15th Sunday in
Ordinary Time – C
My next reflection on the 50 Saints with an Obligatory Memorial and a full set of orations [Collect, Prayer over the Offerings and Prayer after Communion] is Saint Benedict who lived from about 480 to 557. He died on March 21, which would always put his Feast Day in Lent or Holy Week, so the 1969 liturgical reforms moved it to July 11; he is often portrayed with a bell, broken tray, raven, or crosier
as explained below.
Many are disgusted with the immoral, licentious acts of those who live in the lands ringing the Mediterranean Sea these days … and so was Saint Benedict. As a young man, he fled secular society to avoid sinful temptations and immoral behavior; he also feared that Christianity in Europe would be destroyed by non-believers. [Don’t we fear these same things these days?] Now let’s see what his orations teach about him.
Collect – Saint Benedict, Abbot
O God, who made the Abbot Saint Benedict an outstanding master in the school of divine service, grant, we pray, that, putting nothing before love of you, we may hasten with
a loving heart in the way of your commands.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
LET NOTHING KEEP US FROM CHRIST. As the Abbot [from the Arabic ‘Abba’ for ‘Father’] of his monastery, Benedict [a name meaning ‘blessed’ from ‘benedictus’] wore a monk’s habit and carried a crozier
to signify his fatherly role. His attempts to reform and purify his sons’ lifestyle – promoted by his famed, groundbreaking ‘Rule of Saint Benedict‘
which governed monastery life – was not always well received. Once, a priest tried to kill him by serving him a piece of poison bread while he was in his hermitage; suspicious of the bread, Benedict asked a raven to take it away so no one would eat it; the raven eventually heeded the Saint, so he’s portrayed with a raven and morsel. More importantly, we can never let anything keep us from promoting what is right and just … even in the face of danger or death.
Prayer over the Offerings – Saint Benedict, Abbot
Look kindly, Lord, upon these holy offerings,
which we make in honor of Saint Benedict,
and grant that, by following his example
in seeking you, we may merit the gifts
of unity in your service and of peace.
Through Christ our Lord. Amen.
LOVING IN EVERYDAY DEEDS.
When he fled the world for prayerful solitude, Benedict asked his elderly nurse to accompany him and care for him. One day, the tray she borrowed to prepare his meal broke; to calm her tears and fears, Benedict prayed over the tray
and it was made whole! The purported tray: his first miracle, still hangs in a church in Affile, some 30 miles from Rome. Some dismiss this as silly, but it showed Benedict had loving concern for life’s little things – even broken trays
– and so must we. For sometimes, by the seemingly insignificant things we do to help calm and console others, we, too, perform minor miracles!
Prayer after Communion – Saint Benedict, Abbot
Having received this pledge of eternal life,
we humbly beseech you, O Lord, that,
attentive to the teaching of Saint Benedict,
we may faithfully serve your designs
and love one another with fervent charity.
Through Christ our Lord. Amen.
FEEDING ON SPIRITUAL FOOD. During his years in a tough to reach mountainside cave hermitage, his daily food was lowered by a rope; another rope, on which a bell was hung, signaled his confers were sending down food. One time, the bell’s rope was broken by a demon; perhaps the rope was severed as an act of revenge, as fellow monks sought to starve Benedict for his attempts to reform the local monastery. And that set off ‘bells‘ in Benedict’s head … who saw in the bell’s broken rope … a ‘hidden’ meaning.
Sometimes those opposed to God’s way and/or Church teaching intentionally thwart our efforts to promote Gospel values and establish the moral, ethical and religious footings of God’s Kingdom on earth … and we must be as alert to their shenanigans as was Benedict to his bell rope breaker! Saint Benedict, pray for us!
In His holy Name,