Saturday, January 2, 2010

Benedictine Monastery of Hawaii

Tomorrow I'll be speaking to a group of Benedictines oblates about Celtic Spirituality and some of its overlap into the Benedictine tradition. I've looked forward to this, and have put together a pretty nifty PowerPoint presentation (at least I think) with photos and pictures. The monastery is one of the best kept spiritual secrets in Oahu, and several folks I spoke to, did not even know there was a monastery here. The monastery is located on the North Shore, and is high in the hills, overlooking mountains and the ocean. Here a link if you want more information. Each time I arrive, I find it hard to leave. I'll report more later.

This got me to thinking again about how important it is to be involved with an "oblate" program and in taking regular "time outs" to check one's spiritual bearings. Oblate, which in Latin means "offering", and as mentioned in other blog articles, there are many different oblate programs one can be part of. Find a Rule or Community with which you are comfortable. The major Rules include the Benedictines, Franciscians, Dominician, and of course, Celtic. These are located in many parts of the country and world for that matter. And with the advent of the internet, much can be done on the web. For lovers of the Celtic tradition, please see the Northumbria Community, or the Order of St. Aidan. Typically, these groups meet once a month, centering about books and topics related to the Rule of the Community.

There is a very close link between the Celtic and Benedictine traditions. And in a sense, the Celtic Rule, was something like John the Baptist, preparing the way for something greater, the Benedictine tradition, which is the largest Religious Rule in the Christian World. These close links are demonstrated in the writings of Ester deWall, who has written extensively on both the Celtic and Benedictine traditions. If your not familiar with her books, you need to be. Seeking God, the Way of St. Benedict (1984), and The Celtic Way of Prayer (1997) are two excellent introductions to both traditions.

I've had a spiritual director for over twenty five years, and during that time, had the opportunity to visit monasteries in New York, California, and now Hawaii. Each time I go for a visit or for a retreat, I learn something new, and gain a deeper perspective. Each time I hear the monastery bell ring, I am reminded there is a Rule of life, a pattern of behaviors, which helps me to better understand the Christian experience which is a unique blend of community and individual experience. In addition, you also meet new friends who are also on the Christian path. These experiences are life changing, and ones we all need to make time for.


  1. As you may know, Celtic Christianity became monastic centered, somewhat less heirarchical centered. Also private confession developed through the Irish monks.

  2. Hmmm.... I had never thought of or encountered the idea of Celtic monasticism as just a precursor to Benedictine. Or of the Benedictine tradition being "greater." Now I have to consider the merits of that, or whether it is maybe a sort of "sour grapes" cop-out. Since our own Celtic tradition is gone, we can console ourselves that it did its true job?

    Hmmm... something to ponder.

    Greater? Certainly there is St. Benedict himself to consider. The Celtic lands produced nobody who did what he did, found an order as such. The Benedictine way is certainly neater and tidier than the Celtic, although it lacked the hugely heroic element found among the Celtic monks.

    More pondering needed.