Tag Archives: Abbot Placid Solari

Advent, the Incarnation and mercy

Saint Athanasius, the great fourth-century bishop and Doctor of the Church, wrote the following in his work entitled On the Incarnation of the Word: “After the Word of God was revealed in the body and made known to us his Father, then the deceit of the demons disappears and vanishes, while men, looking to the true divine Word of the Father, abandon idols and henceforth recognize the true God.”

Abbot Placid Solari, OSB

Abbot Placid Solari, OSB

These words can serve as a starting point for our consideration of the Advent season. In a certain way, Advent is the preparation for our celebration of God’s new creation. When the Word was revealed in the body, the mystery of God’s purpose begins to be made known as he restores his creation and endows it with a yet greater dignity.

Genesis tells us that “God created mankind in his image; in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.” But we sinned, disfiguring the divine image and losing our likeness to God. But God now reveals the mystery of his purpose, which he had from the beginning to restore, not destroy, his creation. The Word, the image of the unseen God, and the image according to which we were created, takes to himself our human nature so that, in our same nature, he may restore what was fallen.

In absolute love he is obedient to his Father’s will, even to death. By absorbing into himself all the evils of sin and the final enemy, death, and by his wondrous resurrection and ascension in our same human nature, he brings to fulfillment God’s original plan of salvation. Even more, God reveals that he has already raised us up with him, and seated us with him in the heavens in Christ Jesus!

When the Word of God came among us in our own humanity, he revealed to us our true human nature by his birth, by his life in a family, by sharing the experiences of daily life, by his death in our mortal nature, and by rising to new life. In our Advent and Christmas celebrations, Athanasius tells us that we need to look “to the true divine Word of the Father, abandon idols and henceforth recognize the true God.” The idols and demons of our age would have us turn away from the truth that the Son of God lived among us as a man. They would seduce us to believe that our body is a mere accident with no relation to who we are as a person, to believe that the creation of mankind in the divine image, male and female, is a quaint and outdated myth, and that gender is a malleable social construct.

“After the Word of God was revealed in the body and made known to us his Father,” Athanasius writes, “then the deceit of the demons disappears and vanishes.” Advent is a time for us to renew our confidence in the Father’s wondrous plan of creation and salvation. It’s a time for us to renew our faith and our witness to the truth that Jesus has revealed about the Father — and about our own human nature.

Advent is also a time to marvel at the mercy and kindness of God, who did not abandon us when we were weak and fallen. The book of Genesis — after telling the story of creation and the fall, and outlining the cancerous spread of sin — begins the great story of God’s plan to gather this fragmented community together again. God calls Abraham and promises him descendants more numerous than the stars in the heaven. From among these descendants, after countless centuries of waiting, arose the Son of God, the Savior, in his human nature.

Since such great mercy has been shown to us, our witness to the Truth against the idols and demons of our present age should be tempered as well by great mercy. As the long centuries of preparation for the Christ were often tempered by setbacks and failures, we also must be patient. As we prepare to celebrate the love of God made visible in Jesus Christ our Lord, let us have great confidence that God’s love made visible in us — through the work of the same Holy Spirit which once overshadowed the Blessed Virgin Mary — will finally cause the deceit of the demons of our day to disappear and the Kingdom of God to be made manifest.

ABBOT PLACID SOLARI, OSB, is Belmont Abbey College’s chancellor and chaplain of Legatus’ Charlotte Chapter.

North Carolina chaplain is a Benedictine through-and-through

Abbot Placid Solari says it was “absolute fate” that he would one day join the Order of St. Benedict. Growing up in Richmond, Va., he had an older brother who was a Benedictine monk. Solari was taught by Benedictine monks and sisters from grade school through high school, and he has been a monk of Belmont Abbey in Belmont, N.C., since 1974. Ordained in 1980, Abbot Solari was elected the eighth abbot of Belmont Abbey in 1999, and today, at 63, is Belmont Abbey College’s chancellor. He serves as chaplain of Legatus’ Charlotte Chapter, which chartered on June 30. He spoke with Legatus magazine staff writer Brian Fraga.

Abbot Placid Solari

Abbot Placid Solari

What was it about Benedictine spirituality that appealed to you?

When we would visit my brother when I was a boy, we would go to vespers with the monks. And for some reason, that was just a very peaceful experience. I couldn’t articulate what was going on then, but it really struck me as a young boy with the real feeling of peace during that time. I also knew the monks from high school and my parish. They seemed like very talented men who were doing something good and I wanted to be a part of that.

Other things that played into that were the vow of stability that’s unique to Benedictine life. You join one community and stay with that community.

The spirituality of monastic life is really based on the liturgy and the Bible, which are the pillars of Christian life. I thought if I was going make a commitment to celibate chastity, I would be better living that with the support of a community.

How has the Rule of St. Benedict continued to impact men and women over the centuries?

It was written in the sixth century, and there hasn’t been a day since then when there hasn’t been at least one community using that rule as its fundamental constitution for life.

If you can imagine all the differences in worldviews, political systems, cultures, economic systems and technology in the last 1,500 years, the Rule has been adapted to so many different times, places and situations. That’s why it’s still being used and continually lived today.

What are an abbot’s duties?

Ultimately, the abbot’s responsibility is to make decisions after listening to the community. The abbot has a vision of how life according to St. Benedict’s Rule is to be lived in this particular time and place — and to offer that to the community for their consideration. What comes out of that continued dialogue between the abbot, the community, and the Rule will be the form of Benedictine monastic life in that particular abbey.

How did you become acquainted with Legatus?

I had heard of the organization in the past two years. Our college president — Dr. Bill Thierfelder — is a member and has done several speaking engagements for Legatus chapters. I didn’t realize they were going to start a Charlotte Chapter until Bishop [Peter] Jugis contacted me and asked if I’d be willing to be the chaplain.

What are your impressions of Legatus so far?

It’s been very good. One of reasons why I accepted the bishop’s request is that lay organizations such as Legatus are extremely important for the Church’s mission of evangelization today. Given the rapid changes in the culture, with a sort of suspicion perhaps of organized religion, lay Catholics, particularly those who are proficient and successful in their professional careers, have a unique ability to contact and form relationships with their colleagues and peers in a way that the clergy do not. Part of Legatus’ mission is to help members integrate their faith into their professional lives — as well as receive the support necessary for one another to do that.

BRIAN FRAGA is Legatus magazine’s editorial assistant.