News from the great Benedictines at Norcia: building, dogs, liturgy, beer

In my email I found something from the great Benedictines at Norcia.

I’ll “Rosica” it by cutting and pasting… but no, I told you where it is from.  Darn.    Anyway, the formatting remains messy.

Remember: BEER!   Buy Beer – Boost Benedictines

Dear friends and family,

Construction has started on the new monastery, but on the most unlikely of sections: the laundry room! While washing our monastic habits and linens is indeed important, the reason that the building work is starting here is nearly 500 years old. When the Capuchin monastery was first built, the laundry room was constructed in a retaining wall which also channeled fresh mountain water to the monastery. We are trying to rebuild the monastery as faithfully as possible according to the ancient plan. That means that we too are building the laundry room in conjunction with the retaining wall.

Laundry is a fitting theme to start this update since during Lent the monks try in a particular way to clean up, not our outer clothing but our inner souls. They can become dirty and tired through our negligence throughout the year. The monk’s life, St. Benedict teaches, is a continuous Lent, but we grow weak and tired and need a season dedicated to penance. Aware of the continual stream of bad news about the scandals in the Church, we use this time to do penance for our personal sins as well as to pray for those affected by things happening in the wider Church and world.
With the coming of Spring, we see the hope of new life both in nature and for ourselves. We are happy to share that our monastery farm is growing. Shortly after we built the chicken coop last year for our chickens, we realized we needed help to protect them from the wild boar, wolves and foxes that roam our woods. Help is now on the way in the form of Umbrian sheep dogs, born last month on a nearby farm. Their names will follow an ancient Roman custom: Primus, Secundus, Tertius and Quartus.
The arrival of this breed of protective sheep dogs means that we’ll soon be able to acquire a few goats. We need their help to clean the underbrush in the vast forest we have inherited from our Capuchin forefathers. As we grow, other animals will join the farm. A monastery, says our holy Patron, should have everything inside of it so that the monks don’t need to leave unnecessarily. This takes time to build and set in order, but with your help, our fundraising will advance successfully and we will be able to complete the construction.
And yet, as we plan for new life and growth, we must also plan for death. In the past two months, three monks lost a parent. The close proximity of these passings was difficult but nevertheless a powerful reminder to keep death before our eyes daily, as the Rule says. All of this present suffering, as well as the chaos and confusion in the world and in the Church will pass away and we must be ready for our own judgement. Along with our slow construction of the farm, we are also laying the ground for a monastic cemetery, a traditional place to pray for the souls not only of monks who will leave us (as of yet we have had no deaths) but for all our loved ones, family, friends and benefactors.
In Christ,
Prior Benedict Nivakoff, O.S.B.

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6 Responses to News from the great Benedictines at Norcia: building, dogs, liturgy, beer

  1. jaykay says:

    Thanks for this, Father. I received their email and the news of the start of construction is indeed great. Donation sent. They’re going to need it – apart from the building, the canine food bill won’t be small in the years to come! Building, dogs, liturgy, beer – what’s not to like?

  2. JonPatrick says:

    That is good news.
    We could use some spiritual sheep dogs in the Church today to help protect us from the wild boars, wolves, and foxes!

  3. Malta says:

    Excellent Support support holy priest and support Lent; win-win

  4. Fallibilissimo says:

    Just recently I was reading Dante’s DC. Canto XXII of Paradiso has the Poet meeting St Benedict and he, among others things, laments the state of the Church and religious life particularly.

    With the English on the right (from the Princeton Dante Project). The “rungs” are a reference to the ladder leading to the Empyrean in heaven (Jacob’s ladder):

    Ma, per salirla, mo nessun diparte 73 ‘But no one bothers now to raise his foot

    da terra i piedi, e la regola mia 74 up from the earth to climb those rungs,

    rimasa è per danno de le carte. 75 and my Rule is but a waste of paper.

    Le mura che solieno esser badia 76 ‘The walls that were constructed for an abbey

    fatte sono spelonche, e le cocolle 77 have been converted into dens for thieves, and sacks,

    sacca son piene di farina ria. 78 now filled with rotten flour, once served as cowls.

    Ma grave usura tanto non si tolle 79 ‘But the highest rates of usury are not exacted

    contra ‘l piacer di Dio, quanto quel frutto 80 against God’s will so much as is the harvest

    che fa il cor de’ monaci sì folle; 81 that turns the hearts of monks to madness.

    ché quantunque la Chiesa guarda, tutto 82 ‘For whatever the Church has in its keeping

    è de la gente che per Dio dimanda; 83 is reserved for those who ask it in God’s name,

    non di parenti né d’altro più brutto. 84 and not for kindred or more vile relations.

    La carne d’i mortali è tanto blanda, 85 ‘The flesh of mortals is so weak and dissolute

    che giù non basta buon cominciamento 86 that good beginnings go astray down there, undone

    dal nascer de la quercia al far la ghianda. 87 before the newly planted oak can bring forth acorns.

    Pier cominciò sanz’ oro e sanz’ argento, 88 ‘Peter started his community with neither gold

    e io con orazione e con digiuno, 89 nor silver, and I mine with fasting and with prayer,

    e Francesco umilmente il suo convento; 90 while Francis with humility established his.

    e se guardi ‘l principio di ciascuno, 91 ‘If you consider where each started out,

    poscia riguardi là dov’ è trascorso, 92 and then consider how far it now has strayed,

    tu vederai del bianco fatto bruno. 93 you shall see how dark its white has turned.

    Veramente Iordan vòlto retrorso 94 ‘Still, the sight of Jordan driven back and of the sea

    più fu, e ‘l mar fuggir, quando Dio volse, 95 that opened at the will of God were greater wonders

    mirabile a veder che qui ‘l soccorso.” 96 to behold than would be His intervention here.’

    Così mi disse, e indi si raccolse 97 This he said to me, and then withdrew

    al suo collegio, e ‘l collegio si strinse; 98 to his companions, who, drawing close together,

    poi, come turbo, in sù tutto s’avvolse. 99 now swirled up as in a whirlwind.

    St Benedict’s departure seems sharp and it’s alarming that the man who “invented Christendom” would speak so disturbingly of the state of the Church. Can’t blame him if he’s saying the same today. But Benedict does end on a high note, saying something smaller than the liberation of the Jews from bondage (Jordan and the Sea) would be sufficient. Makes me think that there is something providential in the tearing down of old walls (by earthquake or other) and the rebuilding of new ones respecting the original intent. I’m so glad and actually in awe of these good men in Norcia who are certainly not making the Rule of St Benedict a “waste of paper” but a beautiful charter to holiness. As I see the spiritual corruption in our Church (including and especially in myself), I feel reinvigorated by learning about the Monks at Norcia. Thank God for St Benedict, thank God for these men and thank God for their excellent beer.

  5. Fallibilissimo says:

    I apologize if the text is hard to read, I thought it would come out more clearly…

  6. e se guardi ‘l principio di ciascuno,
    poscia riguardi là dov’ è trascorso,
    tu vederai del bianco fatto bruno.

    If you consider where each started out,
    and then consider how far it now has strayed,
    you shall see how dark its white has turned.

    The story of our days in the Church.

    But these are the days into which God has called us. There must be a reason.

    I am reminded of Fr. Rutler’s latest pastor’s page. He reacts to how St. Patrick’s Day is celebrated now and remarks that Ireland has now been called the Most Anti-Catholic Country in the world. Continuing…

    This is a warning to Catholics in the United States, because such is what happens when religion is only a political and ethnic sentiment. The Saint Patrick’s Day parade in New York City has become a bibulous charade of Saint Patrick. While contingents advertise their contempt for his Gospel, Nigerians honor Saint Patrick in a different way. A few weeks ago, Nigerian soldiers under attack by the Islamic terrorists of Boko Haram did not masquerade as leprechauns drinking green beer. In a Zambiza forest, they knelt and chanted as their chaplain raised aloft for adoration the same Blessed Sacrament with which Patrick had faced the Druids.

    I posted about the Nigerians HERE.