Monday, July 11, 2005
Feast of St. Benedict of Nursia  

Today, the Church celebrates the feast of St. Benedict of Nursia (480 - 547). Through his establishment of twelve monastaries, he is considered the Founder of Western monastacism. Later his order, in his honor, became known as the Benedictines. His twin sister, St. Scholastica, was very devoted to him. After the founding of his monastary in Mount Cassion, she founded a convent about five miles distant from the monastary. It seems that, although St. Scholastica was the abbess, the convent was under St. Benedict. Thus, the nuns of Plombariola are considered the first Benedictine nuns.

St. Gregory the Great who has provided a biography of St. Benedict relates an ancedote about the last meeting between St. Benedict and his holy sister. It illustrates the power of prayer, how God cares about our "small" needs, and also His sense of humor.
[St. Scholastica] visited her holy brother once a year, and as she was not allowed to enter his monastery, he went out with some of his monks to meet her at a house at some small distance. They spent these visits in the praises of God, and in conferring together on spiritual matters.

[During what would be their last visit,] Scholastica having passed the day as usual in singing psalms and pious discourse, they sat down in the evening to take their refection. After it was over, Scholastica, perhaps foreknowing it would be their last interview in this world, or at least desirous of some further spiritual improvement, was very urgent with her brother to delay his return till the next day, that they might entertain themselves till morning upon the happiness of the other life. St. Benedict, unwilling to transgress his rule, told her he could not pass a night out of his monastery, so desired her not to insist upon such a breach of monastic discipline. Scholastica finding him resolved on going home, laying her hands joined upon the table, and her head upon them, with many tears, begged of Almighty God to interpose in her behalf. Her prayer was scarce ended when there happened such a storm of rain, thunder, and lightning, that neither St. Benedict nor any of his companions could set a foot out of doors. He complained to his sister, saying, "God forgive you, sister; what have you done?" She answered, "I asked you a favour, and you refused it me; I asked it of Almighty God, and he has granted it me."

St. Benedict was therefore obliged to comply with her request, and they spent the night in conferences on pious subjects, chiefly on the felicity of the blessed, to which both most ardently aspired, and which she was shortly to enjoy. The next morning they parted, and three days after St. Scholastica died in her solitude. St. Benedict was then alone in contemplation on Mount Cassino, and lifting up his eyes to heaven, he saw the soul of his sister ascending thither in the shape of a dove. Filled with joy at her happy passage, he gave thanks for it to God, and declared her death to his brethren, some of whom he sent to bring her corpse to his monastery, where he caused it to be laid in the tomb which he had prepared for himself.

Posted by David at 8:00 AM  |  Comments (0)  | Link


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