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Benedictine Spirituality and the Way of Dialogue

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Slides from first conference on dialogue for Benedictine Oblates of St. Scholastica Monastery in Duluth, MN.

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Benedictine Spirituality and the Way of Dialogue

  1. 1. Benedictine Spirituality and the Way of Dialogue Benedictine Oblate Conference St. Scholastica Monastery Duluth, Minnesota September 20, 2015 1
  2. 2. AGENDA • Midday Prayer • Announcements – "Library Thing" to browse & comment – Retreat on Nov. 7, 9am to noon. (Free) – Oblate Retreat: Susan Stabile – Next month: October 18 • Conference • Discussion • Adjourn for snacks by 2:45pm 2
  3. 3. DIALOGUE 3
  4. 4. Dialogue: A term and practice we invoke when we already recognize different viewpoint and ideas. 4
  5. 5. Debate vs Dialogue • Debate presumes winning and losing. • Debate does not seek understanding, common ground or compromise. • Debate is for influencing minds of others. • Debate is the common model in our culture for exploring varying viewpoints. 5 Photos:MarkJ.Terrill/AP
  6. 6. Dialogue 6 • The roots of the word dialogue come from the Greek words dia and logos. • dia means “through” • logos translates to “word” or “meaning.” • In essence, a dialogue is a flow of meaning. Greynun.org,"ContemplativeDialogue"
  7. 7. Dialogue • The purpose of dialogue is to create ‘shared meaning’ or coherence in a group. • The challenge of dialogue is to simply allow multiple points of view to be. 7 Greynun.org,"ContemplativeDialogue"
  8. 8. BENEDICT'S ERA 8
  9. 9. 9 Political Ethos: Warfare & Conquest
  10. 10. Social Ethos: Hierarchy • Distinct social classes • Absolute authority by rank and gender • Slavery a possible outcome of war for members at any level. 10
  11. 11. Church Hierarchy • Rule of obedience • Moderated by popular nomination and selection of bishops • Local rather than central power predominated • Rome (city) was weak • Tension between local bishops & nobility 11 BartolodiFredi,http://www.artclon.com/OtherFile/Bartolo-di-Fredi-xx-A-Papal-Saint-Saint- Gregory-the-Great-1380s.jpg
  12. 12. DIALOGUE AND ST. BENEDICT 12
  13. 13. Life of Benedict – St. Gregory • Told in dialogue format • Largest in a collection of lives of saints in dialogue. • Many encounters with rulers, monks, in which listening and humility are key. 13
  14. 14. Dialogue with Scholastica • Famous story of "holy conversation" • Valued by both Benedict and Scholastica • Benedict saw rule authoritatively, but his sister less dogmatically.14
  15. 15. DIALOGUE IN THE RULE 15
  16. 16. 16 Listen Foundathttp://jfbeddingfield.com/2013/07/11/listening-with-st-benedict/, unattributed.
  17. 17. Listen • First, for the voice of God – In Scripture – In the needs of others – In the voices of those around • Those who take the place of Christ – The Abbot / Prioress – The pilgrim – The sick and the aged • Mutual obedience = mutual listening 17
  18. 18. Porter: Chapter 66 • Wise person • "Knows how to take a message and to give one." • Scripted dialogue opens with: "Thanks be to God" or "Please give your blessing." 18
  19. 19. Summoning Monks for Counsel • Unique to Benedict's Rule • Listen even to youngest / newest • "Do everything with counsel and you will not afterwards repent of it." 19
  20. 20. Reasonable Requests • Chapter 36: Care of the sick – Served as Christ himself – Sick should not "sadden … with superfluous demands." – "Patiently borne" • Chapter 31: The Cellarer – Deal with unreasonable requests – Distribute what is allocated – Appropriate hours for requests 20
  21. 21. Dialogue in Dispute • Chapter 3 – Not to contend harshly with the abbot – Neither inside or outside monastery • Chapter 68 – Impossible things – What do we mean by impossible? – Dialogue assures that both viewpoints are known to both parties – Authority still rests with the superior 21
  22. 22. CONTEMPLATIVE DIALOGUE 22
  23. 23. Contemplative Dialogue • Grew from works of Thomas Merton as well as contemporary organization theory • Connects the prayerful and listening stance of the monastic with the needs of discussion when views are different. 23
  24. 24. Awareness of Thoughts • Assumptions and beliefs color the way we see and understand the actions of others. • Focus on the "data" helps get past that. • Awareness of the ladder of assumptions helps circumvent it. • PRACTICE24 ReflexiveLoop.Foundathttps://www.pinterest.com/pin/47569339784515031/
  25. 25. Guidelines for Contemplative Dialogue - 1 • Speak slowly: Relax, speak and listen from an inner attitude of quiet contemplation • Make eye-contact: Maintain a shared center; remain fully present in the group. • Speak briefly: Speak what matters from your deepest place (your contemplative center) then STOP.25
  26. 26. Guidelines for Contemplative Dialogue - 2 • Create shared meaning: Build on what has already been shared when you speak • Listen deeply: Let the words disappear by pausing and returning to inner silence. • Stay curious: ask questions to the group as a way to explore differences and limit assumptions 26
  27. 27. Guidelines for Contemplative Dialogue - 3 • Remain open: Speak with vulnerability, not righteousness allowing for different versions of the same reality • Be accepting: hold the tension of someone with an opposing point of view without reacting to it. • Hold your own understandings lightly, tentatively. Relax! 27
  28. 28. 28 Listen Foundathttp://jfbeddingfield.com/2013/07/11/listening-with-st-benedict/, unattributed.
  29. 29. Benedictine Spirituality and the Way of Dialogue Benedictine Oblate Conference St. Scholastica Monastery Duluth, Minnesota September 20, 2015 29

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