Pope Francis meets with Benedictine oblates
The 5th World Congress of Benedictine oblates was held in Rome in September, and three of our oblates were privileged to attend the Congress with 150 other oblates from around the world. One of the highlights of the event was the private audience with Pope Francis, in which he gave the oblates an address and shook the hands of each individual oblate.
In his address, Pope Francis spoke of three aspects of an “expanded heart” (prologue 49, in RB 1980 it is translated as “hearts overflowing”). The three aspects are the search for God, enthusiasm for the gospel, and hospitality. In their search for God, Benedictine oblates seek God in every aspect of their lives. They seek him in their lectio divina, nature, daily challenges, work, and the people they encounter. God is present everywhere, and if we seek him, we will find him. The second aspect of an expanded heart is the enthusiasm for the gospel. This joy of the oblates radiates into the whole world. Quoting Lumen Gentium, the Pope says that the laity are called, “to seek the Kingdom of God by engaging in the temporal affairs” ( 31 ). They do this by simply adopting and being faithful to the simple Benedictine motto of ora at labora, pray and work. This prayer and work in the life of the oblate is like the daily expansion and contraction of the heart that gives life to the rest of the body, the Church. The third aspect of an expanded heart is the practice of hospitality. Here, Pope Francis quotes chapter 53 from the Holy Rule, “all guests who present themselves are to be received as Christ.” We do this by sharing with our guests what we consider most important, namely, prayer and a meal together. We do this by providing a welcoming and inviting environment in our homes and workplace. In this way, we open the door to receive Christ in the stranger.
Oblates Mary and Tim Gallagher and Fr. John Forman were the oblates representing Mount Angel Abbey at the Oblate World Congress in Rome in September.