Saint Meinrad Seminary & School of Theology

Formation and Education for the Life of the Church

The Medal of Saint Benedict

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As a cradle Catholic, I have worn different religious medals, crosses and crucifixes at different times in my life. I recall wearing a St. Christopher medal throughout my high school and college years and a Marian medal for much of my early adult life.

Long before I became an oblate, I was intrigued about the St. Benedict medal due to the symbolism and prayers embedded within it. However, it wasn't until during and after my novitiate and studies that I began to truly appreciate the beauty and power of this sacramental.

As an oblate living in the world and surrounded by friends and families from many different Christian traditions, I have found the sharing of this simple medal to be a spiritual gesture that Catholics, Orthodox, Protestants, Evangelicals and non-practicing seekers alike are drawn to and for good reason. It is profoundly Christian.

My "little apostolate" of prayer, catechesis and ecumenical outreach is assisted by the medal. I give the medal to people for graduations, sacraments, birthdays, anniversaries and other big life events. I also do this for individuals and families going through grief, sickness, loneliness, death and other crises.

I typically begin with the proper of the day/hour of the Divine Office followed by an investiture of the medal. The medal serves as a permanent reminder of that day and their faith (or their desire for faith) and God's love for them.

As readers of this blog know, it is important to have the medal blessed by a priest using the ancient Benedictine prayer rubrics. My "blesser-in-chief" is none other than Fr. Benedict Meyer, OSB, of Saint Meinrad Archabbey, who assists in my apostolate through his priesthood, personal prayer and keeping my steady supply of medals blessed and ready for use.

Even though the medals are pre-blessed, I typically recite the prayer to the recipient so they can fully appreciate the protection and graces for the person who carries or wears it with faith.

 

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Our help is in the name of the Lord.

Who made heaven and earth.

In the name of God the Father almighty, who made heaven and earth, the seas and all that is in them. May this medal protect its wearer against the power and attacks of the evil one.

May all who wear these medals devoutly be blessed with health of soul and body. In the name of the Father almighty, of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, and of the Holy Spirit the Paraclete, and in the love of the same Lord Jesus Christ who will come on the last day to judge the living and the dead, and the world by fire. Amen.

Let us pray. Almighty God, the boundless source of all good things, we humbly ask that, through the intercession of St. Benedict, you pour out your blessings on those who wear this medal devoutly and earnestly strives to perform good works.

May they be blessed by you with health of soul and body, the grace of a holy life, and remission of temporal punishment due to sin. May they also, with the help of your merciful love, resist the temptations of the evil one and strive to exercise true charity and justice toward all, so that one day they may appear sinless and holy in your sight.

We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.

After doing this for just a few years, I have lost track of just how many medals I have given to people. It is not unusual to have a friend, family member or neighbor comment on how much they love wearing (or carrying) the medal. A brother-in-law of mine survived a terrible accident on a construction site when he was carrying his medal. It was the feast day of St. Benedict when it happened and he credits the saint with interceding for him.

A devout sister of mine wears it daily. On a mission trip to Haiti, she gave medals to each member of the mission team as well as a local Haitian boy. My cousin hangs the medal over her bedroom mirror so it's one of the first things she sees each day. A friend's son has worn it throughout his entire college football career.

Men from my parish wear it, as do friends and classmates from my children's multi-denominational Christian school. I have also given the medal to people with an uncertain faith in the hope it might encourage them.

All these people from so many different backgrounds and traditions tell me pretty much the same thing. The medal and what it both contains and symbolizes provides them a feeling of peace, love and spiritual protection. This humble oblate wears a St. Benedict medal as his habit and also a St. Thomas More medal, as the great layman is the namesake and inspiration of my oblation.

As Benedictines, we are naturally drawn to the medal - not as an object - but as a reminder of God's desire to protect us and ensure our salvation through His Son. My experience as an oblate in the world has taught me that the beauty and power of the medal is also appreciated by Christians of all types and can be offered as a bridge to unite us all as Christ himself prayed for.

"I pray not only for them, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, so that they may all be one, as you, Father, are in me and I in you, that they also may be in us, that the world may believe that you sent me. And I have given them the glory you gave me, so that they may be one, as we are one…" (John 17:20-22).

Mother Mary, pray for us! St. Benedict, pray for us! Father, Son and Holy Spirit, pray for us!

Echoes from the Bell Tower is a blog devoted to observations on Christian faith, spirituality and everyday events, by authors with a connection to the Benedictine values found at Saint Meinrad Archabbey and its Seminary and School of Theology. Contributors include students, permanent deacons, Benedictine oblates and Saint Meinrad monks. Their stories, thoughts and ideas highlight the mission and vision that ring out from the bell towers on this Hill in southern Indiana.


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