Today August 27, 2006 I attended the Eucharistic Celebration for the Canonical erection of the Parish of St. Benedict (Don Antonio Heights, QC) and the Installation of its first parish priest, Fr. Steven Tynan of the Missionaries of God’s Love. It was a well-attended mass, celebrated by Rev. Bishop Antonio Tobias and concelebrated by Fr. Geoffrey Coombe and the other priests serving in the diocese of Novaliches.
There was a short program afterwards wherein we heard Fr. Steve’s vision for the new parish as well as some messages from the presidents of the sub-parishes in Don Antonio, Don Enrique, Isidora Hills, and the other areas covered by our newly-erected parish. The guests, which numbered by the hundreds, were then entertained by a lively and colorful dance number from the officers of the sub-parish pastoral council.
A couple of weeks ago, I mentioned to a young brother who visited us at the Lingkod Office that I belonged to the parish of Saint Benedict. He pulled out from his pocket a medal and handed it to me. I was surprised, but accepted his simple gift. I had a very interesting conversation with that brother but that story belongs to another day. Now I want to write about our patron saint. Curious about the medal which I now carry with me always, I got this from the Catholic Encyclopedia:
Medal of Saint Benedict
A medal, originally a cross, dedicated to the devotion in honour of St. Benedict.
One side of the medal bears an image of St. Benedict, holding a cross in the right hand and the Holy Rule in the left. On the one side of the image is a cup, on the other a raven, and above the cup and the raven are inscribed the words: "Crux Sancti Patris Benedicti" (Cross of the Holy Father Benedict). Round the margin of the medal stands the legend "Ejus in obitu nro praesentia muniamus" (May we at our death be fortified by his presence). The reverse of the medal bears a cross with the initial letters of the words: "Crux Sacra Sit Mihi Lux" (The Holy Cross be my light), written downward on the perpendicular bar; the initial letters of the words, "Non Draco Sit Mihi Dux" (Let not the dragon be my guide), on the horizontal bar; and the initial letters of "Crux Sancti Patris Benedicti" in the angles of the cross. Round the margin stand the initial letters of the distich: "Vade Retro Satana, Nunquam Suade Mihi Vana — Sunt Mala Quae Libas, Ipse Venena Bibas" (Begone, Satan, do not suggest to me thy vanities — evil are the things thou profferest, drink thou thy own poison). At the top of the cross usually stands the word Pax (peace) or the monogram I H S (Jesus).
The medal just described is the so-called jubilee medal, which was struck first in 1880, to commemorate the fourteenth centenary of St. Benedict's birth. The Archabbey of Monte Cassino has the exclusive right to strike this medal. The ordinary medal of St. Benedict usually differs from the preceding in the omission of the words "Ejus in obitu etc.", and in a few minor details. (For the indulgences connected with it see Beringer, "Die Ablässe", Paderborn, 1906, p. 404-6.) The habitual wearer of the jubilee medal can gain all the indulgences connected with the ordinary medal and, in addition: (1) all the indulgences that could be gained by visiting the basilica, crypt, and tower of St. Benedict at Monte Cassino (Pius IX, 31 December, 1877); (2) a plenary indulgence on the feast of All Souls (from about two o'clock in the afternoon of 1 November to sunset of 2 November), as often as (toties quoties), after confession and Holy Communion, he visits any church or public oratory, praying there according to the intention of the pope, provided that he is hindered from visiting a church or public oratory of the Benedictines by sickness, monastic enclosure or a distance of at least 1000 steps. (Decr. 27 February, 1907, in Acta S. Sedis, LX, 246.) Any priest may receive the faculties to bless these medals.
More details on this medal can be found at the following site: http://webpages.charter.net/wjpbr/benedict.html.
As written by Fr Steve in the invitation to this occasion, St. Benedict was the son of a Roman noble and according to tradition, the twin of St. Scholastica. He was born about 480 in Umbria, Italy. St. Benedict was canonized in 1220 and has been declared as the Patron Saint of Europe and the founder of Western Monasticism. He wrote a rule for the monastic life, which Fr. Steve said laid the foundation for most of the principles of political and societal life as we know it today. He said that the Benedictine motto ora et labore – prayer and work – ought to find an important place in all of our lives.
Prayer attributed to St. Benedict:
Gracious and Holy Father give me
wisdom to perceive you,
diligence to seek you,
patience to wait for you,
eyes to behold you,
a heart to meditate on you,
and a life to proclaim you;
through the power
of the Spirit of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Prayer to St. Benedict
O glorious St. Benedict, sublime model of all virtues, pure vessel of God's grace! Behold me, humbly kneeling at thy feet. I implore thy loving heart to pray for me before the throne of God. To thee I have recourse in all the dangers which daily surround me. Shield me against my enemies, inspire me to imitate thee in all things. May thy blessing be with me always, so that I may shun whatever God forbids and avoid the occasions of sin.
Graciously obtain for me from God those favors and graces of which I stand so much in need, in the trials, miseries and afflictions of life. Thy heart was always so full of love, compassion, and mercy toward those who were afflicted or troubled in any way. Thou didst never dismiss without consolation and assistance anyone who had recourse to thee. I therefore invoke thy powerful intercession, in the confident hope that thou wilt hear my prayers and obtain for me the special grace and favor I so earnestly implore (mention it), if it be for the greater glory of God and the welfare of my soul.
Help me, O great St. Benedict, to live and die as a faithful child of God, to be ever submissive to His holy will, and to attain the eternal happiness of heaven. Amen.