It is not without reason that Benedictine monks have been known for many centuries for their hospitality. St. Benedict dedicates a long section of his Rule to remind the monks that every guest who shows up at the door should be treated like Christ. Their hands and feet should be washed and the Abbot should even break his fast in order to eat with them. The damages of the earthquake notwithstanding, the Monastery of San Benedetto in Monte is blessed to have shared its refectory with many pilgrims, tourists, family members or those simply passing through Norcia.
This past weekend, a group of 20 men from the famous Tipi Loschi company along with their associates spent the weekend helping us with long overdue projects. Their ages ranged from 18 to 70. Some came to vigils at 3:30 AM, all came to prayers throughout the day and to one of the most important parts of our life: Pranzo (our main meal of the day).
Our Holy Father St. Benedict is careful, however, to warn that before a guest is received and the Peace of Christ shared with him, the monks must pray with him, “on account of the devil’s deceptions” (Chapter 53). This cryptic admonition might have referred to the dangers posed to monks by visiting Arian Christians who were an existential threat to the Church of the time due to their false teachings.
The lesson is this: charity without truth is no charity at all. When St. Benedict says that we should prefer nothing to the love of Christ, he also means not to prefer even the flattery of the culture or the pomp of the world, that is, those things that suggest that truth is relative and changeable. Charity of hospitality could never mean, for the great Patron of Europe, that one denies the truth.
Men today who come to Norcia to become monks — and at present 4 have requested to enter this fall — come looking for a world where they can be truly free to love Christ as the Incarnate God, a truth that a modern day version of Arianism once again tries to reject. They come wounded by a society which has tempted them with the idea that either no happiness on this earth is possible at all, or that it is completely possible if one only pursues it by the standards of the world. But when their vocations flourish they find the opposite of both. They find a foretaste of joy here on earth, and then later, in death, that joy complete.
As we enter now into a phase of more vigorous fundraising for construction of our permanent monastery, we ask your support to help us reach our goal of 1 million dollars so that we can raise its walls. We pray that, with your support, men might have a permanent home here where God can be found.
To help us raise the walls, click here.
You can also help us by purchasing our beer or CD of Gregorian chant.
Prior Benedict Nivakoff, O.S.B.
Only a few days before the Church celebrates the summer feast of St. Benedict on July 11, we write to share good news so that you can toast with a bit of Birra Nursia (http://birranursia.com/purchase) on that special day. Our Holy Patron was a great builder — of buildings and saints — and the news comes for us in these two forms as well: the spiritual and material.
Materially, we are pleased to share drawings for the construction of the new monastery in Monte, finally approved by the Italian historical society with construction to begin this September. The project will restore the former Capuchin monastery destroyed in the final earthquake to a fully functioning monastery with room for at least 30 monks.
In an area of Italy where the devastation of the earthquake brought an end to so much beautiful Church architecture, we are pleased to be able to take part in the rebuilding by bringing back to life a former monastery of the town.
Funds are still needed to complete the large building project, which will be constructed on a foundation of earthquake-resistant isolators. We have enough to begin the foundations but we need 1 million dollars to raise the walls. Can you help (http://en.nursia.org/donations)?
The construction project means moving away from the phase of emergency building and into the phase of building our new permanent home. As a symbol of this step, we also share spiritual good news. A few weeks ago our monastery was elevated by the Holy See to the status of an Independent Priory, sui iuris, within the Benedictine Order. This blessing from God took place 19 years to the day from the initial canonical approval and 20 years after Fr. Cassian Folsom, O.S.B. courageously founded the monastery in a little apartment on the Aventine Hill in Rome in 1998.
This important milestone for us could not have happened without the prayers and support of so many of you over the years, but in particular we thank the three Abbot Primates who have guided our initial history, Abbot Marcel Rooney, O.S.B. who presided over the birth and founding, Abbot Notker Wolf, O.S.B. who saw that our little fledging group would be given a roof and path to stability, and now the present primate, Abbot Gregory Polan, O.S.B. whose faith-filled charity brought us to this final moment of canonical stability. In a special way, too, we thank Archabbot Lambert Reilly, O.S.B. of St. Meinrad for entrusting Fr. Cassian with this mission and a Benedictine Cardinal of the Church, Paul Augustine Mayer, O.S.B., no longer with us on earth but whose guidance and protection have brought us to this day.
With this new important canonical status, the Church entrusts to the monastery its own governance and so our constitutions called for an election of the first Conventual Prior.
Today, the reigning Abbot Primate, Gregory Polan, O.S.B, visited us and presided over the proceedings where Fr. Benedict Nivakoff, O.S.B., was elected to lead the Priory.
Thanking God and asking for St. Benedict’s continued intercession on this hallowed ground of his birth home, we remain grateful to all of you.
The Monks of Norcia