Aug 12 – Community Meals
Our August Conversation Groups provided us with the opportunity to reflect upon and share our experiences of meals in the community, a topic woven throughout the Rule of Saint Benedict. We were invited to highlight particular aspects of our meals that manifest a liturgical, Eucharistic nature. We were also invited to share observations of how our meals reflect (or conceal) our values of monastic community, mutual service, and meeting of legitimate needs. In both cases we were asked to identify possibilities for what could be done better or differently in light of these reflections. In Chapter yesterday Fr. Mark encouraged us to focus upon the communal nature of our meals rather than upon the food that we eat during the meals.
The discussion within the groups reflected the fullness and complexity of a topic that encompasses the community as a whole and each individual brother within it. Reflections addressed the monastic ideals set forth in the Rule of Saint Benedict, the historical applications of them, and the present day realities of our community’s practices. We affirmed that we do indeed manifest the liturgical, Eucharistic act regulated by Saint Benedict at the heart of our community meal. Our daily coming together as a full community for the mid-day meal is counter-cultural in a fast-food world yet some of the sharing acknowledged the influences of such a mindset within our own practices. Certainly we could do a few things better or differently but we easily recognize our core values of community, service, and meeting of legitimate needs in our meals.
Conversation Groups (CG)
The purpose of the CGs is to provide a forum where the brothers “come together to listen to the Spirit speaking through one another,” to foster skills of good communication that will promote mutual understanding and trust (Gdlns 2), and to provide the superior with the data he needs for taking decisions with foresight and fairness by the brothers humbly and honestly expressing their views (RB 3)