Scroll to the bottom for Fr. Meinrad’s “6 Tips”
A few years back, in October of 2014, two priests that I greatly admired passed away within a few weeks of each other: Fr. Benedict Groeschel, CFR, and Msgr. Lorezno Albacete. Both of these men visited the Abbey on several occasions, and helped me to see the value of my own spirituality as a Benedictine monk.
Fr. Benedict did doctoral studies in Freudian psychoanalysis at Columbia University. He spent his life helping the poor, both those materially poor and the spiritually poor. A friend of Saint Teresa of Calcutta, Fr. Benedict used his training as a psychologist to help countless people grow in their spiritual lives. He helped co-found the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal, an order that strives to live authentic Gospel lives. He made three visits to the Abbey and college, always encouraging me in my own Benedictine life.
Msgr. Lorenzo Albacete, a native of Puerto Rico, did advanced studies in aerospace engineering and worked as a scientist before following his vocation to the priesthood. He later would receive a Doctorate in Theology, and become close personal friends with Saint John Paul II. Msgr. visited our campus six times between 2002-2006. In all of those visits I was encouraged by his words. He had discovered and become involved with Communion and Liberation (CL), the Italian Catholic group founded by Msgr. Luigi Giussani, whose co-patron is Saint Benedict.
In becoming friends with these two men, and hosting them on their visits to our Abbey, I came to realize an important lesson. They broadened my horizons in regard to the larger church, but they also deeply respected the wisdom of St. Benedict. Both of these men had a great love of humanity, of Christ, and of the Church. And they both had a wonderful sense of humor.
St. Benedict himself, I am sure, would be delighted to use the wisdom of these two. The very last chapter of his Rule basically tells us to not become satisfied with the bare minimum, but to allow the whole tradition of the church to guide us. In that chapter St. Benedict encourages those interested in growing in their spiritual journey to not just read the Rule, but also Scriptures, the Church Fathers, and other monks. I think if St. Benedict were alive he would also include in that list Fr. Benedict Groeschel, and Msgr. Lorenzo Albacete.
6 Tips for Growing in Holiness
As monks, we take a vow of Conversatio Morum; principally, St. Benedict is telling us to grow in holiness each day. As you strive after holiness, here are a few tips to help you along the way:
Be mindful every day of God’s work in your life. Take time to examine your conscience to see both the blessings in your life, and areas where you can request God’s light and grace.
Participate in the Mass and the Liturgy of the Hours. It is not what we do, but what God does in us in the liturgy. The monks take time in our Mass and the Liturgy of the Hours to pray slowly and allow the Word of God to reach deep into our hearts.
Read. The final chapter of St. Benedict’s Rule is all about reading the Scriptures, the Church Fathers, the early Monks. People often tell me that reading good material helps their spiritual life. I highly recommend the works of Msgr. Lorenzo Albacete and Fr. Benedict Groeschel.
Work on doing good deeds (RB 4) in humility (RB 7) and with Good Zeal (RB 73). These chapters really define “fidelity to the monastic life,” one of the vows of Benedictine monks. When we do good deeds in humility and with good zeal, then we are no longer lukewarm.
Take time for silence. Our noisy world would have us plugged in for hours with the outside world. Take time to be silent, and to just be.
Always see Christ in those around you. Saint Mother Teresa spoke of the five-finger Gospel: You did it to me. Do not be afraid to allow God to work through you to bring His divine mercy to the world.