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The Invitation 2018

In 2018 we invite you to:

We are inviting you to deepen your spiritual life by taking on a set of Benedictine practices.

Taking counsel is listening. It's listening to one another. It's listening to the whole parish community, the "wise ones," and those often unheard. Grumbling is ... well, you know what grumbling is. 

There's a relationship between the two behaviors. There will be less grumbling in a parish in which leaders and members respectfully listen to one another. That listening will be an act of holy obedience to the extent the parish culture is one of faith and prayer.

"Grumbling and taking counsel in the parish community" - an overview of the matter  A PDF

How to participate

1. Just begin. There's no registration. No formal process. Just begin.

You may find that this invitation is a call into a fuller holiness of life -- for you, for your parish community.

2. The material on this page includes:

  • Beginning: with Stability, Obedience, and Conversion of Life
  • The Prayer Book Pattern
  • Taking Counsel
  • Stop Grumbling
  • General Benedictine Resources

3. Take your time to be reflective

You'll find sources of reflection and action in each section. We suggest that you allow yourself to engage each section in a reflective manner. See what that section offers you. You may want to skim everything at the beginning. Once you've done that we hope you'll focus on a section that draws your heart and mind. Move on to another section when you're ready.

If you'd like to share your experience with others you can post comments about what you are doing and what you are learning about the dynamics involved in this initiative. 

Encourage participation -- Full poster   half posters   Cards

New material will be added from time to time. 



Begin with: Stability, Obedience, and Conversion of Life


Our problem is to maintain stability and obedience in our own proper and particular vocation and thus attain the conversio morum  demanded of all Christians.  Michael Paternoster.  "Benedictine Counsels for All Christians" 

Taking counsel and stopping our grumbling involves orienting ourselves in a direction and taking on certain practices. But there is more to it. We are seeking a change in ourselves.  The ground upon which we stand is our current capacity for obedience and stability. Our ability to act in a different way, to change, depends on how well we can listen and respond; how well we can persist in prayer and face the challenges before us. 


Resources for Reflection & Action

Seeking God: The Way of St. Benedict, Esther de Waal  - a book

The Benedictine Promise: Dynamics of Parish

The Benedictine Promise: Dynamics of the Spiritual Life 

Struggling with our thoughts and feelings - growing in emotional intelligence 


The Prayer Book Pattern


The Promise of Stability, Obedience and Conversion of Life is a stance we take. It is us orienting ourselves in response to the Paraclete's guidance. From that stance we engage taking counsel and stopping our grumbling. We begin with prayer.

The Prayer Book Pattern is Daily Office and Sunday Eucharist with reflection/personal devotions assumed and engaged according to our temperament, circumstances and spiritual need. Michael Ramsey called it the Benedictine Triangle; Martin Thornton called it the Threefold Rule of Prayer. 

Resources for Reflection & Action 

The Threefold Rule of Prayer - basic handout on the Rule

Threefold Rule Chart - Thornton, MacQuarrie, Underhill, Leech 

In Your Holy Spirit Model -  embeds the threefold rule in a broader model


Taking Counsel


The threefold process of holy obedience – is listening to God in the Scriptures, and the prayers of the church, and in the voices of those around us. Bishop Scott Anson Benhase, OA

Resources for Reflection & Action

 Holy Obedience - a reflection     

Benedict's Methods for Taking Counsel   

Ways of Avoiding Taking Counsel

Effective Organization Development Methods     

Survey Feedback in Parishes 

       Forming a Listening Heart - a reflection



A Listening Parish - Green Lines   Relationship Cycle

The "green lines" image came during a day long consultation with the teachers and staff of a high school. I had them working in small groups. They were using the Relationship Cycle to describe the dynamics and issues they were facing. As the groups were reporting out to the whole group one participant yelled "No wonder we're in trouble. We don't have any green lines."  I had used a green marker to show the possible movement from "rubs" to working out a new agreement for working and living together. 



Stop Grumbling


Resources for Reflection & Action  

Grumbling or Murmuring 

The First Temptation - to obsess about the grumblers 

Silence and stillness

 Resources for Reflection & Action

 The surrendered life  


Resources for Reflection & Action

Grumbling and Conflict - getting to forgiveness  A PDF of the article

Everyone has need for forgiveness


Useful Grumbling


It’s not of the Divine Charity if our grumbling breeds resentment, bitterness, and a willingness to damage a person’s well-being. That said, let’s be clear, all grumbling is not a sin.  Benedict seems aware of “justifiable grumbling.”  Some grumbling may be for the well being of the parish, even if it brings pain and conflict. Responsible behavior in daily life, seeking justice and truth, acting with courage and persistence as well as humility and patience -- will at times begin with two or three people grumbling.

Resources for Reflection & Action

On useful grumbling   

Her community stood their ground

The low rumble of discontent and dissatisfaction 


General Benedictine Resources


I don't know if it's true that we would draw more to Christ in the sense of membership growth - maybe! I am sure that we would grow in holiness of life.


Here are a few general resources on Benedictine spirituality.


1. "The Benedictine Promise" - a chapter from Fill All Things


2. "Done and Left Undone" by Bishop Scott Benhase --
 --proposes an ascetical theology of leadership based in St. Benedict's Promise of Stability, Obedience, and Conversion of Life. 


3. Web pages 
4. The Order of the Ascension 

Become a Professed Member of OA