAUDS

Sharing the same basic structure, Lauds and Vespers are the hinges of the Divine Office, i.e., the day opens and closes on them. The sun rises, light appears, and the day is born as Lauds is being sung. The sun sets, light wanes and the day begins to die away at Vespers. They are the natural and most important times of prayer.


THE LITTLE HOURS OF PRIME, TERCE, SEXT & NONE

These hours punctuate the day between the hinge hours of Lauds (sunrise) and Vespers (sunset), calling the monk to pray unceasingly, offering all of his day his entire life to God. The little hours bear only slight resemblance to the others, and have always had a subordinate place in the liturgy. Though Prime is now suppressed in the Roman Office, that does not affect monastic prayer; some monasteries retain the hour.


VESPERS

Sung toward evening, Vespers is the second of the two hinge hours. It is a service of praise, but with a stronger accent on thanks for the days blessings. Vespers is often related to the Eucharist because of its note of thanksgiving and its time of day. In fact many of its psalms are Eucharistic, including those sung at the Lords Supper, the Hillel (Pss. 112-117), and the Gradual Psalms (119-133) sung by pilgrims making their way to the Temple in Jerusalem. Four psalms, each with its antiphon, are sung. Again, the structure is that of Lauds.


COMPLINE

After Vespers and just before bedtime, Compline is prayed. While Vespers praises God as one looks in gratitude at the day ending, Compline is the prayer of the person aware of his weakness and sin, seeking the peace that is rest and protection in God. It is St. Benedicts composition, and, unlike the other offices, it begins with no call to prayer but with a blessing and with a Scripture passage that reminds all to be sober and watchful in the face of evil. This is followed by an examination of conscience and an act of contrition. We seem to join Christ in Gethsemane, and the themes of darkness (evil), light (God), and sleep (death) predominate, and we pray for a happy death. In contrition, petition and confidence, we cry out, Do not forsake us, O Lord, our God. Compline concludes with all bidding good night to the Blessed Mother.


HISTORY AND THEME IN THE HOURS

Matins

Anticipate the Resurrection and the Parousia.

Lauds

The Resurrection; praise. The Parousia.

Sext

Christ on the Cross; lead us not into temptation.

Vespers

Time of the Last Supper; thanksgiving.

Compline

Christ in Gethsemane; contrition, plea for protection.


Christ in the Desert-hours[4]


Sunday Schedule

4:00 a.m. – Vigils (choral office in church) lasts about an hour and fifteen minutes.

6:00 a.m. – Lauds (in church) followed by breakfast for guests from 6:30 to 7:10 am in the Guests Breakfast Room.

8:45 a.m. – Terce (in church) lasts about 10 minutes.

9:15 a.m. – Conventual Mass (holy Eucharist) followed by refreshments in the Guest Reception Area.

11:30 a.m. – Sext (in church) lasts about ten minutes, followed by Light Meal in the monastic refectory, 11:45 to 12:30 P.M.

4:00 p.m. – None (in church) lasts about ten minutes, followed by Main Meal in the monastic refectory.

5:30 p.m. – Solemn Vespers and Benediction (in church) lasts about 45 minutes.

7:30 p.m. – Compline (in church) lasts about 15 minutes, followed by Nightly Silence.


Daily Schedule

4:00 a.m. – Vigils (choral office in church) lasts about one hour.

5:30 a.m. – Lauds (in church) lasts about thirty minutes followed by Mass. Breakfast for guests in the Guest Breakfast Room from 5:00 – 7:45 A.M.

8:45 a.m. – Terce (in church) lasts about ten minutes.

9:00 a.m. – Work meeting for guests outside the Gift Shop. Work for All.

12:40 p.m. – End of work period.

1:00 p.m. – Sext (in church) lasts about ten minutes, followed by main meal in the monastic refectory.

2:00 p.m. – None (in church) lasts about ten minutes.

5:20 p.m. – Exposition and Eucharistic Adoration (in Church).

5:50 p.m. – Vespers (in church) lasts about thirty minutes.

6:20 p.m. – Light meal until 6:50 P.M. in the monastic refectory.

7:30 p.m. – Compline (in church) lasts about fifteen minutes, followed by nightly silence.


Let Freedom Ring-Day 3 “Freedom from Predation” 

My Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

At a word from you the devil and his minions flee in terror.

You are the source of all truth. You are the source of all strength.

By the power of your Cross and Resurrection, we beseech you, O Lord; To extend your saving arm and to send your holy angels

To defend us as we do battle with Satan and his demonic forces.

Exorcise, we pray, that which oppresses your Bride, The Church,

So that within ourselves, our families, our parishes, our dioceses, and our nation; We may turn fully back to you in all fidelity and trust. Lord, we know if you will it, it will be done.

Give us the perseverance for this mission, we pray.

Amen

Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception ... pray for us

St. Joseph ... pray for us

St. Michael the Archangel ... pray for us

(the patron of your parish) ... pray for us

(your confirmation saint) ... pray for us

 

"Freedom from Predation"

by Fr. Bill Peckman 

The Devil is the ultimate predator. St. Peter warns his readers, "Stay sober and alert. Your opponent the devil is prowling like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour." (1 Peter 5:8) The devil is always looking for any opening in which he can pounce and destroy. He uses everything from occult practices to our concupiscence (our predilection to sin) to gain a beachhead. He will also teach us how to follow him as predators ourselves. 

We live in a society that encourages predation. From the mobster who shakes down the local merchant for protection to the sex trafficker and pornographer to the predatory interest charged in so many loans to the endless scams used to bilk people out of money to the common bullying (cyber and otherwise) to those engaged in domestic violence, our society is full of predators looking for their mark; looking for their next meal. Many hide behind the cover of darkness, anonymity, or even behind the law. 

Our Church has been rocked over the past half century by predation. The most obvious examples have stemmed from the scandals in which clerics preyed on their own flocks for sexual gratification, heinously even preying on the lambs of their flock. Others have preyed on their flock through financial malfeasance by defrauding their parishes or dioceses of funds. Many are also complicit in withholding from their flocks the means by which to stave off predation. In abandoning their flocks to the wolves, they are every bit as guilty as the wolves they allowed access to their flocks. 

Certainly, we can extend these behaviors to the most basic building block of the Church known as the domestic church or the family. In these places we can see domestic violence, molestation, and other nefarious abuses of power that have their roots in the diabolic. From all levels of the Church the demonic mimicking of the predatory behaviors of the Devil must be purged. 

All predatory behavior stems from selfishness: its needs or wants are so very important that any and all means to satisfy them must be done. For a predator, its satiation is of far greater value than your happiness, security, or life. While a predator may be infatuated by their prey, they cannot love their prey for they mean to eventually destroy their prey or discard their prey when they have taken all they want. What force could possibly stand up against such an insatiable beast?! 

We look to Christ the Good Shepherd for our answer! Christ does not prey on His flock. No, He places Himself between His flock and that which would destroy His flock. He stands in that breech, sacrificing Himself for the salvation of the flock. Jesus tells us, "I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down his life for his sheep" (John 10:11). Why?  Because He loves them. You cannot love someone and prey on them at the same time. Hence, the virtue we cultivate to conquer any and all desires to be a predator is the theological virtue of love. Love, divine love (or agape) is completely selfless. Instead of focusing on one's own desires and satiation, one instead looks to the good of others even when in doing so incurs suffering or sacrifice. Love, because it is of God, chases away the devil and his minions. It helps us to, as St. Paul says of himself, to be 'poured out like an oblation' (II Timothy 4:6) 

Prayer of Reparation 

My Lord and my God, we have allowed the temptation of the devil to move our hearts to prey on those we deem weaker or disposable. We have stilled our tongues in the face of such evil. We have been too fearful to stand out in our culture, allowing selfish desires to suffocate your love that is to dwell within us. In our fear, we have allowed the ancient foe to advance. We turn to you Lord, in our sorrow and guilt, and beg your forgiveness for our selfishness and silence. We beg for the grace of your goodness to teach us to shepherd rightly those you place in our care and the courage to stand in the breech between them and the demonic. Help us to love as you love. We know, Lord, if you will it, it will be done. Trusting in you, we offer our prayer to you who live and reign forever.
Amen.

Prayer of Exorcism

 Lord God of Heaven and Earth, in your power and goodness, you created all things. You set a path for us to walk on and a way to an eternal relationship. By the strength of your arm and Word of your mouth; Cast from your Holy Church every fearful deceit of the Devil; Drive from us manifestations of the demonic that oppress us and beckon us to selfishness and predation. Still the lying tongue of the devil and his forces so that we may act freely and faithfully to Your will. Send your holy angels to cast out all influence that the demonic entities in charge of predation have planted in your church. Free us, our families, our parish, our diocese, and our country from all trickery and deceit perpetrated by the Devil and his hellish legions. Trusting in your goodness Lord, we know if you will it, it will be done in unity with Your Son and the Holy Spirit, One God for ever and ever. Amen. 

Litany of the Immaculate Heart of Mary

Lord, have mercy,
Lord, have mercy.

Christ, have mercy,
Christ, have mercy.

Lord, have mercy,
Lord, have mercy.

Christ, hear us,
Christ, graciously hear us.

God the Father of Heaven,
Have mercy on us.

God the Son, redeemer of the world,
Have mercy on us.

God the Holy Spirit,
Have mercy on us.

Holy Trinity, one God,
Have mercy on us.

Response to the following: Pray for us.

Heart of Mary
Heart of Mary, after God's own Heart
Heart of Mary, in union with the Heart of Jesus
Heart of Mary, the vessel of the Holy Spirit
Heart of Mary, shrine of the Trinity
Heart of Mary, home of the Word
Heart of Mary, immaculate in your creation
Heart of Mary, flooded with grace
Heart of Mary, blessed of all hearts
Heart of Mary, Throne of glory
Heart of Mary, Abyss of humbleness,
Heart of Mary, Victim of love
Heart of Mary, nailed to the cross
Heart of Mary, comfort of the sad
Heart of Mary, refuge of the sinner
Heart of Mary, hope of the dying
Heart of Mary, seat of mercy

Lamb of God, who take away the sins of the world,
Spare us, O Lord.

Lamb of God, who take away the sins of the world,
Graciously hear us, O Lord.

Lamb of God, who take away the sins of the world,
Have mercy on us.

Christ, hear us.
Christ, graciously hear us.

Lord, have mercy.
Christ, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy.

Immaculate Mary, meek and humble of heart.
Conform our hearts to the heart of Jesus.

Let us pray:

O most merciful God, who for the salvation of sinners and the refuge of the wretched, has made the Immaculate Heart of Mary most like in tenderness and pity to the Heart of Jesus, grant that we, who now commemorate her most sweet and loving heart, may by her merits and intercession, ever live in the fellowship of the hearts of both Mother and Son, through the same Christ our Lord. Amen.


Source: Blessed Cardinal John Henry Newman. Published in From Parochial and Plain Sermons. c 1997, San Francisco: Ignatius Press


 

World Population Day[5]

 

World Population Day seeks to draw attention to issues related to a growing global population.  The world's population as of April 2016, is over 7.4 Billion.  The world's population is rapidly surging with birth rates on the rise and life expectancy increases.  Over the last century, between 1916 and 2012, global life expectancy more than doubled from 34 to 70 years while world population has quintupled from 1.5 billion to 7.3 billion between 1900 and 2016.    
In 1989, the United Nations designated July 11th as World Population Day in an effort to garner attention for population issues and crises such as displaced people, rights and needs of women and girls and population safety on a global level. With an ever-growing world population, World Population Day serves to highlight the challenges and opportunities of this growth and its impact on planet sustainability, heavy urbanization, availability of health care and youth empowerment. 

 

Catholic Population Principles[6] 

In order to provide a moral perspective, we affirm the following principles derived from the social teaching of the Church.

1. Within the limits of their own competence, government officials have rights and duties with regard to the population problems of their own nations—for instance, in the matter of social legislation as it affects families, of migration to cities, of information relative to the conditions and needs of the nation. Government's positive role is to help bring about those conditions in which married couples, without undue material, physical or psychological pressure, may exercise responsible freedom in determining family size.

2. Decisions about family size and the frequency of births belong to the parents and cannot be left to public authorities. Such decisions depend on a rightly formed conscience which respects the divine law and takes into consideration the circumstances of the places and the time. In forming their consciences, parents should take into account their responsibilities toward God, themselves, the children they have already brought into the world and the community to which they belong, "following the dictates of their conscience instructed about the divine law authentically interpreted and strengthened by confidence in God."

3. Public authorities can provide information and recommend policies regarding population, provided these are in conformity with moral law and respect the rightful freedom of married couples.

4. Men and women should be informed of scientific advances of methods of family planning whose safety has been well proven and which are in accord with the moral law.

5. Abortion, directly willed and procured, even if for therapeutic reasons, is to be absolutely excluded as a licit means of regulating births. 


Daily Devotions

·         Saturday Litany of the Hours Invoking the Aid of Mother Mary

·         Trust in God in the midst of troubles.

·         Offering to the sacred heart of Jesus

·         Drops of Christ’s Blood

·         Iceman’s 40 devotion

·         Universal Man Plan

·         Rosary




[1] McCain, John and Salter, Mark. (2005) Character is destiny. Random House, New York

[3] https://stbernardabbey.com/the-divine-office/

[4]https://christdesert.org/visiting/daily-schedule/


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