Friday, August 27, 2010


At my first assignment we had a weekend associate who helped us with the busy Mass schedule by the name of Fr. Gary Hoover OSB from the Benedictine Abby of St. Andrew (home of champions.) One day somebody brought in a Benedictine medal to be blessed, which they wanted blessed by a Benedictine priest (though any priest is permitted to give the blessing.)

The whole medal is used as a prayer to ward off the temptations of the devil. If you would like a full description and history of the medal you might want to look here or here.

On the back side of the medal is the Benedictine cross (Benedict means blessed and the medal as well as the people in this order are named after Saint Benedict) or Fleurie Cross. Once again we see the use of the Greek cross as its base. Like the Conqueror’s Cross from last week we find letters in the four quadrants of the cross, “C S P B.” These four letters stand for, “Crux Sancti Patris Benedicti” or “the Cross of our holy father Benedict.”

There is an interesting story about the rest of the letters. On the cross itself we see the letters, “C S S M L” and “N D M S D.” Surrounding the cross are the letters, “V R S N S M V S M Q L I V B.” As it turns out the meaning of these letters had been forgotten for hundreds of years! But in 1415 an old (old even in that day) manuscript was found giving us the key to what these letters meant. (Can you imagine being that monk that discovered the secret to the mystery? I bet he got extra grog that night!) Anyway, the letters on the cross stand for, “Crux Sacra Sit Mihi Lux” or "May the Holy Cross be my light,” and “Non Draco Sit Mihi Dux” or “Let not the dragon be my guide.” The rest of the letters are a prayer used while making the sign of the cross while making a petition to be protected from temptation, “Vade Retro Satana, Nunquam Suade Mihi Vana - Sunt Mala Quae Libas, Ipse Venena Bibas” or “Begone, Satan! Do not suggest to me your vanities - evil are the things you propose, drink your own poison.”


Surgam, edax unus multorum said...

"Vade Retro Satana!, Nunquam Suade Mihi Vana - Sunt Mala Quae Libas, Ipse Venena Bibas?"

What do you think caused it?

What I argue is that these guys represent homosexuality in pure and total repression. This is what successful repression looks like: men so alienated from their own sense of self that their sexual expressions come out in explosive ways.

Most priests I talked to who had abused kids described the abuse as though it came upon them with the same kind of sudden surprise that it came upon their victims. This one priest, Father Neil Conway, described waking up - that's the way he described it - waking up in the middle of the sexual "fondling" of those kids. He really believed that he was the victim somehow - even though you have to honestly see that he created the circumstances [that led to the abuse]. that he courted these kids, that he flirted with them, that he really behaved as a predator. But he couldn't see it; he was so fractured in his psyche. That is repression in its purest form.

While Yarner has compassion for Conway, he is quick to say the church must take the responsibility of helping Conway's victims.

"The evil that has been done must be eradicated," he said.

"Everybody must come to the line on this... I only wish our bishops would move quickly with a national policy."

Like Yarner, the Rev. William Karg, pastor of St. Sebastian Church in Akron, has been saying daily prayers for victims of abuse by clergy and their attackers. Conway's case hits him personally because the two were friends in seminary and throughout the early years of Conway's priesthood.

When he heard what had happened at St. John the Baptist, he didn't know what to think.

"The police never came in and there was no criminal investigation and he didn't reveal anything - he left in quite a hurry," he said. "Now, there are no more secrets."

Fr. V said...

I'm not quite sure where this comment is coming from (and when you say Yarner it might be that you mean Fr. Yahner?), I fully endorse what I think your view is that those who commit crimes against children (or anyone for that matter) should be held absolutely accountable for their actions.

That being said, I must most strongly dissagree with you that the Benedictine lifestyle breeds such actions. If I follow your logic, I would have to find the place where most abuse occurs and eradicate it - and that would be within the family. "Approximately 30% are relatives of the child, most often brothers, fathers, uncles or cousins; around 60% are other acquaintances such as 'friends' of the family, babysitters, or neighbors; strangers are the offenders in approximately 10% of child sexual abuse cases," according to Julia Whealin, Ph.D. (2007-05-22). "Child Sexual Abuse". National Center for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, US Department of Veterans Affairs.

So following your logic we should eradicate marriage, stay away from our relatives, not have babysitters, neighbors, or friends and avoid strangers because obviously these relationship breed offenders.

I propose that religious lifestyles do not especially promote what you accuse them of - it originates in sick souls wherever they may be.

I invite you to consider this lest we focus only there and lose so many more children to sexual scandal because a misguided prejiduce does not allow us to realize that abuse can happen anywhere if we are not vigilent.

If you wish to post such things again I advise you to stay away from slander and find a source for your facts or I will delete your comments.

Cracked Pot said...


The top comment is a form of spam. If it keeps up, I think the sending computer can be blocked from posting comments.

Those who say that marriage is the answer to this crisis have also not followed their argument to its logical conclusion. Would someone want a man like this for a son-in-law (the husband of one's daughter)? Someone who, if he had not married, would be engaging in sexual abuse? I wouldn't want to marry someone like that. You are right to say that their souls are sick.

Thank you for giving the facts to those who are misguided.

Anonymous said...

The first post seemed like a bit of a non sequitur and the poster seems to have an axe to grind. Not that there aren't issues of repression for some percentage of male celibates. As suggested above, one does not have to be celibate to be repressed. It's conceivable that repression to some degree triggers sexual abuse, and also believable that an abuser would dissociate during the act of abuse. It's also worthy of discussion the degree to which the culture of religious institutions(seminaries, monasteries) may promote repression. But I suspect that there are a lot of pretty well integrated priests and religious out there.

ck said...

There is literally 100 times more sexual abuse in the US by public school teachers than priests.

Oh, if only public school teachers were allowed to marry we wouldn't have this problem!

ck said...

And that prayer at the end of your post is the coolest thing I ever heard. I think I'll memorize that one.