Tag Archives: Benedictine Oblate

NY Oblates’ Retreat 2019

Labor Day weekend (2019) had 25 of the NY Oblates of St. Meinrad’s Archabbey attended their annual retreat in Ossining, NY. We welcomed several new people. We were blessed, once again to have Fr. Mateo Zamora, OSB was our retreat master, with a series of conferences “A Careful Watch: Vigilance in the Rule of St. Benedict.”

Vigilance is a looking forward to something. It is sober, thoughtful, careful. We care for another; we anticipate something/someone for the future; we are ready to serve. One good example of being vigilant is the Vigil for the Sick and Dying. In context is a team effort (a communal effort) with the person in question. We bear witness to the Hope of being in Christ even when the sorrow is shared. The waiting is for Christ’s coming (the beginning) not for death (the end). Vigilance, therefore, is attitudinal, as we do this because of our relationship with God.

St. Benedict dedicates four chapters of his Rule to keeping the prayer vigil (RB, ch. 8-11). In this case, Benedict teaches that keeping vigil is an ascetical practice of sacrifice. In a world where sacrifice is not a well-accepted idea, the sacrifice of sleep in the Rule is real commitment to something more important: prayer.

In A Not-So-Unexciting Life Essays on Benedictine History and Spirituality in Honor of Michael Casey, OCSO (2017) we are reminded that “The practice of keeping vigil is part of our conversatio. … [the Office of Vigils, for example] actually symbolizes: our heart’s being awake so that we can enter into the mystery, being awake when Christ comes.” In another place, it was said, “This idea of keeping watch is present in the parable of the ten virgins (Matt 25:1-13), and it is very much part of the celibate life.” However, we need to remember that keeping is Christian regardless of marital status.

Keeping with the theme, we started and ended the conferences with Luke 12:35-48:

“Be dressed for action and have your lamps lit; be like those who are waiting for their master to return from the wedding banquet, so that they may open the door for him as soon as he comes and knocks…”

When we are vigilant or keep a vigil, there is much waiting. Waiting is more than just biding time, it is an attitude – vigilance requires us to look inward as we look forward… being ready for what is coming. It requires trust, hope, a readiness to serve and a willingness to sacrifice. Regardless of the length of the wait, the waiting/vigil is a difficult sacrifice. We don’t “keep vigil”, the vigil keeps us, it forms us.

We only wait for people and things that we care about, those that matter most to us. We wait out of love.

In each conference Fr. Mateo challenged us to reflect on the following questions, as they related to the many types of vigils we keep:

    • How long did you wait?
    • What did you waiting for?
    • Why did you wait?
    • How did you wait?

We are always waiting for something or someone… we wait in line, we wait our turn, we wait for death, but we keep on living. If we know how long the wait will be, it seems like time is running out, there is not enough time. And yet, if we do not know the hour or the day, time is infinite, there is too much time. Having a sense of deadline makes us more diligent and organized, we take it more seriously, we are less likely to procrastinate.

Thankfully, we don’t often wait alone. When we share our waiting with others, the joys are multiplied and the sorrows are divided. In the waiting room of hospitals, it helps to have some to share the news you are waiting for – both good and bad.

Fr. Mateo also challenged us to be mindful of our words and actions, as we considered how Silence is vigilance over our words – restraint of speech. Silence is Wisdom’s first response (Euripides). This is especially challenging when we are easy with our words without considering how they function in person or on social media (in particular, the media). Our job is to first listen—be present, actively and attentively listening. Be especially careful with other people’s stories. Words have a sacred quality to them. Our words/speech should not be done at expense of the other (RB 6:8). Words should adore the other, make the other more beautiful. This is true because it is the Incarnate WORD of God –Jesus– who sanctifies, redeems and restores us. Read in the Rule 6: Restraint of Speech: good words are sometimes left unsaid for the esteem of silence

Humility is vigilance over our actions and Simplicity is vigilance over our possessions. Watch also what you do to yourself and others, as well as what you have. Humility is our acknowledgement of our lowliness and it is our acknowledgment of our gratitude. Humility is not just about our limitations but also what we can do –how we use our gifts. The converse is pride which is taking credit and it is using the self as the standard. Humility is Christ as the standard.

Culture encourages hoarding and consuming. Our possessions can possess us – they distract us. When we realize we can live without something, we start to let go, detach, so that we can be more attached to God. (MD/PAZ)

Lectio divina –being familiar with Christ

The following is something I curated and posted on the Benedictine Oblate Facebook group today.

In a recent newsletter from Fr. James Flint, OSB of St Procopius Abbey (Lisle, IL) he writes about his abbot asking the monks to say something about lectio and what was gleaned is “Give me a word” —some thoughts on lectio divina. See https://www.procopius.org/lectio-divina

As you know, the practice of prayerfully reading sacred Scripture is a key part of being a Christian, indeed, a Benedictine Oblate. Some Oblate formation programs stress lectio divina more than others. From experience, this is true for the Oblates of St Meinrad Archabbey. Whatever the case may be, lectio is rather crucial if you are truly seeking God —having familiarity with Jesus Christ.

Give me a word

~Words about the time and place for lectio divina. Most importantly, find the time to do it. Find a time of day that works for you. It can help to use the same time each day. Keep the amount of time short at first – you can build up to longer times eventually. Have a quiet place, away from normal affairs, to pray lectio divina. Don’t allow distractions. Find a sacred place.

~Words about picking a passage to do lectio divina with. At first, take just a few verses of Scripture. Use the readings for Mass, since you’ll hear them again when you go to Mass.

~Words about the “method” of praying lectio divina. Don’t get caught up with following a “method” or “technique,” but rather the important thing is to spend time with God through Scripture. Don’t over-think or over-analyze – eventually the Scripture takes the lead in the dance. Do lectio divina regularly, in a way that works best for you. Work on being quiet and do not focus on what you are doing. Don’t get discouraged and give up, if you don’t seem to be getting something out of it – keep to it! Lectio divina is a prayerful, patient pondering of a biblical text. Steps for lectio divina give your prayer purpose and direction.

~Words about how to read the biblical passage. Read over the passage repeatedly and slowly. Remember that through Scripture God is speaking to you. Be mindful of God’s presence. It can help to use a printed text, rather than a digital one on your phone or computer.

~Words about how to meditate on the passage. Meditate on the text in order to understand it. Think about how the words apply to you and to others. Ponder yourself in the biblical story or in the original audience of the text.

~Words about how to offer prayer in lectio divina. See your prayer as a relationship. Transitioning from meditation to prayer is important, for it helps to apply the text and opens you to what God wants to give you in this prayertime. The reading of Scripture must be applied to my life.

Lectio requires an altogether different approach, one that opens us to God’s agenda. The purpose is not to read a chapter of Scripture a day, to “get through” the Bible in a year, or anything of the sort. The purpose is to listen to God’s message to me, here and now, today. The quantity of material “covered” is irrelevant, and it could be counter-productive even to think in such terms. The material it should be that sets the agenda. Once we understand and apply that, we are engaged in lectio divina.

St. Procopius, pray for us.

Benedictine Oblates at the time of Church crisis

The St. Meinrad Oblates from the greater NYC area gathered as you know, for the 78th annual retreat this past weekend. As part of our Spiritual Exercises we have a Eucharistic Holy Hour. This year we prayed during this time for the Church which is currently in crisis as the consequence of clergy sexual abuse and cover-up, for the victims and victimizers.

Some of the Litany of the Sacred Heart that stand out:

Heart of Jesus, source of justice and love
Heart of Jesus, full of goodness and love
Heart of Jesus, well-spring of all virtue
Heart of Jesus, worthy of all praise
Heart of Jesus, king and center of all hearts

Employing the intercession of the Blessed Mother, St. Benedict and all Benedictine saints and blesseds, we asked for a renewal of the Church: laity and clergy alike.

This is a time of prayer, penance and works of charity.

Advent is to proclaim salvation

Tonight, the Latin Church begins her preparation for the Nativity of the Lord. Pope Benedict said at one of his addresses at the Sunday Angelus:

… we have been experiencing the liturgical season of Advent: a time of openness to God’s future, a time of preparation for Christmas, when he, the Lord, who is the absolute novelty, came to dwell in the midst of this fallen humanity to renew it from within. In the Advent liturgy there resounds a message full of hope, which invites us to lift up our gaze to the ultimate horizon, but at the same time to recognize the signs of God-with-us in the present. The Lord wants to do in Advent: to speak to the heart of his people and, through them, to the whole of humanity, to proclaim salvation.

 

As a Benedictine Oblate, I have to myself:

How has my Oblation lifted my gaze to my ultimate horizon? That is, in what ways does my Oblate life lead me closer to my destiny with God? In what ways does my Oblate life open my heart to hear the Lord speaking to me and open my hands in putting my faith into action?

Famous Benedictine Oblates

The question surfaced recently about who are some famous Benedictine Oblates. Here is a brief list thus far:

Saints, blesseds and Servants of God

Saints Thomas Aquinas, Thomas Becket, Cunegundes, Ida of Boulogne, Thomas More, Oliver Plunkett, Frances of Rome, Henry II, Ranieri Scacceri, Blessed Mark Barkworth, Blessed Itala Mela, and the Servant of God Dorothy Day

Artists, Authors, Clerics and Theologians

Carolyn Attneave, Elena Cornaro Piscopia, Eric Dean, Rumer Godden, Edith Gurian, Romano Guardini, Emerson Hynes, Joris-Karl Huysmans, Dwight Longenecker, Jacques and Raissa Maritain, Kathleen Norris, Elizabeth Scalia, Walker Percy, Denys Prideaux, Norvene Vest and Pope Benedict XVI.

Is your name among those listed here???

About the author

Paul A. Zalonski is from New Haven, CT. He is a member of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation, a Catholic ecclesial movement, and an Oblate of Saint Benedict. Contact Paul at paulzalonski[at]yahoo.com.
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