UK OBLATES ONLINE RETREAT:
On Saturday November 21, the first UK Oblates Online Retreat took place via Zoom. Over thirty oblates from around the UK took part (including one from Northern Ireland and one from France).
The retreat included two pre-recorded talks by Sister Laurentia Johns from Stanbrook Abbey. Sister Laurentia is the author of ‘The Way of Benedict: Eight Blessings for Lent’ and other works. The first talk was on Silence as a way of preparing for Advent. Practicing silence, enables us to be vigilant, alert and attentive for the coming of Christ. She suggested that oblates should create little islands of silence in their everyday lives and become silent spaces for others.
The second talk was about the Great ‘O’ Antiphons, which we sing or say at Vespers between December 17th and 24th. The antiphons are a high point of our Benedictine tradition and are the fruit of the lectio divina of our forebears. They suggest a pattern of prayer and can be used as lectio themselves, inviting a response from us as well as engaging us in our current situation.
Sister Laurentia was also with us for the day online from Stanbrook. The day also included a period of silence following her first talk, Lectio, a workshop on the ‘O’ Antiphons and another period of silence as well as discussion groups. Examples from the ‘O’ Antiphons workshop are included below.
From the discussion groups, it seemed that the retreat answered a need in the second lockdown following on from long bleak months of uncertainty. In these months we have become a digital community, through the various media platforms and an online spirituality is emerging. Despite being physically distanced from eachother, in the times of silent prayer there was a strong sense that we were all in the same room. It seems that Jesus’ promise that where two or three are gathered in His Name, there will He be also, was fulfilled.
Neil Zoladkiewicz (Ealing)
UK Oblates Team Treasurer
EXAMPLES OF ‘O’ ANTIPHONS WRITTEN BY PARTICIPANTS:
O Good Shepherd
You seek us out when we are lost
And lead us to restful pastures
Come carry us in your loving arms
Through these dark days of suffering and uncertainty.
O, Anointed One,
Fount of all light and goodness,
Come to relieve our dark & suffering people.
O, Lord of creation and giver of life,
Come to your creatures
And enliven them with your love.
O, Maker of all things,
And Lord of us all,
Come into our lives
And fill us with your love.
O Bread of Life
Born, once in a cattle’s feeding trough,
Come and feed a world
Starving for love
The National Retreat for Benedictine Oblates planned to be held at Douai Abbey
from 2nd to 4th October 2020; has been cancelled due to the pandemic.
The 10th National Retreat for Benedictine Oblates (organised by UK Oblates Team)
is now planned to be held at Belmont Abbey, Hereford HR2 9RZ
From 17th to 19th May 2021
‘Walking with St Benedict’
Led by The Rt Rev Bishop Richard Moth,
Bishop of Arundel & Brighton,
Oblate of Pluscarden.
Cost £180 for single room, full board
Details Neil Zoladkiewicz: firstname.lastname@example.org
May 2020. News from Douai Abbey .
Fr Abbot told us at the start of the lockdown, that now we can be proper monks and not go travelling out. Mother Abbess of St Cecilia’s Ryde, wrote in their Chronicle that the abnormal has now become the normal and the world at large has joined the nuns in observing enclosure. One of the younger monks goes out once a week to pick up prescriptions from the surgery and do any necessary shopping. The front of house seems strangely quiet without any guests or visitors, and there are no retreats or talks to prepare and give. Most noticeable is the absence of people at Mass, especially sad for those few elderly people who make great efforts to share the daily Eucharist with us, and those who like to come into the church during the day to pray. The Triduum was particularly forlorn without the usual retreatants. We followed the bishops’ instructions exactly, so there were no processions, foot washing or watching on Maundy Thursday, no blessing of the fire or water at the Easter Vigil, but at least we celebrated it as well as were able.
We recognise that how much better off we are than many people who are unable to go to church, or who live in high rise flats in inner cities and have no gardens to enjoy, and so we must be thankful for our blessings.
Father Gervase Holdaway OSB
‘Life with St. Benedict’ by Richard Frost (Bible Reading Fellowship)
ISBN: 9 78057 468130
Richard Frost is a Reader in the Church of England and an oblate of the Benedictine community at Alton Abbey in Hampshire. His recent book provides reflections on the daily readings from the Holy Rule and is prefaced by an excellent short introduction to Benedictine Spirituality and a useful glossary.
The subtitle to this volume is ‘The Rule re-imagined for everyday living’ and that is exactly what the author has achieved in his reflections on each daily reading from the Holy Rule, which explore relationships, the workplace, our own church and our attitudes and actions towards others in a modern context. The reflections also include searching questions for the reader to think about and there is also a short prayer at the end of each section.
Overall this is an excellent introduction to the Holy Rule and the author bridges the gap between a 1,500 years old spiritual document and modern lives. It helps the reader to get into the habit of trying to apply St Benedict’s teaching to their own life, that process of daily reflection which is so essential to our progress on the Benedictine way. It is therefore an ideal volume for the novice oblate and all who are beginning the Oblate life. I certainly wish Richard Frost’s book was available when I took my own first steps towards becoming an oblate. It is also an ideal volume for the busy oblate of whatever experience!
NEIL ZOLADKIEWICZ (EALING ABBEY)