Paul Zalonksi of New Haven, Connecticut recently finished a month long experience of monastic life at Santa Croce in Gerusalemme. While here he helped prepare the Mass booklet for Laetare Sunday and accompanied a group of us to the Curia Generalizia where we sang for the ordination to the diaconate of two monks from the Cistercian Abbey of Szczyrzyc in Poland. The ordaining bishop was Cardinal Franc Rode. The Abbot General Dom Mauro Esteva, O.Cist. concelebrated.
Maria Elena Vidal will love this. I decided to write something about monastic forms of address and etiquette. There has been a fair amount of confusion over the monastic use of the title Don and Dom. Don is not the short form of Donald. The title Dom, used mostly by English and French–speaking monks is not the short form of Dominic.
Don and Dom
Cistercian–Benedictines in Italy, as well as other Benedictines and Carthusians, are usually addressed as Don and sometimes as Dom. The same title is given to secular priests in Italy. In other countries monks (and some Canons Regular) use the form Dom, but it means the same thing. The title derives from the Latin Domnus, a form of Dominus, and passed into Italian use under Spanish influence. It is perhaps best translated as Messer or as Sir. It expresses respect. In Southern Italy the title is also given to men of some social standing and to those of noble background. The title Donna, meaning Lady, is still given in Italy to Cistercian and Benedictine nuns; it is also the correct form of
Tuesday of the Fifth Week of Lent
Numbers 21: 4–9
Psalm 101: 1–2, 5–17, 18–20 (R. 1)
John 8: 21–30
The Serpent and the Cross
Today the Church gives us a passage from the Book of Numbers that, from earliest times, the liturgy and the Fathers have associated with the mystery of the Cross. This same provided Father Luc de Wouters, O.S.B. with the title of his biography of the foundress of the Congregation of the Benedictines of Jesus Crucified, Mother Marie des Douleurs Wrotnowska: Le Serpent et la Croix, The Serpent and the Cross.
The Bite of the Serpent
Father Luc writes: “The episode of the bronze serpent recounted in the Book of Numbers seems to us extremely significant. It projects onto the mystery of the redemptive Cross a light, the importance of which we do not sufficiently grasp.” He writes that Mother Marie des Douleurs encountered the Cross, as we all do, in her own sin. For her, as for all of us, sin was the bite of the fiery serpent. It was, nonetheless, upon this cross,
A number of years ago, while visiting the Augustinian Monastery of Malestroit in France, I was introduced to a prayer cherished by the incomparable Mère Yvonne–Aimée de Jésus:
O grande Passion!
O profondes plaies!
O effusion de Sang!
O suprême douleur!
O mort soufferte dans toutes les amertumes!
Donnez–nous la vie.
O great Passion!
O profound Wounds!
O outpouring of blood!
O highest Sorrow!
O Death suffered in every bitterness!
Be to us healing and eternal life.
Those who have prayed the prayer know that it is full of compunction and sweetness. I have discovered the prayer in several languages and with many variants. It has been variously attributed to Saint Bridget of Sweden, Saint Bernard, Saint Bonaventure, Blessed Angelo of Foligno, and Blessed Julian of Norwich, but I have never been able to confirm its origin. I ask readers familiar with the prayer to share anything they may know about its authorship. Thank you.