Time for Prayer and Work on a Visit to Saint Vincent Archabbey and WAOB

As I traveled through a mountain pass near Cresson, Pennsylvania on my way from State College to Latrobe on October 24, I saw the first snowflakes of the pilgrimage in North America. I arrived shortly before the noon Mass at the Chapel of Saint Vincent College, which was attended by many of the students, faculty and staff.  They were very grateful to receive the pilgrim icon of Our Lady of Czestochowa.

During my visit, I stayed with the Benedictine monks at Saint Vincent Archabbey, praying Vespers and having dinner with the monks who are well known for their hospitality.  I have a great admiration for Benedictine spirituality.  In fact, some time ago I wrote an article entitled “A Benedictine Response to the Culture of Death” in which I argued that the Benedictine Motto “Ora et Labora” (“Pray and Work”) was key to overcoming the Culture of Death.  The From Ocean to Ocean Pilgrimage in Defense of Life is certainly consistent with this strategy.

Later that evening some students helped me to transfer the icon to the student center, where I joined Kate Capato and Peter Campagna of Generation Life.  Generation Life is an organization that seeks to build a culture of life by promoting the virtue of chastity.  Before their presentation, I gave a brief explanation of the Icon of Our Lady of Czestochowa and the From Ocean to Ocean Pilgrimage.

I prayed Matins or Morning Prayer and concelebrated Mass with the monks early Friday.  Later in the afternoon, I joined Father Boniface Hicks, O.S.B. at the “We Are One Body” WAOB radio studio where I recorded two shows – one about the pilgrimage and another in which I shared my vocation story.  Father Boniface has his own very interesting conversion and vocation story.  He is a former atheist who, when he found God, offered his life in service to Him as a Benedictine monk and priest.

Father Boniface has been a great friend of Human Life International over the years.  Many of the Masses at the St. Michael the Archangel Chapel at HLI’s headquarters in Front Royal, Virginia are broadcast on WAOB.  I saw Fr. Boniface again on October 30 when he preached at the closing of the 40 Hours Devotion at Ascension Catholic Church in Ingram, Pennsylvania near Pittsburgh. He assured me of his prayers for the success of the peregrination.  

Before I left, I bought some St. Benedict medals and had the blessed by one of the Benedictine priests.  The Medal of St. Benedict is a powerful defense against Satan.  The Rule of Benedict says “Let all guests arriving at the monastery be received as Christ Himself, for He will one day say, ‘I was a stranger and you took Me in.’ And let due honor be paid to all, especially, however, to those who are of the household of the faith - and to strangers.”  The monks certainly lived up to their Rule and were very gracious to this visitor. I hope to join them again in the not too distant future.

Fr. Peter West
Vice President For Missions
Human Life International

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