Sunday, February 27, 2005

Benedictine monks in Detroit.

This morning I attended Mass at St. Scholastica Church, one of two Benedictine parishes in the city of Detroit. As you may have surmised from this recent post, I have a certain fascination with what could be described as 'urban monasticism,' and St. Scholastica's is a place I've been wanting to check out for months. The frequent travel and weekend commitments that come with novitiate life kept me from getting there until today, but I'm glad I finally had a chance to check up on our Benedictine brethren. My experience this morning confirmed a lesson I learned some time ago - though united by observance of Benedict's Rule and membership in the Benedictine Confederation, every Benedictine house has its own essentially unique culture and way of proceeding. The monastic community at St. Scholastica's is quite small (from what I gather, the monks in residence number no more than four or five), serving what seems to be a fairly small congregation: there were about seventy people at this morning's liturgy, which was one of three Masses offered each weekend. The parish also sponsors a grade school and until recently had its own high school as well; like many other Catholic parishes in inner-city Detroit, St. Scholastica's offers more to the residents of its predominantly non-Catholic neighborhood than the church's relatively low Mass attendance would suggest. Befitting a Benedictine parish, the liturgy was done well in virtually all respects - particular kudos go to the small but superb choir. The church's novel unusual decor also had a characteristically Benedictine quality to it, fitting well the Order's widespread (though hardly universal) reputation for daring and often gutsy feats of liturgical design. The mosaics behind the altar at St. Scholastica's are particularly worthy of note; their vivid and sometimes garish imagery calls attention to the Benedictine heritage of the parish (Saints Benedicts and Scholastica and various Benedictine symbols are prominently depicted) and to the theme of discipleship in the modern world (they include, for example, the image of Mother Teresa). I really wish I had a picture of these mosaics, because I've never seen anything like them and really can't describe them except to say that they present Catholic iconography done in a style reminiscent of the Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band album cover. In short, St. Scholastica's struck me as a unique and wonderful place - I look forward to worshipping there again, and if you're passing through you may want to consider worshipping there as well. AMDG.


At December 01, 2005 3:38 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes you are right this is a truly beautiful church, run by the Silvestrine Benedictines... The mosaics were created by Fr. Livy, who is somewhere in his 90's, and still making mosaics as well as functioning as the church's pastor! If you liked the church, the Monastery is just as nice, along the corridors are mosaics of of the deceased monks of the order, some of whom i personally knew, and they (the mosaics as well as the priests) are truly wonderful!


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