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To help widen the horizons of the participants and give new impulses to Benedictine spirituality under the protection of S.-Benedict and S.-Scholastica
To help widen the horizons of the participants and give new impulses to Benedictine spirituality under the protection of S.-Benedict and S.-Scholastica

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Welcome to the 4th International Oblate Congress

4 – 10 November 2017 : Il Salesianum : Roma

A WAY FORWARD - THE BENEDICTINE COMMUNITY IN MOVEMENT
The Lord waits for us daily to translate into action, as we should, his holy teachings.
(RB, Prolog 35)

We are delighted to invite you to the Fourth International Congress for Benedictine Oblates to be held at the Salesianum in Rome (Italy) from 4 to 10 November 2017. Benedictine oblates and oblate directors from all over the world will gather to discuss, to share, to celebrate, to pray and work together, exploring our Congress theme A way forward - The Benedictine Community in Movement.

The Congress is aimed at Benedictine oblates and oblate novices whose participation is endorsed by their oblate directors. A special workshop for accompanying oblate directors will be arranged.

The official Congress language is English, with plenum lectures translated into French, German, Italian, Portuguese and Spanish. Further language groups can be added if participants contact the organisers and offer to help with translation.

Each country or region has been assigned its own quota of voting delegates. Once this quota has been filled, additional participants are welcome as non-voting representatives.

Following the Congress, there will be opportunity for delegates to extend their stay in Rome and participate in add-on trips to Monte Cassino and Subiaco, more details to follow. If interested, please email oblate@anselmianum.com.

We look forward to seeing you in Rome!

P.S. Please do not make travel arrangements before you receive notification about your allocated place from the Congress organisers.

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Father Edward LINTON,O.S.B. Director of the next Congress
#OblateCongress #MonkLife

ANNOUNCEMENT

Dear Oblates,

The success of the Second World Congress of oblates encourages us to organize a third Congress.

An international consultation-group met at the Abbey of Montserrat in Catalonia in October 2010. The object of this meeting was to exchange impressions of the second congress and to discuss the possibility of holding a third congress. The impressions, observations and suggestions emerging from this meeting were sent to me.

The consultation-group suggested as an overall theme for a congress in 2013 - 'Obsculta - the Oblate listening in the World.' The actual wording of the title can be changed, but its thrust should remain.

With this letter I should like warmly to invite you to the Third World Congress of Benedictine Oblates which will be held in Rome from 4th to 10th October, 2013. Further information regarding the programme - which will be produced by an organizing committee - will be published after a second meeting of the international consultation-group at Douai Abbey in England in May, 2012.

In the meantime, I think it will help if people know well in advance the dates of the planned Congress.

Once again I should like to emphasize that this Congress is not an attempt to cantralize the various groups of oblates. The intention is, rather, to deepen their contacts with one another and, most importantly, their links with their monasteries of oblation.

As was the case with the last Congress, we can welcome only a limited number of participants from the various regions can come to Rome. We do not have the possibility of welcoming large numbvers of delegates. This fact makes it important that on their return participants share their experiences of the congress with other oblates of their monastery or region.

Sincerely

Notker Wolf, O.S.B.
Abbot Primate

Rome, 11th July, 2011
Image may contain: 9 people, people smiling, people standing, crowd and outdoor

REPORT FROM DOUAI ABBEY
After the sounds, noises and images of our journey, our arrival at a Benedictine monastery situated
in the green and silent Berkshire countryside was an extraordinary and inspiring experience. It
boded well for the beginning of an intense meeting in which important decisions had to be taken.
This joyous feeling was confirmed by the welcome we received from our hosts, and we were
immediately struck by the existing well-structured organization. What followed proved to be a
further confirmation of our first impressions: the silent functioning of the elevator, the automatic
switching-on of the lights, the sharp sound of the electric door locks, the resilient sun rays that
illuminated our surroundings and warmed our stay. Further on we could appreciate the paintings,
the glass windows and the parlours, until we arrived at our rooms, simply furnished yet welcoming,
seemingly eager to host the travellers who came from afar. These surprises were just the beginning,
and together with the intense emotions we felt were a very pleasant experience for us. Our first
surprise was on seeing the Abbey Church, a sort of giant lying on the ground, with its solid and
well-balanced structure. The unfinished nature of the project does not diminish the surprising
harmony of the daring solutions adopted by an inspired architect. The appropriate use of materials
and well-conceived techniques amalgamate perfectly with the previous handiwork, in particular the
architectural contrast obtained through the use of solid wooden beams and marble joints. The
unfinished state of a work of art is nothing new as it depends on various circumstances. However, I
was very surprised to find one in England.
The inside of the main nave and the surrounding spaces are filled by the rays of the sun, coloured by
the polichrome glass windows and enhancing the imposing presence of the two organs. The forms
of the metallic organ pipes are made more evident by the oak supporting structure. The music
spreads all along the nave and in the surroundings. The mechanism is brought to life by expert
hands that do justice to the expressiveness of the music and the skill of the organist, at times in
grave and choral tones, at others through intense and meditative movements.
During our stay at the monastery we put into practice the motto ‘ora et labora’ by alternating prayer
and work. We prayed with the community in the monastic choir, where participation was intense
and moving. It was therefore possible for us, through a palpable naturalness of movements, to
experience a deep silence and to render our prayer effective through Gregorian chant.
Work was done with the oblates present for the meeting, in order to put together a common vision,
share our experiences, smoothen differing positions, and to arrive, step by step, to positive and
workable solutions. Everyone took part in the consideration of the various topics discussed; all had
the opportunity to give their opinion and contributed to create a serene and constructive atmosphere.
It was a truly encouraging demonstration of maturity and competence that augurs well for the
future. Truly, there had never been any doubt on this point, but it was very important to have yet
more proof of it through the attitude of those present at the meeting.
We also experienced how the gift of silence puts us in a better position to listen. This confirmed that
the choice of the topic of the Third World Congress of Benedictine Oblates, “ Obsculta: The
Oblate Listening in the World ”, was indeed a good one.
The end of our stay could not have been better. We all attended an evening concert held in the large
church, and had the opportunity of listening to the musical group called “His Majesty’s Sagbutts
and Cornets”. The group specializes in Renaissance and Baroque music, and the performance was
very much appreciated and admired by those present. The loud sounds of the trumpet and the horns
provided a perfect musical background for admiring the Gothic architecture of the church, with its
wide cross vaults, its impressive height, the lancet arches, the large reinforced columns. The picture
was completed by the magnificent large glass windows, whose white glass was enriched by a
delicate and complex grid pattern.
We would like to thank all the monks and lay people who welcomed us with fraternal kindness and
exerted all their efforts for the successful outcome of our meeting.
Giorgio Marte, Obl.O.S.B. Badia Primaziale Sant'Anselmo.
20th May 2012

The Consultation took place in an atmosphere of gre
at friendliness and openness, made possible not
least by the warmth of the welcome received in Mont
serrat and the liaison team of Father Jordi
Castanyer, and oblates Eva Salgado Chia and Jordi
Gubern Prat.
At a
first session
[Moderator: Henry O'Shea] impressions, positive an
d negative, of the Congress of
2009 were shared. While the positive impressions an
d evaluations were in the majority the members
of the Organizing Committee agreed with and took to
heart the legitimate complaints about the
arrangments for meeting participants. [See further
on this under 'Conclusions/Decisions' below.]
The difficulties of the physically disabled were al
so mentioned as well as the difficulties
experienced by more elderly participants. Among oth
er matters mentioned were: the language of the
liturgy – especially the need for translations of t
he homilies; the need for more free time; the
composition of the workshops and, connected with th
is, the possiblity of a greater language-mix in
these; the need to give more opportunity to partici
pants to speak.
Oblates' Consultation 2010 Draft Report p.
2
Although many of the participants had known one ano
ther from the 2009 Congress it was suggested
in a
second session
that all participants should make a brief presenta
tion of the situation of oblates
in their own monasteries of affiliation and – to th
e extent possible – in their own countries or
regions. From this it became very clear how differe
nt the situations are as well as how difficult it i
s
to speak of 'oblates' as an homogeneous group. We w
ere reminded that these facts needed to be kept
in mind when planning the next Congress.
In a
third and lengthy session
[Moderator: Sergio Portelli] possible themes were
discussed. The
documents mentioned above were taken as impulses fo
r this discussion but the Organizing
Committee were at pains to point out that their own
documents and in particular the letter from
Raffaele, were not an attempt to pre-empt discussio
n or decisions. After much backwads and
forwards consensus on the following theme emerged.
Obsculta: The Oblate Listening in the
World.
It was agreed that this is a provisional title and
will need to be refined, particularly in the
light of nuances in different languages. Underlying
the choice of theme was agreement on the need
to discover/learn/re-learn a Benedictine way of lis
tening which is capable of wisely engaging with
and where possible influencing contemporary society
. It was felt that of the many themes suggested
such as marriage and family, youth involvement, the
need for initial and continuing formation of
oblates, oblate life and everyday life, chant, inte
rreligious dialogue etc. could be dealt with – at l
east
partly – in workshops. It was also suggested by som
e that it is not possible for one congress to
cover everything.
The fourth and fifth sessions
[Moderator: Sergio Portelli] were devoted to sugge
sting the names
of possible speakers and themes for workshops. The
undesirability of confining workshops to
national groups was underlined although the languag
e-difficulties that mixed groups would present
were not underestimated.
Among themes suggested for workshops were:
Obedience; Listening in the family; Silence as a po
wer; Humility; Formation; Peace: Gregorian
chant; Lectio Divina; Living life in a Benedictine
way; Benedictine history; Music and dance;
Oblate Identity; Icons and Meditation; Levels of si
lence; The Oblate in the workplace; The oblate as
witness; How to attract young people to the Benedic
tine ideal; St Benedict and Eastern
Monasticism; The relations between oblates and thei
r monasteries; Care of elderly oblates; Oblates
and the future; Oblates in marriage; The single (i.
e. unmarried) oblate.
Conclusions/Decisions
At a
sixth and final session
Henry O'Shea summed up what had been done and (mos
t of) what had
been said. Two important interventions were made by
participants:
1)
National directors/assistants should not be exclude
d from the process.
2)
The Congress should not be solely 'European/North A
merican' but should try to involve
oblates from South America, Africa and the East.
Henry O'Shea presented the following as decisions
of the Consultation and asked for
comments/agreements/disagreements:
1)
The Congress of 2013 will take place in Rome from
to October 2013
2)
The overall theme of the Congress will be
Obsculta: The Oblate Listening in the World.
(working title).
Oblates' Consultation 2010 Draft Report p.
3
3) The Consultation participants will const
itute a contact-group which will be consulted by
email and other means of comunication including c
onference-calling. Given the differences
of time-zones there can also be regional consulta
tions.
4) The purpose of the contact-group will be
to draw up a general plan and time-table for the
Congress and, in particular to decide on themes fo
r the workshops.
5) The contact-group will meet again. This
meeting will be in Douai Abbey in London in early
2012 , if this can be arranged or at another venue
if Douai is not available.
1.
Henry O'Shea will draw up a draft report which will
be circulated to all participants for
comments, corrections and suggestions, after which
an agreed report will be sent to the
national assistants/directors for their reactions.
The Abbot Primate will also receive the draft
report.
Henry O'Shea, O.S.B.
Sant'Anselmo December, 2010 

The religious challenges of today – The Benedictine answer’

Three Moments: Observation - Evaluation - Action

The Prayer of the Oblate in a pluralist World

In recent years the 'panorama' of the world everywhere is changing radically before our very eyes. This is a huge phenomenon which is happening 'live', as it were, before our surprised and worried eyes.
Driven on the one hand by an extraordinary technical and scientific development and by the media of communication and on the other by a worsening of world-wide injustice and violence, the greatest human migration in history is taking place. From the most far-flung villages of the Third and Fourth Worlds, from Africa, Asia, Latin America and Eastern Europe there is a constant stream of immigration to the West in search both of escape from hunger and poverty as well as in search of a life more worthy of human dignity. And millions of refugees are pouring into democratic countries, fleeing dictatorship, persecution and death. At the same time, but in the opposite direction, mass tourism is bringing a growing tide of people to the remotest corners of the earth. The impact of this, often damaging, profoundly changes the cultural, physical and spiritual ambience of the places visited.
And so we see mosques rising up beside churches and Buddhist temples in the shadow of bell-towers, with a Hindu temple beside a synagogue. Societies are becoming ever more multi-ethnic, multi-cultural and multi-religious. As a result, Christianity too is challenged to open itself to this new situation which contains an 'other', formerly distant, which is now living on the same floor. This is a presence which makes itself felt in the prayer which Jesus himself taught us, the 'Our Father'. For this reason today we need above all to ask ourselves, 'Whom do we include in this “our”? Who is our neighbour or, better, whose neighbour am I?'
A 'neighbour' who at the beginning of the third millennium is expanding to include all creatures and life on Earth threatened by a crisis of the environment which throws a dramatic shadow on the very history of humankind itself.

To evaluate in the light of the Gospel, of the Rule of Benedict and of the Second Vatican Council

In the interaction of the glance with which I observe the 'stranger' and that with which the immigrant observe me, we are called above all to discern God's project at this moment in history in which we live. We are challenged to see if our attitudes are consonant with the Gospel precept of universal brotherhood embracing all of humanity and all creatures or to see if we are influenced by the culture of 'clash of civilizations', by a xenophobic and exclusive spirit which sets different cultures, races and religions against each other.
This is a discernment which implies a crucial choice : between that of intercultural and interreligious dialogue to open a new era in which the conditions can be established to permit the human race finally to become a human family and that of apartheid of most of the human race in the closed ghettos caused by the failure of multiculturalism.
For men and women of goodwill, but in particular for Christians and oblates (many of whom are already living multicuturalism in the monasteries with which they are associated) the only possibility is to open onself to the way of reconciliation and the acceptance of difference. This is a path of growth, anything but easy, which requires an heroic practice of humility. This humility helps us not to think of ourselves as the centre of the universe and which alone will make us able to welcome with sympathy the gifts which, like us, the 'other' has received from God.

To act in order to be faithful to Jesus Christ, to Saint Benedict and to the signs of our times

And now, what can we do to build bridges and break down walls?
It is not enough to have a Christian vision of the 'other'. Continuing formation is necessary along with a strong determination to be able to think as a disciple of Jesus and as a member of the great Benedictine family. We need to clease our memories of a tribal mentality and nationalistic reflexes which have given some people, ourselves included, a sense of superiority regarding other cultures and religions. For this reason we need to recover a deep sympathy which will enable us to recognize and welcome the other as a brother and sister with whom to begin the 'fifth era', that of an authentic and deep ecumencial, interreligious and intercultural dialogue.
This is the ambitious goal which, with God's help, the Congress sets itself, more definitely that of encouraging among oblates the growth of a new awareness which will enable them in some way to become active participants in the great movement for peace, justice and the protection of creation which the Christian Churches launched in Basle in 1989 – a world of sharing, a world of cross-fertilization, a world which will turn to the love of God.
We need, then, to build a 'civilization of love' as proclaimed by Pope Paul VI. In doing this, the image that springs to mind is that of the Good Samaritan who sees in the injured person only a person like himself, stripped of religious, political or ethnic labels.

This vision encapsulates the 'dream' and the wish that from the Second Congress in Rome, Benedictine oblates can set out together on the road of dialogue with the world

THEME:
We would like to propose to the Oblates participating in the first World Congress a summary of Christian life according to St Benedict's Rule. This summary is necessary because we are all tempted to subdivide our life into different segments: family, work, oblates, the parish, friends, etc. At the centre of the illustration is a square that reminds us of the cloister, the symbol of the monastery, which is the point of reference of the oblate's spiritual journey. In the monastery, the oblate learns three things:

1. Communion with monks and oblates (communion)

The discovery of "you" and "us", i.e. of interpersonal relationships. Social relationships are already formed before oblation, but in the monastery the oblate learns and puts into practice relationships in a Christian way and as suggested by the Rule. The following quotations from the Letter to the Ephesians and from the Rule can help us understand what it means to meet the "you", the other, one's neighbour: "Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you" (Ephesians 4: 31-32), and "Thus they should anticipate one another in honor; most patiently endure one another's infirmities, whether of body or of character" (RB 72: 4-5).

Formation in communion is nourished by participation in the Eucharist and in the Liturgy of the Hours that are at the centre of the oblate's life. With this preparation the oblate can open himself/herself to the other two realities in his/her life: the meeting with God-Trinity and with the World, where he/she will carry over the quality of the relationship acquired during his/her formation in the monastery.

This will be the subject of the first presentation.

2. Communion with God-Trinity (contemplation)

The classical image of a spiritual journey is the ascent of a mountain. The path that leads us to the top is Lectio Divina, i.e. the 'chewing' of the Word in order to make it a part of ourselves. It is helped by silence (RB 6) and abandonment (obedience RB 5; humility RB 7) that enable us to make space for God in our heart. All this, with the help of God's grace, helps us to reach the apex of spiritual life as described by St Benedict: "[...] they should [....] prefer nothing whatever to Christ" (RB 72, 11).

This will be the subject of the second presentation.

3. Communion with the World (mission)

The meeting with God as Father makes us discover universal brotherhood. Consequently, we do not reserve the love we discovered while meditating the Gospel and the Rule only for monks and oblates, but we want to take it outside the monastery in order to build the Kingdom of God.

Most of all we want to take it to those who are closest to us: our family, workmates, friends, brothers and sisters whom we meet in our parish. They are the first receivers of our "daily mission".

This will be the subject of the third presentation.

However, we do not stop here. As we remember the invitation made to us by Jesus, we go beyond our borders, although we continue to live in our neighbourhood, to take our heart and our mind to others who are apparently far from us because of differences in nationality, language, religion or culture.

In order to become "citizens of the world" and "universal brothers" (Charles de Foucauld) we must resemble Christ more and more, as He overcame the obstacles put up by the culture of his time (parable of the good Samaritan – Luke 10: 25-37 - and the conversation with the Samaritan woman – John 4: 1-42).

We shall therefore reflect on inter-religious dialogue, knowing full well that it is fundamental for the building of peace.

This will be the subject of the fourth presentation.

Pope John Paul II reminds us that "there is no peace without justice and there is no justice without peace". Peace manifests itself also in the way we treat nature (RB 31).

This will be the subject of the sixth presentation.

Koinonia-communion is a reality which deepens and unifies all aspects of Christian life. We therefore propose koinonia-communion as the subject of the Congress.

Caterina Feliziani – Giorgio Marte
Madre M. Giovanna Velenziano, O.S.B. – padre Luigi Bertocchi, O.S.B. 
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