Oblate Director's Letter

 

October 2012

Dear Oblates, 

 

The trees of the Abbey hilltop are turning beautiful hues of gold, orange and red. October has become one of my favorite months of the year. Not only do I love roasted root vegetables and pumpkin pie, but the Fall ushers in a string of holidays that return my thoughts to fond memories of family and friends, beautiful liturgies and the quiet peacefulness of long winter nights with the extra time for reading which they provide.

Earlier this month LaVern Hayworth, Pat Clark and I traveled to British Columbia for an oblate retreat at the beautiful Rivendell Retreat on Bowen Island, just west of Vancouver. It was organized by our oblates there, Eileen Richter and Angela Powell. We enjoyed the company of a diverse collection of souls who contributed insights from a vast array of life experience. There was much to talk about because the theme of the retreat was “Oblate life as a Participation in the New Evangelization.” We spoke about the great Benedictine themes of humility, obedience, silence & listening, hospitality and stability of relationship. These came together into a Benedictine life that is meant to be lived in the midst of a society and culture that has grown weary or has been distracted from hearing the Gospel. We discussed a culture that is, at times, hostile to the idea of moral certainty, and of giving oneself to another without reservation, and at great personal cost. Ultimately, Christianity is a “relationship” with God in Christ, and cannot be reduced to a moral philosophy or a pleasant cultural relic. The “New Evangelization” begins with the “humility of the mustard seed,” to quote Pope Benedict XVI. We have received a great gift of faith and grace. Charity compels us to proclaim this Gospel so that others might enjoy its gifts, as well.

In November I will visit North Dakota and the Bethlehem Community of Benedictine Oblates there. They live and work in the village of Bathgate near the Canadian Border. A common work of the community is the publishing of children’s books. Plenty of interesting information about the community and the books they publish can be found at bethlehembooks.com. We will share several days of retreat in addition to some very fine Benedictine hospitality, I’m sure. A day will be spent with three or four of our priest oblates serving in the Diocese of Fargo, as well.

I hope that this holiday season will bring many of you to the Abbey. It is always a joy to have you here. Peace and blessings to you.

Fr. Pius X Harding, O.S.B.

Director of Oblates

 

June 2012

Dear Oblates, 

 

Saint Benedict’s Day is celebrated this year on Wednesday, July 11th. We will celebrate our annual Saint Benedict weekend retreat Friday, July 6 through Sunday July 8. The monks hope you will be able to join in this year’s festivities.  

 

Afternoon arrivals will be in order, for the retreat begins with vespers on Friday, July 6, followed by a social on the Aquinas Hall patio and dinner in the seminary dining room. Vigils is at the usual 5:20 a.m. time on Saturday, with time for lectio divina from 6:00 a.m. until Lauds at 6:30 a.m. Mass will be celebrated at 8:00 a.m., followed by breakfast: 8:45 a.m. until 9:30 a.m. A conference will be offered at 10:00. After mid-day prayer and lunch, there will be an opportunity to view the newly released Abbey video at 2:00 p.m. The time between the video presentation and vespers is quiet time for prayer and relaxation. Refreshments will be available on the Aquinas Hall patio during all free times. In the evening, the patio will once again be the place for root beer floats and visiting with the monks. We hope many can participate, for its not often that the monks socialize after vigils. Breakfast on Sunday will be served from 7:30 to 8:30 a.m. Sunday’s Mass will be celebrated by Abbot Gregory at the special time of 10:00 a.m. At this liturgy all oblates will together renew their oblation. The annual oblate picnic will follow immediately with plenty of German sausage and other good things to eat and drink. Also, we will once again be entertained by Bluegrass and folk musicians, “LeRoy & the Sidekicks.” Fun prizes will be available for the entertainment of the children (and a few adults too!).  

     

To make reservations for the Oblate Weekend, please contact Karen at the Retreat House: 503-845-3025 or by e-mail retreat@mtangel.edu. Specify whether you will be with us for the retreat, or just the picnic. The cost of the weekend: room, meals, conferences and socials is $155.00 for singles or $252 for doubles. There is no cost for the picnic, which is provided by the monks in gratitude for your prayers and fellowship. Likely both the Retreat House and Aquinas Hall will be utilized during this weekend celebration.  

     

Again, Father Abbot and all the monks hope you will be able to share this festival of Saint Benedict with us here at Mount Angel. You can check for updates and reminders on the Abbey’s web site: www.mountangelabbey.org. Oblates Michael and Cheryl Schwartz help maintain the oblate section of the website. Check it out, they welcome your submissions and suggestions.

 

Peace & blessings to you all. See you in July!

 

Fr. Pius X Harding, O.S.B.

Director of Oblates

 

 

 

April 2012

Dear Oblates,

Resurexit Sicut Dixit, Alleluia, Alleluia! Christians, have greeted one another using this Easter salutation for centuries. For our Lord Jesus Christ has indeed won the Final Victory over sin and death. "He has risen as He said, Alleluia, Alleluia! And we rejoice now in the company of the Angels and the Saints.


How blessed we truly are to be loved to such an extent that the Father saw no sacrifice for us to be too great. Even the Passion and Death of His own beloved Son.
This great Mystery of God's Love is the very heart of our Catholic Faith. The reality of the Passion, Death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ is eternally lived through the Sacraments of Holy Mother Church.


God has fulfilled His promise to save us. All is made new in Christ. This is true, yet we look around and still we see the actions of the Evil One ravaging our world through war, hunger and oppression. Yes, the Devil has been defeated, he has no hope of success, yet out of hatred for all that is good, he chooses to leave in the wake of his retreat a "Culture of Death." Unfortunately, many have chosen this way of agony over the "Gospel of Life" which our Blessed Lord proclaimed from His glorious Cross. The Cross of Jesus Christ, far from a mere instrument of torture and death, is for us and all creation, the "Tree of Life." The Holy Cross is also the great Altar of Sacrifice where "God become Man" sacrificed His life as the Paschal Lamb, slaughtered for the atonement of our sins. Jesus is the Lamb of God, Who takes away the "Culture of Death" in our world.


As we rejoice this Easter in the Victory of Jesus Christ over sin and death, we can't forget that the effects of evil still defile our world. We know that the Victory is ours, and with every Sacrament we celebrate, and every act of charity we perform, we move deeper into the Heart of Christ and His "Gospel of Life." But we can't stop there. We can't stop until the prevailing "Culture of Death" is no more. We can't stop until all evil is overcome by love; not any so-called love, but rather, the love of Jesus.


If the Holy Rule is a way to better follow Christ's Gospel of Love, then it becomes the work of every oblate to love this world in which we live, not only with our own hearts, but with the heart of our Risen Christ - the very heart of Love. May His victory of love ever reign in our hearts. And may the "Gospel of Life" be our standard of victory.
Resurexit Sicut Dixit!, Alleluia, Alleluia!

Peace,

Fr. Pius X Harding, O.S.B.

Director of Oblates

 

January 2012

Dear Oblates,

The holy and joyful season of Lent begins this year on February 22nd, just over a month away.

Chapter 49 of the Holy Rule of St. Benedict requires the monks to submit to the abbot what they propose to do for Lent as a special good work (bona opera). They are to do only what the abbot approves, lest their good work become a source of pride. This has given rise to the custom of the Bona Opera. It is a form on which each monk submits to the abbot what he proposes to do for Lent. St. Benedict recommends “refusing to indulge in evil habits and devoting ourselves to prayer, reading, and self-denial.” Traditional Christian practices include prayer, fasting and almsgiving.

Since the Bona Opera is a special practice for oblates as well, Abbot Gregory has asked that each oblate of Mount Angel Abbey be given the opportunity to participate in this Benedictine spiritual practice. St. Benedict asks that we also do some special reading during Lent. Some suggestions can be found on the oblate pages of the Abbey’s website: mountangelabbey.org.

As the role of technology continues to increase in our society it becomes all the more important that we “unplug,” seek silence and give our attention to prayer and reading. Lent is an opportunity to do this – and maybe a little exercise too!

Also, if you so wish to make an act of almsgiving as part of your Bona Opera, these offerings will go specifically to support the Oblate Association. Expenses include office equipment & supplies, mailing, travel for directors and retreat materials. Our budget for this year is about the same as for the last several years: $5,000. Your generosity will cover the expenses for this year and allow us to plan for next year.

Please complete the enclosed Bona Opera form and return it to the Director of Oblates along with any offering you may wish to make. Your Bona Opera will be signed and returned to you with the Abbot’s blessing.

Be assured of the community’s prayers for you during your Lenten journey and thank you for your participation in the Oblate Association. You are an important part of the prayer and work of Mount Angel Abbey.

Peace,

Fr. Pius X Harding, O.S.B.

Director of Oblates