Friday, June 26, 2009

The Rule in 2 words. A Benedictine oblate blog

CSIRO Parkes radio telescope

In some ways, the Rule of St. Benedict might be thought of as springing from two concepts, listening and stability. If asked to summarize the Rule in two words, I would use “Listening and Stability.”

Listening is theological and vertical in the sense of the relation to God. Stability is practical and horizontal in the sense of the relation of monks and nuns to their community -- their family.

From the basic principle of “listening” flows the Rule’s chapters on the divine office, 8 to 19; shortness of prayers, 20; and lectio divina, 48; for example (1) — all part of “seeking God” (quaerere Deum (2)).

We might say that the monastic life begins with listening — not asking God to hear us, not wondering how and under what conditions God will “answer our prayers.” The first word of the Rule places its readers in the mode of listening to the divine call.

When one moves from speaking to listening, we are seeking a new world — we seek monastic stillness — we turn down the volume of the world — we want to declutter our lives so we are free to devote all attention to listening. The contemplative life comes from listening.

From the basic principle of “stability” flows the Rule’s chapters on how to live in a monastery under the authority of an abbot. The monastic enclosure marking the boundary between the monk’s life and the world serves to ground stability to a particular place. The Rule’s guidance on living in harmony and without the poison of murmuring tracks back to the idea of monastic stability.

Stability is the first of the Benedictine vows from chapter 58 of the Rule. Monks and nuns make a vow of stability, conversatio morum (fidelity to monastic life) and obedience. It is sometimes said that this is a single constellation of one monastic vow (as distinguished from three separate vows). But you will often hear monks speak about three Benedictine vows.

In summary, do listening and stability operate in different dimensions as the vertical and horizontal descriptions suggest? No, not at all. Such distinctions may even make some Benedictines cringe -- and rightfully so. Listening and stability are not separate concepts. They are linked and assist each other. That's the Benedictine way.

Listening gives direction and substance to how to be stable in a community and why it is important in the first place. Stability leads to the quiet life of conversatio morum — the necessary fidelity to a monastic life centered on listening to God.

For lay people like an oblate following the Rule of St. Benedict much of the power found in listening and stability is readily applicable to life in a family, in a home, outside the walls of a monastery. Many lay people pray the divine office and practice lectio divina. In addition to being Lord and savior, Christ is a fine abbot for any family.



Picture is CSIRO Parkes radio telescope in Parkes, Australia. The telescope was made more famous in the movie, "The Dish" which is one of my favorites.

From the Parkes' web site: "The CSIRO's Parkes Observatory is celebrating the International Year of Astronomy and the 40th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing. On 21 July 1969, Apollo 11 astronauts Neil Armstrong and Edwin Aldrin became the first people to set foot on the surface of the Moon. This remarkable achievement was the realisation of a long held dream of mankind. The television pictures of this historic event were received by the CSIRO Parkes telescope and relayed to 600 million people or 1/5th of mankind at the time."

(1) For explanations of these terms see divine office, reading, and lectio divina.


Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Monastics: Back is Forward. A Benedictine oblate blog

In the monastic journal “Word and Spirit 17: Monastic On-Going Formation” I am now on page 11 and came across this comment:

“A promising sign in some formation programs has been a
rediscovery of the importance of monastic practices. Many
communities that had too impulsively jettisoned revered monastic customs in the renewal period, began to recognize the importance of these practices in providing for the ongoing formation of community. This has also coincided with a deepened awareness and retrieval of symbol and ritual. What some once considered esoteric or elitist were now deemed as distinctive shapers of monastic identity.”
For the lay person wanting to live a more spiritual and monastic life, I think the same truths apply. Going back to the sources and original ways of living in the ways that became known as the “monastic life” is a good way to move forward in my own spiritual development as a Benedictine oblate.



Picture is “Gernhardt on Robot Arm” by NASA.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Activism without listening/seeking God. A Benedictine oblate blog

On June 21, 2009, Pope Benedict XVI made an interesting comment on the relationship between prayer and good works. I thought the Pope’s comment helped clarify how prayer empowers working in the world. In my extension of the Pope’s idea, I can see how the Pope’s words could also mean that the contemplative life does not create an “either/or” separation with an active life of service.

Listening to Jesus Christ and seeking God are the best fuel for work.

Pope Benedict XVI made his comments in the homily for the Mass celebrated in front of the church of St. Pio of Pietrelcina(1) in Italy.

The Pope spoke about St. Pio's work to relieve suffering of the sick:

"In the first place came prayer. ... His days were a living Rosary, a continuous meditation upon, and assimilation of, the mysteries of Christ, in spiritual union with the Virgin Mary. This explains the unique simultaneous presence in him of supernatural gifts and of concrete human qualities. And the culmination of everything came in the celebration of Mass. ... From prayer, as from an endless font, arose charity. The love he carried in his heart and transmitted to others was full of tenderness, ever attentive to the real situations in which individuals and families lived. Towards the sick and suffering he nourished the predilection of the Heart of Christ, and it was from here that the idea for a great social project dedicated to the 'relief of suffering' was born and took shape. We cannot adequately interpret or understand this institution if we separate it from the source that inspired it: evangelical charity animated ... by prayer.

“Yet ‘the risks of activism and secularization are ever present’, warned Benedict XVI. ‘Many of you, religious and lay people, are so absorbed by your many obligations in serving pilgrims or the sick in hospital, that you run the risk of neglecting what is truly important: listening to Christ and accomplishing the will of God. When you realize that you are close to running this risk look to Padre Pio, to his example, to his sufferings, and invoke his intercession that he may obtain from the Lord the light and strength you need to continue his mission, imbued with love for God and fraternal charity.’” emphasis supplied



(1) From the Padre Pio web site: “Padre Pio, [born May 25, 1887 died September 23, 1968] a humble Capuchin priest from San Giovanni Rotondo, Italy, was blessed by God in many wonderful and mysterious ways. The most dramatic was the stigmata. Padre Pio bore the wounds of Christ for fifty years. Among his other gifts were perfume, bilocation, prophecy, conversion, reading of souls, and miraculous cures. People are still being cured through his intercession in ways that cannot be explained by medicine or science.” Padre Pio was canonized in 2002 by Pope John Paul II.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Short Monastic-Book Pilgrimages. A Benedictine oblate blog

After my blog about buying “Word & Spirit 17 Monastic On-going Formation” for $1.95, another oblate at St. Leo Abbey sent me a link to where someone is selling “Word & Spirit 7" (an earlier journal in the series) on E-Bay for $37.69 plus $3.50 shipping.

I am learning much from the book I bought. Every few pages I read a new-to-me idea about monastic formation (how men and women are trained/learn/develop as monks/nuns/sisters). Such insights cause me to stop reading and begin thinking. I am on page 11.

Here is what I am mulling over now from pages 10 and 11 (with footnote references omitted):

“Caught up in a wave of professionalization and compartmentalization, monastic communities are subject to losing sight of the importance of the "wisdom figures" and spiritual directors without portfolio who constitute such a vital reserve of sanctity and holiness in monastic life. The "educating of the heart," so essential to generations of monastic formation, did not always find a comfortable fit in the fonts of new programs that came into being under the rubric of monastic formation.

“There was also a form of damage control that was required
when some experimental programs of monastic formation became untracked. In the name of pluralism, ongoing formation became a Procrustean bed of centering prayer and Jungian psychoanalytic theory, Meyers-Briggs and the Enneagram, twelve-step therapies and Journaling. Helpful as some of these methods may have been for individual or community spiritual development, they often had the effect of slighting the components of mainline monastic spirituality that were expected in formation programs. The discipline of lectio divina and traditional ascetical practices seemed to be overlooked by many involved in formation, replaced by a set of individualized "career" specializations and even more basic "survival" skills for human development.”
I do not know what else “Word & Spirit 17 Monastic On-going Formation” may describe, but in relation to the lay person seeking a more ascetic/monastic manner of living in the world, the heart-centered daily conversion seems to be path for me.

Both “Word & Spirit 17" and a book I got last year, "The Love of Learning and the Desire for God," by Jean Leclercq, OSB. Fordham University Press, New York, 2001, were acquired during trips to the St. Leo Abbey bookstore when I was not looking for a book or expecting to buy one. But as soon as I looked at the cover of each book, I knew I would buy it — without knowing that each was a used book or that it was the only copy at the bookstore. And as I picked up each book I thought "this is why I came today."

Both of these books have special places in my small library, like old teachers they say, "First, you must know the question."


Picture is Santiago de Compostella by jamesdale10. My blog about this pilgrimage site is here.

Here is a prior blog on the book "The Love of Learning and the Desire for God."

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Video of St. Leo Abbey. A Benedictine oblate blog

Tampa Tribune Religion Reporter Michelle Bearden prepared an excellent video about St. Leo Abbey.

St. Leo Abbey, Florida, USA, is where my wife and I are oblates. This short video might help put faces and places to what I blog about. The abbot gives all of our oblate programs and Brother Stanislaw gives the lessons for the oblate novice classes.

Michelle Bearden also wrote a Tampa Tribune article about St. Leo Abbey. My blog about the article is here.

Regardless of your denomination or faith, you are welcome to have an individual or group spiritual retreat at St. Leo Abbey -- you need not be a Catholic. Here is a map to St. Leo Abbey and my web page over on the Oblate Spring giving contact information about the abbey and the map.

I know you will enjoy visiting the abbey just for a day trip or to have a retreat. Even if you do not go there on a retreat you can pray with the monks. The divine office is chanted in the abbey church and there are books for guests. Don't worry if you have not prayed with the monks before -- they will show you what to do -- arrive about 15 minutes early and a monk will set out and explain the books. It is easy.

To also get more information you can visit the St. Leo Abbey web site. There is a retreat center and a guest house. When my wife and I visit for our own private retreats we stay in the guest house. Group retreats are mostly housed in the retreat center.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

My Monk Myths. A Benedictine oblate blog

As a former long-time atheist, when I became a Christian, I changed my mind on several fundamental subjects. Or perhaps more accurately, I should say I came to see that my old ways of thinking were wrong because they were built upon dim assumptions. After an encounter with God, my entire life changed. I was led to the foot of the cross and a new life in Christ. That was about 25 years ago.

With such a large lesson in “I was wrong about that” out of the way, now I actually look forward to the frequent opportunities to learn something that will adjust my thinking toward a closer understanding of God’s truth.

One correction to my assumptions in the past few years has been about monks. I had gathered a mental montage of religious life from the wider culture, TV, books, and all the other sources that shrink-wrap our thinking. I had never met a monk.

Now that I know a few monks at the St. Leo Abbey in Florida, I can say that virtually every one of my previous images of monks was wrong.

The most striking change in my view is that monks are normal and regular people. They are approachable and welcoming. Gone is the stereotyped image of a person living in a false, make-believe land removed from world.

However, the most subtle change in my view is that monks are living witnesses to their vows of stability, conversatio morum, and obedience. Those are the vows from Chapter 58 of the Rule of St. Benedict.

My corrected understanding of monks is that they are people like the rest of us AND (not “but”) they live following ancient monastic principles with roots in the earliest days of Christianity — from “follow me,”(1) and “sell your possessions and give to the poor,”(2) to “pray without ceasing.”(3)

Monks are both more typical of human kind than my previous views AND are also more admirable Christian witnesses. Like nearly every more-accurate understanding I achieve, truth’s light is far brighter just below the world’s dull laminations.


Picture is "Abbot Philip of Christ in the Desert Monastery" in New Mexico, USA, by Bellagooch.

Christ in the Desert's web site is packed with monastic information. I enjoy, for example, the Abbot's Notebook. This monastery was where the 2006 TV show "The Monastery" (the USA version) was filmed.

(1) Luke 9:23-26

“Then he said to them all: "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it. What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit his very self?” NIV

(2) Luke 12:33-34

“Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will not be exhausted, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. NIV

Above quotes from HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION ® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved.

(3) 1 Thess 5:17-18

“pray without ceasing.” NASB

Above "Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE, © Copyright The Lockman Foundation 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977 Used by permission."

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Used Books. A Benedictine oblate blog

I enjoy finding used books in the Abbey bookstore.

When my wife and I were at St. Leo Abbey yesterday for the 120th anniversary of the abbey, we stopped by the abbey’s bookstore as we always do on our visits.

Being able to browse the bookstore’s new books and getting advice from the monks who run the shop is a significant part of how I learn the Benedictine way.

Advice I receive online is also good, but most of my final decisions to buy a particular book come after I read parts of the book in the St. Leo Abbey bookstore.

Yesterday I saw a journal — the cover is shown above. “Word and Spirit” was published by St. Bede’s Publications, Petersham, MA, USA. I read a trade web site containing a note that the “Word and Spirit” journal is no longer being published. I bought a used copy of volume 17, with someone’s underlining scattered on a few pages.

Without St. Leo Abbey’s bookstore I would most likely never have come across the book, but I am glad I did. At $1.95 the price was perfect and its 140 pages contains about eight articles by different authors.

I don’t yet know if the entire book will be worth the $1.95, but the first two pages are. The author of the first article wrote about the types of life-long monastic formation (how men and women are trained/learn/develop as monks/nuns/sisters).

One interesting idea from those first two pages is that in the times of the Desert Fathers, men became monks by a kind of apprenticeship program — they found a person whose type of life they wished to develop as their own. The process was not so much an education, but a conversion. Would-be monks sought a new being, not a new credential.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Abbey’s Anniversary Mass. A Benedictine oblate blog

At the end of Mass

[Click picture to enlarge]

My wife and I attended the 120th anniversary Mass at St. Leo Abbey in Florida, USA. The Abbey’s 60-year-old Church of the Holy Cross was packed to overflowing.

The music was wonderful. The new renovations of the church impressed everyone — and rightfully so. The simple elegance of the past still greets us, but now it is beautiful too. The various parts of the church are warmly linked with new colors and textures. Great job.

The wise abbot’s homily began by him reading part of the homily given about 60 years ago when the church was consecrated. The “old” homily’s assessment of a monastery’s place in the wider Church and a dark world still rang true which is not surprising — monasteries preserve truth and spiritual traditions. The essence of a lighthouse is not to transform itself into something that extinguishes the light.

Many elderly people were there today, I imagined that some may have attended the consecration of the church 60 years ago. I also saw many families with young children. My mind was drawn to think about the abbey’s 180th anniversary when those children of today will be in their sixties and seventies.

Although the abbey’s church may be renovated again by then, those future adults will be able to walk to the front of this church, bow, and be in the same light as today.

Friday, June 12, 2009

A Faithful Abbey. A Benedictine oblate blog

St. Leo Abbey’s monks are celebrating the abbey’s anniversary. This abbey is a 120-year-old link in a chain of monasteries dating back about 1,500 years — to right after the collapse of the Roman Empire. It is too easy for my "educated" mind to categorize the anniversary event and the monks by using a corporate model in which I focus on corporate or business measurements of progress.

I was reading about the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church which survived while being hidden during the time it was outlawed by the Soviets (1946 to 1989). It was that invisible, illegal, and crushed church that emerged as a light in the East upon the collapse of the USSR. All during those years of killings, imprisonments, and theft of the Church property, the church was doing the only thing Jesus asked if he would find when he returns.(1) They were being faithful.

When I visit St. Leo Abbey monks on their anniversary, (map) I want to make sure I see clearly what is significant. I will be seeing Benedictine monks who have made a vow of stability, conversatio morum (fidelity to monastic life) and obedience. They live according to the Rule of St. Benedict under the authority of an abbot. They pray the divine office four times a day. So?

Monasteries are places of spiritual, not corporate power. Few if any organizations have been able to outlast the wisdom required for sustainable living together that is found at a Benedictine monastery. Indeed, in terms of the sweep of the history that counts — what groups will be around in year 3509? — it might be better for me to see how my American life measures up using St. Leo Abbey's standards of success. Monks have a far better Quarterly Report than the modern models for human organizations taught at any university. Maybe that's the point, monks give Century Reports and the only stockholder's dividend is faithfulness.


Picture is AYP0721424 by miyukiutada.

(1) Luke 18:7-8 "Will not God then secure the rights of his chosen ones who call out to him day and night? Will he be slow to answer them?
I tell you, he will see to it that justice is done for them speedily. But when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?"" NAB

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Google Bundle & Better Index. A Benedictine oblate blog


On the right sidebar of this blog is a new feature called Benedictine Monasticism Google Reader Bundle. This links to a Google Reader of Benedictine and monastic topics mentioned in current blogs, web sites, and news articles across the Internet as captured by Google Alerts. The bundle also captures my Oblate Blog posts.

Excerpts of blogs, web sites and news articles containing specific KEY WORDS related to Benedictine monasticism are placed on a special Google web page.

The bundle of excerpts all on one page permits a quick scan of the list. It’s a great time saver because the searching has already been done by Google Search. When you read an excerpt that interests you, click on the link associated with the excerpt and you are whisked directly to the actual blog, web site or news article.

Here is how I set it up. I used Google Alerts to have Google do a search for blogs, web sites and news articles containing specified words related to Benedictine monasticism.

When Google Alerts finds a new blog, web site page, or news article using the specified words, Google Alerts sends those pages to another Google service known as Google Reader, which assembles all the pages in a list by date, putting the newest items at the top.

Items are collected from all over the Internet and then placed on a separate web page Google Reader creates just for all those items. And that is what the Benedictine Monasticism Google Reader Bundle does, it collects new material from all over the Internet and then lists it in date order on the special web page Google creates just for the purpose of displaying the Feeds it assembles.
A label in Google-speak is an “index term” or “index topic” for a blog. Other services call these index terms “tags.” On this Oblate Blog I had listed all the labels I assigned to my blogs. But the list got longer and longer down the right sidebar of the blog. Fortunately, thanks to Blogger Buster I was able to put all the labels for my blogs into a compact drop-down box. This makes looking at the list much quicker. Use the “Labels-Index-Tags” box on the right sidebar of this blog to find an index to all the blogs I have written.

Of course, you may always use the Search box at the top of the blog to search for any word in the Oblate Blog. To search for a phrase so that you only get results containing that exact phrase, put the words in quotes.


The picture is Mis suscripciones RSS by Torchondo

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Praying the Divine Office Daily. A Benedictine oblate blog

I work on ways to organize my time so I can pray more of the divine office during the day. I seldom am able to pray more than one or two of the offices during a day — but I am constantly working on the priority in my heart.

Starting Prayer.

Sometimes I am too tired to pray. I received some good advice on what to do in this situation. The abbot at St. Leo Abbey gave the oblates a good tip when he suggested when we don’t feel like praying a divine office (especially when we are very tired). The wise abbot said we should first just stop and quietly wait for several minutes rather than thinking we need to move immediately from working into praying. He said that if we just stop and wait, in a little while we will be able to pray with renewed energy and willingness.
Stopping Work.
Sometimes I have the opposite problem that also diverts me from praying — plenty of energy and desire to work work work to get things accomplished during the day. Trying to set fixed times of prayer (like monks have) has never worked during the week for me and often does not work on the weekend either when I start long projects and don’t want to stop. I am not able to stop at 9:00 am each day, for example, to do Terce (one of the little hours of the divine office.)

And using natural breaks in my work flow has not been as effective as I had thought it would be — I tend to just go on to the next work item without taking the time to pray the divine office.

Today, I reoriented my thinking a bit which helped me pray more of the divine offices during the day. I kept in my mind all day that I had in fact scheduled a time to pray — but that the appointed time for each part of the divine office was not fixed to a specific time, but the "time to pray" floated with me all during the day. Stopping to pray the divine office during the day was a planned and scheduled activity that was pinned to my day rather than to a set time.

This change in the way I thought about my time to pray actually worked OK. I had just the right frame of mind to stop for several of the divine offices during today. As I came to the end of a task, my mind immediately latched on to “my next appointment” which was that floating divine office that I had “scheduled” as part of the day’s work. This helped me give the right priority to the divine office during a busy day while also allowing for all the flexibility I need in doing my work.
These are two tips that seem to work for me.

I have come to the end of this blog and am going to my next task tonight, “Oh, I see I have a scheduled item. It's the appointed time for compline.”


Picture is Blue Balloon by winjohn

Monday, June 8, 2009

Keep a garden in your heart. A Benedictine oblate blog

Bok Tower Sanctuary, Florida, USA

[Click picture to enlarge]

St. Benedict’s monks were often in their monastic gardens and he mentions the monastery's garden in parts of the Rule as illustrating a monk’s daily life.

The word “garden” (Latin “hortus”) is mentioned three times in the Rule of St. Benedict.

In the first two instances, the Rule gives short lists of locations and then instructs monks on proper conduct while monks are engaged in work.
In chapter 7 on the twelve degrees of humility, the garden is included in the twelfth degree as one of the places a monk should have humility not only in his heart, but also in his very appearance. A monk should have his head bowed with his eyes toward the ground.

In chapter 46 on reporting mistakes to the abbot, the garden is listed among the places a monk might be working and is used to illustrate that a monk must not fail to report mistakes wherever he works.

In chapter 66 on porters and reading the Rule often there is also the practical and perhaps theological advice that necessary facilities: water, mill, garden and various workshops should be within the monastery enclosure.
The garden within the monastic enclosure was an essential part of the monastery because monks mostly ate vegetables. Within the monastery the garden was probably further enclosed within a separate fenced or walled enclosure.

Monasteries had a food garden and a medicinal garden. The food garden was what we would call the kitchen/spice garden. Monks grew onions, leeks, celery, coriander, dill, poppy, radishes, chard, garlic, shallot, parsley, chervil, lettuce, pepperwort, parsnip, cabbage, and fennel.

The heavier food crops of beans, carrots, lentils, and beets were grown in larger fields outside the monastery.

Although the kitchen garden was for food and its flavoring, the monks certainly appreciated God’s beauty in what they grew for their sustenance. I am actively and contemplatively trying to cultivate such a spirit within my own life. I want to be very aware of what is around me — what surrounds where I live and what sustains me.

The world may see monasticism as a restricted life, but that may be like saying learning how to read and write restricts a person’s natural ability to see letters and draw letters in complete freedom.

The Plan of St. Gall is a famous monastic blueprint from the early 800s AD.(1) The Plan contains the notation next to the garden, “Here the planted vegetables flourish in beauty.”

The Plan of St. Gall is a 30 inch x 44 inch (77 x 112 cm) sheet of calf-skin vellum on which is drawn a comprehensive plan for a monastery and all of its facilities. It never served as the plan for a complete monastery, but like a utopian model its principles did serve as the plan for monasteries for centuries. As an ideal vision of the perfect monastery which could be applied and adapted to the particular circumstances in each local, its genius is not unlike that found in the Rule of St. Benedict — the monastic rule that would be followed in monasteries using the St. Gall Plan.

The Plan of St. Gall is “the oldest surviving and most extraordinary visualization of a building complex produced in the Middle Ages. It contains ground plans for some forty buildings, ranging from a church, monastic school, abbot’s residence, and infirmary, to such [closely integrated] elements as a water mill, stables, and poultry houses.”(2)

The kitchen garden (food/spice garden) in the Plan of St. Gall is at the eastern end of the Plan and south of the protecting fruit trees planted in the cemetery. The Plan of St. Gall web site provides a detailed view of the plan and reveals the remarkably orderliness of the monastic mind. The placement of the two gardens, medicinal and food, shows how the gardens were part of a harmony of function within the monastic enclosure.

Monks are linked to their sources of nourishment and monks saw gardens as part of God’s cycle of beauty during the year. Silence, music, reading, the divine office, and lectio divina can each be a garden to our spirit. We do not grow our own food, but thanks to my dear wife, outside our home is a flower garden that feeds our souls in the same way.

I hope your prayers and work lead you to create a monastic garden in your life. Ora et labora (prayer and work) is an ancient blueprint for whatever you plant within your monastic soul.



(1) “The Plan of St. Gall has been preserved in the Monastic Library of St. Gall (Switzerland). Indeed, its presence there was singled out by UNESCO as a reason that the library, the repository of over 2000 late antique and medieval manuscripts, was designated a World Heritage site in 1983.” Source

(2) Plan of St. Gall at UCLA.

The first part of a book on the Plan of St. Gall is here with all of its navigation aids, but the single pages I found most interesting on gardens were the following (these pages are direct links without the navigation to go forward and back to other pages):

Vol II, page 203

Vol II, page 205

Sunday, June 7, 2009

The Times They Are A-Changin'. A Benedictine oblate blog

Ordinary Time in the Church’s liturgical (public worship) calendar consists of two blocks of time:

1) the weeks from Epiphany to Lent, and
2) the weeks from Pentecost to Advent.
Having just celebrated Pentecost, we now enter the second period of “Ordinary Time.” But ordinary does not mean common or dull. It means “numbered” as in “ordinal.”

These two blocks of numbered weeks can be 33 or 34 weeks long depending Easter’s date.

In the past these two time periods separating those parts of the calendar with special names were ordinarily called the "Season after Epiphany" and the "Season after Pentecost."

In 1969 after Vatican II these seasoned terms were replaced with the often misunderstood term of Ordinary Time.

Green is the liturgical color of Ordinary Time to help symbolize a time of life and hope.

I do not know why the names on the calendar — "Season after Epiphany" and the "Season after Pentecost" — were changed. If I had been the one to send in the order to the office supply store for new Catholic calendars in 1969, I would have simply placed the same order as before. Both "Season after Epiphany" and the "Season after Pentecost" have a nice ring to them. But in 1969, if someone had wanted to take one small step along with Neil Armstrong or celebrate a new time of peace, love and music with 500,000 friends, they might have wanted to make a change — but to Ordinary?

So, with the 40th anniversary of the 1969 liturgical calendar and even though we know that “ordinary” refers to numbered weeks, maybe Ordinary Time deserves a different name. Ready to change the name?

What about a new name for Ordinary Time that better suits these weeks? Should the focus on “numbering” weeks be shifted to a focus on and reminder of how those 34 weeks are, in fact, closely tied to what took place earlier in the liturgical year and how they draw us to what is coming up? Maybe Ordinary Time does that, maybe not.

If you want an out-of-the-ordinary new way to think about Ordinary Time, consider the following possible new names for Ordinary Time and then cast your vote in the newest just-for-fun Oblate Blog poll posted June 7.

What about calling these 34 weeks one of the following:

“Beatitude Time” to honor how we are to follow Christ’s teachings given in the sermon on the mount just as if we had been one of the large crowd who had heard Jesus begin, “Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”

“Emmaus Time” to honor Christ’s opening of our hearts to the Word of God.

“Trinity Time” to honor all three persons of the Godhead and the three great mysteries of the Church: the incarnation of Christ, the resurrection on Easter, and the bestowing of the Holy Spirit. At Christmas we are reminded of the work of God, at Easter we see the love of Jesus, and at Pentecost we know the power of the Holy Spirit. So how about calling these 34 weeks Trinity Time to honor all three persons of the Trinity together? Nothing ordinary about that.

“Designated Time” would borrow a useful baseball term to emphasize what theme the Church is designating for special attention and study during that year. For example, the Pope recently announced the Year of the Priest, so if we applied the concept of Designated Time, in 2009 this time period until Advent would be called “Priests’ Time” to honor a special designation for this year and the designation would change each year. But maybe there is another name that would be a better replacement.

“Virtue Time” would honor both the theological and cardinal virtues. Theological virtues (faith, hope, charity) are gifts of God rather than the result of human efforts. Cardinal virtues which can be the product of human effort are prudence, justice, fortitude, and temperance. The joining of God’s work (Theological Virtues) to our own efforts (Cardinal Virtues) might help us see how all parts of the liturgical year are connected just as the work of God and our own dedicated wills are combined in a virtuous life.

I like “Virtue Time” but if the Pope likes it too and we start seeing it on 2010 calendars, I imagine that 40 years from now, a new generation of people will be calling it “Virtual Time” and getting confused all over again. They will ask why do we call it Virtual Time? Is it not real? They will yearn for the good old days when these 34 weeks had enough substance to be called ordinary.

While the seasons change, we are called to a life of praying without ceasing — a life of joy 24/7/365.

And Oblate Blog readers are invited to vote in the “Rename that Ordinary Time” Poll on the right sidebar of this blog until June 20, 2009.



The picture is "Navigation" by jurvetson. Thank you.

Neil Armstrong. On July 20, 1969, Armstrong and Aldrin landed on the moon. Neil Armstrong checked his day planner. It read, “One giant leap for mankind.”

500,000 friends. On August 15 to 17, 1969, at Woodstock, on a New York farm, the music came from: Joan Baez, Arlo Guthrie, Tim Hardin, Incredible String Band, Ravi Shankar, Richie Havens, Sly and the Family Stone, Bert Sommer, Sweetwater, Quill, Canned Heat, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Jefferson Airplane, The Who, Grateful Dead, Keef Hartley Band, Blood, Sweat and Tears, Crosby, Stills & Nash (&Young),Santana, The Band, Ten Years After, Johnny Winter, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Joe Cocker, Mountain, Melanie, Sha-Na-Na, John Sebastian, Country Joe and the Fish, and the Paul Butterfield Blues Band.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

St. Leo Abbey Tampa Tribune Article. A Benedictine oblate blog

Today the Tampa Tribune newspaper had a wonderful article by Michelle Bearden about the renovations to the St. Leo Abbey Church of the Holy Cross located in St. Leo, Florida, north of Tampa.

The article, “Abbey Church ‘alive again,’” tells about the renovations to the 61-year-old church, but also has good information about the spiritual retreats that anyone may enjoy any time of year.

This year is also the abbey’s 120th anniversary. A Celebratory Mass on Saturday, June 13, 2009, at 10:30 am begins the events to honor the abbey’s history.

St. Leo Abbey is a Catholic Benedictine Abbey following the ancient Rule of St. Benedict.


Map and Directions to St. Leo Abbey.

This link is to a map giving directions to St. Leo Abbey.

The GPS points of where to turn off of State Road 52 onto the service road to enter St. Leo Abbey are:
Latitude 28.33568;
Longitude -82.265496

St. Leo Abbey web site.