Sister Genevieve Glen spoke at the Monastic Institute at St. John’s Abbey in Summer 2012 on the community as the “house of God’s word” – and this talk informs the short presentation for the Oblate meeting on Sunday. For those who would like to hear the entire talk, I am presenting the link to entire talk.
Click to hear the talk (about 80 minutes in length):
Listen! Attuning the Communal Ear
From the Oblate Letter –
Summer and vacations.
Often, we intend to deepen our spiritual lives when the pressure of work or school is less. Unless we have some specific plans, the days can fly by without any action. A few years ago, Pope Benedict XVI invited people to “use vacation time in a way that helps renew our relationships with others and with God.” He encouraged people to spend time reading Scripture, to contemplate the beauty of nature as the wonderful presence of the Creator, and to encounter places that are “witnesses of culture” that connect us to our spiritual roots and heritage – including monasteries and churches. “The enjoyment of friendship, reading, nature and culture helps to nourish and restore our spirit. It gives us strength to continue our journey refreshed and renewed.”
As Oblates, you are always welcome to join the monastic community for prayer – in fact, we hope that you come to pray with us when you can. We are trying a new Horarium, with Morning Prayer at 7:15am Monday through Friday, 10am on Saturday and Sunday. Evening Prayer is now at 5:15pm every day of the week. If you would like to take a Desert Day or make a private retreat at the monastery, that can be arranged by calling Sister Pauline.
I encourage you to read one book this summer that is specifically focused on Benedictine living and spirituality this summer. You might want to re-read something that you studied as a candidate, or choose a book from the library, or perhaps read one of those spiritual books you bought but haven’t yet had a chance to read. If you would like to read in connection with other people, consider the Oblate Online Book Club.
- Summer Book Club: Ancient Paths (oblosb.wordpress.com)
From the Oblate Letter:
Our meeting on at 1pm on May 19, Pentecost Sunday, will be the last for several months, until 8 September 2013. We will be discussing Community, certainly a central idea in the Benedictine life. Following are some reflections on community from a variety of authors.
Some Thoughts on Community
In the first chapter of his Rule, St. Benedict discusses four kinds of monks, but writes for “the strong kind” – the cenobites, recognized because they have both a rule and a superior, both features that point to life in common. Besides being a collection of people, what is community to Benedict? To us?
Community and our relationships to others are often central when people discuss the Benedictine way of life and the Rule. Here are Read more…
Join the summer book club reading David Robinson’s Ancient Paths: Discover Christian Formation the Benedictine Way. David Robinson is a Presbyterian pastor and an oblate of Mount Angel Abbey in Oregon. This book was chosen because it views the Benedictine tradition from the perspective of many of our Duluth oblates: members of Protestant faith traditions, and living family life. At least one oblate has already read the book and liked it a great deal.
One book. Twelve weeks.
Beginning 1 June 2013 and continuing for twelve weeks, Sister Edith will publish a post about a chapter of the book on Saturday — thoughts about the section, perhaps links to photos of locations that the author writes about, or questions that the ideas raised for her. The comments section will be open for the next week, for Oblates to share their reactions and talk to each other. The following Saturday, everyone will take up the next chapter.
Part One: Ancient Perspectives on Christian Formation
- Introduction + How Benedict Transformed the World
- Benedictine Essentials for the Journey
- The Path of Communal Prayer
- The Path of Spiritual Guidance
- The Path of Ordinary Spirituality
- The Path of Lectio Divina
- The Path of Hospitality
Part Two: Christian Formation as a Way of Life Together
- How Benedict is Still Transforming the World
- Five Case Studies in Christian Formation
- A Guide for Christian Formation in a Local Church
- User’s Guide to Going on a Monastic Retreat
- A Year of Tools for Christian Formation
Open to others
As part of a public blog, this book club will — by its nature — be open to oblates from other communities and to members of the general public. Comments are moderated before they appear on the blog.
- A quick post on being Benedictine and lay (supertradmum-etheldredasplace.blogspot.com)
Here is the Oblate Letter going in the mail today for the April 14 meeting:
I hope that your Lent was a time of filled with “the gladness of spiritual desire [while awaiting] holy Easter,” as St. Benedict writes – and that you are now experiencing the spiritual renewal and rebirth of the Easter season. Here at the monastery, the bells ring a joyous peal for Mass each day in the Octave of Easter, an audible expression of the fullness of hope that rises within our hearts.
“Peace” — the focus of our meeting on April 14 — is a fitting topic for this Easter Season. The word is used frequently in everyday life, but often only as Read more…
At the Oblate Retreat yesterday, we watched this video in which several Sisters describe the way they see and live the Benedictine values derived from The Rule.
- Philippians, “Conversatio nostra in coelis est” (3:20), (supertradmum-etheldredasplace.blogspot.com)
I recently heard this poem by Mary Oliver at a seminar. It so captures the soul’s longing to step aside from our busy daily lives for those times when, in silence, we can feel and follow our deep desire to spend more time with God.
Another morning and I wake with thirst
for the goodness I do not have. I walk
out to the pond and all the way God has
given us such beautiful lessons. Oh Lord,
I was never a quick scholar but sulked
and hunched over my books past the hour
and the bell; grant me, in your mercy,
a little more time. Love for the earth
and love for you are having such a long
conversation in my heart. Who knows what
will finally happen or where I will be sent,
yet already I have given a great many things
away, expecting to be told to pack nothing,
except the prayers which, with this thirst,
I am slowy learning.
— Mary Oliver, Thirst,
Beacon Press, Boston, 2006, pp. 1, 52, 69
The theme for our day is Conversatio, the third promise that Benedictines make (along with stability and obedience). In the last hundred years, this Latin term (which St. Benedict used) has been recovered; medieval scribes – not familiar with the term or its meaning – had changed it to conversio, the more-easily-understood idea of conversion or repentance. Conversatio is now usually translated as “fidelity to the monastic way of life” — which includes, of course, the never-ending process of turning our hearts and minds back to God.
- 9:15 Gather
- 9:30 Morning Prayer
- 10:00 Morning Conference: God is our heart’s desire Followed by time for reflection and prayer
- 11:30 Voices of the Sisters
- Preparation for lunch (Oblates are needed to help set up the food)
- 12:00 Lunch
- Clean up (Oblates are needed to help with the clean up)
Followed by time for reflection
Gift shop open (tentative)
- 1:00 Midday Prayer
- 1:15 Afternoon Conference: God draws us near
- Followed by time for reflection and prayer
- 2:30 Dialogue Session: What matters in your spiritual lives?
- Closing prayer
Our 2013 Oblate Retreat will approach Conversatio with a question in hand: What matters? What matters in our way of taking The Rule of St. Benedict into each of our lives? Oblates: please RSVP by phone or email if you will be attending.
The question first arises from the series of books written by Sister Mary Margaret Funk: Thoughts Matter in 1999, then Tools Matter in 2004, Humility Matters in 2005; then Lectio Matters in 2010. Discernment Matters was just published; we may a copy in time for the retreat. While reading Lectio Matters, I began to ponder the idea of something “mattering” in the spiritual life — and that became the foundation for this retreat.
Thoughts Matter begins with the words “God is our heart’s desire” and says that our spiritual practices are ways to find the spiritual path that leads us to that heart’s desire. After describing how life in monasteries is designed to make this possible, she writes, “We say today that lay practitioners can also enter intot he same transformative experience by being faithful to inner work. It is up to each person to decide what it takes to let go of a former way of life: to remain outwardly in the same environment, or to change his or her location or lifestyle. … Hopefully this book will help us reclaim the spirituality of the desert for our times so that we can integrate such teachings into our own contemporary lives. More importantly, perhaps this book will enable serious seekers to name what they have already experienced. We can then devote our lives to discipleship.”
The Oblate community — oblates, candidates, inquirers — are surely serious seekers in the spiritual life. In the Morning and Afternoon conferences for the Retreat, I will explore this idea of what matters, consider the elements highlighted in these books and others from The Rule of Benedict, and explore some of the fruit. In the morning, we will also have a chance to view a 17-minute video Voices of the Sisters, made by our College, in which several Duluth Benedictines (many now gone home to God) describe important Benedictine values. After the Afternoon Conference, we will have a Dialogue session in which you may share the practices and experiences that have mattered to you in your own spiritual lives.
All of our activities will take place in the Lake Superior Lounge on the Ground Floor of the Monastery. The Sisters are having an all-day workshop as part of the Monastery’s ongoing Strategic Planning process; to maintain the reflection and quiet for the Retreat, we will have our snacks and lunch downstairs as well.
Freezing drizzle began to make roads slippery in the Duluth area on Saturday night. Heavy snowfall is predicted for Sunday, especially in the afternoon. Our College chose to cancel an Open House for new students scheduled for February 10 out of concern for the weather.
I realize that we do not have a method for choosing whether to hold a meeting nor for notifying Oblates if we choose to cancel it.
If the weather develops on Sunday as it is predicted, the most prudent decision for Oblates would be to stay home rather than venture out. I will be on hand and will meet with any Oblates who come for the meeting, but will alert the Reception Desk (and put a message on my phone) that I am encouraging people not to risk these travel conditions for the meeting.
I hope to see you all in better weather on March 9!
This last week of the Liturgical year always feels a bit like Holy Saturday.
Last Sunday’s feast of Christ the King is over, the Church’s last hurrah before ushering the new year in this Sunday, the first Sunday of Advent. So, what’s the time in between? Officially, it’s the 34th week of Ordinary Time, but mostly it feels like a waiting period. Like Holy Saturday.
On that day, the dramatic and tragic and salvation-giving events of Good Friday are over and we remember Jesus in his tomb. Easter Sunday hasn’t happened yet. Time is suspended as we wait, with Jesus, for that moment when he bursts forth and something new begins.
This week feels like that to me. There are daily Mass readings, and they point in the direction of the ones we find during Advent. But these days feel anticlimactic after last Sunday’s triumphal feast, as if the year were simply slipping away on a whisper.
But then, Advent is a whispery sort of season. It’s gentle and quiet–to me, anyway, even though the readings begin to talk about Jesus’ comings–at the end of time, at the end of our own personal time, and at the end of the time of preparation known as the Old Testament. It should be a time of reflection, even though the rest of the world has made it into a frantic, consumeristic race that allows little time for quiet reflection.
But we Benedictines know about pacing ourselves, or we should from reading the Rule. We know that prayer and lectio and a carefully balanced life make up our days. Hopefully, we won’t neglect our Morning and Evening prayers, and maybe we’ll even take a day of reflection to keep the season in perspective.
In the meantime, we have this waiting week, the week that, to me, is neither here nor there. Maybe it’s a chance to think about the coming Advent season and prepare for the best way to celebrate it, deliberately, day by day, enjoying the feasts and readings, savoring, not rushing toward Christmas, which, after all, only BEGINS on Christmas Day.