Monte Cassino is a rocky hill about 130 km (80 miles) southeast of Rome, Italy, c. 2 km to the west of the town of Cassino (the Roman Casinum having been on the hill) and 520 m altitude. St. Benedict established his first monastery, the source of the Benedictine Order, here around 529.
An essay by Hilary Thimmesh, OSB
Benedictine Institute of Saint John's
Celebrating the Catholic & Benedictine Heritage of SJU
Benedictine Institute Senior Essay Contest Winners 2013
Stephen Gross, '13, wrote one of the prize-winning Benedictine Institute senior essay on the topic "How I Finally Caught on to What 'Benedictine' Means."
Achieving Understanding through the Benedictine Values
Stephen Marvin Gross
In my first week at the College of Saint Benedict and Saint John's University, I was fed up with the seemingly overused concept of community. As a young, naïve first-year trying to find a place for myself here and friends to accompany me in it, the wisdom of the Benedictines was low on my list of references and resources for accomplishing this. But three years later, as a senior Orientation Leader, I found myself celebrating the transformative nature of CSB/SJU in molding beautiful relationships grounded in positive principles. At this point, I realized the sincerity and genuine truth about these concepts that in the past had brought skeptical thoughts. I now sit as a senior approaching graduation, and I am brought to reflect on the varied experiences that have influenced my personal identity. And, in looking back, the Benedictine values have been guiding morals in my development from a first-year student to a graduating senior, from unsure to confident, and from perplexed about my purpose to on a positive track in life.
How I Finally Caught on to What "Benedictine" Means
I was dead set on going to Augsburg College in Minneapolis. I had visited the eclectic urban campus a few times during my sophomore and junior years of high school. With each passing month, I became more and more excited to live in a place where plays, poetry readings, and protests happened on a regular basis, where I would finally be in the minority, where I knew I would fit in perfectly, a winter-chapped hand to a fleece mitten.
And then I visited the College of St. Benedict and St. John's University. I felt right at home, though not immediately in a good way. I recognized something about these campuses. Born and raised in rural Minnesota, I had become familiar with fields and small towns. Somebody had planted a dumb idea into my mind: college has to be new and wild, a place where I felt like the tiniest snail in the big lake of life. CSB and SJU was hardly new, certainly not exciting, and did not make me feel small at all.
For some reason I only applied to CSB|SJU. I do not think it had anything to do with the financial aid package or beautiful campus. In retrospect I think it was the Benedictines-mysterious, yet inviting-who drew me to apply, live, study, and pray on their campuses. My completed applications to Augsburg and St. Olaf are still sitting on my desk at home, nothing but dusty relics these days. I was accepted to CSB|SJU and began preparing to spend the next four years of my college career in St. Joseph and Collegeville.