The contemplative life according to St. Hildegard of Bingen – Part One

It should be remembered that until now the Church has always encouraged contemplative life for religious men and women. The separation from the world to religious life constitutes a state of perfect life and is necessary for the Mystici corporis Christi  (The Mystical Body of Christ) as a manifestation of one’s holiness and as a permanent source of grace.

The sanctuary of the cloisters of female contemplative life has been violated by the latest stipulations issued by the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life. The Apostolic Constitution Vultum Dei Quaerere on womens contemplative life [June 29, 2016], and Cor Orans [April 1, 2018] the “Implementing Instruction of the Apostolic Constitution for “Vultum Dei” on Women’s Contemplative Life, as was explained in an Italian article by Veronica Rasponi “La distruzione dei Monasteri femminili”[The Destruction of Women’s Monasteries – our translation can be read here], published in «Corrispondenza Romana» on October 10th last, states that the sole purpose of the Apostolic Constitution was to cause harm to the founding principles of cloistered monasteries, and to the juridical autonomy (sui iuris) of each monastery.  Corrispondenza Romana call’s it the ‘Sovietisation’ of the monasteries.

It should be remembered that until now the Church has always encouraged contemplative life for religious men and women. The separation from the world to religious life constitutes a state of perfect life and is necessary for the Mystici corporis Christi  (The Mystical Body of Christ) as a manifestation of one’s holiness and as a permanent source of grace.

However, the enclosure regime means a separation from the world, and not from the society that the nuns support with their prayer and penance. Pius XII in the encyclical Sacra Virginitas of March 25, 1954, explains that the renunciation of the world by nuns, protected by enclosure, is not the equivalent of social desertion, but rather allows a wider service to be given to the Church and society.


The same Pius XII, in his Apostolic Constitution Sponsa Christi of 21 November 1950, foresaw a birth of the federations of monasteries, as an instrument to help revitalise  the life of some monastic communities which, following the war, had found themselves isolated and in difficulties. The experience did not turn out to be a happy one and should have imposed an abandonment of these forms of structures, by contrast under the pontificate of Pope Bergoglio it has increase exponentially, delivering a mortal blow to the institutions of female monasteries.

The word “monastery” enters into the Italian language during the first half of the XIII century, from the late Latin monastērĭum, from the Greek word μοναστήριον, of μοναστήριοςmonasterios from μονάζεινmonazein “to live alone” from the root μόνοςmonos “alone” (all Christian monks were originally hermits); the suffix “-terion” indicates a “place for doing something”. The earliest extant use of the term monastērion is by the Alexandrian philosopher Judaeus Philo On The Contemplative Life, ch. III.

The monastery, therefore, by its very nature, must be a place of solitude (separation from the profane world), of silence (care of the intimacy of the soul with the divine realities), of prayer (communication of the soul with the Most Holy Trinity and the Virgin Mary), these persona’s, have always been the pillars upon which the very fabric of the claustral life was founded on.

But it is evident that the emergence of the “Federation of monasteries”, “Association of monasteries” and the “Confederation of monasteries” is a calculated obtrusion inflicted by the Vatican, which inevitably, undermine with the addition of an irregular hybridisation of external influences that are now present in every single cloisters – it is being perceived by many religious as a sort of “globalisation” connecting different monastic charisms (in this manner they become less and less monastic and are steadily absorbed by the diktats that are foreign to the abbey’s), furthermore the disperse and confusing “refresher courses” – eventuate the suffocation and repression of the sacred independence that the Church, in its wisdom, had until now defended the custody and protection of every single consecrated soul.

The life of the cloister is a self-giving to the Bridegroom Jesus, which implies transcending the world to set out on a privileged path of greater communion with God and, precisely by virtue of this communion, the nun, bride of Christ, intercedes for the people who live in society and for the redemption of souls. A mission, that is irreplaceable.

The Cor Orans document concerns all monasteries and its application was immediate from the moment of its publication (April 1, 2018). “The provisions of the Apostolic Constitution Vultum Dei quaerere for all the monasteries concerning their obligation to enter a Federation of monasteries also apply to other structures of communion such as the Association of monasteries or the Conference of monasteries;” “This obligation also applies to monasteries associated with a male institute or gathered as an autonomous monastic congregation;” “Individual monasteries must comply with this within one year of the publication of these Instructions, unless they have been legitimately dispensed;” «Once this period has elapsed, this Dicastery will assign monasteries to one of the Federations or to other existing structures of communion».

In the course of the history of the Church, when the places of contemplation have dwindled, the saints have reacted with force and determination to restore the reality that in the world represents a more perfect connection between heaven and earth, respecting the chronological order, of the teachings of three saints who made the contemplative life the sole reason for their existence, acting and reforming what did not work and thus becoming an exemplar prototype and teacher for the Church: Saint Hildegard of Bingen, Saint Clare of Assisi, Saint Teresa of Avila.

Doctor of the Church Hildegard von Bingen O.S.B. (1098- † 17 Sept., 1179), a Benedictine nun and abbess, was unyielding in bringing back prelates onto the right path, monks and nuns who transgressed the dictates of Tradition. A spokesperson of God, who admonished and taught by divine command. With regard to Hermann I von Arbon, O.S.B. († 20 Nov. 1165), Bishop of Konstanz [Constance], his cry of solicitous conversion is

Herman I von Arbon Bishop of Constance
Hermann von Arbon

manifest in order to be saved and to guide others to salvation: “Many workers [in the building of the Church] come to you and seek the narrow and narrow path. But you – according to the disposition of your heart – speak with magniloquent presumption and arouse indignation in their hearts. Turn from the darkness to the right way and enlighten the spirit of your heart so that the Father of everything does not turn to you saying: «You, mad, why do you go up on a support that you have not built?». For the day will throw in the darkness that man whose work does not follow the right path” (Gronau, E., 1991. Hildegard von Bingen, Stein am Rhein: Christiana Verl. p. 398).

Hildegard’s peregrination from one monastery to another, giving life and realism to the tired, dejected and demotivated in the face of arrogance of those with civil or ecclesiastical authority, who kept them in check using power and money. But in spite of the distortions and sins of men in the beloved Church, Hildegard did not lose her hope or her conviction. She not only took care of the great sinners in the Church, she also gave life to those who, for example, the abbess Sofia of the Benedictine monastery of Kitzingen, who felt tired and had wanted to abdicate her office.

This prophetess of the Church, therefore, helped individual children to rediscover, their own responsibility be they little or great, the vigour’s of the Faith and the beauty of working for the Kingdom of God. The echo’s of this teacher, who brought a new and healthy ferment, salt and flavour to the different ecclesiastical realities, which then spread throughout Europe.  

She urged the strengthening of the soul and bear the burden’s of work and of one’s duties; she called them to combat, inviting them to go against the will of the ecclesiastical and/or the civil authorities who argued against contemplative life according to the will of God. Se wrote to the abbess Sophia: “Accept these words by virtue of the true vision of the divine mysteries! O daughter, born of the man’s rib when God created man! Why do you incessantly suffer pain, so that your spirit is like the variable clouds carried by the storm, now it is clear how the light then suddenly darkens? This is your spirit because of the scandalous customs of those who do not shine before God. But you say: ‘I want a little peace, I want to make myself a place where the heart can find refuge, where the soul is at peace’. O daughter, it is not a merit before God to throw away the burden and abandon the flock, for your heart does not shine in that weakness which causes you so much pain because of the innocence of earthly life. You, on the other hand, must live because God’s grace wants it. So watch yourself from getting away from it and letting your spirit wander. May God help you, so that you may be alert in pure knowledge!”(Gronau, E., 1991. Hildegard von Bingen, Stein am Rhein: Christiana Verl., p.p. 383-384).

She sustained the weak and the wavering, at the same time she responded to the heretics, particularly the Cathars, and solved detailed and difficult theological questions that bishops, abbots and monks had placed on them. She submitted to the Lord the questions that were asked of her and the Light, which had from her childhood always accompanied her, presented her with the visions in which she received the answers. From Paris they wrote to have explanations, as did the Magister Odo of Cheriton († c. 1246), who at the Synod of Trier had heard Pope Eugene III read aloud the pages of the work of Edward Scivias, and for this reason wanted to get in touch with the author, at the end of solving the theological diatribe of those who denied that God is fatherhood and divinity together.

St. Hildegard’s relations with the Bishops of Trier were excellent, both with Bishop Hillin de Falemagne († October 23, 1169) and with Arnaut I de Vaucourt († May 25, 1183). There was a special bond that linked them to the Benedictine monastery of St. Eucharius [St. Matthias Abbey in Trier], the oldest in Germany. The life of the bishop-princes were extremely complex, their power divided between the temporal and the spiritual; the prince-bishop being both a bishop and civil ruler of a secular principality and suzerainty.

Their divided consciences were petitioned by the prophetic voice of the “Holy Mother” as it was called, to which Archbishop Hillin of Falmagne († October 23, 1169) pleading, as a “sinner”, to have some droplets of her words as spiritual comfort for his soul.  Hillin had engaged in correspondence with Hildegard, having approached her for advice and under his auspices had visited Trier, to preached a stern sermon to the clergy and people thereof.

Mother Hildegard did not allow herself to procrastinate: «So wisdom resounds and says: this is the lukewarm weather of the donnicciole […]. [ed. donnicciola: a fishwife, or woman of humble condition, or mean, ignorant: gossip; a sissy or a man with weak fearful disposition]. But now listen, o shepherd: divine justice holds you firmly because the grace of God has not penetrated you in vain. However, when you undertake a good work, you tire quickly. Even when, summoned to the festive Mass, leading in prayer, you soon tire [ed. that is, during the Mass his mind wandered and his temporal thoughts intruded.]. […]. The tower is assigned to you [ed. the diocese]. Protect the tower and cause the whole city not to be ruined and destroyed. So watch out, keep the discipline with an iron sceptre and educate yourself. Grease the wounds of those who have entrusted themselves to you». Hildegard spoke of the negligence, corruption and misuse of power by the clergymen; her words regarding the hierarchy of the Church were anything but reassuring: she unrelentingly denounced the evils present in the church and her words reverberate like thunder within it.

Corrupt Clergy
Corrupt Bishops and Clergy…

So corrupt was the situation, both from a doctrinal and moral point of view, of the dioceses and monasteries in Germany, that the Lord allowed her to leave the cloister to reproach those who did not do their duty. On her first long journey, which she achieved when she was almost sixty years old, she had crossed the entire region of the Main River to Bamberg and Steigerwald (1158-1159). In 1160, during an illness that lasted three years, he reached the mountainous region of Hunsrück towards Trier, descending the Moselle to Metz, in the Lotaringia towards Krauftal, near Saverne.

Journey Made by Hildegard von Bingen Between 1158-1171 A.D.,
Journey Made by Hildegard von Bingen Between 1158-1171 A.D.

The third journey (1161-1163) led her to travel the Rhine in the direction of Cologne; then she reached Werden on the Rurh and, probably, Liege. Later she was seized by another disease that lasted three years, forcing her to bed and between 1170 and 1171 undertook the last journey of her life, in Swabia, above Maulbronn, Hirsau, Kircheim, up to Zwiefalten. It took a lot of physical and mental effort to scold monks and nuns, abbots and abbesses in an attempt to re-establish monastic discipline and order. Alas, it was not enough, she publicly preached conversion and penance, she did it on the road she travelled, in the marketplaces of the cities she visited, or in the great churches, in front of the clergy and the faithful.

This is what the Lord requires and this she willingly gives, remaining a cloistered nun, despite serving an itinerant apostolate, aimed at healing, with rigour, those who have been gravely and dramatically led astray. And her labours produced the prodigious fruits of a return to the spiritual and ecclesiastical order for the good of the Church and of civilisation, according to what is due to our Creator.

The destruction of female Monasteries

A literal or metaphrase (word-for-word) translation by a Hermit of Saint Bruno of the article “La distruzione dei Monasteri femminili” by Veronica Rasponi of Corrispondenza Romana.

monache di clausura
The Clarisse of Terni behind their enclosure.

(by Veronica Rasponi) The destruction of the female Monasteries is under way. Ever since the constitution on the contemplative life Vultum Dei quaerere appeared on 29 June 2016, The Corrispondenza Romana has denounced the program of the “sovietisation” of the Monasteries.

Now a further step have been taken by the Cor Orans instruction on the contemplative life of women, on April 1, 2018, which constitutes an application of the previous document. Few, with the exception of Vatican expert Aldo Maria Valli, who has dedicated three articles to this topic on his blog, have been aware of the gravity of the danger.

It should be remembered that the Church has always encouraged the contemplative life of religious men and women. The separation from the world of religious life constitutes a state of perfect life and is necessary for the Mystical Body of Christ as a manifestation of one’s holiness and as a permanent source of grace.

One of the main characteristics of the monastic communities was their legal configuration. According to the Church’s tradition, female monasteries are sui juris, i.e., autonomous and independent houses in relation to their internal regime.

The only form of dependency that they have is that from the bishop or, in some cases, from the superior of the male branch of the same order. This configuration reflects the proprium of each monastery, which is the separation from profane society. Monaco (monk) means “only”: solitude, and prayer are the pillars on which every monastery lives.

However, the enclosure regime means a separation from the world, not from the society that the nuns support with their prayer and penance. Thus Pius XII in the encyclical Sacra Virginitas of March 25, 1954, explains that the renunciation of the world of nuns, protected by enclosure, is not equivalent to social desertion, but rather allows a wider service given to the Church and society.

The same Pius XII, with the Apostolic Constitution Sponsa Christi of 21 November 1950, foresaw the birth of federations of monasteries, as an instrument to help the life of some monastic communities which, following the war, had found themselves isolated and in material difficulties. The experience did not turn out to be happy and would have suggested the abandonment of these structures, which instead under the pontificate of Pope Francis have multiplied, affecting a mortal blow to the female monasteries.

The new discipline envisaged by Cor Orans wants to suppress any form of legal autonomy, to create macro-communities presented as “structures of communion”. A series of bureaucratic and cumbersome organizations are born, which the Pontifical Instruction punctiliously lists.

We have the Federation of monasteries, because “in the sharing of the same charism the federated monasteries overcome isolation and promote regular observance and contemplative life” (n.7); the Association of monasteries, because “in sharing the same charism, the associated monasteries collaborate with each other” (No. 8); the Conference of monasteries, “in order to promote contemplative life and to foster collaboration among monasteries in particular geographical or linguistic contexts” (No. 9): the Confederation, as a “connecting structure between federations of monasteries for the study of topics related to the contemplative life in relation to the same charism, to give a unitary direction and a certain coordination to the activity of the single Federations »(n.10); the International Commission, as a “centralized body of service and study for the benefit of the nuns of the same Institute, for the study of themes relating to the contemplative life in relation to the same charism” (No. 11). Finally, we have the monastic Congregation, which is a “structure of government among several autonomous monasteries of the same Institute, under the authority of a President who is Superior Superior and of a general chapter which is the highest authority in the monastic Congregation” (No. 12). Missing only the Federal Assembly. Recites n. 133: “The communion that exists between the monasteries becomes visible in the Federal Assembly, a sign of unity in charity that has the primary task of protecting the charismatic patrimony of the Institute among the federated monasteries and promoting an adequate renewal that harmonizes with it. except that no Federation of monasteries of nuns or Confederation of federations represents the entire Institute “.

Membership of these bureaucratic bodies is mandatory. In the final provisions of Cor Orans it is specified that “what is laid down in the Apostolic Constitution Vultum Dei quaerere for all the monasteries about the obligation to enter a Federation of monasteries also applies to another structure of communion such as the Association of monasteries or the Conference of monasteries”.

With the obligation of having to belong to these structures the monasteries lose, de facto even if not de iure, their autonomy to flow into an anonymous mass of macro-communities within which they organise training courses, debates, refresher meetings, moments of comparison that will see the nuns enter and leave the monasteries to live in a situation of perennial psychological and material instability.

Each community is called to develop a systematic and integral permanent formation program that embraces the whole person’s existence. The sisters need this “ongoing formation” to cultivate “the spiritual, doctrinal and professional capacity, the updating and maturation of the contemplative, so that it can carry out its service to the monastery, to the Church and to the world in an increasingly adequate manner.” (No. 236).

Every nun “is encouraged to take responsibility for her own human, Christian and charismatic growth, through the project of personal life, dialogue with the sisters of the monastic community and in particular with her major Superior” (No. 237).

The responsibility of formation belongs to the Major Superior, “who promotes the ongoing formation of the community through the Conventual Chapter, the days of retreat, the annual spiritual exercises, the sharing of the word of God, periodic revisions of life, recreations in common, days of study, personal dialogue with the sisters, fraternal meetings” (No. 238).

In order to guarantee this formation, the same papal enclosure is in fact abolished, because it also gives permission to enter the monastery to those whose skills are necessary for formation (No. 203), or to create chaos within the community.

The key words are “overcoming isolation” (n.7), “dynamic fidelity to one’s own charism” (n.70), the “undeniable value of communion” (n.86). Where these elements are missing, the monasteries can be suppressed. In those who survive, the atmosphere of peace, recollection and order that has reigned there has to be destroyed. Those who live in monasteries and those who aspire to enter it you have been warned.

At one time the nuns longed for diocesan canonical recognition and then for the pontifical recognition as the supreme guarantee of the stability of their life in common. Today, those who aspire to contemplative life and do not want to lose their vocation will be better oriented towards the establishment of de facto religious associations, independent of ecclesiastical authority, taking care not to ask for that canonical recognition that would mark the end of their spiritual life. (Veronica Rasponi)

Historically the Vatican has already caused its own version of the protestant led dissolution of monasteries.  The Sisters of Auerbach in Germany, the contemplative sisters of Saint John a French Catholic community founded by Fr Marie-Dominique Philippe at Fribourg in Switzerland, and the 15 dissolved cloisters of the Franciscan Sisters of the Immaculate in Italy. With a Rescriptum ex Audientia: prior consultation with the Holy See for the erection of diocesan institutes, 20.05.2016, which was made public only last May 11th, Pope Francis has revoked the previously sui iuris in church history of the right of a diocesan bishops to recognise a new religious community. The approval of the Holy See was given on June 1. With this Rescript, Francis noted that the establishment of an order by a diocesan bishop without the prior consent of Rome will be considered as null and void. [Editor]


A Testimony to Eremitical Life

His simple way of speaking did not remember the charismatic fire of the Old Testament prophets or the one that one imagines would have existed in some great saints of history. No, none of that; I had met a man in whom

Translated from Spanish to English CuadMon 10 (1969) pp. 129-140.  

There are some unusual references that seem to be out of place such as the saying by the hermit “Yo soy un Pedro de Alcántara – I’m a Peter of Alcantara” to which we can attribute no reason.  Translations can be difficult at times and on this occasion it was decided to leave the comment unaltered in the hope that someone could shed light on it.  The article was originally entitled “Un testimonio de vida eremítica” in CuadMon 10 (1969) pp. 129-140.




I took a path on the edge of a ravine that led to an abyss in the hill. The sun had recently appeared in the mountains and sometimes shone my way. As I climbed I left behind the sounds of civilisation and only heard the birds singing and the beating of my heart when I stopped. There were natural forests, rocks and sometimes some poplars that indicated a source of water. As I climbed, I said, I hope I finds him in his hermitage before he has gone to work on the fences. When I reached the summit, I saw a little house on the distance slope. It was built on the undulating landscape, overgrown with thorns as though to protect it from intruders, completely distant, solitary and silent. Suddenly I heard the bark of a dog. I said to myself: “I hope I do not get bitten by the hermit’s dog.” But at that moment there was a human ululation that silenced the dog. It was a local muleteer, from the manner of his idiolect, who was leading some animals. At that very moment, I made out another hut, somewhat further away. Leaving me in doubt as to which of the two would be the hermitage; I went to the first one I had seen. When I got there I understood that this was what I had been looking for. It was locked with an old style padlock, a small cross on the roof, painted green, a fireplace, I could smell of recent smoke from burnt logs, it was all in all a very small square house, some dry wood was stacked by the door: and that, was all. After some time, I made my way to the other house I had seen, which was in front of me, 800 meters away I could make out voices, probably from some muleteers. What did they think, who lived no less as little hermits themselves, about their professional neighbour? I wanted to ask them. When I arrived, another dog barked at me.


There were two men rigging mules; One was striking one of them. I greeted and introduced myself. We talked about their work: they sold firewood in the village: six hours of travel each day round trip. The sale of firewood was not very profitable at the moment because it was not cold yet and people did not buy much. What they earned was barely enough to live on, even more so with the cost of things nowadays. “Have you lived here for a long time?” I asked. “About five years, we arrived three years before the father who lives at the hermitage. And we like to live here.”  “You are hermits too,” I told them. But they did not respond, “And what do you think of the father’s life?” “It’s his choice!” = Replied one immediately. “He himself built his hut and works mending fences; He built a very long stone cairn that climbs up there on the hill. Since the owner of the other farm did not want to set the boundary, he did it. Hard work!”  I told him that the drought seemed like God’s punishment “Of course!” He replied. “because now people do no believe in anything! The father has to go around mending fences; Maybe he’ll come to his hut later. If you want, continue on this path and you will find him on the way, if not, wait for him by his hut. Yesterday I saw him with a pole on his shoulder and today I saw his fresh footsteps near the water springhead. I hope the water does not dry out with this drought,” he added. When I said goodbye I asked the name. “Ah!” He answered me. “And you?” I asked the other. But the first one replied: “It’s my brother, P.A.” He immediately asked me: “You. know the player P.A., on the first team of the U? It’s his son!” He finished with a certain amount of pride. I then started to look for the Father. No signs of him. I even lost the orientation of his hermitage. In the distance, the sound of an airplane could be heard. On top of a post I saw the remains of fresh meat and a number of feathers on the ground: perhaps a bird of prey had satiated its previous night’s hunger a few moments ago. Great silence and loneliness. Finally I spotted the hermitage again. I went there and sat down to wait. It was close to noon. Some advancing clouds where rolling down the mountain range which could be the first rain of this year. The drought had cracked the land in some places.  Eremo San PacomioAt about midday of the day, I heard noise behind me; A door was opened. I turned and saw a man I was looking for, he was as thin as a rake and tall his deportment was one of serenity and irreproachability which radiated from his very person.  He wore a blue shirt and trousers; on his face a white sideburns with several days of growth. He looked at me curiously. He left some tools on the floor. I greeted him and identified myself. He invited me to his hermitage and offered me lunch.  “I have rice! want some?”

“The other meal would take about two hours,” he said, showing me some beans that he took out of a package. “ I have a good stomach and I can eat anything,” I replied. “I will make rice then” he concluded. With elongated gestures he began to move and look for what he needed for the meal. From a rock that was part of the interior of the hermitage, he removed a cover that hid a crack in the rock and that was used to store things to eat. “I spend eight dollars a month,” he said, beginning to pull things out of the hole in the rock. “An apple for everyone” he said loudly. “Bread, this bread must be older than a week, because I brought it from the monastery last Sunday and who knows when it was bought to the monastery”. (My visit to the hermit took place on a Friday). “But, if you want, we’ll toast it; so it is better.” “Good”. I answered. I forgot to mention that the upper part of the rock served as an altar. He also took some oil and pepper. I, noted to myself, while I was taking notes — I had told him beforehand why I was doing this — he was not so poorly provisioned; there was not an abundance, but at least he had the essentials; It was a sign, that gave me the impression, that this hermit did not despise his own life, but with all simplicity put himself at the service of God in solitude. He built a fire, always with prolonged movements. Water from a demijohn to a pot, rice and other ingredients. Everything prepared quietly. Then he put some water in a jar for tea. “There are two tea bags here,” he said, putting them on a small table by his wooden pallet bed. He removed another cover in the stone recess and the silverware appeared. There were several books on the table. A copy of the Old Testament in Hebrew.

While the food was being prepared and washed, we started talking. I would like to stay here until the end of my life, unless something particular comes along like communism and I have to leave. Before arriving here, I met with your neighbours, I said. Yes, the A., he answered; Did you know, he continued, that P.A. Is the son of one of the player? When I arrived here, they lived near the water fountain. Every time I went for water, their dogs would bark at me. I did not like their presence, and since the farm did not need them and I needed silence and solitude, I asked them to leave. They moved house, to where they are now. I would definitely like them to leave. So they are not very close friends of yours? I asked. No, he said smiling. At that moment he got up and took the pot out of the fire: Brother X told me that it was necessary to leave the rice ten minutes out of the fire before eating it, he said. The conversation continued. He had been in monastic life for 23 years and a year and a half as a hermit here. I came to this country to be a hermit. In the monastery of my country of origin, there was too much noise and upheaval because they were rebuilding the monastery. But do not think that my reasons for becoming a hermit was because of the noise. I had set my heart on becoming a hermit many years ago. I believe that I am better suited to the eremitic life than to community life. I think my inherent qualities are hermitic by nature. Suddenly he exclaimed, rice is ready! He offered me the pot to serve me on my plate; I took some rice out and I was struck by the wonderful smell of rice. Nice aroma! I said.  Yes, yes, he replied, I am a competent cook.

St. Peter of Alcantara

I’m a Peter of Alcantara; It is enough penance having to eat pure rice almost every day, he concluded calmly. Then he poured hot water into the tea pot. Here is the sugar, he said, passing me a jar. We continued talking after he blessed the food. I celebrate Mass every day and concelebrate every Sunday at the monastery. Visitors? No! You are the first this year, last year I was visited by a Spanish priest. I have asked the monks of the monastery not to mention me to their guests. But as you came, let us give thanks to God. I chose this place because it is very quiet and there is a water supply nearby. There is a lot of work to do here, and I can do it perfectly and better than a salaried worker; You know how it is when you have no one to watch over you! Here I spend my life and there are weeks when I do not see anyone. In the morning I work fences and in the afternoon I read, I pray, I contemplate, I study. My Superior comes every week to see me and has lunch with me. He spends one hour here. It’s up to him. Usually when he makes his weekly retreat day he come here to do a spiritual conference

with me. But lately since he returned from Europe he has not come. Do I like the animals that walk around here? Yes. I think a rabbit used to eat all food scraps that I used leave outside every night. I’ve never seen the rabbit. But one day  because of a hunter, he must have taken flight, as he never came back. On another day I was by the water fountain when suddenly a fox approached me only about two meters away, but then fled hastily. If I had owned a rifle I would have had several foxes hanging from the roof of my house.  – He spoke with total tranquility – But more than animals I like geology and poetry. I like the Jesuit poet Fr. Gerard Manley Hopkins SJ more than Gabriela Mistral. I have tried to read Pablo Neruda, but my Spanish does not enable it. I read “Condorito” [little condor] but I thought it was another comic magazine, and he pointed out one that was on the table … it is far better because the author reveals a great knowledge of the psychology of contemporary man. But of course more than poetry I am interested in Sacred Scripture. I studied it for three years at the Biblical Institute and one year at the Angelicum in Rome. I taught it for four years at the monastery of my country of origin, until I decided to become a hermit. Then, I came, to this country, because my monastery had made a monastic foundation here.

I believe that the eremitical life has great prospects in the future. I think, also, that, relatively, there are many people in monasteries who feel the desire to live as hermits. Sometimes you cannot pray, think and live without some tensions in a monasteries. When one wishes to become a hermit, he often has to ignore the unpropitious opinions of some of the brothers regarding it; As for me, I think they are happy with my choice now. – Are you asking me about the conditions to be a hermit? Good. A great desire to live with God with a greater intensity than in ordinary life. With prayers that are not only implicit but explicit. I would say that it is a specialisation in prayer. For this I believe that the methods of prayer used by the oriental religions can be of use. And, of course, a very healthy psychological life. Look, mankind usually works and sees the fruits of his labours, but the hermit arrives before God with empty hands. It is a life of faith and love. Regarding what most attracts me to the Gospel, I will tell you that it is the Sermon of the Last Supper by Saint John. Where Jesus calls his disciples his friends. Then, smiling, he added: The Council speaks of servants, but Jesus speaks of friends. At that moment of the conversation, he bent down and took a broom from a corner and began to sweep the ashes off the fire. It is necessary that in the Church there are men who apparently do not do anything useful, he continued. Men who are not involved in the activities that the Church runs. You ask me about prayer! I have no secrets in prayer, I pray like every Christian. I really like the book “Spiritual Letters” by Dom John Chapman, an English Benedictine.


It seems to me that the difference in my prayer compared to that of other Christians is that with objectivity I commit more time to prayer, although subjectively a Christian in the world can pray just as I do. – The changes in the Church? The eremitical life is separate from the changes in the Church. It is essentially the same as in the Middle Ages or at its beginnings. I receive a magazines that informs me what is happening in the Church and in the world. There is a great change and many people are confused. I pray that people have light in the midst of current problems. Now, I consider it necessary for every Christian to know what is happening in the Church and in the world; I also consider it a necessity for the hermit, although I do not think it is necessary for him to dedicate himself to finding solutions to the problems. In my prayer I am very aware of the priests, because I know of the problems the current priesthood has and I have also known some difficult cases first hand. It is true that there is a tradition in the Church that considers monastic life as an angelic life, but today it seems necessary for monks to know all about these problems. As for the most important thing in the renewal of religious life, it seems to me, that it has to rediscover the evangelical spirit that encouraged the founder and for that spirit to adapt to the 20th century … of course this is a little vague! I believe that the eremitical life has the possibility of joining God almost in the same manner of angels, without the noises of monasteries and their distractions. Saying this, he got up, took a crude fly swatter that had a piece of rubber tied at the end, homemade, of course, and killed some flies that were on the glass. Who knows from where they entered, since the door and the window were closed. As he sat down again he told me: Flies are the only animals that distract me.

I thought it was time to end the visit and I told him so. Then he apologised if he had been unable to say more. Excuse me, too, if I did not say many things, he added. And finishing his apology, he told me, almost softly: There are other more intelligent hermits, like Father X, and Father Z., who can say things far more profound than I can.

He opened the door of the hermitage, took the pot and we went outside. After a few meters he bent down and began to clean it with water and ash. In Spring this place is very beautiful! It’s all green and parturient cows come here. Every day new calves appear that the cows are giving birth to. When I say goodbye to him, he tells me that he will pray for me and asks me to pray for him. He turned his back on me and returned quietly to his hermitage, as if nothing had happened. I started the return. It was 3 in the afternoon. The clouds had passed by. The sun filled everything again.

ritorna al lavoro

While walking I began to reflect. Evidently he was a very simple man, who loved and liked life; a normal man; neither shy nor extroverted; that loved and sought loneliness. He was not a thinker, he was not an intellectual light, but he was a man who prayed and a man of great common sense and discretion; I remembered that phrase he had told me: I do not have solutions for current problems, nor am I sufficiently informed to issue a categorical answer on problems such as the Vietnam War, the Humanae Vitae, etc. Do your people have an authoritative opinion about Humanae Vitae? I wonder. To make a judgment you must inform yourself first. I know the problems, but before them, I prefer to pray.

His simple way of speaking did not remember the charismatic fire of the Old Testament prophets or the one that one imagines would have existed in some great saints of history. No, none of that; I had met a man in whom the spectacular was not glimpsed. With a man of flesh and bone, with limitations just like every man. With a man whom the Spirit had led to solitude to live peacefully with God praying for his brothers men. The life of faith and love in him was a simple life. To penetrate his life, in the life of the Spirit of Jesus, it had to be done in faith and in love.

A pilgrim.

Recension: The Community and Abbot in the Rule of Saint Benedict

ADALBERT DE VOGÜÉ, La communauté et l’Abbé dans la Règle de saint Benoît; Desclée de Brouwer, 1961.

It would seem anachronistic to present D. de V.’s book, fifty seven years after its publication, in addition to which, we have had the subject dissected and addressed in several prestigious journals in international circulation. Valid as a justification by the fact of having been found virginally intact in some library, or with its pages only half cut and pasted in some other …

D. de V., in his dense introduction, saves us half of the work, when he realises that his purpose is none other than to meditate on the meaning of the relations that mediate between the Abbot and his monks, and of the society that is formed with them (p.11) “Theology of the abbacy and the particular station of the Abbot,” he states sometime later (p.14). The examination of the nucleus aspect, so to speak, of the Rule of Saint Benedict, converged on the axis of evangelical obedience, could not be done without the critical study of the extensive literature that preceded on the same subject. It is here ‘in the first place, where we begin to perceive by what prudent modesty and natural defect of perspective that the author could neither grasp nor manifest. The criticism of the commentators that precede it – and in particular the most modern ones – is of an exceptional objectivity, precisely because the informing criterion of which it consists by filling the hiatus introduced between the Rule and its sources, and it is this aspect, this objectivity in addition to exceptional we would say that it is really “raw”, which places us in front of a brave and faithful book, without ever falling into polemical tone. D. de V . wrote:

St. Benedict

“The spirit with which we approach the RB is by no means the same as our predecessors did … An intense filial piety is the common denominator of all these modern works, mostly the work of Benedictine monks. But the cult that is thus paid to St. Benedict is not without its drawbacks in terms of the exact interpretation of his thought. Often, in fact, veneration leads to magnify its historical role and the scope of its rule. There has been a real inflation here, extremely detrimental to the interpretation of the RB; it is exalted systematically, at the expense of everything that proceeded to it; an innovative intention is lent to its author; it is placed in opposition to all previous legislators or theorists.” (p.15).

Consistent with this severely critical attitude, D. de V. does not hesitate to analyse —  or, more accurately, to question — the notes of the “founder” and the “Roman”, traditionally attributed — and we would almost write “totemically” – to the Patriarch. But, above all, as a methodical patrologist, his review of traditional commentaries — without excepting the most illustrious, some of which inspire him the denomination of “historical novels” — tends to save the disconnection “introduced” between the RB and his sources, which, in his opinion, obeys the desire to “bring the Patriarch closer to us.”  “The Benedictine monasticism of our times,”  D. de V. states, “seeks to justify itself in this way. It is believed that Saint Benedict can be attributed the tendencies that have in fact prevailed. For our part, our preoccupation to edify (in the noblest sense of the term), which could be that of Abbot Paul Delatte OSB, Fr. Alban Butler, Abbot Ildefons Herwegen OSB, must remain alien to the comment we undertake to express. There is no intent on our part, like those great abbots, to extract from the Rule what seems to best suit the possibilities and needs of a contemporary monastery.  And even less, write a “mirror of abbots!” (P.19).

In the same way, driven by the historical rigour of D. de V., we will see other “certainties” disappear.  Thus, for example, that Saint Benedict gave his monastery a “family appearance”  which was missing from the Egyptian monastery, “faithful heir — in this sense —  of Saint Basil.” “This feature, in our opinion, does not characterise the Benedictine community more than that of Pacomio … The ideal of monasticism — continues D. de V. — has not evolved towards a more complete cenobitism, but is still dominated, as in the past, by an eremitical aspiration. It is the misery of men, and care to ensure the minimum of honesty, which have led to the development of common life.” (p. 26)

One could resist the persuasion of D. de V. — a risk, of course, to ignore his erudition, not share their conclusions on these aspects; but no one could fail to recognise, serenely, without obfuscation, that he had seldom heard a language so loyally addicted to the truth without partisanship.

At this point of the question it could be believed that we are in the presence of another iconoclast, and that, following the same method, D. de V. will turn, after the figures, the concepts. None of that. His exegesis of the holy Rule is very far from the spirit of novelty.  Boasting of erudition, it is at the same time boast of fidelity to the “per ducatum Evangelii;”  and if we discover some new approach, it is also situated in the line of fidelity to the “nova et vetera.” Commenting on the two Gospel texts (Luke 10:16 and John 6:38) in which Saint Benedict refers the monastic obedience to Jesus Christ, which sometimes makes the Abbot the  example of the Lord, D. de V. writes this comment evenly and beautiful (which we transcribe by way of example — or indication if you prefer — of that fidelity):

“The first (Luke 10:16) presents Christ as the one who is obeyed. In this perspective, it is the Abbot. His mission is to transmit the divine word, to speak in the name of Christ who sent it. We find here the abbot who was conceived as a ‘vicarious’ authority, as a ‘doctoral’ charisma, as a hierarchical authority … .” 

“The second text (John 6:38) presents Jesus Christ as one who imitates obedience.  In this perspective, Jesus Christ is no longer the one who orders, but the one who obeys: the command word no longer being asked for, but an example of obedience … .” (p. 266)

Was it the critical apparatus or was D. de V.’s stance in front of his predecessors on the subject, so daring in the first approach, which muffled the resonance that this book deserved? Or perhaps it is one of those books written before their time, and intended for future generations? Perhaps his mission consisted in destroying the prisms through which we had habitually become accustomed to “think,” in prefabricated terms, the holy Rule, paving the way for its rediscovery. Opposing the “inflation” which he denounces and highlighting the dependence upon the RB with respect to the RM and its predecessors, far from undermining the merit of the Patriarch and the value of the holy Rule, it is restored in all its authenticity. “Fructus enim lucis est in omni bonitote, et justitia, et veritate  .”

Sollemnitas Sancti Tomás de Villanueva MMXVIII September.
Eremitarum Santa Maria,
Ordo Eremitae Sancti Brunónis

Feastival of Santa Rosalia of Palermo 15-July 2018… to all the Sicilians from Palermo who have emigrated…

We must all make an effort and enter into and adopt a more authentic Gospel process of reasoning.  It teaches us that the place in which we have been placed by God’s will is primarily a service to be carried out for the common good of all, for a better, more humane world and for peaceful coexistence. The concept of service to the common good must be able to precede everything else and prevail over a mentality of profit and gain, for which we often selfishly work toward. This impoverishes us, it makes us petty and detaches us from the reality in which we are engulfed thus preventing us from seeing the face of Christ in our brother who is right next to us.

Homily by the Rev. Fr. Dom. Ugo-Maria  of St. Mary’s Hermitage.

My dear Bishops, brothers in the priesthood, Deacons, Religious, brothers and sisters loved by the Lord and always dear to me!

Perched 1,970 feet above the Tyrrhenian Sea and the city of Palermo, the Grotto Sanctuary of Santa Rosalia on Monte Pellegrino is one of Sicily’s two primary Catholic shrines.  I grew up in the shadows of Monte Pellegrino in Palermo, it was visible from my grandmothers balcony window. Our patron Saint (La Santuzza – The Little Saint) Santa Rosalia († 1166), is known by all who originate from Sicily.  Many years ago on the celebration, called the festino, which is still held each year on July 15, and continues into the next day, I made my first and only pilgrimage to the top of the Mount, bare footed, frankly exhausted yet exhilarated by the achievement and the view was stunning.  As a hermit I had a slight tinge of admiration in Santa Rosalia finding a perfect spot for her desert.  On the cave wall she wrote “I, Rosalia, daughter of Sinibald, Lord of Roses, and Quisquina, have taken the resolution to live in this cave for the love of my Lord, Jesus Christ.”


l'Acchianata a Santa Rosalia.png
Arial View of the Sanctuary

In the churchyard of the Sanctuary of Mount Pellegrino in Palermo, crowded on that day that I made my pilgrimage there were so many people, the sun was glaring, you could hear the people whispering their prayers or singing during the ascent, these are the faithful who never cease to pray to her and who annually bring her their pure and heartfelt devotions, Santa Rosalia welcomes them with her inner story even today, her life and her fervent and passionate witness is palpable to all.

At the front of the Grotto of Mount Pellegrino, in which Santuzza lived in her hermitage in the last years of her earthly life – as evidenced by the discovery of her relics – she passed away on a morning whilst the celestial light that she had always enjoy so much began to enter her cell: “O God, my God, to thee do I watch at break of day. For thee my soul hath thirsted.” (Psalm 62:2)

Il Santuario della Santuzza
Sanctuary Church of Santa Rosalia.

These days, and especially tonight, the Sanctuary, which is a highly significant place not only for worship but also in the history of the city of Palermo, becomes a destination for the usual pilgrimage that the faithful offer as a sign of their devotion to the Santuzza.  The traditional “acchianata” (climbing up) sees thousands of people who dissolve their promises or implore a grace through the intercession of the saintly virgin hermit.

As a priest and hermit of this beloved portion of God’s people who grew up in Palermo, I too could not but resist to find myself among you in the past, a pilgrim among pilgrims, to share in the joy of this celebration, to raise perfect praises to God and bless Him in the figure of Saint Rosalia, which her infinite goodness wanted to donate to the Church.

Climbing this mountain, and even more arriving at the churchyard which is always so crowded with the faithful, I was impressed by the number of faithful, which bears witness to the affection and devotion that the people of Palermo and from around the world nurture towards this Patron Saint of the city.

Of course all this is positive. It is a devotion that we have a duty to transmit to the next generation, to discover evermore the message that Santa Rosalia communicates to her faithful.

When I ascended, my examination of Jesus turning provocatively toward the crowds flowed from the depths of my heart – and I have heard the repeated echoes – when recalling the prophetic and steadfast figure of St. John the Baptist: “What went you out into the desert to see?” (Cf. Matthew 11:7).  It is a question that i address to you today, gathered together to celebrate Santa Rosalia.  What did you come to see? What moved you to come? Why are you here? What are you asked to contemplate during your ascent on Monte Pellegrino?

Teenage drink drivers
Teenage drink driver.

La Santuzza, my grandmother Concettina used to tell me, freed Palermo from the Peste (Plague).  Today luckily through science this disease is under control with antibiotics and can be cured if diagnosed in time; yet today there is another form of plague, one that is within us, which destroys our dignity; yet she can heal us, if we make a true commitment.  It is an inner pestilence, imposed by a dominant secular culture, where there is no respect for oneself – drug and alcohol abuse to which many young and older people look for an quick fix and false happiness – there is no respect for each other, a lack of loving your neighbour, vandalism, theft much of it brought about by these consumeristic and secular attitudes.   It is as if modern society has become the new Sodom and Gomorrah, yet no one is doing anything to stop it dead in its tracks.


I remember that when I was serving the UN as a young officer and had chance to drive to  Hebron in Palestine a city located in the southern West Bank, 19 miles south of

Palestinian Boy
A boy in Palestine having lost his family, his home.  He has nothing left but his dignity.

Jerusalem and nestled in the Judaean Mountains and when returning to Sicily, I was struck by the enormous waste done everywhere.  It often happened that I’d see a lot of food or bread thrown away in streets, whilst still carrying and remembering the faces of thousands of undernourished and homeless children and people who died of hunger and hardship deep within my heart.  It is something that still haunts me and is forever unforgettable.


We know very well that a pilgrimage is not done out of sheer curiosity, nor a habit that is repeated annually by pure impulse of vague religious sentiments. People go on a pilgrimage because they are attracted to Santa Rosalia who chose the Lord as the only Spouse in her life, making Him become the entire reason of her love, full of His joy, the reason for her freedom and from personal and social conditionings. A full freedom with which Santa Rosalia, like the young girl in Solomon’s Song of Songs, runs to meet His love, and embraces Him for the rest of her life.

This is who we came to see! The virgin who gave everything of herself and for this she made her life a shining example of the sanctity of our Creator who from the beginning chose her as a witness by her goodness. The pilgrims have come to see Christ in love, to the point of wanting to be totally his. We have come to see a lionhearted young woman, who defied her time bringing into fulfilment of how much intimacy the Holy Spirit had placed in her heart, this path is traced through listening to the Word and to its deepest desires.

This fundamental choice of God, the place that God occupies in our lives commits us all, according to the duty of our own state.  To us priests, called by the Lord and representing his ministry, and who are called to centralise of our prayers, our faithfulness to our priestly commitments, our unconditional dedication in administering the sacraments, listening to confession and serving our communities loyally.  To you, wives, husbands, a commitment to remain faithful to the love you have promised to each other and the gift of the sacrament you exchanged.  Just as grace sustained Santa Rosalia’s gift of life with fidelity to her husband, we all have to rely on grace as the force which helps us conquer our difficulties and moments of crisis.

But we did not simply come to “catch a glimpse of” the testimony of eight hundred and fifty-two years ago.  Pilgrims do not make a pilgrimage just to be spectators at a feast.  One cannot call themselves an authentic devotees of Santa Rosalia if we allow this experience to pass by without it leaving an indelible mark on our lives, without the Santuzza having pierced a clear message in our way of life and in our times.

Santa Rosalia had lived in the Grotto the idyll of divine love, her own Garden of Eden whilst choosing a hard, rigorous, stringent and unyielding life, comprised of prayer and self-abnegation.  The act of denying her own wishes, of refusing to satisfy her desires, especially from a moral, religious and altruistic motive, bares witness to us of her total surrender to the will of God.  With her we celebrate, not so much the rejection of a comfortable and carefree life that she as a noble woman could have lived, but rather a love so strong, so unique and so boundless for her Lord that she had not been seduce by material things or anyone.  Her life was entirely Christocentric, not in a manner that surrounded her with riches but in absolute poverty, which she lived as a hermit.  This is concomitant of the fact that when loving the One who created everything, and making Him the centre of your life, she would not need anything else at all.  We have been taught this in the Gospel of Matthew when the apostle Peter said to Jesus “Behold we have left all things, and have followed thee: what therefore shall we have?” (Matthew 19:27-28)  Jesus knowing that with God all things are possible replied “Amen, I say to you, that you, who have 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.”  Too often today we expect rewards there and then, being disappointed when our efforts seem to have been ignored by our peers or employers.  I once overheard a young student I was teaching at Oxford say “I’m only doing this charity trip thing because it will look good on my resume for the firm I want to join”.  This disheartened me greatly, it was for her a purely self-seeking motive and not as she had written on her application to help others less fortunate than her and be of use to the community.  Too many of us these days seek rewards for the small things that we do and this is purely egocentric, unchristian and soul destroying.

This is why the example of Santa Rosalia’s austere and unwavering life still calls to us today, because we can all be encouraged to experience more and more the cruciality in which we discover and rediscover, every day, the absolute primacy of God and the beauty of the authentic values ​​of life that He has given us and that He has committed himself to in redeeming us from evil and darkness of this world.

The socio-economic crisis that the world is facing these days are visible to all of us.  How many of us waver with the effort just to get to the end of the month, coping with the various commitments and finding the means to be able to provide.  How many of us look to the future with desolation over the many social instabilities that look like dark clouds on every skyline.  We are told as children that every cloud has a silver lining, then we grow up and realise that the silver lining  do not exist.  But the promise of our Lord’s future gifts do exist and our deposited in our heavenly bank account awaiting our withdrawal once we have joined him.       

surprisingWhen I looked on the internet for “Global Crisis effecting humanity” the only images that came up in my search were matters concerning the financial industry, corporations, economy, investments.  Have we really sunk so low that we cannot recognise the human global crisis beyond the financial.  Surely human life is more valuable than a bank?  We live in times when the crisis for mankind has become present at many levels, as evidence of a social context in which possessions and merriment seem to prevail over every logic rather than dedicating and donating ones life to service and helping our neighbour. Yes there are many risks. particularly for the next generation and those to follow. They are all connected to the serious possibility of corroding all beauty and the full and authentic sense of life for those things that are non-essential, trite, worthless, even purposeless and fraught with danger.

We see it in the inability to serve the common good, to do one’s duty seriously, determined only by one’s selfishness, self-interests and egocentrism. We all have responsibilities, because each of us has a duty to our neighbour, even the ones we do not like.

I think of those who work in public services or offices. The politicians that have been elected, chosen by the people to serve the common good. You have this responsibility toward everyone and not just yourself.  Just think what a better place we would live in if a politician actually really genuinely cared, was honest to a fault, truthful at all times.  Your responsibility is and always will be to God, the state and those who elected you.  At the same time everyone must also do their duty.  Think of the mothers who provide nurturing care for the family, teach us how to pray, encourage and nurture spiritual growth and development, and are living examples of the meaning of sacrificial, self-giving love which is the genesis and source of an authentic spirituality.  Through the lens of the Blessed Virgin Mary, “we see [in all motherhood] the reflection of a beauty which mirrors the loftiest sentiments of which the human heart is capable: the self-sacrificing totality of love; the strength that is capable of bearing the greatest sorrows; limitless fidelity and tireless devotion to work; the ability to combine penetrating intuition with words of support and encouragement” (Pope John Paul II, Redemptoris Mater, 46).

A father should strive to be to his family everything that is revealing and in reliving on earth the very fatherhood of God, a man is called upon to ensure stability and harmony within the family.  He does this by exercising generous and selfless responsibility for the life conceived in the womb of the mother; by taking a more active role in, and making a more serious commitment to his children’s education and prayer life, a task that he shares equally with his wife; by working in a job that is never the cause of division within the family but promotes and provides for its security and unity; and, most importantly, by being a living witness and example to his children of what it means to live and act as a man of God, showing his children first-hand what it means to have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and how that relationship is lived-out daily by loving the truth, goodness, and beauty of our Catholic faith.

I think of you the educators, who recognises that the human heart is created with an

Jesus our Teacher
Jesus our Eternal Teacher

innate yearning to seek, find and rest in God in this world and the next and will therefore develop the whole person intellectually, physically emotionally and spiritually.  The educator does this by respecting each child of God, preparing their students as much as possible to attain their immutable destiny.  An exceptional educator at whatever level of schooling they teach at encompasses and frames for other a Catholic perspective of the world structure by reflection, prayer, action, service, teaching and sacramentality.  This is expressed and developed through the physical space, choice of activities, allocation of time, and the kind of relationships that are fostered.  The educator’s tools are the rich moral, artistic, scientific, spiritual and intellectual treasury of the Catholic church (see The Excellent Catholic Teacher).

The Gospel page of the parable of the ten virgins “The Kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom.  Five of them were foolish and five were wise.  The foolish ones, when taking their lamps, brought no oil with them, but the wise brought flasks of oil with their lamps.”  Jesus is talking about our spiritual preparation and conditioning.  The parable gives us some strong indications of what needs to be in place here and now.  We must not wait to be sure our lamp is lit and that we have plenty of oil.  It almost seems that the lethargy that affects young people today also concerns our civilisation, which has forgotten to live in waiting for our encounter with God.  More and more people lean towards secularism, stopped believing that the Lord is ever present in every moment of our lives and in which we must be watchful to recognise HIs signs, vigilantly listening for His call and be ready for action.

The numbness of our society manifests itself in forgetting the essentials of life and many idolise and to turn to new false god, innumerably propagated by commercial entities who are advocate and sell that false happiness that leaves only a bitter taste and disappointment.  In our youth today there seems to be an increasingly weak sense of personal responsibility, an extremely potent example is the increasing number of traffic accidents due to speeding, the use of drugs and alcohol where alcohol is cheeper than food and encouraged by the “buy one get one free” culture, without the slightest responsibility being taken by those who drive a vehicle carelessly and irresponsibly.

For this very reason today, I would like you all to look at Santa Rosalia’s austerity, her strong and decisive choices, to always remain conscious and wait to welcome her Lord in her daily and mystical meetings with him. I would like Santuzza to be the stimulus for all to become more responsible from now on, for all the occasions in our lives and situations in which the Lord has by his will placed us, to be prepared, to be aware, to be responsive and responsible.  A time, which in Christ has become kairos (right, critical, or opportune moment), an occasion for personal sanctification, which is one of the instruments that God’s mercy gives to us to enable us to reach him. It is a benefaction given to us, so much so that none of us can waste a single minute to our lives.  Therefore let us not waste it in that which does not lead us to the truth.

The occasions, the circumstances by which we always judge the positive or negative, depending on whether they correspond to our schemes or not, are in fact opportunities that the Lord offers us so that we can appreciate and love Him in everything.  From this stems or responsibility toward duty, to respond to the task to which we are called for the common good.  I wholeheartedly endorse it because it is worth it!  Doing your duty well is a requisite on account that through it one arrives at the realisation of one’s self, being fully content, which gives a credible witness to one’s encounter with God in the workplace, among our co-workers, often non-believers or like many just indifferent.  Santa Rosalia, adhering to the will of the Lord fulfilled her duty in such an exemplary manner as to be a model for us even today after so many centuries.

We must all make an effort and enter into and adopt a more authentic Gospel process of reasoning.  It teaches us that the place in which we have been placed by God’s will is primarily a service to be carried out for the common good of all, for a better, more humane world and for peaceful coexistence. The concept of service to the common good must be able to precede everything else and prevail over a mentality of profit and gain, for which we often selfishly work toward. This impoverishes us, it makes us petty and detaches us from the reality in which we are engulfed thus preventing us from seeing the face of Christ in our brother who is right next to us.

Everyone is invited to do his part.  However small or large, it is the part that belongs to each member of the Mystical Body of Christ which is the Church.  The essentiality of Santa Rosalia’s austere life shows us the responsibility with which we are called to bring our faith to life, to transfer the beauty of our encounter with Christ into our daily lives whilst walking among men.

And it will be one of the most beautiful pilgrimages ever undertaken. It will be the most significant one you have ever done, because it will enable you to reach the full significance of our existence and to prepare us for our heavenly goal which is the eternal Kingdom in which Santa Rosalia, together with the angels and saints, enjoys the face of God for eternity.  Surely that is what we all seek and desire?

I leave you all with my humble prayers and blessings, and ask for the intercession of Santa Rosalia to help you in your daily service for the common good.  In Jesus and Mary.  Amen

Translation of the Prayer to Santa Rosalia:

Oh admirable Santa Rosalia, who resolved to imitate within herself the most perfect image of Your only good, the Crucified Redeemer, you applied yourself to all the rigors of the most bitter penance in the solitude of a cavern, where you always delighted ‘to extol with vigils and fasts, the scourges which macerated your innocent flesh, a grace to us all the grace to always tame by the exercise of evangelical mortification all our rebellious appetites, and to always pasture our spiritual meditations the most devoted of those Christian truths, which alone can bring us true well-being in this life and eternal bliss in the other.  Pater, Ave and Gloria

The Consuetudines of Guigo I

Translation in English from the Latin, Click below.

The Consuetudine of Guigo I, 5th Prior of the Carthusian Order

Guigues du Chastel

Fifth prior of the Grande Chartreuse, legislator of the Carthusian Order and ascetical writer, born at Saint-Romain in Dauphiné in 1083; died 27 July, 1137.

He became a monk of the Grande Chartreuse in 1107, and three years later his brethren elected him Prior.

To Guigues the Carthusian Order in great measure owes its fame, if not its very existence.

When he became prior, only two charterhouses existed, the Grande Chartreuse and the Calabrian house where St. Bruno had died; nine more were founded during his twenty-seven years’ as Prior. These new foundations made it necessary to reduce to writing the traditional customs of the mother-house. Guigues’s  “Consuetudines”, composed in 1127 or 1128, have always remained the basis of all Carthusian legislation.

After the disastrous avalanche of 1132, Guigues rebuilt the Grande Chartreuse on the present site.

A man of considerable learning, endowed with a tenacious memory and the gift of eloquence, Guigues was a great organizer and disciplinarian. He was a close friend of St. Bernard and of Peter the Venerable, both of whom have left accounts of the impression of sanctity which he made upon them. His name is inscribed in certain martyrologies on 27 July, and he is sometimes called “Venerable” or “Blessed”, yet the Bollandists can find “no trace whatever of any ecclesiastical cultus”.

Guigues edited the letters of St. Jerome, but his edition is lost. Of his genuine writings there are still in existence, besides the “Consuetudines,” a “Life of St. Hugh of Grenoble”, whom he had known intimately, written by command of Pope Innocent II after the canonisation of the saint in 1134; “Meditations”, and six letters (P.L., CLIII). These letters are all that remain of a great number, many of them addressed to the most distinguished men of the day. Guigues’s letters to St. Bernard are lost, but some of the saint’s replies are extant.

Monastic Life and Life’s Vocation

“By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise always to God, that is to say, the fruit of lips confessing to his name. And do not forget to do good, and to impart; for by such sacrifices God’s favour is obtained”. – Heb 13:15-16

It should not surprise us why so many religious communities today have declined. We must remember that we are now living in the midst of one of the greatest trials in Church history. The shear number of 20th-century apparitions and miracles far outnumber all the previous centuries combined. According to modern apparitions, our common adversary is becoming more and more desperate, attempting to drag more souls with him. To say that the moral state decay of our society is worse than it has ever been, would not be an unreasonable statement. Like old Israel, we too have allowed paganism and hedonism to become the law of our land, worshipping the three-headed idol of pride, lust, and avarice. And God has granted our desires, just as He did with Israel. He has handed us over to our enemies, to the tyranny of a foreign ruler. And we have been held captive for so long, that we have become accustomed to our slavery, as if it is the normal way of life. And yet, there is still hope. Satan’s reign is coming to an end. And just like Josiah in the Old Testament, who tore his garments after rediscovering the long-lost Scriptures (2 Chr 34:14-15), it seems we too are on the cusp of rediscovering our true identity once again. But let us be clear about this. The answer is not in a certain “brand” of Catholicism, whether “traditional” or “charismatic”, which can lead to polarisation and division. But it is in one thing only; love; to love God by loving what He loves; His children, His lost sheep, His Holy Mother and His Church.

Monastic obedience is not a carrying out of an order, but a total giving of self to God through a monastic community. Such giving sometimes does involve pain and hurt because the individual cannot ‘march merely to his own beat.’ But then neither can a spouse in a marriage or a child in a family. Obedience within the monastery today rests upon the idea that the cenobium, the community, is a society of persons who, through mutual love, sanctify each other. Obedience is the Yes of community living.” If we obeyed and were faithful to our own vocations and duties, the Church (and the world) would be in a wonderful state. Far too often though, we Christians want to live our Christianity according to our own ideas.  We may be doing good things but that doesn’t mean we are fulfilling our first obligations and submitting our will to God.

Saint Ignatius of Loyola stated “If a person thinks of embracing a secular life, he should ask and desire more evident signs that God calls him to a secular life, than if there were question of embracing the evangelical counsels; for Our Lord Himself has evidently exhorted us to embrace His counsels.”

In our Western culture, we have been raised from infancy with an inwards gaze toward self and want; to self-seeking pleasure, convenience, and instant gratification, pacified by ceaseless noise, shiny flashing lights, and candy floss. Unfortunately, many people import this mindset into their vocation, expecting always to find the sweet taste of consolation and spiritual transports. But the way toward purification is a rugged one, especially at the beginning when the soul is still divided and pulled at by the world. It is therefore easy to become discouraged and abandon the path to perfection altogether. If we only knew of the great joy and peace that we could experience even in this life, we would never get sidetracked from this path! Never forget that holiness is not so much a sudden burst of fire that quickly dies, but rather a small and steady flame unceasing in its intensity and constant in its light. Padre Pio was once asked ‘what is necessary to become a saint?’ His response was candid and unambiguous; “One thing alone is necessary. You must will it.” According to the revelations given to the Venerable Mary of Agreda, many souls fail precisely because they flee from the cross; especially during the first stage of purification, from dying to self-love.

One need not have absolute certainty of a calling to the religious life in order to have a genuine vocation. If there is but a seed of desire within the soul, then this is enough reason to water and cultivate this seed, to see whether is takes root or not. And the best way to have greater certainty, is to visit the communities in person (many of them, if necessary), as well as your diocesan vocations office.

When the father of all monks, St. Anthony the Great lived in the desert he was beset by accidie (spiritual or mental sloth; apathy), and attacked by many sinful thoughts. He said to God, ‘Lord, I want to be saved but these thoughts do not leave me alone; what shall I do in my affliction? How can I be saved?’ A short while afterwards, when he got up to go out, St. Anthony saw a man like himself sitting at his work, getting up from his work to pray, then sitting down and plaiting a rope, then getting up again to pray. It was an angel of the Lord sent to correct and reassure him. He heard the angel saying to him, ‘Do this and you will be saved.’ At these words, St. Anthony was filled with joy and courage. He did this, and he was saved.

Someone asked St. Anthony, ‘What must one do in order to please God?’ The old man replied, ‘Pay attention to what I tell you: whoever you may be, always have God before your eyes; whatever you do, do it according to the testimony of the holy Scriptures; in whatever place you live, do not easily leave it. Keep these three precepts and you will be saved.’”

Monasticism is a radical living out of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Following in the footsteps of the Apostles and the early Desert Fathers, religious have heard Christ’s words to the rich young man, “Jesus saith to him: If thou wilt be perfect, go sell what thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come follow me.” (Mt 19:21.) Striving to love God “And thou shalt love the Lord thy God, with thy whole heart, and with thy whole soul, and with thy whole mind, and with thy whole strength. This is the first commandment.” (Mk 12:30), monks leave all things, “Furthermore I count all things to be but loss for the excellent knowledge of Jesus Christ my Lord; for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but as dung, that I may gain Christ” (Phil 3:8.) Being a monk is to be “Dead; and your life is hid with Christ in God.” (Col 3:3) so that we can be “alive in Christ”.

It does not mean that the monks spurn others in their pursuit of God! As Evagrius the Solitary, said, “A monk is separated from all and united to all.” They realise that the unity of all in Christ and their life becomes one of prayer for the whole world. Praying together includes the cry, the invocation, the aspiration, the desire for peace, the healing and salvation of the men and women of this world. Prayer is never in vain; it rises ceaselessly to the Lord so that anguish is turned into hope, tears into joy, despair into happiness, and solitude into communion. May the Kingdom of God come soon among people!

Historically monastics have always had hospitality as an important aspect of their life, to share a bit of their life with the faithful. At other times, monks have been called out of their monasteries to do apostolic ministry when needed. All over the world people gather in the various places of prayer and lay before the Lord the hopes and the sufferings of the tired, exhausted crowds of which the Gospel speaks. In these crowds we can see the Brobdingnagian of the modern cities, millions of refugees who continue to flee their war torn countries, the homeless and poor, relegated to the very fringes of society and life and all those who are waiting for someone to take care of them. Even Saint Anthony the Great abandoned his beloved solitude when it was called for. In whatever situation the monk finds himself, his goal is always to live “in Christ”.

The heart of the life of any monastery is prayer, and the heart of prayer is a deep and intimate relationship with Christ. Christ is encountered in a great number of ways in the ordinary life of the brotherhood: in public prayers, in the life of discipline and spiritual efforts, the interactions between brothers, and in the way they, in turn, associate with the outside world. Most notably, Christ is encountered in the seemingly endless hours of private prayer which each monk undertakes each day, both in his cell rule and as he goes about his daily work. Here we call to mind 1 Th 5:17 to “Pray without ceasing”. The Apostle Paul exhorted the Ephesian believers to see prayer as a weapon to use in fighting spiritual battles (Eph 6:18). As we go through the day, prayer should be our first response to every fearful situation, every anxious thought, and every undesired task that God commands. A lack of prayer will cause us to depend on ourselves instead of depending on God’s grace. Unceasing prayer is, in essence, continual dependence upon and communion with the Father. To facilitate this encounter, the monastery has to be a sanctuary. This sanctuary is created through the common life of the monks, based on the vows of traditional monasticism. These are the vows which the monks take when they become ‘cross bearers’.

The vows made are to obedience, conversion of life and stability. Poverty and charity are inferred in the vow of conversion, although the vow contains so much more. Officially and canonically there are three vows. Morally and religiously the observance is of the five vows. Just what these words signify is an important question, and one that each monk will face from time to time throughout his life.

The discipline and silence necessary for prayer are a reminder that consecration by the vows of religion requires a certain asceticism of life “embracing the whole being”. Christ’s response of poverty, love, and obedience led him to the solitude of the desert, the pain of contradiction, and the abandonment of the cross. The consecration of religious enters into this way of his; it cannot be a reflection of his consecration if its expression in life does not hold an element of self-denial. Religious life itself is an ongoing, public, visible expression of Christian conversion. It calls for the leaving of all things and the taking up of one’s cross to follow Christ throughout the whole of life. This involves the asceticism necessary to live in poverty of spirit and of fact; to love as Christ loves; to give up one’s own will for God’s sake to the will of another who represents him, however imperfectly. It calls for the self-giving without which it is not possible to live either a good community life or a fruitful mission. Jesus’ statement that the grain of wheat needs to fall to the ground and die if it is to bear fruit has a particular application to religious because of the public nature of their profession. It is true that much of today’s penance is to be found in the circumstances of life and should be accepted there. However, unless religious build into their lives “a joyful, well-balanced austerity” and deliberately determined renunciations, they risk losing the spiritual freedom necessary for living the counsels. Indeed, without such austerity and renunciation, their consecration itself can be affected. This is because there cannot be a public witness to Christ poor, chaste, and obedient without asceticism. Moreover, by professing the counsels by vows, religious undertake to do all that is necessary to deepen and foster what they have vowed, and this means a free choice of the cross, that it may be “as it was for Christ, proof of the greatest love”.

There has been a long debate within the Church about the differences between monastic-v-religious vows, and of the differences in the monastic and religious states of life. Prior to Vatican II it was said there were two main types of consecrated states of life: the monastic and the religious. The monastic life was generally viewed to be something more involved and demanding than the religious life. We used to see this principally in the differentiation between Nuns and Sisters. Nuns had solemn vows and were rigidly cloistered; whilst the Sisters has simple vows and were not cloistered and could move around the town and community in which they lived.

Each vow has an obvious and uncomplicated meaning, and it is this uncomplicated meaning which governs the daily life of the community, its customs and traditions. Be that as it may, in the observance of the vows there is also a deeper, distinctive importance which each monk must contemplate in terms of his own life and condition.

These vows, then, create a sanctuary in which the monastic life is possible. To elucidate how this works, it may be helpful to think in terms of a four-dimensional space, with each vow providing one of those dimensions. Taking the imagery a little further, it is possible to say that the space which is created by those four dimensions is one in which the love of God is expressed. Each monk lives within this ‘matrix of love’ simultaneously taking from, and contributing to, the experience of the brotherhood as a whole. Living a life of total inter-dependence, where each person of the monastic family depends upon everyone else, the monk learns to surrender to the will of God at a yet more and more heartfelt level. In return for surrendering all that he is, all that he has, and all that he might become, the monk receives all that he needs (but not necessarily all that he wants!) including a subtle, yet essential, quality of trust in God. As this trust develops he feels more and more able to surrender his own self worth, whilst living in a state of total surrender, albeit in total security. With the surrender of the self worth, the monk can even reach a level of living in which the concept of his own “wants” ceases to exert any power over him.

Religious criticism asserts that materialist consumerism interferes with the connection between the individual and God, and so is an inherently immoral style of life; From the Roman Catholic perspective, Thomas Aquinas said that “Greed is a sin against God, just as all mortal sins, in as much as man condemns things eternal for the sake of temporal things”; in that vein, Francis of Assisi, said that spiritual inspiration guided him toward simple living.

Some adapt to monastic life effortlessly, others less so. There is a great need to spend some time in unhurried and un-pressured contemplation of whether or not monastic life in general, and monastic life certain religious order in particular, is suitable for a given candidate. Thus, built into the structure of monastic life the various stages at which the individual is confronted by his own decision to remain in the monastery. While it is possible to see monasticism as a “vocation” or calling, should be viewed as the self-offering of an individual. That self-offering then has to be accepted by a particular monastic community in order for it to bloom and come to fruition.

The importance of the monastery is not, however, limited to the members of the brotherhood. The reality which the monks experience on a daily basis becomes available to friends, pilgrims and visitors who come to the monastery for longer or shorter periods of time. Even the experience of being around the monastic community for a few hours can effect great changes in people’s lives. Since a monastery is ‘de facto’ a place of healing, the life of the community spills over into the lives of the greater community, affording many opportunities for repentance, healing and a deep abiding sense of spiritual happiness.

Saint Bernard of Clairvaux once estimated that about one out of three Catholics (~33%) have a vocation to the consecrated life. Today, less one in every twenty-thousand Catholics (~0.005%) are consecrated religious. These statistics, if even remotely accurate, help us to better understand the difficulty Catholics face today when discerning a religious vocation, that is; that many either do not hear the call of God, or they hear it but do not listen.

Saint Teresa of Los Andes OCD stated: ” We no longer belong to the world. Jesus has taken us from the world, that we may follow Him more closely, and He says to us: “If anyone would come after Me, let him take up his cross and follow Me.” And so, Sister, let’s walk after Him. Love demands this, since He has chosen us to make us entirely His own; And when the weight of the cross weighs us down, let us call upon Jesus to help us. […] We do not belong to the worldly spirit any longer, for Jesus has taken from us the spirit of the world in order to clothe us with His Divine Spirit. And what is that spirit…? The spirit of the Cross, the renunciation of our selfish impulses and demands of the flesh; the denial of our appetites and tastes, comforts, etc.”

Realising that discouragement is a tool of our common adversary, we must remind ourselves that all things done for the love of God will bear abundant fruit, especially if the sacrifice is great (“And every one 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.” – Matt 19:29). Thus, we need not fear our own weaknesses, for the grace we will receive will suffice for us to become saints. But we must correspond with grace. As Our Lord told Saint Maria Faustyna (Kowalska) of the Blessed Sacrament, OLM; “Do not be guided by feeling, because it is not always under your control; but all merit lies in the will.” Indeed, becoming a saint or, loving God to the point of total conformity to His will requires nothing more than a persistent good will to do so. To become a saint, only three things are necessary; love, prayer, and mortification.

With every blessing, and love in JESUS Christ and our Mother The Blessed Virgin MARY,

Given on the Feast of Saint Augustine of Hippo
Dom Ugo Maria er. dio.
St Mary’s Hermitage near Canterbury

Carthusian Spirituality

Carthusian Spirituality

To the praise of the glory of God, Christ, the Father’s Word, has through the Holy Spirit, from the beginning chosen certain men, whom he willed to lead into solitude and unite to himself in intimate love. (Prologue of the statutes of the Carthusian Order.)


Union with God in intimate love is the aim of every Christian life; what singles out the Carthusians is that they strive more directly toward this goal (cf. St 10:1: rectius). The entire life in Charterhouse is geared to this, that “we may the more ardently seek, the more quickly find, the more perfectly possess God himself in the depths of our souls; and thus, with the Lord’s help, we may be enabled to attain to the perfection of love – which is the aim of our Profession and of the whole monastic life – and through it, to obtain beatitude eternal”(St 1,4). To attain ‘the one necessary thing’, the Carthusians developed their own characteristic way of life marked essentially by solitude and silence.

About the importance of contemplation as the ultimate goal of a human being, a Carthusian wrote, in a letter to Thomas Merton : “Most men find their balance in life through action or creation. A totally contemplative life demands a special grace and a special faithfulness. It also requires a maturity, a richness of soul not often found among the converts. At least this seems to be the case from our experience. But to contemplate, in the first sense of the word, i.e. to gaze upon God while staying immobile, repose and purity being both the condition and the result of such a gaze, is truly speaking the real life, the eternal life for which we have been created.”

Contemplative life requires a continual conversion. Each day anew a Carthusian monk tries to make himself transparent for God, to give himself to God with open hands, and with a mind free of worries and concerns. He thus keeps himself in a state of spiritual virginity.

In the interior and exterior silence of his solitude, the monk lives for God, and for God alone. The members of other monastic Orders also seek God in silence or solitude, but for Carthusians silence and solitude are the principal means to find Him. Inner silence – poverty in spirit – creates the empty space necessary to experience God’s presence in our heart, which transcends all words. “Let him make a practice of resorting, from time to time, to a tranquil listening of the heart, that allows God to enter through all its doors and passages.” (St 4,2)

Solitude and silence help the Carthusian monk ‘in a special way’ to become aware of a great mystery that is present in every Christian (St. 2:2). The whole of Carthusian life helps the monks to live in God’s presence: liturgy, work, study, community; everything is done in a climate of solitude and silence.


“Since our Order is totally dedicated to contemplation, it is our duty to maintain strictly our separation from the world; hence, we are freed from all pastoral ministry – no matter how urgent the need for active apostolate is – so that we may fulfill our special role in the Mystical Body of Christ” (St 3,9).


Carthusians have no special prayer method or technique; the only way is Jesus Christ. In the contemplative life it is not so much what we do but what God does in us. Our task is only to purify our longing of all that is not God, to seek “that purity of heart, to which alone is it promised to see God” (St 6,4).

The holy liberty is characteristic of our vocation. The Order’s rule prescribes few prayers or devotional exercises other than the sacred liturgy, so that each – under the guidance of the Holy Spirit and with the help of the superior or spiritual director – may freely choose which means suits him to best attain the goal. On the other hand, whatever might hinder him or prove unprofitable, needs to be let go off, however good and holy it might be in itself.

The Statutes impose a strict observance, within which one is free to follow any Catholic spirituality, as has been done in the past with the Desert Fathers (Egypt, 4th century), Rhineland Mystics, Devotio Moderna, Saint Ignatius, Saint John of the Cross, Saint Theresa, Saint Francis of Sales, and others.


The greatest hindrance in the search for God is without any doubt one’s own will. We attempt to renounce our self-will with the help of the vow of obedience. Obedience comes from a Latin word which means ‘to listen’. Over the years a life of obedience brings about a thorough emptying of oneself, which enables us to open ourselves to the working of the Holy Spirit with simplicity and trust. At the same time, this relieves us from all kinds of unrest and distress.


Our life takes place in the darkness and light of Faith. In solitude, we enter the depths of our Faith, which we have received from the Church. With time, the darkness of Faith changes into the light of Faith. We do not see what we believe, although the content of Faith becomes to us so present that we can live from it. When we let the Holy Spirit lead us, He will make us understand the depth and splendor of that, which lives in our hearts.


What distinguishes the life of a Carthusian is not his works or his accomplishments, it is what God does in him, as he abandons himself to His Love. A Carthusian vocation is a work of God.

« Nil tibi laboriosus est quam non laborare,
id est contemnere omnia unde labores oriuntur,
universa scilicet mutabilia »
(Meditationes Guigonis, Meditatio L)

(There is no more urgent task for thee than to be without tasks, that is to leave off all changing reality, from which all tasks emerge. The Meditations of Guigo Ist)


Here strong men can return into themselves as much as they wish, and abide there; here they can with eager earnestness cultivate the seeds of virtue, and with gladness eat of the fruits of paradise.

Here is acquired that eye, by whose serene gaze the Spouse is wounded with love; that eye, pure and clean, by which God is seen.

Here the solitary is occupied in busy leisure, and at rest in tranquil activity.

Here God rewards his athletes with the longed-for prize: peace that the world does not know, and joy in the Holy Spirit. (St 6,16 – from Bruno’s letter to Raoul)

“vivo autem, jam non ego, qui eram secundum legem, sed vivit in me Christus, id est, vivo ego ipse factus Christus per conformitatem: et per hanc partem habemus operari bonum.” (sanctus Bruno, Expositio in epistolam ad Galatas, Cap. II)