Abbot’s Response to Guardians of the Tradition

 
 
O F F I C E  O F   T H E   A B B O T

 

                                                                                                                                       July 22, 2021

                                                                                                                  Feast of St. Mary Magdalene

Dear friends of Saint Leo Abbey,

As you may have heard, the Holy Father has issued a new mandate, Guardians of the Tradition, regarding the pre-conciliar liturgy. I want to share my response to this essential mandate and reminders about the liturgical customs of our Benedictine community. As Benedictine Monks, we are tasked as guardians of the sacred liturgy in service to the Pope, as we consider him the “Abbot of the Abbots.” Thus, our obedience to him and his mandates is without question. the Church is not a democracy; keep that in mind always. Like all Catholics, we are charged to follow the Church’s teachings; especially her instructions from the beautiful documents produced by the Second Vatican Council, while trying to accommodate all.


I am sure you have observed our use of ancient treasures in our Abbey liturgies: solemn processions with incense, ancient Marian prayers, Scriptural Antiphons, Psalms, and Canticles all proclaimed through Gregorian chant encompassing the English, Greek, and Latin languages. Gregorian chant is the Benedictine order’s tradition and gift to the universal Church. Guardians of the Tradition has placed no restrictions on the Church’s treasures of Gregorian chant, nor the traditions mentioned above; hence, our continued use of them during our celebrations of the Divine Office and Eucharist. As Benedictines, we are responsible for providing the Church with a sacred, reverent, and unifying liturgy; we will continue doing so until our dying day!


Our guests must be aware that Saint Leo Abbey is not a parish. We are an autonomous monastery that serves the spiritual needs of our monks while generously welcoming all that wish to pray with us. In other settings, you may have noticed that the assembly may pray quickly, without cohesion. At Saint Leo, we pray slowly as one body as we call God our Father, to hear us, aid us, and forgive us. We expect all to pray with us in the same manner as we promote what the liturgy demands: unity. As you pray with us, we respectfully ask you to follow our monastic traditions, including following the responses and bodily gestures of the monastic community, upholding the precept: a common bodily posture, observed by all, is a sign of the unity of the members of the Christian community gathered together for the Sacred Liturgy (GIRM 42). In these simple yet significant details, we can make an immense difference in providing our community with a reverent liturgy. I ask all to consider our traditions the same way as when you visit a friend’s home, you follow their customs and do not impose your practices. Saint Leo Abbey is our home, and we welcome you among us to be one with us; following our ritual, not one’s own.


We are proud to be Benedictine monks! As theologians talk about theology, we Benedictine monks live theology, as we live in God’s presence, imploring Him with the needs and intentions of the Holy Father, the Church, and those who entrust us with their petitions. We hope to express our Benedictine identity by having reverent, unifying liturgical celebrations. God willing, you will feel God’s presence among us as you unite yourself in worship with us.


Lastly, I implore all to read the Motu Proprio, Guardians of the Tradition (Traditions Custodes), rather than merely listen to what is said about it on television, social media, or even from distressed preachers. Read what the Holy Father teaches and try to understand that the Holy See is not trying to alienate anyone but striving to ensure the unity which our liturgy demands, and the communion which Catholics are obliged to maintain as we move as one on our pilgrimage to the Lord (Can. 209). I desire that our community will soon offer our guests a deeper catechesis on sacred liturgy where all may learn why the liturgy is the heart of our faith, to lead all to that fully conscious and active participation that is demanded by the very nature of the liturgy (SC 14).


Yours in Christ & Saint Benedict,


Abbot Isaac Camacho, OSB

 

Abbey is Open. Quarantine is over!

We are pleased to inform you that the Abbot and monks of Saint Leo Abbey have ended their quarantine after testing negative for the virus. 
 
The Abbey Church and gift shop will reopen tomorrow morning by 9:00 am. Mass tomorrow will be celebrated at 12:00 pm.
 
As we hope to avoid another shutdown or worse, we will enforce the following safety measures on all our guests that wish to worship in the Abbey Church or visit the Abbey Gift Shop. No exceptions will be made. 
– All guests will wear a mask when in the Abbey Church and Abbey Gift Shop.
– All will enter through the front doors of the Abbey after washing their hands at the sinks in front of the main entrance. 
– Once inside the Abbey Church, please find a seat by using the center aisle and choosing a pew that is not blocked off. 
– Please respect social distancing by sitting at least six feet from other guests, families, of course, may sit together in the available pews. 
– Guests will not be permitted to sit in the choir stalls with the monks until further notice. 
– For the reception of Holy Communion, please remain at your pew as a minister will bring the Eucharist to you so there will be less movement among the faithful. 
– The Consecrated Host will be received on the hand while the communicant stands, for those that do not wish to receive on the hand, please cross your arms on your chest so you may receive a blessing. Communion will not be distributed on the tongue for anyone during the ongoing pandemic.
– Once the celebration has ended, all will exit to the right of their pew following the designated signs, starting with the back rows going forward.
– Worship aids will not be given out during this time. Those who wish to pray with us or follow
 

I want to apologize for closing the Abbey for the third time during the ongoing pandemic.

December 14, 2020

Greetings to our friends of Saint Leo Abbey,

It was necessary to close again because we are under quarantine as one of the kitchen employees

tested positive for the coronavirus. Since we were exposed to her, the monks were all tested.

Thanks be to God, the monks have tested negative, but we will be tested again this week to

ensure we do not have the virus at the end of our quarantine. We will send an email telling you

if we are infected or not.

In one of his recent meditations given during Mass, Brother Lucius told us that we were acting

as the Desert Fathers, the monks of the early Church. These early monks lived in cells, many

times caves, and only came together for the Eucharist. During these days, we are doing that

under quarantine, praying in our monastic cells, eating alone, and only gathering for the Eucharist.

We are such a small community that we cannot risk putting each other at risk; if Godforbid,

we are ill.

I invite you to join us from your homes to meditate on the idea of praying. To pray is something

that Saint Paul says we should do without interruption. That, my friends, is the call of the

monks to pray without ceasing.

Many books try to teach us how to pray. However, Saint Benedict offers a simple path for the

Monks, and I am inviting you to follow it. Benedict says that we should pray using the psalms.

Then Benedict strongly recommends the Bible, the Holy Scriptures, which we call Lectio Divina.

If we do Lectio Divina every day, we will be able to read, pray, meditate, and finally contemplate

God every single moment of our lives.

If you want a one or two pages long explanation of how to do Lectio Divina, please let me

know, and I will send it to you.

Once again, I want to say that I am sorry for closing the Abbey to the public. I hope and pray

that we will have good news by the end of this week; please pray for us. I cannot wait to have

you with us for the Midnight Mass of Christmas.

May the Lord God bless you and keep you. May He smile upon you and give you peace.

Peace,

Abbot Isaac

ASH WEDNESDAY SCHEDULE

MASS AT NOON

ASHES DISTRIBUTED FROM 1:30 – 4:30

 

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Brother Lucius Amarillas, O.S.B.,

to Profess Solemn Vows on July 14

Brother Lucius Amarillas, O.S.B., a junior Benedictine monk of Saint Leo Abbey, will profess solemn vows during Mass at 10:00 a.m. on Sunday, July 14, 2019, at Saint Leo Abbey.  Professing solemn vows will bind Brother Lucius to the monastery and the Benedictine order for the remainder of his life.

All are invited to attend this joyous occasion! If you cannot attend in person, you are invited to pray for Brother Lucius and watch the live video stream of the Mass via Saint Leo Abbey’s Facebook page.

Brother Lucius was born in Manteca, California and grew up in Las Vegas, Nevada. After graduating high school, he moved to Florida and began studying religion at Saint Leo University. There, he started discerning a vocation with the Benedictine monks who founded the university.

For the last four years, Lucius has been through monastic formation, which consists of studying monastic history, Scripture, liturgy, and community life. Within the Abbey community, Lucius has been assigned several jobs from baking bread, cleaning and caring for the Abbey Church, and serving as the Abbot’s master of liturgical celebrations. With immense gratitude to Abbot Isaac, the monks of Saint Leo Abbey, as well as many others who have prayed for and accompanied him on his journey, Lucius looks forward to professing solemn vows of obedience, stability, and conversion of life. Following his profession of solemn vows, Lucius will continue graduate studies in theology at Saint Leo University and Saint John’s University, Collegeville.

Becoming a monk and taking Solemn Vows

The formation of a monk consists of a few stages the candidate progresses through: postulancy, novitiate, and juniorate. Following at least three years of the juniorate, if approved by the community, the junior monk may profess solemn vows, which binds him to the monastery and the Benedictine order for the remainder of his life.

These vows are unique to the Benedictine order. “Obedience” requires that the monk obeys his superior, the Abbot, and his successors. “Stability” requires that the monk remains a member of the particular monastic community in which he is making his vows, in this case, Saint Leo Abbey. Finally, “Conversion of Life” declares that the monk is indeed promising to live a life differently than the rest of the world, a life which is centered on monastic practices aiming for holiness.

 

Half way point of Lent: Some Encouraging words!

March 29 2019

Half way point of Lent; Words of Encouragement!

Lent is a time to direct ourselves a little more intentionally to grow in holiness. We prepare ourselves to welcome the Lord of light, truth, and goodness into our hearts and minds. Anything that can bring us closer to Christ is a treasure to be fervently desired. We are turning away from darkness by welcoming the Light of Life.

It is only through God’s grace that we can find the courage to look upon our lives to search for the times we have turned our backs on God. If we dare look we will find where we have at times failed to heed His voice and instead pursued our own agenda. We have often found ourselves unprepared to turn away from our personal pursuits in order to respond to Jesus when he has called us to a better way. Lent is a time to foster our resources to turn to the Lord, asking for his grace to cleanse our hearts and abide with us. Come Lord Jesus!

If we consider the many words of Jesus that we have cast behind our backs we may find cause for great concern. There is a powerful latent force within us that slows our response to the inspirations of God. There are the many times we heard Jesus’ voice but were too busy to grasp them. We have heard his voice many times and acquiesced to the thoughts of our imagination that said we would find a more opportune time to grasp his words and make them come true in our life.

Let’s look for some of the words behind our backs and put them into effect. When we please God by doing what he wills for us to do he gives us the happiness of a clean conscience. Jesus is always ready to help us when we call upon him. He is a God who transcends our smallness of heart and resources to do good.