Shew me thy ways…

The first word in the Holy Rule of St. Benedict is ‘listen’. It seems to me, that this is a difficult thing to do these days, especially in an urbanised, connected, technology driven culture. To listen to God — right where you are — is important because it’s in the listening to God that we will discover His gracious will for us. God will show you your path, which is really His… so walk that path with Him. If you make that choice, you will grow in holiness and the world will be a better place little by little.










Unclean spirits are real and very often in plain sight. Not always in a darkened hallway or back alley. But here’s the good news: they can often be turned away by very ordinary things: kind words, an humble spirit. A confessing mouth, an attentive hearer and reader of God’s Word. And by holy water, exorcised salt, a Benedictine medal, a relic… a rosary said. And by the partaking of Christ’s own body and blood.
Some people feel powerless when they feel evil, or see it with their own eyes, but we Catholics are not powerless. We have Christ. We have His Church. We have the sacraments and so very many sacramentals.






One of the things we teach children is to count blessings. And they do and it’s beautiful to behold a child’s gratitude. But somewhere along the way, many forget to do what they learned to do so long ago.

Count your blessings.

I’m not usually one for new year’s resolutions, but I thought this year might be different. I keep diaries (after the example of my Great Grandfather) and so I thought I’d keep one this year: a diary that counts blessings.

One a day.

When one sits down to count blessings, they multiply, and so its an exercise to distil the list to just one. Today I’m grateful for the opportunity to share the faith with a group I am catechising. I love being with them. Good people. Kind. Eager to hear the Gospel. Not everyone is like that, and so to have a room full is very wonderful indeed.







Holy Family

Here is my latest homily, recorded at St. John the Evangelist in Calgary. I love the Holy Incarnation: that God would come and dwell with us as one of us. There are so many implications to this astounding reality — but it ultimately means that you and everyone you love (and for that matter, those you don’t even like) matters to God. And that is very good news indeed.




# Bengry

# Robert

# Charles

# Gilbertine


Real and abiding joy…

I sometimes wonder if a non-christian would be attracted to the faith by my example; by the joy I have (or do not have) in my life. And if I may be so bold, I think that’s a good question for every Catholic to consider: do you attract or scare?!

The Catholic faith is often characterised by the secular world as being all about rules, guilt and sin… but is that really what the Gospel is all about? What about joy and liberation? True abundance?

Jesus said that we could be known as His disciples by the love that we have for one another. Is that true for you? Would people characterise you as loving? Kind? Generous?

I think that’s worth thinking about. Are you loving, kind and generous? And if you are, do you have proof?

Getting Worried!

Calgary is a beautiful Canadian city. One of the most wonderful things about it are the Chinook winds. They can be quite dramatic raising the temperature from -20 to +15 in a very short while… but there is a down-side.

The dreaded brown Christmas.

And I was beginning to worry that would indeed be the case this year — my first Christmas at St. John the Evangelist, here in Inglewood. But wouldn’t you know it, we have snow and plenty of it!
Christmas is a wonderful time of year; one where we have the opportunity to celebrate and enjoy family and friends, but also come to grips with the reality of a God who loves us so much, that He would come to us as a little baby boy.
In many ways, I am a ‘Christmas Christian’ but not in the way that those words might imply. No. I am a Christmas Christian because I am astounded by the Holy Incarnation and all of what that reality implies… chief of which is that matter matters. The things and the people — all of what we can see and touch — matters to God.

He made it.

He redeems it.

He sanctifies it.

The goal of life isn’t simply to escape this mortal coil in order to float around in heaven all day. It’s to be wrapped up in the very life and love of God… and the good news is that we don’t have to wait until we die for that to happen — we can do that now. Right now. And we do that by doing two things: by loving God and by worshipping Him as we should, and by loving our neighbours as ourselves. Tall orders to be sure, but infinitely possible with the good grace of God.
Who ever you are, and wherever you are, I hope you draw near to Christ this Christmas as Advent draws to a close. And I hope you draw near to God’s people too… because it by doing both of those things that we can glimpse at the very Kingdom of God.

A blessed Advent and happy Christmas!




What’s in a name?

A wonderful monastic tradition is the taking of a new name. Different Religious communities do this in different ways, or some not at all. Some take entirely new names, others add one. Some do so at the Noviciate, others when they profess vows. For our part, the little Gilbertine community that we are bringing together, we add a Religious name to our given name.

My mother always called me by my middle name: Shane. I don’t really know why she did that, but it’s not so uncommon I guess — James Paul McCartney, Walter Bruce Willis and Thomas Sean Connery are some famous examples. “John, James, George and Ringo”… who’d have thought? Of course it’s still my name though I use it less frequently these days. You might notice that I use it in association with my secular heraldic practice however.

For a number of years, I had the pleasure of serving along side Brother Sean-Patrick as a fellow Anglican Benedictine clergyman in a small diocese. For a time he served as my Deacon and then as the Rector of a parish in Brandon. During those years I was called “Father Shane” and he “Father Sean” with the following conversation ensuing after almost every new introduction….

“So nice to meet you , I’m Father Shane and this is Father Sean.”

“Oh! — Okay… so you’re Father Sean and you’re Father Shane!?”

“No, I’m Father Shane, he’s Father Sean…”

“Oh! Gee… how am I going to remember that?! Now I’m really confused!”

“Okay… let me get this straight! You’re Father Shane and you’re Father Sean?! Is that right?!”

And so that same conversation happened over and over (and over) again.

And of course nine times out of ten the next time they’d meet us they’d still get us mixed up. Even the Bishop of Brandon, when he ordained Brother Sean an Anglican clergyman, introduced him to the congregation as “Father Shane”. Brother Sean-Patrick’s parents were less than amused.

I saw an opportunity to rectify the situation, that had become quite unbearable actually, by choosing a Religious name that wouldn’t work with ‘Shane’ — so I chose “Charles” after Charles Borromeo, which works just fine with my given name “Robert”. When I became Catholic, I chose ‘Charles’ as my Confirmation name and so there you have it.

If you had a religious name what would it be? Which Saint would you like to emulate? Which Saint would you like to have as your patron? Someone who is kind especially to the poor and broken-hearted? Someone learned and wise? Someone who seeks to do good in this world?

If you have a confirmation name, what is it? And perhaps more importantly, do you try to live up to the qualities of that Saint who smiles down upon you?






I preached an homily on Second Advent and small part of what I spoke about was gossip. I mentioned it as an example of one of the subtle ways we choose to say ‘no’ to God and to his promise of salvation. There are, of course, many ways we reject God, and my point is that all of us, even those who might consider themselves good Catholics, have the potential to do that. Myself included.

Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.
—Ephesians 4:29

I was thinking a little more about the content of my sermon because a fellow thought I was speaking about him specifically and reacted negatively by engaging in behaviour that was clearly calumnious, which sort of drives the point home. Even those who consider themselves good Catholics can say ‘no’ to God, His peace and His salvation. A frightening thought isn’t it.

This is the liturgical season of Advent. Turn away from your sins. Turn to God.


From the Catechism of the Catholic Church:

2477 Respect for the reputation of persons forbids every attitude and word likely to cause them unjust injury.

278 He becomes guilty:

  • of rash judgment who, even tacitly, assumes as true, without sufficient foundation, the moral fault of a neighbour;
  • of detraction who, without objectively valid reason, discloses another’s faults and failings to persons who did not know them;279
  • of calumny who, by remarks contrary to the truth, harms the reputation of others and gives occasion for false judgments concerning them.

2478 To avoid rash judgment, everyone should be careful to interpret insofar as possible his neighbour’s thoughts, words, and deeds in a favourable way:

Every good Christian ought to be more ready to give a favourable interpretation to another’s statement than to condemn it. But if he cannot do so, let him ask how the other understands it. And if the latter understands it badly, let the former correct him with love. If that does not suffice, let the Christian try all suitable ways to bring the other to a correct interpretation so that he may be saved. 280

2479 Detraction and calumny destroy the reputation and honour of one’s neighbour. Honour is the social witness given to human dignity, and everyone enjoys a natural right to the honour of his name and reputation and to respect. Thus, detraction and calumny offend against the virtues of justice and charity.

2487 Every offense committed against justice and truth entails the duty of reparation, even if its author has been forgiven. When it is impossible publicly to make reparation for a wrong, it must be made secretly. If someone who has suffered harm cannot be directly compensated, he must be given moral satisfaction in the name of charity. This duty of reparation also concerns offenses against another’s reputation. This reparation, moral and sometimes material, must be evaluated in terms of the extent of the damage inflicted. It obliges in conscience.

2489 Charity and respect for the truth should dictate the response to every request for information or communication. The good and safety of others, respect for privacy, and the common good are sufficient reasons for being silent about what ought not be known or for making use of a discreet language. The duty to avoid scandal often commands strict discretion. No one is bound to reveal the truth to someone who does not have the right to know it.283

2492 Everyone should observe an appropriate reserve concerning persons’ private lives. Those in charge of communications should maintain a fair balance between the requirements of the common good and respect for individual rights. Interference by the media in the private lives of persons engaged in political or public activity is to be condemned to the extent that it infringes upon their privacy and freedom.

2497 By the very nature of their profession, journalists have an obligation to serve the truth and not offend against charity in disseminating information. They should strive to respect, with equal care, the nature of the facts and the limits of critical judgment concerning individuals. They should not stoop to defamation.

So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you.” —Matthew 7:12


#Robert Bengry



It’s no secret that a Religious Community is really a kind of family and in fact, in many ways, every father should ‘read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest’ the Rule of St. Benedict because the spiritual wisdom therein will be a great help to any Catholic family. But lesser known these days, is that some members of community are biological family as well, and far from being strange, this has its example all-the-way back to Christ.
Jesus called together a new family, a mix of people who wouldn’t have necessarily gotten along with one another (tax collectors, prostitutes, zealots?) But some of those followers chose this new life along with family: James and John were brothers for example, and of course Jesus’ most faithful follower Mary, was His very own mother.
Family ties continued in the monastic tradition: Sts. Benedict and Scholastica were twins. St. Bernard of Clairvaux persuaded thirty of his friends, brothers and relatives to follow him. St. Thérèse of Lisieux lived in community with two of her biological sisters and a cousin in the convent. In more recent years, the Immaculate Conception Monastery in Indiana is apparently home to four sister Sisters! The precedent is very common in the monastic tradition and it makes sense — the family is the most fertile ground for evangelisation and for the following of Christ in a radical obedience to His teaching.
In the new little Gilbertine revival, this monastic tradition is to be found: Sister Myrna-Mary is Br. Robert-Charles’ mother—friends of the community, who attend the daily prayers at St. John’s in Calgary, affectionately call her “Mother Superior”!
Community life begins at home. Do you pray for an increase of vocations to the Religious life with your children or grandchildren? And more so, do you cultivate a culture of vocations at home by letting your children know that Religious life is alive and well and that God just might be calling them to it?  


#Robert Bengry




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