Missa: “Faciam te in gentem magnam”
Known as the “Father of Western Monastic Life,” Saint Benedict is the founder of the Benedictines. Born in 480 into a noble family in the village of Nursia, Italy, he studied in Rome but, fearing he would succumb to the licentious life of his peers, left it all behind in 500 to embrace the monastic life. He retreated to the deserted mountain area of Subiaco where, guided by the Holy Ghost, he took up residence in a deep and remote cave. There he remained for three years many times depending on God’s providence for food as crows would bring him bread. The only human contact he had for three years was with the holy monk Romanus who brought him food, water and simple clothing.
Despite his solitude, the fame of his holiness spread far and wide, drawing many disciples to Subiaco. To minister to them Benedict founded a colony of monks and, with their help, built 12 monasteries at Subiaco. He also summoned his blood sister Saint Scholastica to help and she established numerous monasteries for nuns there to accommodate the women who wished to follow Benedict. The strictness of this holy abbot’s rule and the vice of jealousy played a role in rebellion by some monks who conspired to poison Benedict. One of the conspirators mixed poison into Benedict’s drink bowl. As was his custom, Benedict always blessed anything before he ate it. As he made the sign of the cross over the bowl it broke into pieces and the poison spilled harmlessly into the wood. Those monks who had planned this dastardly deed repented, seeing the hand of God in the event.
Shortly after, Benedict moved south to Montecassino where he founded the great abbey there which stood until World War II. There also he composed the bible of monastic life – the “Rule of St. Benedict” which has become the standard legislation for monastic life for religious men and women in the western world. Benedict held the personal love of Christ paramount for all with an emphasis on humility and prudence. His motto was Ora et labora, “Pray and work” with the insignia of a cross and a plough.
He was renowned for many, many miracles and knew six days before that he was going to die. On March 21, 543 he asked his fellow monks to carry him to the abbey sanctuary where, after having received the Body and Blood of Christ in Holy Communion, held his arms high toward Heaven and calmly left this earth with a prayer on his lips.
INTROIT Psalm 32. 11, 19
I shall make thee into a great nation and I shall bless thee and I shall glorify thy name and thou shalt be called blessed. Ps. Bless the Lord, O my soul: and let all that is within me bless His Holy Name. V. Glory be…
O God, who deigned to fill Thy most blessed Confessor Benedict with the spirit of all the righteous, grant us Thy servants, who celebrate his solemnity, that filled with his spirit, we may faithfully accomplish that which we have promised. Through Our Lord.
LESSON Ecclesiasticus 48, 1-12, 49, 1-2
And he stood up, as a fire, and his word burnt like a torch. And who can glory like unto thee? Who raised up a dead man from below, from the lot of death, by word of the Lord God. Who heard judgement in Sinai. Who anointed Kings to penance and made prophets successors after thee. Who registered in the judgements in the times to appease the wrath of God, to reconcile the heart of the father to the son, and to restore the tribes of Jacob. Blessed are they that saw thee, and were honoured with thy friendship. For we live only in our life, but after death our name will not be such. The memory of him is like unto the composition of a sweet smell made by the art of the perfumer: His remembrance sweet as honey in every mouth and as music at a banquet of wine.
GRADUAL Psalm 20. 4-5
O Lord, Thou hast prevented him with blessings of sweetness: Thou hast set on his head a crown of precious stones. V. He asked of life of Thee and Thou hast given him length of days for ever and ever.
TRACT Psalm 1-3
Blessed is the man that endureth temptation, for when he hath he hath been proved, he shall receive the crown of life.
Joyful rest [or *day] of our leader,
that brings the gift of a new light,
we commemorate you today.
Grace is given the loving soul,
may our ardent heart be united
to the songs of our lips.
By the radiant way going up to the east,
let us admire our Father rising to heaven,
equal to the patriarchs.
His innumerable posterity,
figure of the sun,
made him like to Abraham.
See the crow serving him and
recognize hence Elias
hiding in a little cave.
when he bids return
the axe from beneath the current.
It is Joseph through his life without stain;
it is Jacob bringing future things to mind.
May he be mindful of his people,
and may he lead us till we behold with him
the eternal joys of Christ. Amen.
GOSPEL St Matthew 19. 27-2
And at that time, Peter said to Jesus: Behold, we have left all things and followed Thee: what therefore shall we have? And Jesus said to them: Amen I say to you, that you and who have left all things and followed Me, in the regeneration, when the Son of Man shall sit on the seat of His Majesty, you also shall sit on twelve seats judging the twelve tribes of Israel. And everyone that hath left house, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands for My Name’s sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall possess life everlasting.
OFFERTORY Psalm 1.3
And he shall be like a tree which is planted near the running waters, which shall bring forth fruit in due season. And his leaf shall not fall off: and all whatsoever he shall do will prosper.
Receive, Almighty God, these sacred gifts which we offer to Thee on the Feast of our holy father, Benedict, Abbot: that just as Thou didst bestow Thy exceeding love upon him, so too through his advocacy mayest Thou enkindle in us the flames of divine charity. Through our Lord.
It is truly meet and just, right and for our salvation, that we should at all times and in all places give Thee thanks, Holy Lord, Father almighty, eternal God: Thou provided Thy holy confessor, Benedict, as a leader and master in the spiritual life for a countless number of sons and daughters. Filled as he was with the spirit of all the just, Thou flooded him with the splendour of Thy light in a vision. In the intense radiance of this vision his mind was freed of the bonds of the earth and he was able to discern how incomplete are all things here below: Because of this, through Christ our Lord, the entire monastic company in every part of the world sings out its joy, and the Virtues on high, with the Powers of the angelic choir, continuously praise Thy glory in song, evermore saying:
COMMUNION ANTIPHON Eccles.44. 25-26
The Lord gave him the blessing of all nations, and confirmed his covenant upon his head: He acknowledged him in his blessings and gave him a blessing, and preserved in him His Mercy.
Having partaken in the delights of Thy Divine Sacrament, as suppliants we beseech Thy blessing, O Lord, Fount and Origin: that through the intercession of our most holy father, Benedict, we may obtain the grace of Thy blessing. Through Our Lord.