Notes to Oblates of Mount Angel Abbey

Fr John Paul Le O.S.B.Fr. John Paul Le, O.S.B., director of the oblates of Mount Angel Abbey, writes frequent notes to the oblates of Mount Angel Abbey. The oblates are a vibrant and active community of lay people and priests who strive to live the Holy Rule of St. Benedict in the spirit of Mount Angel Abbey, as far as their state in life permits. The notes are a mix of spiritual reflection, instruction, and updates on current events within the community of monks and oblates.

“The Scriptures Rouse Us”
Prologue 8

September 23, 2022

 

Dear Oblates,

The word of God is living and active, and as a living word, God’s word has power to move us and transform our lives. The saints are witnesses of this. St. Antony and St. Augustine are perhaps two of the best known examples of people whose lives were completely changed by hearing a single verse of scripture. The word of God may not have this dramatic, life changing effect in our daily lectio divina, but our commitment to lectio divina draws us ever more deeply into the heart of Christ, slowly transforming us into his divine image. When our heart is pure, and we are open to listening to what God has to say, he will very often speak to us through the sacred scriptures. He can awaken us from our drunken spiritual stupor and invigorate us with new life. This is the power of the word of God. When you do your lectio today,  pray that God’s word will rouse your soul.

Prayer request. Please pray for the oblate retreat this weekend. There will be two novices making final oblation and one transferring his stability to the Abbey. There may be up to five who will begin the novitiate. Please continue praying for the election of the first Abbot of our daughterhouse in Cuernavaca, Mexico. Please know that you can always send your prayer requests through our Oremus program.

Yours in Christ,

Fr. John Paul, OSB
Director of Oblates


Paradisus Claurstri an acrylic paint on canvas by Br. Isaiah Vargas

Paradisus Claurstri. Acrylic paint on canvas by Br. Isaiah Vargas. He writes, “This painting was inspired by the springtime beauty and the grace of the Lord’s resurrection, visible as I walk through the cloister garden. The vivid colors and the life flowing from nature at this time really moved me to try to capture that moment. The trees also deeply inspired me, especially the birch tree, with its beautifully textured white bark. The colors and textures that day were begging to be captured and enjoyed, from this beautiful garden given to us by the Lord.”

Br. Alfredo at the coffee shop waiting to take your order

Br. Alfredo at the coffee shop waiting to take your order.

Fr Israel back from Rome enjoying a coffee

Fr. Israel, Br. Alfredo’s twin, back from Rome enjoying our delicious coffee. Is it better than Italian coffee? Taste and see.


How To Read a Book (According to Saint Benedict) by Br. Ambrose

Monks have always had a love-hate relationship with reading. On the one hand, Saint Benedict himself is said to have fled from his “liberal education” in Rome as the first stage in his monastic conversion. His biographer, Pope St. Gregory the Great, paradoxically explains that “he took this step, fully aware of his ignorance; yet he was truly wise, uneducated though he may have been” (Dialogues II). On the other hand, the very same Saint Benedict would go on to write a rule for monks in which he not only expects them to be literate (cf. RB 8.3), but also that they will regularly “devote themselves to reading” (RB 48.4; cf. RB 4.55). This is nowhere more evident than in his prescriptions for the Lenten season:

They should be free in the morning to read until the third hour… During this time of Lent each one is to receive a book from the library, and is to read the whole of it straight through. (RB 48.14-16)

Saint Benedict certainly could not have expected ignorant, uneducated monks to read entire books. And, if we are to believe Pope Gregory’s pithy phrase that “his life could not have differed from his teaching” (Dialogues II.36), Benedict must not have been so ignorant or uneducated himself…

This tension between St. Benedict’s life and his legislation is best resolved by recourse to the kind of reading he recommends for his monks. In chapter 48 of his Holy Rule, he calls it lectio divina, or “divine reading.” As some of Saint Benedict’s translators point out, “the adjective ‘divine’ refers in the first instance to the nature or quality of the text being read,” namely, “the Bible, the Fathers of the Church, or some other spiritual writing” (RB 1980 48.1n; cf. RB 73.2-6). Despite their footnote, however, these same translators chose to render lectio divina not as “divine reading,” but as “prayerful reading.” Such a translation shifts the focus away from the nature of the text one is reading (“reading divine things”) and instead emphasizes the manner in which one reads a text (“reading things in a divine way”). This effectively expands the range of monastic reading material from a small list of “divine” books to almost anything at all—including even those subjects which once caused the youthful Saint Benedict to abandon his “liberal education” in Rome (the very same subjects, we might add, that constitute the undergraduate curriculum at Mount Angel Seminary!).

Regardless of what one chooses to read, lectio divina has traditionally been described as a four- (or five-) step process. Pope Benedict XVI formulated it thus:

  1. Reading: what does the biblical text say in itself?
  2. Meditation: what does the biblical text say to us?
  3. Prayer: what do we say to the Lord in response to his word?
  4. Contemplation: what conversion of mind, heart and life is the Lord asking of us?
  5. Action: how should we act to make our lives a gift for others in charity?
    (Verbum Domini 87)

The essence of this process, however, has been described most elegantly by the 20th-century philosopher and unbaptized Christian mystic (!!!), Simone Weil. “The key to a Christian conception of studies,” she explains, “is the realization that prayer consists of attention” (Waiting for God 105). More than a white-knuckled attempt at concentration, Weil’s definition of “attention” represents a radical receptivity to truth: “our thought should be empty, waiting, not seeking anything, but ready to receive in its naked truth the object that is to penetrate it” (112).

When we prayerfully or attentively “read” anything—be it a Bible passage, a novel, a work of art, a marvel of nature, or even our neighbor—we preclude all distraction, expectation, and prejudice in order to welcome into our hearts and minds the deepest and truest meaning of that thing upon which our attention is fixed. And we know that this meaning—if we truly believe that “from him and through him and for him are all things” (Rom. 11:36)—must be nothing other than God himself. Our prayerful and attentive reading thus results not in the knowledge that “puffs up,” but the love that “builds up” (cf. 1 Cor. 8:1)—and something tells me that Saint Benedict certainly wouldn’t flee from that.

Further reading:

  • Pope St. Gregory the Great, The Dialogues (Book Two is popularly published as an independent booklet entitled “Life and Miracles of St. Benedict”)
  • Simone Weil, Waiting for God (esp. pp. 105-116, “Reflections on the Right Use of School Studies with a View to the Love of God”)
  • Jean Leclerq, O.S.B., The Love of Learning and The Desire for God: A Study of Monastic Culture

Oblate Calendar

September
29 – Solemnity of Archangels (plenary indulgence may be obtained by oblates)

October
23 – Oblate Sunday – Br. Cyril on Mt. Angel History: Part II

November
4-6 – Oblate Retreat – Br. Louis. Praying Deeply: the Liturgy as the Marriage of Heaven and Earth
13 – Oblate Sunday – Br. Cyril on Mt. Angel History: Part III

December
8 – Immaculate Conception (plenary indulgence may be obtained by oblates)
8 – Advent Day of Recollection (Engelberg Room): Br. Anselm: The Hymns of Advent – Conditor Alme Siderum and Alma Redemptoris Mater.
11 – Oblate Sunday – Br. Cyril on Mt. Angel History: Part IV

2023
January
15 – Feast of St. Maurus and Placid (plenary indulgence may be obtained by oblates)
22 – Oblate Sunday – Br. Alfredo on the Tools of Good Works (Ch. 4 of the Holy Rule)

A Note to Oblates - September 16, 2022

September 16, 2022

Dear Oblates,

“On Solemn Profession – A Cheerful Giver”

On Tuesday September 13, the Abbey joyfully celebrated the Solemn Profession of Br. La Vang Nguyen, O.S.B. In the homily, Abbot Jeremy quoted from St. Paul’s second letter to the Corinthians saying “God loves a cheerful giver” (9:7). Indeed, Br. La Vang is truly a cheerful giver. Those who have been privileged to get to know him over the  past four years are witnesses to Br. La Vang’s generous heart and joyful giving. He has one of the most radiant smiles on the hilltop, and it is no surprise that this smile graces the cover of our vocation’s brochure. Br. La Vang joyfully gives himself in service to the church and world through the hospitality he provides to the guests who reside in the monastery and through his candle-making.

I think Br. La Vang’s example can give us all an occasion to reflect upon not only upon the service that we render to God and others, but the spirit with which we do it. We can ask ourselves, “Am I a cheerful giver or am a resentful giver?” Yes, there are many demands placed upon us and often times we are overwhelmed by its weight, but let us not allow that weight to crush the love and joy that Christ came to give us.  May God give us the grace to offer our good works with a smile.

A little update on our new junior monks. Both Br. Ambrose and Fr. Michael were actually oblates before they entered the monastery. Recently, I asked the both of them to help with the oblate program, and they both happily agreed. Br. Ambrose will be teaching the monthly novices classes on the liturgy, and Fr. Jack will be the retreat master for the September retreat in 2023. Therefore, if you know someone who is thinking about becoming an oblate, now is the time to do a little encouraging.

If you would like to sign up for the conference-only option for the Oblate retreat for September 23-25, pleaase click here.

Prayer request. Please join us in saying a novena prayer (Sep 20-28) for the election of the first Abbot of our daughter house in Cuernavaca, Mexico. There is a prayer below in English and Spanish.  Please know that you can always send your prayer requests through our Oremus program.

Yours in Christ,

Fr. John Paul, OSB
Director of Oblates


Br La Vang Faustina O.S.B. on September 13, the day of his Solemn Profession, with his family

Br La Vang Faustina O.S.B. with his family

Br La Vang Faustina O.S.B. with the Divine Mercy image

Br La Vang Faustina O.S.B. with the Divine Mercy image

Back of holy card of Br La Vang Faustina O.S.B., on the day of his Solemn Profession, September 13, 2022

Back of the holy card of Br La Vang Faustina O.S.B., on the day of his Solemn Profession, September 13, 2022


Oblate Calendar

September
23-25 – Oblate Retreat – Fr. John Paul. Praying the Psalms: Living in the Divine Current
29 – Solemnity of Archangels (plenary indulgence may be obtained by oblates)

October
23 – Oblate Sunday – Br. Cyril on Mt. Angel History: Part II

November
4-6 – Oblate Retreat – Br. Louis. Praying Deeply: the Liturgy as the Marriage of Heaven and Earth
13 – Oblate Sunday – Br. Cyril on Mt. Angel History: Part III

A Note to Oblates - September 9, 2022

September 9, 2022

Dear Oblates,

“On Simple Professions”

Yesterday night we rejoiced greatly at the profession of simple vows by two of our monks. The climax of the Mass of simple vows is the pronouncement of the monks’ new name. Br. Brody Stewart took the name Br. Ambrose, and Fr. Jack Shrum took the name Fr. Michael (picture below). It was wonderful to have a church packed full of family, friends and seminarians for this joyous occasion. The changing of one’s name is biblical in origin and is associated with a changing of one’s calling in life. Oblates too receive a new name upon their final oblation and are called to imitate the virtues of their patrons and seek their intercession.

The Abbot gave a quote from St. Ambrose about Our Lady, which really struck me, “if she [Mary] wanted to die along with her Son, it was because she looked forward to rising with him.” Then he said, “Isn’t this what the life of a monk ought to be?” Yes, it is, and I think we can say that it is true for all Christians.

The day before, we were happy to have Br. Andrew Brands begin the novitiate.

There was a problem with the Google Forms I created for the conference-only option for the Oblate retreat for September 23-25. I believe it is working now. To register, please click here.

We had our 2nd Annual 5K run this past Sunday. We had quotes from the Holy Rule pasted on our backs. Some quotes were, “Run while you have the light of life” (Prologue 13) and “we must run and do now what will profit us forever” (Prologue 44). The top three winners were Br. Ambrose, Br. Matthew and Fr. Michael. Pictures below.

Prayer request. Please pray for Abbot Jeremy, whose progress seems to have taken a step back. He is in quite a bit of pain recently. Thank you! Please pray for the eternal rest of Duane “Francis” Kanooth, who passed away recently. Also, pray for the men who are with us during these days discerning the monastic life. Please know that you can always send your prayer requests through our Oremus program.

Yours in Christ,

Fr. John Paul, OSB
Director of Oblates

Notes to Oblates of Mount Angel Abbey 1

Abbot Jeremy with Br. Ambrose (formerly Br. Brody Stewart) and Fr. Michael (formerly Fr. Jack Shrum)

Oblate Calendar

September
10 – Oblate Council
11 – Oblate Sunday – Br. Cyril on Mt. Angel History: Part I
23-25 – Oblate Retreat – Fr. John Paul. Praying the Psalms: Living in the Divine Current
29 – Solemnity of Archangels (plenary indulgence may be obtained by oblates)

October
23 – Oblate Sunday – Br. Cyril on Mt. Angel History: Part II

November
4-6 – Oblate Retreat – Br. Louis. Praying Deeply: the Liturgy as the Marriage of Heaven and Earth
13 – Oblate Sunday – Br. Cyril on Mt. Angel History: Part III

A Note to Oblates - September 2, 2022

September 2, 2022

Dear Oblates,

“With his good gifts which are in us”
– Prologue 6

People are generally better at recognizing their weaknesses than their strengths. We know our faults, sins and shortcomings, but if someone were to ask what our strengths are, we may be a bit confounded. Saint Benedict is reminding us of the good gifts God has given us. The verse above is followed by the phrase, “we must obey him at all times.” I like another translation which reads, “we must serve him.” We, as the Mystical Body of Christ, have been endowed with these gifts for building up his kingdom on earth. We are called to use our gifts to serve God and one another. As St. Peter says, “Whoever preaches, let it be with the words of God; whoever serves, let it be with the strength that God supplies, so that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 4:11).

Do we know what are gifts are? Are we developing them? And are we using them to serve God and one another?

September is here and at the monastery it is the month of professions. On September 8, Br. Brody and Fr. Jack will be making Simple Profession during the 7:00 pm Mass. On September 13, Br. La Vang will be making Solemn Profession during the 9:30 am Mass.  On September 25, we celebrate the Jubilee of Profession for  Abbot Peter, Br. James and Br. Simon at the 9:00 am Mass. Please keep these monks in your prayers.

As you know, I am trying to find ways to make it easier for oblates to relate to the Abbey. Therefore, there will be two extra opportunities related to the oblate retreats. First, there will now be a conference-only option for oblate retreats, no meals. Of course, you are welcome to the prayers.  There is no charge for this option, but you are welcome to make a donation. If you would like to attend the conferences only for the retreat from September 23-25, please click here. Conferences are Friday at 8:00 pm, Saturday at 10 am and 2:30, and Sunday at 10:30 am. Second, these oblate retreats will be recorded and put on the website like the Study Days videos. I will let you know when these are available.

This Sunday, September 4, the monks will be having their 2nd annual 5K run starting and finishing at the Brewery. If you would like to show your support, we will start the race at 2:30 pm. Have a beer and do a little cheer.

Oblate Sunday for September 11, 2022 – Br. Cyril on Mount Angel History: Part I. To sign up for in person click here, and for the remote option click here.

Prayer request. As I mentioned above, please keep the monks who are making vows or celebrating their jubilees in your prayers. Please know that you can always send your prayer requests through our Oremus program.

Yours in Christ,

Fr. John Paul, OSB
Director of Oblates

Oblate Calendar

September
10 – Oblate Council
11 – Oblate Sunday – Br. Cyril on Mt. Angel History: Part I
23-25 – Oblate Retreat – Fr. John Paul. Praying the Psalms: Living in the Divine Current
29 – Solemnity of Archangels (plenary indulgence may be obtained by oblates)

October
23 – Oblate Sunday – Br. Cyril on Mt. Angel History: Part II

November
4-6 – Oblate Retreat – Br. Louis. Praying Deeply: the Liturgy as the Marriage of Heaven and Earth
13 – Oblate Sunday – Br. Cyril on Mt. Angel History: Part III

A Note to Oblates - August 26, 2022

August 26, 2022

Dear Oblates,

“Prayer by the church was fervently being made to God on his behalf”
– Acts 12:5

This verse came to my mind this week as Abbot Jeremy underwent hip surgery on Tuesday. This quote refers to the early Church praying for Saint Peter their leader while he was in prison, but it can be fittingly applied to our local church here. There were so many prayers offered up for a successful surgery. The monks were praying, seminarians, family members, friends, benefactors and all you oblates. Thank you for all your most earnest prayers for Abbot Jeremy.

The surgery went exceptionally well. An hour after the surgery, the doctor called me saying that it was a great success and that Abbot Jeremy did very well. A few hours later, he was already walking-with a walker of course. Abbot Jeremy quickly passed all the tests, and I was delightfully surprised when he called at 2pm, and said, “You can come pick me up now.” This was about six hours sooner than anticipated. It was truly due to all the prayers that the surgery went so well, and he expressed his thanks to me for all the oblates praying for him, so I am passing this on to you. Thank you! Now the hard work of recovery begins. Please keep this in your fervent prayers as well. It is a most powerful tool.

I have been working on the oblate page of our website, and I am happy to tell you that it is more or less complete. You will find it under the “monastery” tab or you can click here. On this page, I am putting my “Note to Oblates” so that those who have trouble receiving the emails can access these notes online. Also, the Study Days videos are finally up. We had to do quite a bit of work to make the audio acceptable for listeners. I do think you will thoroughly profit from watching one or all of them. You can find these on the oblate page as well. Perhaps, you can do a little private retreat with yourself or a group. Also on the webpage is a recommended reading list and information on the Oblate Council.

Our next Oblate Sunday is September 11, 2022. We will begin a series of four talks by Br. Cyril on the history of the Abbey, which will be taken mostly from the book Struggle and Ascent. This first talk will take us from the years of 1291-1892. I asked Br. Cyril to give these talks because I think it will give us a better sense of all the sacrifices our forefathers made to make the Abbey a reality. It will also help us understand better what it means to be a Benedictine of Mount Angel. To sign up for in person click here, and for the remote option click here.

Fr. Eugene Hemrick will be doing a presentation on The Life and Legacy of Fr. Romano Guardini. See below for more information.

Prayer request. Please pray for the eternal rest of oblate John “Henry” Brockamp who recently passed away. You can view the list of deceased oblates on our In Memoriam page. Please know that you can always send your prayer requests through our Oremus program.

A Note to Oblates - August 19, 2022

August 19, 2022

Dear Oblates,

“We should never grieve him”
– Prologue 4

The beloved wields a power to affect the lover. We as beloved children of God can cause him to grieve. This can be done by placing him second in our lives, being indifferent to him or through our sins. God is a Father who loves us dearly and desires nothing more than for us to return that love. Do we think about how we might grieve him? How we may wound his heart? We know that Our Lord wept over the death of Lazarus and mourned over Jerusalem. Would he not be saddened and grieved when we use our freedom to reject his love? St. Benedict in writing this makes it clear that our relationship with God is a very personal matter. We who have entered into a covenantal relationship with him can affect him by what we do and what we do not do. Let us pray that we may not to offend God nor grieve him in any way, but if we do, may we be given the grace to return to him.

I have been seeking for ways to reduce the cost of Oblate retreats since a number of you have mentioned this as an obstacle to making retreats. Therefore, starting this September, the Oblate Fund will subsidize a part of Oblate retreats and lunch on Sunday will be taken off the schedule. The cost for a single retreatant will be $220 and $330 for a couple. If you like to support this effort, you can make a donation to the Oblate Fund.  I hope this will make Oblate Retreats more financially feasible.

Prayer requests. On Monday, we learned that our daughter house in Cuernavaca will be raised to the status of an Abbey. What a joy it is for us monks here at Mount Angel! Please pray for the upcoming Abbatial election, which will take place on September 29, 2022, the feast of the Holy Archangels. Pray also for Abbot Jeremy, who will be having hip surgery on Tuesday. Pray that it may be a successful surgery and that there will be quick recovery. Thank you from all the monks! Please pray also for the returning seminarians will arrive on Sunday and the beginning of the school year.  Please know that you can always send your prayer requests through our Oremus program.

Yours in Christ,

Fr. John Paul, OSB
Director of Oblates

Oblate Calendar

September
10 – Oblate Council
11 – Oblate Sunday – Br. Cyril on Mt. Angel History: Part I
23-25 – Oblate Retreat – Fr. John Paul. Praying the Psalms: Living in the Divine Current
29 – Solemnity of Archangels (plenary indulgence may be obtained by oblates)

October
23 – Oblate Sunday – Br. Cyril on Mt. Angel History: Part II

November
4-6 – Oblate Retreat – Br. Louis. Praying Deeply: the Liturgy as the Marriage of Heaven and Earth
13 – Oblate Sunday – Br. Cyril on Mt. Angel History: Part III

A Note to Oblates - August 12, 2022

Dear Oblates,

Fire Analogy

I recently spent some time on the coast camping and hiking. Surprisingly, I spent quite a bit of time around the campfire, and it made me think about how fire can be analogous to the spiritual life. Like starting a fire, the spiritual life progresses in stages. Sometimes, we want to get the big log burning right away, but no, we have to start with the tinder, add smaller sticks, then bark and branches and finally the log. A lot of times we want to be set spiritually on fire and wonder why it is not happening. “Why am I not praying like the saints,” we say to ourselves. It is a process. We have to start small and work our way up. We begin with a little discipline and ascetism, add personal prayer and lectio, and liturgical prayer, and finally, we are consumed with the fire of divine love.

However, this process is not easy. I have to make a confession. I am not very good at starting fires-no Eagle Scout badge here. At one point, I wanted to simply give up. I thought to myself, “perhaps, it is not worth the effort. I don’t need a fire.” So too, we can feel the same way in our spiritual life. We put in the effort and wonder why nothing is happening but something is happening. We are growing in the virtues of patience, perseverance, humility and dependence on God. Even though the fire keeps going out, the bark, branches and logs are heating up. They are being prepared to catch on fire. And then, all of a sudden, after one more try, the log catches on fire, and once it is set on fire, what a marvelous sight! Everything that comes into contact with it catches on fire. So too is the man consumed with the love of Christ. Everyone who comes into contact with him will be set on fire as well. Saint Benedict is calling his sons and daughters to be set on fire for Christ and set the world on fire for love of him.

I have been working with an email server to help me with my emails. Unfortunately, a lot of my emails are rejected because they may be marked as spam. Also, it will provide a nicer layout regardless of the electronic device. Lastly, it will allow those who wish to unsubscribe to do so, which is a necessity when sending emails to more than 500 recipients. This may happen as early as next week.

Prayer requests. Please pray for Br. Brody and Fr. Jack who will be on retreat in preparation for Simple Vows next week. Pray also for the new seminarians who will be arriving Sunday. I believe the numbers are up this year; there may be about 80 seminarians in all. Please know that you can always send your prayer requests through our Oremus program.

Yours in Christ,

Fr. John Paul, OSB
Director of Oblates

Oblate Calendar

September

10 – Oblate Council

11 – Oblate Sunday – Br. Cyril on Mt. Angel History: Part I

23-25 – Oblate Retreat – Fr. John Paul. The Divine Office: Living in the Divine Current

29 – Solemnity of Archangels (plenary indulgence may be obtained by oblates)

October

23 – Oblate Sunday – Br. Cyril on Mt. Angel History: Part II

November

4-6 – Oblate Retreat – Br. Louis. Praying Deeply: the Liturgy as the Marriage of Heaven and Earth

13 – Oblate Sunday – Br. Cyril on Mt. Angel History: Part III

A Note to Oblates - August 5, 2022

A Note to Oblates 2022.08.05
A Note to Our Dear Oblates – August 5, 2022

Dear Oblates,

Pray to him most earnestly
– Prologue 4

For our Holy Father Saint Benedict, going through the motions is not adequate. It is not enough to simply listen, he calls us to listen carefully. It is not enough to simply obey, but he teaches us to obey immediately. And it is not enough to mumble a few vocal prayers, but he counsels us to pray most earnestly. We who spend a lot of time in prayer experience the ebb and flow of fervor and zeal, sometimes it is more ebb than flow. We can easily slip into routine and go into auto-pilot where our heart takes a seat on the bench while our lips do the heavy lifting. At times we need a little reminder to WAKE UP or SNAP OUT OF IT, and pray most earnestly once more. The dictionary defines earnest as an intense and serious state of mind. It requires focus and attention and involves our whole being, our heart, soul, mind and strength. Distractions is something we all struggle with, but hopefully with a little more fervor, there will be fewer distractions during our prayer, and we will be able to “say what we mean and mean what we say.”

Questions for reflection: Do I pray most earnestly? Why or why not? Perhaps, we can begin our prayer with a simple prayer such as, “God, help me to pray most earnestly!”

Thank you for those of you who have filled out the oblate survey. It is greatly appreciated. If you would still like to fill out the survey, you can find it by clicking here.

Prayer request. Please know that you can always send your prayer requests through our Oremus program.

Yours in Christ,

Fr. John Paul, OSB
Director of Oblates

Oblate Calendar

August

14 – Oblate Sunday – Br. Thomas on the Psalms: Part IV. Conference on Psalm 103. For in-person click here. For remote option click here.

September

10 – Oblate Council

11 – Oblate Sunday – Br. Cyril on Mt. Angel History: Part I

23-25 – Oblate Retreat – Fr. John Paul. The Divine Office: Living in the Divine Current

29 – Solemnity of Archangels (plenary indulgence may be obtained by oblates)

October

23 – Oblate Sunday – Br. Cyril on Mt. Angel History: Part II

A Note to Oblates - July 29, 2022

A Note to Oblates 2022.07.29
A Note to Our Dear Oblates – July 29, 2022

Dear Oblates,

Lovers of the Place

We speak of Benedictines as lovers of the place. The location of the monastery is not picked at random but very thoughtfully and prayerfully considered. Indeed, our forefathers searched far and wide for an ideal location for the foundation of a de facto “second Engelberg.” They travelled from Denver to San Francisco to Southern Oregon and finally to the present location of Mount Angel. On this little hill that overlooks the lush Willamette Valley, the first monks began a life of prayer and work. It is a place surrounded by tall fir, oak, pine and cedar trees; a place where squirrels and birds find welcome; a place where lovely flowers accent the changing of the seasons. How different it would be if the monastery were located in a city! Here, at Mount Angel, we see and experience daily the marvelous handiwork of God and the words of Wisdom ring loud and clear, “from the greatness and the beauty of created things their original author, by analogy, is seen” (13:5).

So too, our oblates belong not to the Benedictine Order in general but to a particular monastery, at a particular place, with a particular group of monks. And it is to Mount Angel Abbey that our oblates promise stability. Many oblates have mentioned to me that the Abbey is a special place for them.>They are drawn to and attracted to the surrounding landscape, the beauty of the liturgy and the Benedictine way lived by the monks. It is a place for them to encounter Christ and find his peace.

It is my hope that you, our oblates, will be lovers of this place.>I believe that coming to the Abbey for oblates is vitally important. For that reason, I would like to find ways to have more oblates come and enjoy the hilltop’s many blessings. Yes, there are many circumstances that prevent such a hope from happening, but I do ask for your help in my outreach to you the oblates. If you would take a few minutes and fill out the following survey (click here), it will greatly help me in my ministry. Perhaps, you can think of it as “summoning the oblates for counsel.” In short, I would like to know what prevents you from coming to the Abbey for retreats, study days or just visiting in general, and I hope to do what I can to make such visits more possible. Of course, circumstances are circumstances and some cannot change but if we can do something on our part, I will try to make it happen. Thank you ahead of time.

From Fr. Ephrem, Assistant Oblate Director:

“Dear oblates, On  June 18th, we had our first meeting with the candidates for a general orientation. On July 16th, they had a tour across the hilltop to be familiar with the monastery, to plant in them the love for this place, and to develop a spirit of identity. On the same day, 14 candidates started the novitiate (picture below). We had the ritual before vespers, and some monks joined us and welcomed them.

On July 31st, during Sunday Mass, we will have the final oblations of 11 novices. Currently, we have 48 members including in total.  Pray for all of us, please. “

Our next Oblate Sunday is August 14. Br. Thomas will be presenting on his conference on the Psalms. This one will be on Psalm 103. For in-person click here. For remote option click here.

Prayer request. Pray also for the eternal rest of oblate Bill “Benedict” Stricker, who passed away last Friday. Please know that you can always send your prayer requests through our Oremus program.

Yours in Christ,

Fr. John Paul, OSB

Director of Oblates

Oblate Calendar

August

14 – Oblate Sunday – Br. Thomas on the Psalms: Part IV. Conference on Psalm 103. For in-person click here. For remote option click here.

September

10 – Oblate Council

11 – Oblate Sunday – Br. Cyril on Mt. Angel History: Part I

23-25 – Oblate Retreat – Fr. John Paul. The Divine Office: Living in the Divine Current

29 – Solemnity of Archangels (plenary indulgence may be obtained by oblates)

October

23 – Oblate Sunday – Br. Cyril on Mt. Angel History: Part II

A Note to Oblates - July 22, 2022

A Note to Oblates 2022.07.22
A Note to Our Dear Oblates – July 22, 2022

Dear Oblates,

Every time you begin a good work, you must pray
– Prologue 4

Saint Benedict uses strong language in his first mention of prayer in the Holy Rule. He uses the words “every time” and “must,” yet how often do we begin a good work without prayer? Indeed, everything we do ought to be a good work; therefore, we ought to be praying constantly throughout the day. However, if you are like me, it may often happen that only when a good work goes wrong that you begin to pray. Saint Benedict knows that whenever we begin a good work, the devil is sure to put in his tail. Asking for God’s help at the beginning of such endeavors is a helpful way to counter those tactics.

There are two good works in particular that we Benedictines do regularly that require prayer beforehand. They are lectio divina and praying the Liturgy of the Hours. A short prayer before doing lectio can be as simple as, “Speak Lord, your servant is listening.” A prayer I learned as a novice for the Hours is, “O Lord, open Thou my mouth to bless Thy holy name; cleanse my heart also from all vain, evil and wandering thoughts; enlighten my understanding , kindle my affections, that I may be able to recite this Office worthily, attentively and devoutly, and may deserve to be heard in the presence of Thy divine Majesty. Through Christ our Lord. Amen Lord, in union with that divine intention, wherewith Thou Thyself didst praise God whilst Thou wast on earth, I offer this Hour unto Thee.”* With little prayers such as these, we can ask God to bring to perfection a good work begun.

Here are a few events to mark on your calendars. We will be having an Advent and Lenten Day of Recollection. The Advent one will be on December 8, 2022 (Immaculate Conception) and the Lenten one will be on February 22, 2023 (Ash Wednesday). Br. Anselm will be the conference speaker for both of these days. Also, we are reviving the annual Oblate Picnic. This will take place on June 25, 2023. More information will be provided as the events near. Thank you.

This month eighteen people began the novitiate (14 Spanish and 4 English).

Saint Benedict Festival pictures can be viewed on our Facebook page.

Prayer request. Please pray for the health of a number of sick monks. Pray also for the success of the Abbey Bach Festival, which is next Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.  Also, a handful of seminarians will be arriving Sunday to begin their Intensive Spirituality Program (ISP). Please know that you can always send your prayer requests through our Oremus program.

Yours in Christ,

Fr. John Paul, OSB
Director of Oblates

P.S. – *Prayer taken from https://jovanprayers.blogspot.com/2012/02/aperi-domine_17.html.

Oblate Calendar

 

August

14 – Oblate Sunday – Br. Thomas on the Psalms: Part IV

September

10 – Oblate Council

11 – Oblate Sunday – Br. Cyril on Mt. Angel History: Part I

23-25 – Oblate Retreat – Fr. John Paul. Praying the Psalms: Living in the Divine Current.

29 – Solemnity of Archangels (plenary indulgence may be obtained by oblates)

October

23 – Oblate Sunday – Br. Cyril on Mt. Angel History: Part II

November

4-6 – Oblate Retreat – Br. Louis: Praying Deeply: the Liturgy as the Marriage of Heaven and Earth.

13 – Oblate Sunday – Br. Cyril on Mt. Angel History: Part III

A Note to Oblates - July 15, 2022

A Note to Oblates 2022.07.15
A Note to Our Dear Oblates – July 15, 2022

Dear Oblates,

Strong and Noble Weapons

Two weeks ago, I wrote about Saint Benedict describing obedience as our strong and noble weapons. It is a weapon that most Christians rarely use in their battle against evil. I did not get the chance, however, to address what this obedience entails. You may ask, to whom do I owe obedience? Is it my parents, boss, co-worker or friend? I don’t have an Abbot like the monks do. This is a good question, and the question of obedience in the life of the oblate can be multi-faceted, but I will offer this single point, let us obey God first. If we can’t obey God and his commands, obedience given to others does not mean much. In the Frist Letter of St. John we read, “For the love of God is this, that we keep his commandments” (5:3). By keeping God’s law we are truly doing battle against evil. By following his word, we grow in the likeness of the Eternal Word. The goal for Saint Benedict is to have monks become saints.

We can ask ourselves, “What commands of God am I not obeying?” “Why am I not obeying those commands?” “What needs to happen in order for me to obey those commands?”

We will be having an encore performance of the Last Conversation between St. Benedict and St. Scholastica in the Abbey Church at 4:30 PM this Sunday. Many monks, oblates and volunteers were unable to attend because of their work at the Festival, so I asked Fr. Teresio and Br. Thomas if they would do it again. They gladly accepted. Feel free to invite others.

We have our next Oblate Sunday on Sunday, July 24th. Br. Thomas will be giving his third conference on the psalms. For in-person click here. For Zoom click here.

Prayer request. Please pray for the eternal rest of Oblate Michael “Edward“ Legge, who passed away on July 6th.  Pray also for the Oblate Program; I have plans and hopes for what we can do for all of you. Please know that you can always send your prayer requests through our Oremus program.

Yours in Christ,

Fr. John Paul, OSB
Director of Oblates

Oblate Calendar 

 

July

24 – Oblate Sunday – Br. Thomas on the Psalms: Part III. For in-person click here. For Zoom click here.

August

14 – Oblate Sunday – Br. Thomas on the Psalms: Part IV

September 

10 – Oblate Council

11 – Oblate Sunday – Br. Cyril on Mt. Angel History: Part I

23-25 – Oblate Retreat – Fr. John Paul. The Divine Office: Living in the Divine Current

29 – Solemnity of Archangels (plenary indulgence may be obtained by oblates)

October 

23 – Oblate Sunday – Br. Cyril on Mt. Angel History: Part II

A Note to Oblates - July 8, 2022

A Note to Oblates 2022.07.08
A Note to Our Dear Oblates – July 8, 2022

Dear Oblates,

Happy early feast of St. Benedict!

In a few days, we will celebrate the great feast of our most holy Father Saint Benedict. St. Gregory calls him the “man of God,” and what a fitting title for him. In the life of Saint Benedict, we read page after page of how he continually left the things and concerns of the world in order to seek God with a greater purity of heart. He committed himself frequently to prayer and spiritual reading. This desire to be alone with God ironically led others to join him. How grateful we are that he accepted that call from God to take in disciples and show them the way to God.

Questions for reflection. Would others call me a man or woman of God? If not, how would they describe me? What could I do to become more of a man of God or a woman of God?

We have our next Oblate Sunday on Sunday, July 24th. Br. Thomas will be giving his third conference on the psalms. For in-person click here. For Zoom click here.

Today, we concluded our Oblate Study Days. We have been spiritually nourished by the amazing conferences Fr. Konrad Schaefer has given us on the Gospel of Luke. We have the conferences recorded, I will let you know when they are available online.

On the calendar below, you will note that oblates may gain a plenary indulgence on the feast of Saint Benedict. An indulgence as defined by the Catechism (1471) is “a remission before God of the temporal punishment due to sins whose guilt has already been forgiven . . . An indulgence is partial or plenary as it removes either part or all of the temporal punishment due to sin.” The conditions for obtaining a plenary indulgence are as follows:

1) Go to confession 8 days before or after the day, I think it may have been extended to 20-30 days.

2) receive Holy Communion on that day

3) pray for the intentions of the Holy Father, such as an Our Father.

4) be in a state of grace and have total detachment of sin

Oblate Novice Paul Rodgers informed me that the little Zoom Compline group is going well. They do a little reading from the Holy Rule and talk about it and pray Compline together. They meet at 8:30 PM PST daily. If you would like to join, the link is here.

Br. Anselm wanted me to send you the link to the Mount Angel Institute webpage. It is here.

Prayer request. Please pray for the success of our Saint Benedict Festival tomorrow. We will have about 1,000 guests in attendance. Pray also for the Oblate Program; I have plans and hopes for what we can do for all of you. Please know that you can always send your prayer requests through our Oremus program.

Yours in Christ,

Fr. John Paul, OSB
Director of Oblates

Oblate Calendar

July

9 – St. Benedict Festival

11 – Solemnity of St. Benedict (plenary indulgence may be obtained by oblates)

24 – Oblate Sunday – Br. Thomas on the Psalms: Part III. For in-person click here. For Zoom click here.

August

14 – Oblate Sunday – Br. Thomas on the Psalms: Part IV

September 

10 – Oblate Council

11 – Oblate Sunday – Br. Cyril on Mt. Angel History: Part I

23-25 – Oblate Retreat – Fr. John Paul. The Divine Office: Living in the Divine Current

29 – Solemnity of Archangels (plenary indulgence may be obtained by oblates)

October 

23 – Oblate Sunday – Br. Cyril on Mt. Angel History: Part II

A Note to Oblates - July 1, 2022

A Note to Oblates 2022.07.01
A Note to Our Dear Oblates – July 1, 2022

Dear Oblates,

Do battle for the true King, Christ the Lord

One of the ways to describe Christians on earth is the Church Militant. It implies that we are engaged in a fierce spiritual battle. St. Benedict is no stranger to this concept, for in the beginning of his Holy Rule, he calls upon his followers to “do battle for the true King, Christ the Lord.” As in St. Benedict’s time, so too our age is quickly plummeting into a realm of darkness as foundations are being demolished. Faith in God is has been replaced by faith in man, science and technology. We need to take up arms, but what are those arms? Some do battle by writing aggressive blogs or having one-sided conversations. They think that the more one speaks and the louder one shouts, the stronger one is. However, St. Benedict tells us that the weapon that we should use is “obedience.” Perhaps, we do not think much of this weapon or even like to hear it. We say, “obedience is weak, timid and cowardly.” St. Benedict says otherwise, for he describes obedience as both “strong” and “noble”. I would surmise that is far from the worldly of looking at it. However, it was the way of Christ, who made himself weak through obedience and by doing so, saved the world. When we obey, we are truly doing battle for the true King, Christ the Lord.  We can ask ourselves, “Am I doing battle for Christ, and how am I doing it?”

I am still in the process of straightening out the email list. If you ever stop receiving these weekly emails, please let me know.

Prayer request. Please pray for our upcoming Oblate Study Days and for Fr. Konrad, who will be giving the presentations. We are planning on recording them and making them available online. Please know that you can always send your prayer requests through our Oremus program.

Yours in Christ,

Fr. John Paul, OSB
Director of Oblates

P.S. – Below is an article on the Word of God by Br. Brody. He shared it with the hilltop employees and thought the oblates would like to read it as well.

Oblate Calendar

July

5 -8 – Oblate Study Days – Fr. Konrad Schaefer on the Gospel of St. Luke

9 – St. Benedict Festival

11 – Solemnity of St. Benedict (plenary indulgence may be obtained by oblates)

24 – Oblate Sunday – Br. Thomas on the Psalms: Part III. To sign up for in person, click here. For Zoom click here.

August

14 – Oblate Sunday – Br. Thomas on the Psalms: Part IV

September

10 – Oblate Council

11 – Oblate Sunday – Br. Cyril on Mt. Angel History: Part I

23-25 – Oblate Retreat – Fr. John Paul. The Divine Office: Living in the Divine Current

29 – Solemnity of Archangels (plenary indulgence may be obtained by oblates)

October 

23 – Oblate Sunday – Br. Cyril on Mt. Angel History: Part II

 

How Does Monastic Prayer Work?
(And Whose Work Is It, Anyway?)
by Br. Brody

Anyone who has spent more than a couple hours on our holy hilltop is familiar with the bells. If you work here, you probably hear them tolling every day at noon—and maybe even 6:30am or 5:15pm, depending on your schedule. Our seminarians, however, have you beat: they hear the bells every morning at 5:20am… at least until they train themselves to sleep through them. For most people, the bells are (at worst) a minor annoyance or (more positively) a pleasant reminder that prayer is being offered for them multiple times each day. For the monks, however, the bells are nothing less than the voice of God, summoning us to prayer.

Saint Benedict describes the bells—and the prayer to which they summon us—in chapter 43 of his Holy Rule:

On hearing the signal for an hour of the divine office, the monk will immediately set aside what he has in hand and go with utmost speed, yet with gravity and without giving occasion for frivolity. Indeed, nothing is to be preferred to the Work of God. (RB 43.1-3)

As prominent as our bells may be, they aren’t anything more than a “signal”; our real focus is “the divine office,” also known as “the Work of God.” Based on the context of St. Benedict’s words—and on our daily practice here at Mount Angel—the phrase “Work of God” refers specifically to our gathering in church to chant the Psalms and listen to readings from Sacred Scripture. Such a “Work” is evidently so important to St. Benedict that no other work—in fact, nothing at all—is to be preferred to it. If that’s the case, though, we have to ask ourselves: whose “Work” is it? And how does that “Work” work?

At first glance, the “Work of God” might seem like our own work rather than God’s. We, after all, are the ones praying—and praying rather elaborately, I might add. But the fourth-century Fathers of the Egyptian desert (the pioneers of monastic life and precursors to St. Benedict) understood our prayer differently. Abba Evagrius, for example, offers us this teaching: “if you wish to pray, you need God who gives prayer to the one who prays” (On Prayer 59). And St. John Cassian (who transmitted Evagrius’ wisdom to the Roman Church) reminds us that this teaching came from none other than Christ himself:

“I am not able to do anything of myself,” he says, “but my Father who abides in me himself does the works.” In the person of his assumed manhood he says that he can do nothing by himself. How, then, can we who are ashes and earth think that we do not stand in need of the Lord’s help in whatever pertains to our salvation? (Institutes 12.17; quoting Jn. 5:30, 14:10).

In the monastic tradition, then, prayer is only our work to the extent that we fully, consciously, and actively participate in the work of God.

This becomes abundantly clear when we consider how our prayer works. As we assemble for each hour of the “Work of God,” the first thing we do (as soon as the bells stop tolling) is cry to God for help: “O God, come to my assistance! O Lord, make haste to help me” (Ps. 70:2) We then proceed to pray, not with our own words, but with words that were given to us by God: namely, the inspired Psalms. The Psalms are particularly meaningful to us as Christians because we know that they were the prayers of Christ during his earthly life—e.g., “Father, into your hands I commend my spirit” (Lk. 23:46, quoting Ps. 31:6). And since Jesus is, himself, the eternal Son of God, the Psalms also communicate his heavenly Father’s eternal plan for him—e.g., “The Lord has sworn and will not waver: ‘You are a priest forever in the manner of Melchizedek.’” (Ps. 110:4). When we gather to pray with these inspired words—receiving them from the Father and uttering them back to him through the Son—we recognize that all of them also pertain to us, because we have been baptized into Christ (cf. Rom. 6). By praying these inspired words in and through Jesus, we allow the Father to refashion in us the image of his beloved Son, who is our “righteousness, sanctification, and redemption” (1 Cor. 1:30).

In the words of Irénée Hausherr (a French Jesuit from the last century) this prayer of ours “is called ‘work of God,’ ultimately, because it means the deification [literally, transformation into God] of the servant and the sinner by the Holy One.” And only in light of this fact do we dare to affirm St. Benedict’s bold declaration that “nothing is to be preferred to the Work of God” (RB 43.3).

 

Further reading (available in the Mount Angel Abbey Library):

  • Abbot Jeremy Driscoll, O.S.B., “‘Every Passage of Scripture Which Referred to Him’: The Psalms in Christian Prayer,” American Benedictine Review 67, no. 2 (June 2016)
  • Irénée Hausherr, S.J., “Opus Dei,” Monastic Studies 11 (1975)

A Note to Oblates - June 24, 2022

A Note to Oblates 2022.06.24
A Note to Our Dear Oblates – June 24, 2022

Dear Oblates,

“Come, let us worship Jesus, whose heart was wounded for love of us.”
– Invitatory for Vigils

The feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus is a feast of God’s immense love for his people. However, the Sacred heart of Jesus is often wounded, rejected and scorned by the very ones he came to save. Time after time, he goes in search for lost sheep and places them on his sacred shoulders. Hour after hour he awaits for the return of his prodigal children. Despite the deep wounds we inflict upon his Sacred Heart, we know that nothing can separate us from His love. Yes, we have offended the Christ, but we can also be a balm to him by the little acts of love we show him. We can allow him, who has no place to rest his head, to find repose within our hearts.

Please note that there are still rooms available for the Oblate Study Days (July 5-8). See attached for more information.

One of our oblate novices Paul Rogers is interested in a Nightly Compline via Zoom. If you are interested in this, please contact him at paulrogersxo@gmail.com.

You can listen to Abbot Jeremy’s homily on Corpus Christi here

Prayer request. Please pray for four of our Alumni who will be ordained to the Sacred Order of the Priesthood either today or tomorrow. They are Deacon Dustin Busse, Deacon Tristan Dillon, Deacon John DePalma and Deacon Chad Hill. Please know that you can always send your prayer requests through our Oremus program.

Yours in Christ,

Fr. John Paul, OSB Director of Oblates

Oblate Calendar

July

5 -8 – Oblate Study Days – Fr. Konrad Schaefer on the Gospel of St. Luke

9 – St. Benedict Festival

11 – Solemnity of St. Benedict (plenary indulgence may be obtained by oblates)

24 – Oblate Sunday – Br. Thomas on the Psalms: Part III.

August

14 – Oblate Sunday – Br. Thomas on the Psalms: Part IV

September

11 – Oblate Sunday – Br. Cyril on Mt. Angel History: Part I

23-25 – Oblate Retreat – Fr. John Paul. The Divine Office: Living in the Divine Current

29 – Solemnity of Archangels (plenary indulgence may be obtained by oblates)

A Note to Oblates - June 17, 2022

A Note to Oblates 2022.06.17
A Note to Our Dear Oblates – June 17, 2022

Dear Oblates,

They all ate and were satisfied.”
– Luke 9:17

This quote is taken from the Gospel for Sunday’s feast of Corpus Christi, and it can be applied spiritually to the Eucharist. The Eucharist alone satisfies our desires. Money will always leave us wanting more, good friendships cannot fulfill our deepest longings, work can turn us into slaves. Jesus gave us his Body and Blood to nourish and strengthen us for our pilgrimage to heaven. As we need regular food to survive day by day, so too, we need the Eucharist to stay spiritually alive.

Does the Eucharist satisfy us or are we looking for other things for fulfillment? Do we long to be united with Christ in His Body and Blood as he desires to be united with us? Is the Eucharist truly the center of our lives? May the feast of Corpus Christi help us all grow in our awe and gratitude for the most wondrous gift of the Most Holy Eucharist. And when we receive Christ in Holy Communion, may it be exactly that, a holy communion.

Last week, I went with Br. Luke to visit the Oblates of Bethlehem Community and of North Dakota. On Monday, there was a St. Benedict Family Day with about 35 oblates and about 50-60 kids. It was a wondrous day beginning with Mass, followed by catechesis, and the day concluded with a beautiful Eucharistic procession with song. I was happy to see many oblate friends and meet new ones as well. Some pictures below.

Please let me know if you know of any oblates who have died in the past 6 months. We offer a Mass for the eternal rest of all our oblates who have passed away, but we need to be informed of their death. Thanks!

Prayer request. We are starting formation classes for the novices tomorrow. In this program, there will be three classes offered by the monks on something related to Benedictine Spirituality. We plan on meeting once a month. Please pray for this. There are about 10 novices signed up (3 in-person and 7 via Zoom). Please know that you can always send your prayer requests through our Oremus program.

Yours in Christ,

Fr. John Paul, OSB
Director of Oblates

Oblate Calendar

June

18 – Oblate Council Meeting

July

5 -8 – Oblate Study Days – Fr. Konrad Schaefer on the Gospel of St. Luke

9 – St. Benedict Festival

11 – Solemnity of St. Benedict (plenary indulgence may be obtained by oblates)

24 – Oblate Sunday – Br. Thomas on the Psalms: Part III

August

14 – Oblate Sunday – Br. Thomas on the Psalms: Part IV

September

11 – Oblate Sunday – Br. Cyril on Mt. Angel History: Part I

23-25 – Oblate Retreat – Fr. John Paul. Praying the Psalms: Living in the Divine Current

29 – Solemnity of Archangels (plenary indulgence may be obtained by oblates)

For more information about the oblate program at Mount Angel Abbey, email oblates@mtangel.edu.