Scene from the Life of St Benedict: the Poisoned Cup of Wine,
Painted by Philippe de Champaigne (1602-1674),
Oil on canvas Painted circa 1645
© Hermitage Museum, St Petersburg, Russia

Scene from the Life of St Benedict: the Poisoned Cup of Wine,
Painted by Philippe de Champaigne (1602-1674),
Oil on canvas Painted circa 1645
© Hermitage Museum, St Petersburg, Russia

Gospel of 11 July 2023

We have left everything and followed you

Matthew 19:27-29

Peter spoke to Jesus. ‘What about us?’ he said. ‘We have left everything and followed you. What are we to have, then?’ Jesus said to him, ‘I tell you solemnly, when all is made new and the Son of Man sits on his throne of glory, you will yourselves sit on twelve thrones to judge the twelve tribes of Israel. And everyone who has left houses, brothers, sisters, father, mother, children or land for the sake of my name will be repaid a hundred times over, and also inherit eternal life.’

Reflection on the painting

Today we celebrate the feast day of Saint Benedict, a man who truly as in today's Gospel reading 'left everything to follow Christ'. He was born circa 480AD to a wealthy family in the region of Umbria in Italy. After a youth of privilege and decadence, he met a monk called Romanus of Subiaco, who convinced him to change his ways and to live alone in a cave near Subiaco’s monastery for three years, to demonstrate his commitment to his Christian faith. Romanus checked in on the young Benedict on a regular basis and when the three years were served, Benedict was given the call to become abbot for the fifteen monks who lived in the monastery. Benedict assumed control of the monastery and insisted that his monks follow the strictest manner of worship and mission. Some of the monks became seriously upset by all his demands, and out of their disillusionment came a conspiracy to kill Benedict by poisoning his wine. As he blessed his wine cup, it shattered, saving his life. This is the moment depicted in our painting today: we see the rather shocked monks who had conspired to kill Benedict looking on in disbelief. The broken cup is in the middle of the floor. It was a turning point. Thereafter, they all fell in line and appreciated St Benedict for who he was, a saint.

I was educated at a Benedictine school near Ghent, Belgium, from the age of 11 till 18. The quiet witnessing of the monks there remains with me. A realisation was instilled in me then that true happiness won’t be achieved through self-gratification, but only through fidelity to Our Lord. That is easier said than done though. Each of us has to discover what plans God has for us. On this feast day of St Benedict, I keep all the Benedictine monks in my prayers.

Community was a key feature of Benedict's monastic vision, and he stressed the value of community life as a school for holiness. He saw the community as a place of equality where each person was helped by everyone else along the path of holiness. That is also what parish life is invited to be: living our faith as part of a wider community.

 

“Almighty God, give me wisdom to perceive You,

intelligence to understand You, diligence to seek You,

patience to wait for You, eyes to behold You,

a heart to meditate upon You and life to proclaim You,

through the power of the Spirit of our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.” 

-  A prayer by St Benedict

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Mark Crain
Member
Mark Crain
11 months ago

Today’s reflection blows my mind. Even in the monastery, evil thoughts grew into a conspiracy to kill. No place on earth is off limits for the malice of Satan. Holy Spirit, please keep the evil spirits away from me. I note the skull on one side of the shelf and an hour glass on the other.

Patricia O'Brien
Member
Patricia O'Brien
11 months ago

Beautiful prayer at the end there….
A wonderful chap I know was ordained priest at the weekend; his parents opposed his ordination so he really has ‘left everything’ for which we thank him, and all our brother priests. Bless every single one in their ministry and Lord, touch more hearts to serve you – and us.

Last edited 11 months ago by Patricia O'Brien
spaceforgrace
Member
spaceforgrace
11 months ago

What a very brave thing to do.

spaceforgrace
Member
spaceforgrace
11 months ago

I am familiar with the name of Saint Benedict, but not so much the details of his life. I didn’t know the story of the chalice, so thank you for this painting, reflection, and prayer.
As for the reading to me it says, ‘It isn’t about what you get out, but what you put in.’
I have a difficult day ahead, and need to put in a lot of prayer today, and ask the Lord to do whatever work He decides to do with me.’

Mark Crain
Member
Mark Crain
11 months ago
Reply to  spaceforgrace

Yes, thank you Fr. Patrick for the background on Saint Benedict and for sharing his prayer.

Anthony
Member
Anthony
11 months ago

We had a beautiful Cistertian monastery in our town but only ruins now thanks to King Henry VIII and Thomas Cromwell. Now, our nearest monastery is at least a hundred miles away.
For those of you who don’t know England’s history, the destruction (I won’t call it dissolution) of all the religious houses happened at the hands of the two mentioned above. Pray for our religious houses of today.

spaceforgrace
Member
spaceforgrace
11 months ago
Reply to  Anthony

Our ruined monasteries and abbeys are now picturesque tourist attractions. I visit them too but with, as you say the eyes of an English Catholic. It is a matter I never hear discussed among Anglicans about their surviving churches, some of which are incredible cathedrals. We have survived though, and must forgive them.

Chazbo M
Member
Chazbo M
11 months ago
Reply to  Anthony

Yes, and it’s really annoying when you hear the destruction defended by Anglicans. Let’s just all admit it was all about male vanity and greed for the monastic assets. But I think if Henry hadn’t undertaken this destruction it would have come about in some other way. As in France.

spaceforgrace
Member
spaceforgrace
11 months ago
Reply to  Chazbo M

Yes, many other places in Europe too.

Andy Bocanegra
Member
Andy Bocanegra
11 months ago
Reply to  Anthony

As an American, I really admire you English Catholics keeping the true faith alive in England. God bless you all.

Anthony
Member
Anthony
11 months ago
Reply to  Andy Bocanegra

Thank you Andy. Catholics in britain suffered hundreds of years of persecution and martyrdom from the time of Henry VIII. Many became priests in Rome and Belgium and came to England knowing they would, if caught be hanged drawn and quatered. It was a capital offence to be a catholic priest.

marleen de vlieghere
Member
marleen de vlieghere
11 months ago

My son was at the same school. He is still very grateful to the monks for the priceless education he got there.
Let us pray for vocations!!!

Guy Van Holsbeke
Member
Guy Van Holsbeke
11 months ago

la libération est fondamentale pour la foi chrétienne. Les moines meurtriers ne sont pas emprisonnés mais ont une chance; ils sont libérés par la parole de Dieu

Chazbo M
Member
Chazbo M
11 months ago

As a Benedictine monk said to me once, when life was pretty bleak “In your darkest times, when everything seems lost, Jesus is there for you in your despair”.
So for me faith is particularly important in the down times and when things are going well we have to try and spread a little of our spare happiness about!

spaceforgrace
Member
spaceforgrace
11 months ago
Reply to  Chazbo M

I am going through such a time again Charles. Please pray for me, and my son.

Chazbo M
Member
Chazbo M
11 months ago
Reply to  spaceforgrace

I pray for a better outcome for your day than you are expecting SFG. It can be seen as somewhat facile saying that I will pray for you. If you say that to someone you have to really pray ‘hard’.

marleen de vlieghere
Member
marleen de vlieghere
11 months ago
Reply to  Chazbo M

Indeed, Chazbo. I join you for SFG.

spaceforgrace
Member
spaceforgrace
11 months ago

Thankyou.

Mark Crain
Member
Mark Crain
11 months ago
Reply to  Chazbo M

I join you, as well.

spaceforgrace
Member
spaceforgrace
11 months ago
Reply to  Mark Crain

Thankyou Mark- I still hold you in my prayers too. We are all the walking wounded.

spaceforgrace
Member
spaceforgrace
11 months ago
Reply to  Chazbo M

Yep, I agree but always worth the ask! I prayed hard for myself this morning. I don’t find it difficult these days!

Andy Bocanegra
Member
Andy Bocanegra
11 months ago
Reply to  Chazbo M

I will join you as well.

Andy Bocanegra
Member
Andy Bocanegra
11 months ago
Reply to  spaceforgrace

I will include you and your son in my Rosary intentions.

Chazbo M
Member
Chazbo M
11 months ago
Reply to  spaceforgrace

I hope your day went well SFG? Mine was up and down so I treated myself to brandy and cigar in the garden!!

John Hobbs
Member
John Hobbs
11 months ago
Reply to  Chazbo M

Great idea, I might just join you in that cigar and brandy. I’m pretty sure I’ve got some Benedictine somewhere but I’m not so sure I want to drink it after seeing today’s picture! It’ll be a quiet, contemplative moment to say a prayer for everyone having a difficult day, especially within this ÇA community! Best to all, John

Antonio Portelli
Member
Antonio Portelli
11 months ago

Free me Lord from ever asking “What’s in it for me !”

Polly French
Member
Polly French
11 months ago

Thank you Fr Patrick for bringing the Gospel alive to us everyday through art. As they say ‘a picture paints a thousand words.’ You definitely help to bring us to holiness through the art and your reflections. I hope we can in turn bring others in our lives to holiness. The key feature, focus and ‘turning point’ in the painting is the broken chalice; just as in our own lives, sometimes, it is in our very brokenness and in the depth of despair we are forced to dig deep and find Jesus, forgive and seek forgiveness just like the monks. Life changed for the better for them afterwards but not in the way they had planned. Perhaps we too need to ‘let go and let God.’

spaceforgrace
Member
spaceforgrace
11 months ago
Reply to  Polly French

Such comforting words for me today, thank you.

Mark Crain
Member
Mark Crain
11 months ago
Reply to  Polly French

You express this so beautifully. Thank you.

Bashia Ferrando
Bashia Ferrando
11 months ago
Reply to  Polly French

Polly you truly have some beautiful profound words of spiritual wisdom, a person of deep prayer and contemplation. They touch me. Thank you. God bless you

Polly French
Member
Polly French
11 months ago

Thank you Bashia, we all are trying our best to live in the way God would want us to. We are all the encourager of each other. God bless.

Mike Baird
Member
Mike Baird
11 months ago

‘You will repaid a hundred times over, and also inherit eternal life.’

Sounds like a good return on investment to me.

Sign me up!

spaceforgrace
Member
spaceforgrace
11 months ago
Reply to  Mike Baird

‘Grant that I may love you always… and then do with me what thou wilt.’ St Alphonsus Liguori.

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