Communities for Men
Monastery of the Holy Cross
on may 3, 1987, the Monastery of the Holy Cross is attached to the
Benedictine branch commenced by R.F. Jean-Baptiste Muard, founder
of the Abbey of “La-Pierre-qui-Vire” during the last century
(1850). After Le Barroux (the Mother House) made arrangement with
the Vatican, our concern to stay faithful to Tradition led our Monastery
to separate from the Mother House in 1988, in order to remain in
the communion of those who protect the faith, and not of those who
demolish it. We haven’t remained alone for long. The charity of
a very great number of friends, often unknown until now has been
for us a precious memory. Above all, we have benefited from the
great and paternal support of Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre and Bishop
Antonio de Castro Meyer who have guided the first steps of our foundation.
monks fulfilling their primary duty: the worship of God
of St. Benedict
Order was born in the sixth century, without fuss and ignorant of
the future held in store for it. It was born from the great heart
of our Blessed Father Saint Benedict, who had received from the
Most High, the grace of the paternity to gather a great number of
sons, not only of those living, but also of those throughout the
ages, by the light of the Rule which he has left as his most precious
heritage. The centuries would recognize in this rule a special
value. Little by little it would impose itself and would end up
being adopted by all the monasteries of Europe. It would form the
religious of the Middle Ages, and not only the religious but also
numerous kings and lords, so that the people would educate themselves
by contact with monks.
This Rule –
so says Bossuet – “is a synthesis of Christianity, a teaching
and mysterious abridgement of all doctrine and Epistles, of all
the institutions of the Holy Fathers, of all admonishments of perfection.”
The Rule of
Saint Benedict appeared in the sixth century, says Dom Delatte,
“as the mature fruit of all past monasticism and the spirituality
of the Fathers.”1
says the Reverend Father Muard, “the most perfect daughter of
the first oriental rules, as the mother of all the others in the
occident, as the sacred code which governed the monastic world for
1400 years, by the most venerable of all, by the profound wisdom
and the eminent sanctity which shine from all its pages, by the
perfection of the religious life that it established, by its togetherness
divinely ordained, and by its admirable details.” 2
easier but still necessary work
It is this
rule that R.F. Muard wanted to apply in all its force in his Benedictine
congregation, which he vowed to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the
Immaculate Heart of Mary. This rule has no aim but to institute
a school of service to God, as St. Benedict said himself, and as
St. Bernard used to call it, a school of the love of God.
according to a great Benedictine of the last century R.P. Emmanuel,
is built on these three columns which are, obedience, silence and
humility. Three virtues of souls who want themselves to be formed,
three student virtues, students of Jesus Christ crucified. On such
bases one can build anything. Do you want to be great? Begin with
that which is small. Are you thinking of constructing a great building?
“Think first of the foundations of humility”, said St. Augustine
3. The foundations
established by St. Benedict were good, solid and profound.
On those would
be built the monasticism of the Middle Ages, which has had such
an influence on the formation of Christian Europe. This monastic
influence started well before the sons of St. Benedict. In particular
from Ireland (without forgetting however the monasticism of the
Roman Province, and of other already christianized from the Occident)
will come to Europe numerous monks who will sow everywhere – as
far as Italy - the fire of divine love. Amongst these monks rose
the incomparable figure of St. Colomban with his disciples and his
monastic foundations of Luxeuil and Bobbio, which have had an extraordinary
influence. The action of the Irish monks resembled a fire of generosity,
these monks who were exiling themselves through love. The expression
of their total gift and their indefectible attachment to Our Lord.
Rule of St. Benedict was to be preferred to that of St. Colomban
due to his discretion, that is to say, his very successful conciliation
between the limits of human weakness and the heroic ideal of monastic
life. As a historian said, St. Benedict knew how to moderate everything
without diminishing anything.
One could compare
the rule of St. Colomban as the fire and that of St. Benedict as
the live coal. What one has enflamed the other has conserved. Thus
the sons of St. Benedict have returned through work to their predecessors
while carrying their characteristic note of discretion.
French Foundation in Bellaigue -
The Monastery is of the XIIth century
Day at the Holy Cross
First of all
our time table:
Reading in cell
prayer (private Masses)
and Chapter, followed by breakfast and courses
and conventual Mass
of singing followed by a conference for the novitiate
followed by manual work and a course before the Office
A monastic welcome
As in all monasteries,
the monks of the Holy Cross divide their time between prayer, study
and manual work. Yet during the foundation the work will be heavier
because it is distributed among fewer people. In spite of this,
the Office is chanted everyday. However the Mass is only sung three
or four times a week. At Solesmes they have not had their Masses
sung daily since Solesmes was founded in 1833. We are not then
at fault on this point. Our studies are also in full progress.
Two of our future priests are presently studying at the seminary
of the Society of St. Pius X in Argentina.
A contact with
the population around us takes place when we go shopping or go for
weekly walks. Our neighbors are beginning to come to our Masses
in spite of the protestants and the progressists who complicate
this apostolate. On Sundays we have at least forty faithful who
come to the monastery for the Holy Mass.
the monastic day and can only be broken on account of work, and
even then only when monastic signs no longer suffice to make oneself
understood. However, we also have a weekly outing of a few hours
where fraternal charity is joyfully expressed vocally.
the grand silence covers the house until the moment when the bell
for Matins calls the monks to start their day, reminding them that
in all things God must be first served.
drew up an infallible criterion for recognizing a vocation: see
if the candidate truly searches God. If he searches something else
he is deceived from the start. In the monastery one searches God
and His will alone. That is all.
But how to
discern this? How in conscience to accept a young man in the heart
of the community, as someone who truly searches for God? St. Benedict
helps us again in indicating to us three signs of this purity of
intention that he desires to see in his postulants. These three
signs are the zeal for the Divine Office (Liturgy), the zeal for
obedience and the zeal for humiliations and things that are difficult.
signs cannot be mistaken if a soul truly searches God then it is
pleased to praise Him and to humble himself. This humility will
be noticed in the manner of his obedience and his acceptance of
humiliations. Thus the monastic vocation recognizes this thirst
for God, thirst of knowing and imitating Our Lord Jesus Christ crucified.
There is also
another trilogy commonly used. It is less profound but nevertheless
not without interest: the desire, the aptitude and the acceptance.
From these three signs, it is the last which is most decisive, then
it is up to the Superior to judge the extent of the postulant’s
desire and his aptitudes for the kind of life desired. In fact
one returns to the signs given by St. Benedict which will be always
those which superiors ought to follow to discern true vocations.
Let us add
that one can be a monk without being a priest. It is, in fact,
the case of St. Benedict himself. It falls upon the superior to
call to the priesthood those whom he deems worthy. In the early
stages of the monastic life it was common to have only one or two
priests in the monasteries. Today, by the desire of the Holy Church,
the monks who have the aptitude are ordained priests in order to
multiply the Masses that the world has such need of.
As for the
stages which will lead the candidate until the final gift of himself,
they are those which are practiced here at Holy Cross. Having been
admitted to the monastery, the candidate must first do his postulate
which lasts six months. Then he receives the habit and his religious
name. Two years will pass before, after the vote of the community,
he might be allowed to make his temporary vows for three years.
After these three years, he is ready for his perpetual vows, which
will unite him forever to the Order and community to which he has
made his profession, and above all they will bind him to God in
such a way – so say the most respected Doctors – that this profession
has the value of second baptism, effacing all sins, and debts owing
1 – This can
be understood if one considers the words of St. Peter: “Charity
covers a multitude of sin.”
2 – Or which
charity can be greater than that which a consecrated soul is offering
to the thrice holy God . . .
3 – Or that
of any other house where one learns contempt for the present and
attachment to Our Lord Jesus Christ and His Mother Immaculate, Queen
of the Cloisters, to whom we dedicate these lines. Amen.
We come to
the end of this brief outline of the monastic life. May these lines
assist souls who, as Father Emmanuel says, “suffer in the world,
not having found their way, and who give thanks to God for their
fortune, if a charitable hand shows them the door of a Benedictine
of the Order: In the early months of 2000, we have acquired a XIIth
century monastery in France for a foundation in this country. The
foundation is due to take place next October. We recommend this
important development to your prayers.
Rev. Fr. Thomas
de Aquinas OSB
Caiza Postal 96582
28601-970 Nova Friburgo RJ
Abbaye Notre-Dame de Bellaigue
Bellaigue - 63330 Virlet
04 73 52 33 26
142 Joseph Blane road
Silver City, NM 88061
Introduction to the commentary on the rule of St. Benedict.
Constitutions of the Benedictines of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and
of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Introduction p.9