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On St. Benedict and Bees

Posted by Michael Krom on Tue, Mar 25, 2014 @ 11:03 AM

Monks Praying at Saint VincentToday is the feast of St. Benedict according to the old Roman calendar, and the monastery and broader community is preparing for a celebratory mass and meal. In light of this, I thought I'd offer a reflection on an interesting connection I came across: St. Benedict and bees. I also hasten to mention that the Faith and Reason summer program is guided by Benedictine spirituality, and that we discuss how The Rule of St. Benedict can be incorporated into our daily lives.

Evidently there is a traditional practice of blessing bee hives on the feast of St. Benedict. The blessing does a wonderful job of connecting the animal to the spiritual: the bees provide the wax used to make the candles that illuminate the church so that we can gather together in the light. This is a great example of how the Church directs all that is good and beautiful to God's glory. As the Benedictines put this:  in omnibus Deus glorificetur. "In all things may God be glorified."

To close, I should note a wonderful address that Pope Pius XII gave to a group of beekeepers. After poetically praising the bee as the model of social life and love, he exhorts his audience to imitate the selfless actions of the bee, who finds its place harmoniously in a community working toward a common goal. In addition, he notes how bees, unlike those pesky hornets and wasps, achieve a harmony with the world around them, taking only what they need and without damaging the flowers from which they draw their nourishment. As he says, "if, in a word, [humans] learned to do by intelligence and wisdom what bees do by instinct—how much better the world would be!" I never thought my day would include an exhortation to be like bees, but such is the way of Providence!  benedict resized 600

Topics: faith and reason, Michael Krom, summer program, Benedict

About the Authors

Michelle Gil-Montero is an associate professor of English and director of creative writing at Saint Vincent College. She runs the visiting writers series on campus, oversees the student literary magazine, and serves as guru to aspiring poets on campus. She received her MFA from the University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop in 2007, and she has been on the Saint Vincent faculty since that year. She is an active poet and literary translator from Spanish. She is spending part of the 2016-17 school year travelling to Argentina on a Howard Foundation fellowship and Fulbright grant. 

Dr. John J. Smetanka has been a member of the full-time faculty since 1997 and currently serves as the Vice President for Academic Affairs and Academic Dean of Saint Vincent College, a position he has held since January 2008. Dr. Smetanka has taught courses in Physics, Astronomy, Chemistry and Geology as well as interdisciplinary seminars. He has published scientific research articles in physics and astrophysics journals, numerous conference proceedings and also works in science education reform and the interaction between science, technology and theology.

Jim Kellam is an associate professor of biology at Saint Vincent College and our resident ornithologist. He received his Ph.D. from Purdue University in 2003, and is taking this semester as a sabbatical. What does that mean? He'll explain in his blog posts.

Dr. Michael J. Urick is Graduate Director of the Master of Science in Management: Operational Excellence program, and Associate Professor of Management and Operational Excellence at the Alex G. McKenna School of Business, Economics, and Government. Dr. Urick teaches courses related to organizational behavior, human resources, culture, leadership, diversity, conflict, supply chain, operations and research methods. Professionally, Urick serves on the board of the Institute for Supply Management (Pittsburgh) and belongs to the Society for Human Resource Management and APICS. For fun, Urick enjoys music and, since 1998, has led and performed with Neon Swing X-perience, a jazz band that has released multiple albums and toured portions of the US. He enjoys watching movies, is an avid reader of fantasy and science fiction, and also likes to fence.

David Safin, C'00, has been a lecturer in the communication department since the Fall of 2003, and has served in a variety of administrative roles since the summer of 2004. Currently, he teaches multimedia in the communication department as an assistant professor. 

Dr. Michael Krom received his Doctorate in philosophy at Emory University in 2007 and is currently the chair of the philosophy department at Saint Vincent. He has authored a book on religion and politics and continues to publish works in Catholic moral and political thought. Dr. Krom also directs the Faith and Reason summer program every summer. 

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