American-cassinese congregation of benedictine monasteries office of the president



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GUIDE FOR VISITATIONS

IN THE

AMERICAN-CASSINESE CONGREGATION

OF BENEDICTINE MONASTERIES

OFFICE OF THE PRESIDENT

1994

The


GUIDE FOR VISITATIONS

in the

AMERICAN-CASSINESE CONGREGATION

of Benedictine Monasteries

was approved by the

forty-fourth general chapter

of the American-Cassinese Congregation

7-12 June 1992

PREFACE


Benedictine monasteries are autonomous. Although most of them belong to a monastic congregation, such a body is only a loosely-organized association for mutual assistance. It does not often impinge upon the daily life of its member monasteries.


The principal exception to this is the visitation, when abbots and monks from other houses come to examine the life of a particular monastery. It is a means of helping a community to see where it is going, what problems it finds along the way, and what can be done to solve them. Visitations are the principal means by which the congregation assists individual monasteries.
Shortly after Vatican Council II, the American-Cassinese Congregation took steps to improve its visitation practice. These efforts resulted in the Guidelines for Visitation, published in 1974, that have served us well as the norm for our visitations for nearly two decades.
In 1990 the Congregation published The Constitutions and the Directory, which now constitute its proper law, including provisions for visitations. Although the new law made few changes, a revision of the visitation guidelines was needed to bring them into full conformity with the proper law and to recognize changes of emphasis that have now become desirable.
The forty-third general chapter in 1989 mandated the appointment of a committee to draft a revised version. The committee consisted of Abbot Owen Purcell (B) and Fathers Daniel Ward (J) and Clement Zeleznik (An), with Father Claude Peifer (Bed) serving as chairman. The draft that they prepared was discussed, revised, and approved by the forty-fourth general chapter at St. Bernard Abbey in 1992.
The result of these efforts is this new Guide for Visitations in the American-Cassinese Congregation of Benedictine Monasteries. May it help us to use this ancient instrument of monastic renewal effectively in order to bring new vitality to our monasteries today.
March 21, 1994

+ Melvin Valvano, O.S.B.

President

TABLE OF CONTENTS


Introduction

PART I
THE HISTORICAL CONTEXT AND PURPOSE OF VISITATIONS

Section A:
THE HISTORICAL BACKGROUND OF VISITATION PRACTICE


1. The Apostolic Practice of Fraternal Correction

2. Pastoral Visitation in the Early Church

3. Early Monastic Visitation Practice

4. The Rule of St. Benedict



5. The System of Regular Visitation

6. The Development of Visitation Procedures


Section B:
THE PURPOSE OF MONASTIC VISITATIONS


1. The Visitation System in Our Time

2. The Functions of a Visitation

3. The Scope of a Visitation


PART II
THE VISITATORS

Section A:
THE QUALIFICATIONS OF VISITATORS


1. Information

2. Assimilation of Values

3. Qualities of Personality

4. Preparation

5. Special Qualifications

Section B: THE SELECTION OF VISITATORS


1. Eligibility

2. The Process of Selection

3. The Number of Visitators

4. The Role of the Senior Visitator


PART III
THE PREPARATION FOR THE VISITATION

Section A:
ONGOING COMMUNITY REFLECTION AS A FORM
OF "PREPARATION"


1. A Self-Study Program

2. A Mission Statement

3. A Strategic Plan

4. A Study of Monastic Observance

5. A Review of the Previous Visitation

Section B:
THE SPIRITUAL DIMENSIONS OF PREPARATION

Section C:
THE PRACTICAL DIMENSION OF PREPARATION


1. The Visitation Committee

2. The Previsitation Report

3. Documents Sent to the Visitators

PART IV
THE VISITATION PROCESS

Section A:
THE FREQUENCY AND LENGTH OF VISATIONS


1. Frequency

2. Scheduling

3. LengthSection B:
THE BEGINNING OF THE VISITATION

1. The Arrival of the Visitators

2. The Initial Meeting

3. The Examination of Documents

4. The Opening Prayer

5. The Opening Meeting


Section C:
THE INTERVIEWS WITH THE VISITATIORS


1. The Abbot and the Council of Seniors

2. The Interview Teams

3. Group Meetings

4. Committees

5. The Individual Interviews

6. Interviews with Other Persons

7. The Daily Meeting of the Visitators

Section D:
THE VISITATORS' REPORTS


1. The Written Reports

2. Formal Judgments

3. The Review of Reports by the Abbot

4. The Review of the Community Report by the

Council of Seniors

5. The Distribution of the Community Report

6. The Community Meeting

PART V
THE IMPLEMENTATION OF THE
VISITATION
AND SPECIAL QUESTIONS

Section A:
THE PROCESS OF IMPLEMENTATION

1. The Sending of the Reports to the President


2.The One-Month Report

3. The Meeting of the Council of the President

4. The One-Year ReportSection B:
SPECIAL VISITATIONS

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