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VOLUME 17 – May 4, 1925
The Mission of the Divine Will shall veil the Most Holy Trinity upon earth, and shall make man return to his Origin.
After writing what is written above, I began to do the Adoration to my Crucified Jesus, Fusing all of myself in His Most Holy Will; and my beloved Jesus came out from within my interior, and placing His Most Holy Face close to mine, all Tenderness, told me: “My daughter, did you write everything on the Mission of My Will?”
And I: “Yes, yes, I wrote everything.”
And He, again: “And what if I told you that you have not written everything? Rather, you have left out the Most Essential Thing. So, continue writing, and add: The Mission of My Will shall Veil the Most Holy Trinity upon earth. Just as in Heaven there are the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, Inseparable from One Another but Distinct among Themselves, Forming the Whole Beatitude of Heaven; in the same way, on earth there shall be three persons who, because of their Missions, shall be Distinct and Inseparable among themselves: the Virgin, with Her Maternity that Veils the Paternity of the Celestial Father and Encloses His Power in order to Fulfill Her Mission of Mother of the Eternal Word and Co-Redemptrix of mankind; My Humanity, for the Mission of Redeemer, that Enclosed the Divinity, and the Word, without ever separating from the Father and from the Holy Spirit, Manifested My Celestial Wisdom – adding the Bond of rendering Myself Inseparable from My Mama; and you (Little Daughter of the Divine Will, Luisa Piccarreta), for the Mission of My Will, as the Holy Spirit shall make Display of His Love, Manifesting to you the Secrets, the Prodigies of My Will, the Goods It contains, to make Happy those who shall give themselves to Knowing how much Good this Supreme Will contains, to love It and to let It Reign in their midst, offering their souls to let It Dwell within their hearts, that It may be able to form Its Life in them – adding the Bond of Inseparability between you (Little Daughter of the Divine Will, Luisa Piccarreta), the Mother and the Eternal Word.
“These Three Missions are Distinct and Inseparable. The first two have prepared the Graces, the Light, the Work, and with unheard-of pains, for the Third Mission of My Will, to then Fuse themselves all in It without leaving their Office, so as to find Rest, because My Will alone is Celestial Rest. These Missions shall not be repeated, because the Exuberance of Grace, of Light, of Knowledge is Such and So Great that all human generations can be Filled with them; even more, they shall not be able to contain all the Good that they contain. These Missions are symbolized by the sun; in fact, in creating it, I filled it with so much light and heat, that all human generations have superabundant light. Nor did I consider that, since at the beginning of Creation there were only Adam and Eve who would enjoy it, I could place the necessary light for them only, to then increase new light as the generations would grow. No, no – I made it full of light, just as it is now, and shall be. For the Decorum and the Honor of Our Power, Wisdom and Love, Our Works are always done with the Fullness of All the Good that they contain; nor are they subject to increasing or decreasing. So I did with the sun: I centralized in it all the light that was to serve up to the last man. But how many goods does the sun not do for the earth? What Glory, in its mute light, does it not give to its Creator? I can say that because of the immense goods it does to the earth, in its mute language the sun Glorifies Me and makes Me Known more than all other things together; and this, because it is full in its light, and stable in its course. When I looked at the sun that, with so much light, only Adam and Eve were enjoying, I also looked at all the living; and in seeing that that light was to serve all, My Paternal Goodness Exulted with Joy, and I remained Glorified in My Works. So I did with My Mama: I filled Her with So Much Grace, that She can give Graces to all without ever exhausting even one of them. So I did with My Humanity: there is no Good that It does not Possess; It enclosed Everything, and the very Divinity, to give It to whomever wants of It. So I did with you: I enclosed in you My Will, and, with It, I enclosed Myself. I enclosed in you Its Knowledges, Its Secrets, Its Light. I Filled your soul up to the brim; so much so, that what you write is nothing other than the Outpouring of what you contain of My Will. And even though it now serves you alone, and a few Glimmers of Light serve a few others, I am content because, being Light, More Than Second Sun, it shall make its way by itself, in order to Illuminate the human generations and to bring about the Fulfillment of Our Works: that Our Will be Known and Loved, and that It Reign as Life in the creatures. This was the Purpose of Creation – this, its Beginning, and this shall be the Means and the End.
“Therefore, Be Attentive, because this is about Placing in Safety that Eternal Will that, with so much Love, wants to Dwell in the creatures. But It wants to be Known, It does not want to be like a stranger, but wants to give Its Goods and become Life of each one. However, It wants Its Rights, Its Place of Honor; It wants the human will to be put aside – the only enemy for Itself and for man. The Mission of My Will was the Purpose of the Creation of man. My Divinity did not depart from Heaven – from Its Throne, while My Will not only departed, but descended into all created things and formed Its Life in them. But while all things Recognized Me, and I dwell in them with Majesty and Decorum, man alone drove Me away. But I want to Conquer him and Win him, and therefore My Mission is not ended. So I called you, Entrusting to you My own Mission, that you may place the one who drove Me away on the Lap of My Will, and everything may return to Me in My Will. Therefore, do not be surprised at the Many Great and Marvelous Things I may tell you for the sake of this Mission, or at the Many Graces I may give you; because this is not about making a Saint, or saving the generations. This is about placing a Divine Will in Safety, that all may Return to the Beginning, to the Origin from which all came, and that the Purpose of My Will may have Its Fulfillment.”
Yesterday was celebrated the feast of Santa Maria Greca – proclaimed Principal Protector of Corato in 1956 by Pope Pius XII on the occasion of the 3rd centenary of the apparition, as it is stated in the plaque next to the church, but always dear to the people of Corato – organized by the Archconfraternity of the same name led by Pasquale Nocca.
The sober and planned festivities participated in, besides the preparatory novena, was particularly Monday night’s prayer vigil in memory of the victims of the rail accident of July 12, 2016, and yesterday’s three Eucharistic celebrations.
One of celebrations, that of 11 am, was presided over by Mons. Giannotti, a vicar general, and was followed by the traditional Supplication to Our Lady at 12 o’clock, when the harmonious sound of the bell, 361 years ago, resounded freeing Corato from the plague.
The Icon of the Protector – to be more precise the wooden board on which the image of the Black Madonna is imprinted with the Greek pastoral and preserved in the crypt of the same name – was taken in procession along the city street after the Eucharistic celebration in the sacred church.
The procession, begun by some members of the Association of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, saw a distinguished participation of the faithful who did not just look at it from the edge of the sidewalks, but welcoming the invitation of Father Sergio Pellegrini, parish priest of St. Maria Greca, followed the icon praying Rosary and reflecting on some passages from the writings of Servant of God Luisa Piccarreta. Also present were representatives of the many Catholic associations in the city and the political authorities.
Music played by Bitonto’s Bass Band also accompanied the return to the Church of the Icon of the Protector, greeted by the festive clapping of hands of her Children, aware of being sinners, as the Hymn dedicated to her is repeated, but who as children invoke Her prayer of intercession and celestial protection.
The festivities this year also include a clarinet concert by the Quartet Melody, a chamber ensemble formed by four clarinetists from Corato, who will be playing on Sunday, July 23 in the church of Santa Maria Greca in memory of the victims of the railway disaster.
Domenico Varesano, Vicenzo Di Puppo, Cataldo Taccardo and Vincenzo Catalano – who joined together in January 2016 with the aim of raising the city of Corato’s awarness of music culture – will perform the famous “Pavane for a dead infant” by Ravel Maurice, “Ammerland” By Jacob De Haan, “The Mission (Gabriel’s Oboe)” by Ennio Morricone, “7th Symphony 2nd Movement” by Ludwing van Beethoven, “Oblivion” by Astor Piazzolla, “River Flows in You” by Yiruma.
Meeting Sunday at 8 pm.
Miraculous image of “Santa Maria Greca” that appeared on July 18, 1656 in Corato, Italy. Archbishop Mons. Addazi obtained permission from the Holy Office on May 11, 1962 to transfer the mortal remains of Luisa to the Church of Santa Maria Greca with the internment occurring on July 3, 1962.
In the night of 18th July 1830, 1st Appearance of the Virgin Mary, Catherine was woken up by a child ringed in a halo of light. She followed him into the church which was open and lit by countless candles. The child asked her to kneel next to the altar where the Virgin Mary was waiting for her with a message, a mixture of political and religious predictions.
In this message, she namely predicted the July 1830 revolution in France, the bloody political events of 1870, the death of Archbishop Darboy in 1871 and the ensuing political chaos. The Virgin Mary also announced the formation of 2 religious communities abroad, one in the United States (founded by Elisabeth-Ann Seton) and one in Austria, founded by Léopoldine de Brandis.
Mons. Paolo Rizzi, the new Postulator of the Cause of Canonisation of Luisa Piccarreta, worked promptly to give a decisive impetus to the Roman phase of the Cause and accelerate the canonical process that is now at a decisive stage.
The complexity of the Cause requires, for the progress of the same Cause, a great deal of work and a heavy economic burden a costly burden. Therefore, Mons. Rizzi decided to address the groups of the Divine Will and all the faithful, by writing a letter which is reproduced below. Through this letter he appeals to their generosity so that the Church can recognize the holiness of the Servant of God Luisa Piccarreta and elevate her, as soon as possible, to the honors of the altars.
-To the groups of the Divine Will of the Servant of God Luisa Piccarreta
-To the faithful devotees of the Servant of God Luisa Piccarreta
Following my appointment as the new Postulator, I was able to devote myself to the verification of both the path undertaken until now and of future projects. I appreciated the work properly carried out by the Actor of the Cause, namely, the Association Luisa Piccarreta Little Children of the Divine Will with headquarters in Corato, as well as the valid work of the diocese of Trani-Barletta-Bisceglie that has adequately fulfilled the diocesan phase of the Cause. All this constitutes a solid base as a strong guarantee for a positive outcome. At the same time, I have noted some delays and uncertainties at other levels and in other areas, which I have been trying to remedy giving a decisive impetus to the Roman phase of the Cause. Significant steps have been taken in the last few weeks to accelerate the canonical process: preparations for working concretely on a fundamental technical tool to study procedural acts by the competent authorities of the Holy See, also setting out clear objectives with precise deadlines.
Therefore, the Cause is now at a decisive stage along the path. The subsequent steps will require considerable expenses: the preparation, typesetting, and printing of the probative dossiers that must be evaluated by theologians and historical experts and the fees for the latter, including the administrative fees of the Holy See, the various costs for conducting the Cause that the office of the Postulator must bear, and so forth. In fact, because of their complexity, the Causes for beatification and canonization require a great deal of work and involve numerous expenses. We need your help and financial support to cover the necessary costs for advancing the Cause of Luisa Piccarreta.
The new norms that Pope Francis has issued, with the aim of making the administration of these ecclesial realities more transparent, establish that the Actor of a Cause must constitute an asset fund for the expenses of the same Cause. The fund, originating from offerings made by both physical and juridical persons is considered, due to its particular nature, as a “fund for a pious cause”. The promoters and administrators of the fund must rigorously respect the intention of those who make the offerings, keep regularly updated accounts and draw up annual financial reports, which must be submitted by the proper authorities for approval. The Association Luisa Piccarreta in Corato has moved in this direction with prudence and rigor; for all of you, devotees and admirers of Luisa, this should be an encouraging reason to make your contribution and add your own “brick” for the construction of the Church’s recognition of the sanctity of this great little woman.
Confident of the generosity of those who met Luisa, allowing their hearts to be “touched” by her bright spiritual message and who rely on her protection, I send my warm greetings to all.
Rome, June 20, 2017
Mons. Paolo Rizzi
The Association Luisa Piccarreta Little Children of the Divine Will, as the Actor of the Cause of Canonization, sustains what Mons. Paolo Rizzi expressed, highlighting that the positive outcome of the Cause lies first of all in the fulfillment of God’s plan for His Little Daughter of the Divine Will and is related to the charity and generosity of all those who love her.
Anyone who wishes can support the Association Luisa Piccarreta Little Children of the Divine Will and the Cause of Canonization by donating his financial contribution through a bank transfer with the following coordinates or through the official website of the Association www.luisapiccarretaofficial.org
In order to rigorously respect the intention of those who make the offerings, the reason for donation should be specify.
BANK ACCOUNT DETAILS.
For the Association:
Banca dell’Alta Murgia Credito Cooperativo
Viale E. Fieramosca 181
70033 Corato BA
ASSOCIAZIONE LUISA PICCARRETA – PICCOLI FIGLI DELLA DIVINA VOLONTA’
For the Cause:
BANCA MONTE DEI PASCHI DI SIENA
FILIALE DI CORATO
C.SO CAVOUR, 20
70033 CORATO BA
CAUSA DI BEATIFICAZIONE SERVA DI DIO LUISA PICCARRETA
IBAN: IT 29 Y 01030 41470 000005405717
Hermits lived on Mount Carmel near the Fountain of Elijah in northern Israel in the 12th century. They had a chapel dedicated to Our Lady. By the 13th century they became known as “Brothers of Our Lady of Mount Carmel.” They soon celebrated a special Mass and Office in honor of Mary. In 1726, it became a celebration of the universal Church under the title of Our Lady of Mount Carmel. For centuries the Carmelites have seen themselves as specially related to Mary. Their great saints and theologians have promoted devotion to her and often championed the mystery of her Immaculate Conception.
Saint Teresa of Avila called Carmel “the Order of the Virgin.” Saint John of the Cross credited Mary with saving him from drowning as a child, leading him to Carmel, and helping him escape from prison. Saint Thérèse of the Child Jesus believed that Mary cured her from illness. On her First Communion day, Thérèse dedicated her life to Mary. During the last days of her life she frequently spoke of Mary.
There is a tradition–which may not be historical—that Mary appeared to Saint Simon Stock, a leader of the Carmelites, and gave him a scapular, telling him to promote devotion to it. The scapular is a modified version of Mary’s own garment. It symbolizes her special protection and calls the wearers to consecrate themselves to her in a special way. The scapular reminds us of the gospel call to prayer and penance—a call that Mary models in a splendid way.
Saint Kateri Tekakwitha
Flower of the Algonguins
Lily of the Mohawks
14 July in the United States
17 April in Canad
Born in 1656 in Ossernenon NY
Baptized 18 April 1676 St. Peter’s Mission in Caughnawaga NY
Received Her First Communion on Christmas Day 1677
St. Francis Mission in La Prairie Canada
Died Wednesday of Holy Week, 17 April 1680 in Kahnawaké Canada
Declared Venerable by Pope Pius XII on 3 January 1943
Declared Blessed by Pope John Paul II on 22 June 1980
Canonized by Pope Benedict XVI on October 21, 2012
The Native Americans need a patron saint.
Saint Kateri Tekakwitha is that person.
She was born of a Catholic Algonquin mother and a Mohawk father.
She was influenced by the fervent Christianity of her mother
and of the Black Robes to live a life of remarkable virtue,
at heart not only a Christian – “a praying Indian” – but a Christian virgin.
She attained the most perfect union with her Creator in prayer.
Her extraordinary sanctity impressed not only her own people
but the French and the Jesuit missionaries.
Father Pierre Cholenec, a witness at her deathbed, states that at the time of her death Kateri’s face “… so disfigured and so swarthy in life, suddenly changed about fifteen minutes after her death, and in an instant became so beautiful and so fair that just as soon as I saw it (I was praying by her side) I let out a yell, I was so astonished, and I sent for the priest who was working at the repository for the Holy Thursday service. At the news of this prodigy, he came running along with some people who were with him. We then had the time to contemplate this marvel right up to the time of her burial. I frankly admit that my first thought at the time was that Catherine could well have entered heaven at that moment and that she had — as a preview — already received in her virginal body a small indication of the glory of which her soul had taken possession in Heaven. Two Frenchmen from La Prairie de la Magdeleine came to the Sault on Thursday to be present at the service. They were passing by Catherine’s cabin where, seing a woman lying on her mat and with such a beautiful and radiant face, they said to each other, Look at this young woman sleeping so peacefully and kept going. But, learning the next minute that it was a dead body, and that of Catherine, they returned to the cabin and went down on their knees to recommend themselves to her prayers. After having satisfied their devotion for having seen such a wonderful scene, they wished to show their veneration for the dead girl by constructing then and there a coffin to hold such cherished remains.”
[ From a translation by Fr. William Lonc, S.J., of Father Pierre Cholenec, S.J., Catherine Tekakwitha, Summer 2002, p. 50.]
Kateri, orphaned, half blind, scarred by illness and of little worth in her own world, was destined for a greatness of the spirit that spans the centuries and reflects the landscapes – North American wilderness, world of the Iroquois, the Europeans, the mystical realm – in which she existed for so brief a time. These landscapes would collide, confound and torment, eventually robbing her of life, but they would also mold one of the most remarkable, hidden human beings to ever walk the trails of early America. She has been called the Lily of the Mohawks, but perhaps another title should be given to her as well: “Mystic of the Wilderness.”
[Kateri Tekakwitha – Mystic of the Wilderness, Margaret R. Bunson, Our Sunday Visitor Publ., 1992, p. 31 ]
Another and more important title should be “Flower of the Algonquins” since it was her Christian Algonquin mother who instilled in her daughter her Christianity, her Catholicism.
AN EXEMPLARY CHAPLIN – FATHER VINCENT CAPODANNO
by Maureen Boyle
There have been countless brave Catholic chaplains serving the U.S. Armed Forces since the Revolutionary War. One heroic example who is honored every year on the anniversary of his death is Father Vincent R. Capodanno, a Maryknoll priest who was killed in Vietnam on September 4, 1967, as he gave physical and spiritual assistance to the dying Marines of the 1st Marine Division. Father Capodanno posthumously received the Congressional Medal of Honor and was officially proclaimed a Servant of God by the Catholic Church in 2006, formerly initiating his cause for sainthood.
The annual memorial Mass for Father Capodanno was celebrated September 6, 2011 at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C., and attended by active-duty and retired members of the armed forces, civilians, and many Catholic military chaplains.
In his homily, Archbishop Timothy P. Broglio pointed out that among the scores of Navy chaplains, only two have received the Medal of Honor: Jesuit Father Joseph O’Callahan and Father Capodanno.
“They were men who never forgot the specificity of what they brought to others as Catholic priests, and yet still served all who sought their counsel comfort and ministry,” said Archbishop Broglio. “It is that realization that permitted Father Capodanno to defy logic and remain under fire to minister to those entrusted to his pastoral care. He knew that he brought them something no other chaplain could: the healing presence of the risen Lord who entrusted his sacraments, his life, to the Church.”
The archbishop encouraged those in attendance at the Mass to look to Father Capodanno as an example and source of inspiration to all the faithful, especially the Catholic chaplains serving in the armed forces.
“Men and women like Father Capodanno, afire with the love of Christ, challenge us to live the Gospel and to teach all people to live as brothers and sisters. The quest for peace still stirs our hearts,” he said.
Mr. Marto, father of Jacinta and Francisco, noticed that when the third apparition began, a small grayish cloud hovered over the holm oak, the sunlight diminished, and a cool breeze blew over the mountain range, despite it being the height of summer. He also heard something like flies inside an empty jug. The seers saw the customary glare, and then Our Lady over the holm oak.
Lucia: What does Your Grace wish of me?
Our Lady: I want you to come here on the thirteenth of next month and to continue to pray the Rosary every day in honor of Our Lady of the Rosary, in order to obtain peace for the world and the end of the war, for she alone can be of any avail.
Lucia: I would like to ask you to tell us who you are and to perform a miracle so everyone will believe that Your Grace appears to us.
Our Lady: Continue to come here every month. In October, I will tell you who I am and what I wish, and I will perform a miracle that everyone shall see so as to believe.
Lucia then made a number of requests for conversions, cures, and other graces. Our Lady recommended the constant recitation of the rosary; thus they would obtain those graces during the year.
Then she went on: “Sacrifice yourselves for sinners and say many times, especially when you make a sacrifice, ‘O Jesus, this is for love of Thee, for the conversion of sinners, and in reparation for the sins committed against the Immaculate Heart of Mary.'”
The first part—The vision of hell
Lucia writes, “Our Lady showed us a great sea of fire which seemed to be under the earth. Plunged in this fire were demons and souls in human form, like transparent burning embers, all blackened or burnished bronze, floating about in the conflagration, now raised into the air by the flames that issued from within themselves together with great clouds of smoke, now falling back on every side like sparks in a huge fire, without weight or equilibrium, and amid shrieks and groans of pain and despair, which horrified us and made us tremble with fear. The demons could be distinguished by their terrifying and repulsive likeness to frightful and unknown animals, all black and transparent. This vision lasted but an instant. How can we ever be grateful enough to our kind heavenly Mother, who had already prepared us by promising, in the first Apparition, to take us to heaven. Otherwise, I think we would have died of fear and terror.”
The second part—The warning of the chastisement and how to avoid it
The children then looked up at Our Lady, who said to them so kindly and so sadly:
“You have seen hell where the souls of poor sinners go. To save them, God wishes to establish in the world devotion to my Immaculate Heart. If what I say to you is done, many souls will be saved and there will be peace. The war is going to end: but if people do not cease offending God, a worse one will break out during the Pontificate of Pius XI. When you see a night illumined by an unknown light, know that this is the great sign given you by God that He is about to punish the world for its crimes, by means of war, famine, and persecutions of the Church and of the Holy Father. To prevent this, I shall come to ask for the consecration of Russia to my Immaculate Heart, and the Communion of reparation on the First Saturdays. If my requests are heeded, Russia will be converted, and there will be peace; if not, she will spread her errors throughout the world, causing wars and persecutions of the Church. The good will be martyred; the Holy Father will have much to suffer; various nations will be annihilated. In the end, my Immaculate Heart will triumph. The Holy Father will consecrate Russia to me, and she shall be converted, and a period of peace will be granted to the world. In Portugal, the dogma of the faith will always be preserved, etc. …”
Communism—”The Errors of Russia”
Communism is an atheistic ideology that ultimately denies God’s natural order and natural law, which God inscribed on the hearts of men. Denying God, Communism attaches divinity status to the Party and to the State. As such, Communism transfers all personal responsibility to the Party and totalitarian state. Denying natural law, Communism rejects the basic rights to private property, and monogamous, indissoluble marriage two indispensable pillars of a free society. Dictatorship is not a chance fact in Communism, but the logical and necessary consequence of its ideology. For strategic reasons, Communism may take on different political forms, including apparently democratic ones, and hide behind varied labels. Already in the 1930’s, the Communist Party launched the so-called policy of the extended hand, in which it showed to the outside world a smiling, friendly face while, Stalin’s iron hand imposed a ferocious, despotic dictatorship in Russia.
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In the fifth century, the young Benedict was sent to Rome to finish his education with a nurse/housekeeper. The subject that dominated a young man’s study then was rhetoric — the art of persuasive speaking. A successful speaker was not one who had the best argument or conveyed the truth, but one who used rhythm, eloquence, and technique to convince. The power of the voice without foundation in the heart was the goal of the student’s education. And that philosophy was reflected in the lives of the students as well. They had everything — education, wealth, youth — and they spent all of it in the pursuit of pleasure, not truth. Benedict watched in horror as vice unraveled the lives and ethics of his companions.
Afraid for his soul, Benedict fled Rome, gave up his inheritance and lived in a small village with his nurse. When God called him beyond this quiet life to an even deeper solitude, he went to the mountains of Subiaco. Although becoming a hermit was not his purpose in leaving, there he lived as a hermit under the direction of another hermit, Romanus.
One day, during his time living in a cave above a lake as a hermit, the Devil presented Benedict’s imagination with a beautiful, tempting woman. Benedict resisted by rolling his body into a thorn bush until it was covered in scrapes. It is said through these body wounds, he cured the wounds of his soul.
After years of prayer, word of his holiness brought nearby monks to ask for his leadership. He warned them he would be too strict for them, but they insisted — then tried to poison him when his warning proved true. The story goes, the monks attempted to poison Benedict’s drink, but when he prayed a blessing over the cup – it shattered.
So Benedict was on his own again — but not for long. The next set of followers were more sincere and he set up twelve monasteries in Subiaco where monks lived in separate communities of twelve.
He left these monasteries abruptly when the envious attacks of another hermit made it impossible to continue the spiritual leadership he had taken.
But it was in Monte Cassino he founded the monastery that became the roots of the Church’s monastic system. Instead of founding small separate communities he gathered his disciples into one whole community. His own sister, Saint Scholastica, settled nearby to live a religious life.
After almost 1,500 years of monastic tradition his direction seems obvious to us. However, Benedict was an innovator. No one had ever set up communities like his before or directed them with a rule. What is part of history to us now was a bold, risky step into the future.
Benedict had the holiness and the ability to take this step. His beliefs and instructions on religious life were collected in what is now known as the Rule of Saint Benedict — still directing religious life after 15 centuries.
In this tiny but powerful Rule, Benedict put what he had learned about the power of speaking and oratorical rhythms at the service of the Gospel. He did not drop out of school because he did not understand the subject! Scholars have told us that his Rule reflects an understanding of and skill with the rhetorical rules of the time. Despite his experience at school, he understood rhetoric was as much a tool as a hammer was. A hammer could be used to build a house or hit someone over the head. Rhetoric could be used to promote vice … or promote God. Benedict did not shun rhetoric because it had been used to seduce people to vice; he reformed it.
Benedict did not want to lose the power of voice to reach up to God simply because others had use it to sink down to the gutter. He reminded us “Let us consider our place in sight of God and of his angels. Let us rise in chanting that our hearts and voices harmonize.” There was always a voice reading aloud in his communities at meals, to receive guests, to educate novices. Hearing words one time was not enough — “We wish this Rule to be read frequently to the community.”
Benedict realized the strongest and truest foundation for the power of words was the Word of God itself: “For what page or word of the Bible is not a perfect rule for temporal life?” He had experienced the power of God’s word as expressed in Scripture: “For just as from the heavens the rain and snow come down and do not return there till they have watered the earth, making it fertile and fruitful, giving seed to him who sows and bread to him who eats, so shall my word be that goes forth from my mouth; It shall not return to me void, but shall do my will, achieving the end for which I sent it” (Isaiah 55:10-11).
For prayer, Benedict turned to the psalms, the very songs and poems from the Jewish liturgy that Jesus himself had prayed. To join our voices with Jesus in praise of God during the day was so important that Benedict called it the “Work of God.” And nothing was to be put before the work of God. “Immediately upon hearing the signal for the Divine Office all work will cease.” Benedict believed with Jesus that “One does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes forth from the mouth of God’ ” (Matthew 4:4).
But it wasn’t enough to just speak the words. Benedict instructed his followers to practice sacred reading — the study of the very Scriptures they would be praying in the Work of God. In this lectio divina, he and his monks memorized the Scripture, studied it, and contemplated it until it became part of their being. Four to six hours were set aside each day for this sacred reading. If monks had free time it “should be used by the brothers to practice psalms.” Lessons from Scripture were to be spoken from memory not read from a book. On Benedict’s list of “Instruments of Good Works” is “to enjoy holy readings.”
In one story of Benedict’s life, a poor man came to the monastery begging for a little oil. Although Benedict commanded that the oil be given, the cellarer refused — because there was only a tiny bit of oil left. If the cellarer gave any oil as alms there would be none for the monastery. Angry at this distrust of God’s providence, Benedict knelt down to pray. As he prayed a bubbling sound came from inside the oil jar. The monks watched in fascination as oil from God filled the vessel so completely that it overflowed, leaked out beneath the lid and finally pushed the cover off, cascading out on to the floor.
In Benedictine prayer, our hearts are the vessel empty of thoughts and intellectual striving. All that remains is the trust in God’s providence to fill us. Emptying ourselves this way brings God’s abundant goodness bubbling up in our hearts, first with an inspiration or two, and finally overflowing our heart with contemplative love.
Benedict died on 21 March 543, not long after his sister. It is said he died with high fever on the very day God told him he would. He is the patron saint of Europe and students.