This posting is offered in answer to a request for a report on the 2009 address of the Benedictine Abbot Primate to the World Congress of Benedictine Oblates in Rome. on the entire Congress may be found by clicking on this link and visiting postings of the first two weeks in October 2009. The official Congress website is also available and is a much broader picture of the event.
Here is a brief report on the Abbot Primate’s address:
The 2009 World Congress of Benedictine Oblates concluded last October with a recital and an address by our Abbot General, Notker Wolf, at the Benedictine Confederation headquarters at Sant’Anselmo on the Aventine Hill. Fr. Wolf is an accomplished flautist and was assisted by and violinist nun and two pianist monks. Musical performance by monastics in habits made for a delightful evening and gave the performers a chance to show the lighter side of their life.
Following the music, Fr. Notker addressed our gathering of oblates with a few brief parting words. A diminutive, soft spoken man, Fr. Notker spoke kindly and encouragingly to the roughly 250 Oblates in attendance. He moved with fluid ease from language to language, English to Italian to French to German to Spanish, speaking directly to each language group present at the meeting.
He told us that we “should face our modern challenges, not with a sense of desparation, but with a sense of the presence of God,” and that “our hearts should be shaped by the heart of Jesus.” In uttering such words, he clearly set the expectation that oblates should be a growing spiritual force in the modern world.
Throughout the Congress it had become increasingly clear that oblates are a growing edge in the Benedictine monasticism in our day, with numbers of oblates outnumbering vowed monastics almost everywhere. Fr. Notker affirmed us as “more and more a strong reality in the Benedictine world.”
He closed with words of vision exhorting us to focus on God as our unity in a pluralistic modern world. “Faith is a matter of living community,” he said, urging us to be community in our diverse lives as oblates in the world. Clearly, the monasteries are central to that community for us all. He encouraged us to display lives of joy, light, faith and real life to a world that is desperate for such models.
Finally he smiled and asked us to “tell them there is a small man at Sant’Anselmo with a big heart for oblates.