ST. BENEDICT´S MONASTERY
Our Benedictine Community in Digos was founded in 1983 by 5 Benedictine Missionaries belonging to the St Ottilien Benedictine Congregation. The primary purpose of its foundation is to respond to the request of the late Bishop Gene Camina – to have a Benedictine Spirituality in his Diocese. That the presence of the Benedictine Monks will serve as the Spiritual Well-Spring of Water that quench the thirsty soul of the faithful especially the young generation. True enough, this desire was realized by God’s grace in time. A retreat house was built to cater the needs of High School and College Students serving 4 to 5 Dioceses. Due to the demand, another up-graded wing was built to serve all walks of life!
The Monastery now has 22 monks; 4 are in the Missions (1 Africa, 2 Cuba, 1 Germany). All the rest are in the Monastery trying to live the ideals of St Benedict – ORA et LABORA! The recent Covid-19 Virus has changed a little bit our here and now routine! We still anchor on our ORA as our priority and even added more times for prayer in solidarity with what is happening around and the whole of the Universe.
Certainly, with the new normal phase of life, that we, as monks of today, are very much challenged to hold on to the monastic values while adapting to the demands of the here and now. As we adapted the possibility of LIVE STREAMING, we are still able to reach out people outside the monastery compound and even beyond our Diocese while remaining grounded unto the monastic virtues within the cloister.
Since our Monastery is located along a route where there are constant travellers, we envision to establish a good solemn place -a stop over-, where they can find solace. A project to counter the rat race life-style of the society today. Bringing the Monastic Life back to the Life Stream of Today’s World! Yes, an ideal adventure! We only wait for the right moment.
Meeting my deepest self
I walked the Camino de Santiago for the first time in August 2010. A few weeks before I had made a crucial decision in my life; while the right decision, it was also very painful. Without knowing how, I found myself holding in my hands a prayer book with the photo of the Apostle Santiago (Saint James) on the cover and I decided to walk the Camino. (I still have the book, this is it). I decided to start right away, the house where I was born and lived with my family during my first years of life, in Valcarlos, a town bordering France in the valley of the Song of Roland, very near Roncesvalles. While walking the Camino, I hoped to answer the question of my deepest self and I found the answer at the end of the Camino.
I have always been struck by the hat of the Apostle Santiago, with the front flap raised and the back flap lowered. The reason for this, which perhaps many of you already know, is because on the Camino, we walk westwards and the sun, in the morning (when its most customary to walk the Camino) is always behind us. All along the Camino we walk in the morning with our shadow in front of us, and that image captures the partial answers that I was finding about deepest self while on the Camino: Yes, we are ourselves but not entirely…the inward journey is one that we must walk and embrace with all of its beauty. When I arrived in Santiago, I visited, as is tradition, the tomb of Saint James. There, I felt great disappointment and reproached myself for having decided to experience the Camino as a metaphor for my life because, if I honestly accepted what the Camino offered me as a response, the end of my life was the grave. At night I went to the traditional blessing for pilgrims in the Cathedral of Santiago. At the end, without knowing why, the priest said to me: “the end of the Camino is the Pórtico de la Gloría (Portico of Glory).” I had not visited it; until then, I had not even heard of it.
The next day I went to the Portico of Glory and saw the image of Jesus, with his face full of peace and with the marks of the Passion on his hands and side, blessing. I was moved, I felt that my whole story with all its wounds was blessed and that in that light I could embrace my whole life. And in the archivolts, musicians tuned their instruments, ready to play as I crossed the threshold into the Cathedral. To enter the Pórtico de la Gloría you have to look East, directly at the Sun, a 180º turn from the westward orientation that I had experienced throughout the Camino. In that direction, the body no longer casts any shadow before it. I believe that these words of the Apostle Saint Paul summarize well my experience: “At present we see indistinctly, as in a mirror, but then face to face. At present I know partially; then I shall know fully, as I am fully known.” (Saint Paul, 1st Letter to the Corinthians 13,12)
Ten years later, in 2020 during the Covid-19 confinement, I found myself again with the Apostle Santiago. I had situated my desk in front of a window, which framed a landscape that I observed with great care, mapping it inch by inch. I discovered that, above the railing of the exterior terrace surrounding the dome of the Cathedral of the Almudena of Madrid, there are 12 sculptures of the apostles and…Santiago is the one facing my window! I have been living in this home for more than three years and I had not noticed that before! I experienced it as a call to set out on a pilgrimage and relive my Camino of 2010. Madrid’s peak of Covid-19 “coincided” with the time of celebration of Holy Week and this time my “stages” of the Camino have been the stages of the Jesus’ pilgrimage in his Passion, which also does not end in the grave but in Glory. This new pilgrimage echoes that of 2010: the context has been very different and yet it was comprised of the same internal movement of the Camino: welcoming our shadows that prepares us for our encounter with the Light.
“To those who suffer, God does not provide arguments which explain everything; rather, his response is that of an accompanying presence, a history of goodness which touches every story of suffering and opens up a ray of light.” (Pope Francis, Lumen Fidei, 57)
Heavenly Father, the light of your revelation brought to us by your Son Jesus and has been continued by His Apostles and through the Saints of the ages past, through their prayers, may we always give thanks and praise You for having been enriched by them in wisdom and love. Grant this through Christ our Lord. Amen.
Thank you for joining us “in Camino,” for being a part of our humble project, for your prayers, for your assistance and for your company.
With your support you will contribute with food bags, sanitary material, water supply, cleaning kits…