Thursday, 6 September
First Day of the Symposium
The first morning session of our Symposium began with our Symposium Mantra, our first attempt at singing it!
Sr Judith Ann then welcomed us to the Symposium, explained what we would be doing, and introduced some of the people present, starting with our ecumenical guests, S Mireille Golliez of the communaute des Diaconesses de Reuilly and M Mary Luke Wise from the Anglican Benedictine community at Holy Cross Convent, Costock, England.
Listen to Sr Judith Ann’s brief explanation of the internal workings of the CIB:–
After a stand up break, with a bit of action to keep us alert, Abbot Primate Gregory Polan addressed us.
introducing Abbot Gregory
Welcome and talk by Abbot Primate Gregory J Polan
Abbot Gregory, in turn, introduced Fr Stefano Visintin, the Rector of the University, who explained the plans to expand the Institute of Monastic Studies and offer a program in English.
Listen to Fr Stefano:–
This was followed by notices from the liturgists, a short break, then it was time for Mass.
African dance at the Offertory Procession (video on Flickr)
Pranzo (lunch) followed, and free time. Then, after refreshments in the cloister, we gathered in the cloister for the start of the Opening Ritual.
photos of the Opening Ritual (Flickr)
videos of the Opening Ritual (Flickr)
We processed in singing: ‘All are welcome, all are welcome, all are welcome in this place’.
This was followed by the opening prayer and reading from Genesis (Genesis 18:1–10a), then the roll call of the regions.
Jesus, source of our joy,
you have gathered us from the four corners of the earth,
to sing your praise
and to rejoice in our communion
in the monastic way of life.
As in love we welcome each other,
may we discover that we have welcomed you,
who live in love with the Father and the Holy Spirit,
one God for ever and ever.
Roll Call of the Regions
When called, the delegate(s) from each region came forward with their regional cloth, the participants from that region stood in their places.
Sr Judith Anne: Welcome my sisters. ‘Blessed be your God for bringing you to us.’ (Tobit 1:17)
Delegate and Participants from each region responded: ‘We, the Benedictine women of Region______ bring you grace, mercy and peace from God our Father and our Lord Jesus Christ’.
After the dialogue, the delegate placed the piece of cloth over the communion rail and return to her place.
Reading from the Rule of Saint Benedict
This was followed by a reading from the Rule (RB 53:1–2, 6–7), in all 5 major languages:
‘All guests who present themselves are to be welcomed as Christ, for he himself will say: I was a stranger and you welcomed me (Matt. 25:35). Proper honour must be shown to all, especially to those who share our faith (Gal 6:10) and to pilgrims.
All humility should be shown in addressing a guest on arrival or departure. By a bow of the head or by a complete prostration of the body.’
As response to the reading, we sang our Symposium Mantra:
After a time of silence, dancers assembled around the outside of the tables and, after a dance of welcome, we stood at our tables and a dancer came to each table. She bowed with the first person then they exchanged the welcome: ‘I was a stranger and you welcomed me’, in their own languages, then that person turned to the next, and the ‘welcome’ passed around all the tables.
We then repeated our Mantra, and ended with the closing prayer, and blessing.
God of tenderness and compassion, In these days, may our prayer together unite us in peace, may the bread and wine we share refresh us, body and soul, and may the spirit of hospitality among us give birth to new life in our monastic communities and in our world. We pray this in the name of Jesus, the Christ, who lives in love with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen.
Let us bless the Lord, alleluia, alleluia!
Thanks be to God, alleluia, alleluia!
After the Opening Ritual, there was a short stand up break, with action.
video of our stand up break (Flickr)
CIB moderator’s four year report
After the stand up break, Sr Judith Ann gave the CIB moderator’s four year report:
listen to Sr Judith Ann (English):–
There were no questions after Sr Judith Ann’s report, so our two moderators invited us to take part in a very special dance called ‘Ora et Labora’. The words to act out were: praying, washing clothes, ringing, hanging, resting, mopping, lectio—this, they said, was what we Benedictines spend our time doing!
watch the ‘Ora et Labora’ dance (Flickr)
Then it was time for Vespers, Cena (evening meal) . . . the end of the first day!