I had the good fortune to be in attendance this weekend at the annual meeting of the Institute on Religious Life held at Mundelein Seminary in Illinois. The recipient of this year’s Pro Fidelitate et Virtute Award was Benedictine monk Fr. Cassian Folsom, osb. Fr. Cassian started his religious life at St. Meinrad Archabbey in Indiana, but in 1998 founded a new Benedictine community in Rome, moving in 2000 to the Monastery of San Benedetto in Norcia, the birthplace of Saint Benedict. The monastery follows a full observance of the Benedictine Rule and uses both the ordinary and extraordinary forms of the Roman Rite.
Fr. Cassian’s short remarks upon receiving the awarding were captivating in their clarity and wording, and a short excerpt from the talk is given below.

“The humble priest has a certain ars celebrandi, a certain way of carrying himself, a certain respect for the holy things, a fitting decorum in the presence of God. The arrogant priest has a different ars celebrandi, and the faithful can tell the difference immediately. The humble celebrant is transparent, so that the Lord can shine through. The priest knows that the liturgy is not primarily his work, but the work of the Holy Trinity, and his job is to be a good instrument and to get out of the way as much as possible so that the Lord is free to accomplish his work of grace within the hearts of those present.

How does the priest become humble? By a life of Christian asceticism, by allowing the Lord to break his stony heart, so that a heart of flesh can emerge. By allowing Christ–by means of physical and spiritual suffering–to empty him of all that is not godly. The Eastern Fathers call this process kenosis. Fr. Jean Corbon, author of the part of the new Catechism on the Liturgy, explains that kenosis pertains not just to men but to God. God the Father empties himself in creation and in the Incarnation of his Son. Christ empties himself in his death on the cross for our salvation. The Holy Spirit empties himself in distilling the Trinitarian life of Grace upon the Church.”

Look for more about this monastic community the monks’ website: osbnorcia.org.