The destination is the Sanctuary of the Sacro Speco of Subiaco in the upper Aniene Valley to visit the monastery of Saint Benedict, the cradle of monasticism in Europe. The departure was scheduled for 8 am in front of the church of S. Bernardo with a packed lunch.
I, (Sr Josie Enaje) and Sr Annabel Alera participated, together with another sister Sr Mirasol Abla (Dei Verbum), Father Jason Cabacaba, a deacon and the seminarians, Father Elrid Manila, OSB and Father Victoriano Caritos (Dei Verbum). In total we were 53 people.
This journey into the Benedictine world began with the prayer of the holy rosary in the Filipino language and after Fr. Elrid, shared a meditation on the life of the Saint and the description of the place where the monastery stands taken from book II of the "Dialogues" of St. Gregory the Great which is divided into 4 parts. Subiaco is a name that has an echo and history of centuries, which preserves historical and artistic memories but above all has a spiritual richness admired by the whole world. This truly illustrious man, worthy of all veneration, was called Benedict and he was so by name and grace. He was born into a noble family in the city of Norcia. He was studying in Rome but he abandoned his studies, his house and his possessions and set out in search of consecrating himself to the Lord because a single desire burned in his heart: that of pleasing Him alone. He had consciously chosen to be uncultured, but he had wisely learned the knowledge of God and decided to retire to a solitary place where the path of perfection began after the miracle of an earthenware sieve. Benedict did not like the praises of the world at all; he rather longed to undergo hardships and difficuties for the love of God than to make himself great for the honours of this life. He headed towards a lonely and deserted place called Subiaco, 65 km from Rome where he met a monk named Romano who helped him and welcomed him and then dressed him in the holy habit.
Arriving at the Shrine, we were greeted by a monk who showed us the chapel where the Holy Mass would be celebrated presided over by Fr. Jason, concelebrated by the other 2 priests and served by the deacon. In the homily Fr. Victoriano mentioned the celebration of World Mission Day for which Pope Francis launched the message for all Christians " you will be my witnesses", which is not easy because we encounter difficulties, fatigue in work, service and everyday life; but by committing ourselves to our journey, we will reach the goal with joy and satisfaction. We must pray like the tax collector who felt sinner and in need of God's mercy, not like that pharisee who praised himself in prayer. The father, concluding, invited us to always be united with each other.
After the Holy Mass we embarked on a path that took us to a quiet and pleasant place, the small lake of San Benedetto which is a widening of the Aniene river characterized by the thunderous natural waterfall located near the ruins of the Villa di Nerone and the monastery of Saint Scholastica. In that very relaxing place, we happily shared lunch while contemplating the beauty of the landscape in front of us.
After lunch and a little rest, we went walking to the monastery of Saint Scolastica, one of the 12 monasteries wanted by St. Benedict who is the only one that survived the earthquakes and Saracen destruction at the end of the 11th century. It was the only monastery in Subiaco that was originally called the "monastery of San Silvestro" and in the 14th century it took its current name. It looks like a complex of buildings, built in different eras and styles; at the entrance we find the Benedictine rule “Ora et Labora” engraved. Inside it is enriched by cloisters in Roman, Gothic and Renaissance style. This Benedictine monastery is the oldest in the world.
For all of us, each stage has been a discovery and the journey has enriched us spiritually. Truly a spiritual journey, a journey through Christian history and art, reminding us of the principles of stability of life in common that these holy brothers lived by serving God in community life and dividing their time between prayer, work and rest.
Returning home in the bus, we had a down time spent with a large variety of games. We are very grateful to the Lord for the many gifts and also for the generosity of the entire Filipino community and we look forward to the next pilgrimage to Monte Cassino to complete the spiritual journey of St Benedict.
May the Lord bless you!!
Sr Josie Enaje and Sr Annabel Alera, Community of Centocelle- Rome