“All love relationships don’t end at the altar!” – Part I

As a rule, when it comes to interviewing celebrities, Tony Rossi is our go-to guy, around here. Last week, though, he could not work into his schedule an opportunity to talk to Mother Dolores Hart, the actress-turned-Benedictine-nun who was the subject of last year's documentary, "God is the Bigger Elvis", and this year's best-seller, The Ear of the Heart. Mother Dolores is currently missing her cloister while she makes a major promotional tour in support of the book, and I had the opportunity … [Read more...]

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Advent: Love Words and Expectations in the Dark – UPDATED

choosing joy

I am so grateful that Advent is upon us; my favorite time of year! It is all hope, depth, mystery and promise of light, and it feels like we need it; it feels as though we have all been so occupied with politics, natural disasters, willful (and unpersuasive) belligerence and our own daily anxieties and stresses -- so many people I know are anticipating Christmas with dread rather than joy -- that we need our heads turned toward something great!In my column at The Catholic Answer I put it … [Read more...]

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St. Benedict: Stability and Detachment

Today is the feastday of St. Benedict of Nurcia, who is regarded the Father of Western Monasticism. He is also one of the Patron Saints of Europe, and our dear Holy Father Benedict XVI, who made a retreat at the saints own Subiaco monastery just before his elevation to the Papacy. Although I am a very bad Benedictine, I do my poor Oblate best to honor our founder, today, whose Holy Rule has shaped and defined monasticism for both Benedictines and Trappists and has even been adopted by … [Read more...]

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How Pilgrim Monks are to be Received

Part of my Lent has been re-reading the Holy Rule of St. Benedict, pertinent to the day. It's been speaking to me in very personal and private ways.Today as I contemplate a great decision that involved travel and has me doubting and unsure, the lesson is about stability, which is actually one of the Benedictine vows:If a pilgrim monk coming from a distant region wants to live as a guest of the monastery, let him be received for as long a time as he desires, provided he is … [Read more...]

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On the Craftsmen

If there are craftsmen in the monastery, let them practice their crafts with all humility, provided the Abbot has given permission. But if any one of them becomes conceited over his skill in his craft, because he seems to be conferring a benefit on the monastery, let him be taken from his craft and no longer exercise it unless, after he has humbled himself, the Abbot again gives him permission. If any of the work of the craftsmen is to be sold, let those through whose hands … [Read more...]

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Bad Benedictine; "I love you, go home!"

As I anticipate coming into my tenth year as a Benedictine Oblate, I rejoice that the effect of Benedictine spirituality in my life has helped me to become less savage than I was, although I am still quite feral in some ways. But, as I explain in my latest column at First Things, there is a part of the Holy Rule of St. Benedict that still has me stymied: Benedictine Hospitality, and St. Benedict's dictum that we must receive everyone we encounter as receiving Christ. I have a long way to go, … [Read more...]

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St. Scholastica; Irritating Sister

My Icon of Benedict and Scholastica from the still brilliant fresco at Subiaco.

When I made my first inquiries about becoming a Benedictine Oblate, I received this icon with the monastery's response. It sits on my desk, still.Today is the feast of St. Scholastica, the twin sister of St. Benedict of Nursia. Very little is known about her, historically, and there is some debate about where her relics may be. While in Rome, we were able to take a tour of the monastery and cave at Subiaco, where Benedict founded the order, and our helpful guide communicated that the bones … [Read more...]

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