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.
Br Bill Orosz
3 October 1929 – 10 September 2020
Dear Oblates and friends of Saint Leo Abbey, September 10, 2020
This morning, our Brother Bill Orosz died around 3:00 am in the Dade City Hospital, following his recent admission for respiratory problems; he was ninety years old. Brother Bill had been under hospice care for some time since his health began to decline.
The Prologue of the Rule of Saint Benedict reminds us to contemplate monastic life’s goal, specifically, why we are here and why we have come to the monastery? Our Holy Father Benedict instructs us:”Seeking his workman in a multitude of people, the Lord calls out to him and lifts his voice again: Is there anyone here who yearns for life and desires to see good days? (Ps 33: 13) If you hear this and your answer is “I do,” God then directs these words to you: If you desire true and eternal life, keep your tongue free from vicious talk and your lips from all deceit; turn away from evil and do good; let peace be your quest and aim” (Prologue: 14-17).
Today those words of the Rule of Saint Benedict became a reality for Bill, as he was called to join the Lord:”Therefore our life span has been lengthened by way of a truce, that we may amend our misdeeds. As the Apostle says: Do you not know that the patience of God is leading you to repent (Rom 2:4)? And indeed the Lord assures us in his love: I do not wish the death of the sinner, but that he turn back to me and live (Ezek 33: 11).” Furthermore, he says: “Never swerving from his instructions, then, but faithfully observing his teaching in the monastery until death, we shall through patience share in the sufferings of Christ that we may deserve also to share in his kingdom. Amen”( Prologue: 36,50 RB 1980: The Rule Of St. Benedict. Liturgical Press).
A viewing with mid-afternoon prayer will be celebrated in the Saint Leo Abbey Church on Tuesday, September 15, at 3:00 pm. A Funeral Mass will follow at4:00 pm on Tuesday, September 15, in the Abbey Church.
All guests will be required to wear a face mask and respect social distancing while in the Abbey Church.
May our Brother Bill rest in God’s peace,
Abbot Isaac and the monastic community
Father Robert Velten, OSB
January 16, 1926 June 10, 2020
Early this morning, our confrere, Father Robert, died peacefully in his sleep after a long battle with Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. Father Robert was born in Fort Thomas, Kentucky, in 1926. Before joining our monastic community in1948, he bravely served his country in the United States Army Air Corps in World War II. Following the war, Father Robert was among the many men; including, his brother Austin Velten, who joined religious life here at Saint Leo Abbey. Robert professed his simple vows in 1949, and later his solemn vows in 1952, and was ordained a priest for the monastic community in 1954. Within
the monastic community, Father Robert served as Novice Master and later in the Abbey prep school as
headmaster, teacher, football, basketball, and track coach, requiring nothing less than excellence from his pupils. Within Saint Leo College, Father Robert served as Administrative Vice President and Dean of Students. Father Robert lived in Newport, Kentucky for some time, and he served in several parishes and
taught math in the public school system for more than 25 years Following his return to the Abbey in the 1990s, Robert served the community as Prior. He was later elected to serve the community as an administrator for two years before the election of Abbot Isaac Camacho, OSB. Father
Robert is survived by an extensive family whom he loved dearly. All of them remember their “Uncle Robert” who always entertained his nephews, nieces and great nephews, by singing for them.
As we remember him, may he remember us in the presence of the Lord. Abbot Isaac Camacho, OSB, and the monastic community will receive the body of Father Robert on Monday, June 15, at 7:00 pm and will celebrate the Funeral Mass on Tuesday, June 16, at 10:00 am All liturgies will be celebrated in the Saint Leo Abbey Church. All are welcome, and our guests will be required to follow our Abbey health guidelines by
washing their hands before entering the church, practicing social distancing when sitting in the
designated pews and wearing a face covering.
COVID-19 LITURGY UPDATE:
ALL PUBLIC PRAYERS AND MASS SUSPENDED
To keep both our guests and the monastic community safer during this pandemic the monks have suspended all public liturgies in solidarity with the Diocese of Saint Petersburg. This suspension includes our masses and the liturgy of the hours. We are adhering to the social distancing and stay-at-home mandate given by the State of Florida for as long as it is in place. Once the threat is over and Abbot Isaac agrees to resume public worship, we will announce it on all of our platforms.
In the meantime please join us on our Facebook page for our live broadcast of all of our prayers and masses.
If you would like to make a donation, request a mass intention, or purchase some items from our gift shop please see our new Online Store.
ASH WEDNESDAY SCHEDULE 2020
MASS AT NOON
ASHES WILL BE DISTRIBUTED BETWEEN 1:30 – 4:40PM
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.
News from the Abbey:
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 the 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.
The vocation process at St. Leo Abbey is designed for a young man to simply explore the reality, beyond many misconceptions about monastic life, without any final decisions at this point.
The abbey perhaps even more than the candidate wants all candidates to be sure when the time comes. The vocation process is slow and supportive, personal and positive. Up to the final vows far in the future, the young man is free to leave as a friend of the abbey and with its blessing.
A Postulant. Second step to become a monk. All men enter the abbey as a candidate for a period of several months which leads to his postulancy. The postulancy is a time of discernment while living in the community. It allows time to learn if his attraction is something he wants to continue. A postulant will wear the monastic tunic. It is about a six-month period. At the beginning of the Advent Season this year Br. Felix will become a postulant if he desires to proceed a step further in his monastic vocation and the abbot agrees. But he still has not made a final commitment. This is a long journey of faith. A man does not become a monk overnight or without having lived as one for several years in the fellowship of the abbey’s brotherhood. Going through all the steps to become a monk and a life-long member of a monastery takes a minimum of five years and may be ten years or more. At some point the young man comes to see that the rigor and disciplines of monastic life are ways to greater freedom in Christ, not less.
The Novitiate. Third step to become a monk. After the postulant and the abbot agree that the postulant is ready for the next step, the postulant enters the novitiate, a time of learning more deeply of monastic life. He is given the monastic scapular to wear over the tunic and is given a new name, often the name of one of the desert fathers.
The Junior Monk. Fourth step to become a monk. After a yearlong time of growth and discernment the novice may become a junior monk by the profession of simple vows. During this time he realizes another basic truth: monastic life is not so much what one gives up, but about the riches of God’s grace and love that are gained.
As a junior monk he receives the full monastic habit. These simple vows are for one year. He repeats these simple vows each year for a total of three years. The junior monk is free to leave at the end of each of the three year periods if he discerns with the help of the formation director that monastic life is not his calling. At the end of three years of simple vows the junior monk is still free to leave if he so desires.
The Solemnly Professed Monk. Fifth step to become a monk. After three years as a junior monk, the young man, now fully understanding the liberty of the monastic disciplines may enter into solemn vows if he is accepted by the community. At this point the monk is no longer free to leave the monastery and in fact no longer wants to leave. Throughout the 1,500-year history of the Benedictines, the path to become a monk is not the path of the weak or timid. Nothing is equal to the spiritual courage, the full armor from the Lord, and strength he receives from our loving God.