Brother Matthew Cellucci

A native of Hudson, Massachusetts, Br. Matthew joined Saint Benedict Abbey in 1997 at the age of eighteen. After his initial formation, he professed monastic vows on December 8, 1999. In 2008, he earned his Bachelor of Arts Degree through the Abbey’s in-house college program.

A man of many talents, he currently handles bookkeeping and house cleaning while is often called upon to assist other monks who greatly appreciate his willingness to lend a hand.

 

My Vocation Story

A reflection by Br. Matthew

“When I remember all the graces I have received from God through Mary, it seems to me that I am like one of those churches in which a miraculous image of the Madonna is venerated, the walls of which are covered with votive offerings inscribed: For a grace received from Mary.  Yes, there is nothing I have on which I cannot write: A grace received through Mary.”  ~ Saint Leonard of Port Maurice, O.F.M.

When I came across this quote from St. Leonard, I couldn’t help but smile because it reminded me of the story of my own religious vocation.  I have always believed that my vocation to Saint Benedict Abbey was a grace received from God through Mary.  The more I reflect on the particular events that brought me to the monastery, the more I see the hand of the Mother of God.

I believe the seed for my vocation was “sown” years before I even knew about Saint Benedict Abbey, during my first visit to the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C.  Honestly, at the time, I would hardly have considered myself a faithful Catholic, let alone a candidate for religious life.  But that mattered little to Our Lady because I was now on “her turf”, where she was waiting with graces that would change my life.

At first sight, I knew the Shrine was no ordinary building. As I toured the basilica, I was overwhelmed by the physical beauty of the place – the sheer size of the building, the many intricate chapels devoted to the Blessed Mother under her various titles, the stained glass windows, the grand mosaic of Christ as Judge in the upper church.  Impressive as all the architecture and artwork was, I was most struck by the spiritual message that they conveyed.  For instance, I remember following, as if for the first time, the mysteries of the rosary depicted on the stain glass windows.  The faith of the Catholic Church suddenly seemed so relevant, so real, so believable.  There was no vision, no celestial voice, or anything of that nature, just an interior conviction both to learn more about the Church and strengthen my faith. I also left the Shrine with a strong desire to pray the rosary.

Not long after this visit, my uncle and I heard about a pick-up basketball game organized by some priests and brothers at a nearby monastery.  We decided to attend. Over the next two years, I would become a regular on the Abbey’s court.  Only later did I discover the link between my visit to the Shrine and finding Saint Benedict’s.  As it turned out, the community was devoted to Mary in a unique way.  Although they are a community of Benedictine monks, they were originally a religious order known as The Slaves of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, who, as a group decided that Our Lady was calling them to the Benedictine life.  Now, as Benedictines, the monks not only value their consecration to Mary, but continue to promote the devotion called Slavery to Mary, a spirituality developed by St. Louis Marie de Montfort.  Once again, I found myself on “her turf.”

After attracting me to Saint Benedict’s through the basketball court, Mary began to reveal the real reason she had brought me there.  In her own motherly style, she slowly presented my vocation to me over a period of two years, increasing my desire to join in subtle increments. At the end of my first year in college, I decided to enter the monastery, which I did on September 8, Our Lady’s birthday.  Perhaps as a reminder of what Mary had started years ago at the Shrine in D.C., the three most important days in my religious life – my entrance into the novitiate and my simple and solemn profession – have fallen on December 8th, the feast of the Immaculate Conception.  Now with St. Leonard of Port Maurice, I thank the Blessed Mother for all the graces she has obtained for me – especially the grace of my vocation.