American-cassinese congregation of benedictine monasteries office of the president



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Section B: The Spiritual Dimensions of Preparation


V 59. The quality of a community's life constitutes its response to a special call to holiness (cf. Lumen Gentium 43-47 and Perfectae caritatis 5), the fruit of grace that frees people for God's service by making them a sign of the holiness of the Church in the situation in which they find them­selves. To discern this spiritual vitality and its radiance requires of the community prayer, fasting, and openness to the call of the Holy Spirit. Moreover, the community . itself will need to be purified from self-interest and human pressures and to move from inertia to an active searching for God's will.

V 60. The message of God's will entails more than the common human awareness that we need to speak frankly and openly with each other. Seeking God's will in the concrete situation of our strengths and weaknesses means being open to the folly of the cross (1 Cor 1,18) and acknowledging that Jesus is Lord (1 Cor 12,4), being ready to change and be changed. Without a strong preparation of prayer, fasting, and openness to the Holy Spirit, no sacred space of faith will be created, and there will be no genuine dialogue to enable the Spirit to renew the community by creating new perspectives, new perceptions, new understandings, and new enthusiasms that bring about new decisions, leading to renewed life.

V 61. Not only does the fear of the cross need to be removed, but courage is needed to express opinions gathered from insight and experience that focus not on the expedient thing to do, but on God's will. This places the community under the mystery of God's ways and allows decisions to affect and effect sacred history. Restoration and renewal are God's work; the community's task is to be disposed to listen and to heed his movements within them.


Section C: The Practical Dimensions of Preparation


V 62. 1. The Visitation Committee

Although it is not prescribed by The Constitutions and the Directory, the abbot may appoint a visitation committee to coordinate the details of the visitation. This is usually done after consultation with the council of seniors. The council of seniors may itself act as the visitation commit­tee, or the abbot may appoint a special committee com­posed of some or all of the seniors together with other monks. Such a committee would be responsible for the following functions in regard to the visitation itself:

1. To prepare the previsitation report that is sent to the visitators (see V 64).
2. To arrange that each monk fill out a form containing information that can facilitate his interview with the visitators. Such a form should contain information about his age, ministries, education, and similar data, and provide space for him to comment on the focus of the visitation and to list other matters that he wishes to discuss.

3. To schedule events during the visitation itself in collaboration with the senior Visitator and the abbot.

4. To arrange appropriate times for group or individual interviews.

V 63. If the committee is also in charge of guiding a study process, it may fulfill these additional functions:

1. To propose the focus of the approaching visitation and the mode of preparation most suitable to the circumstances.

2. To plan and direct the process to be used, to create study committees, develop procedures, and coordinate committees as required.

3. To engage consultants and, if necessary, to commission reports on the chosen area of focus.

4. To present preliminary work to the community for their suggestions, revision, and eventual approval.

V 64. 2. The Previsitation Report

A previsitation report or assessment should be prepared for the use of the visitators, setting forth in some detail an account of what has happened in the community since the previous visitation and an evaluation of the community's monastic life in the area of its selected focus. This report should include an outline of the community's reflection and its results and should disclose whether the community's expectations were realized or had to be curtailed. It should also incorporate any materials produced in pursuing one of the methods of reflection (e.g., a mission statement or a strategic plan) and any other relevant materials resulting from the process. The preparation of this previsitation report will ordinarily be the responsibility of the visitation committee or of someone specifically designated by the abbot, and it should be approved by the council of seniors.

V 65. 3. Documents Sent to the Visitators

The abbot is responsible for seeing that copies of this previsitation report are forwarded to all the members of the visitation team at least one month before the scheduled visitation, but he may assign this task to the visitation committee. Copies of the following should also be sent with it:

1. the visitators' report to the community from the last previous visitation;

2. the one-year report on the implementation of the previous visitation;

3. a schedule showing the frequency of meetings of the chapter, the community, the council of seniors, and significant committees during the intervening years;

4. a list of the present members of the community, giving their ages, assignments, and places of residence.


V 66. In addition, the abbot himself should send:

1. the abbot's report from the previous visitation;

2. a brief report disclosing the frequency of his conferences to the community, the frequency of his regular meetings with each member of the community, and any special initiatives undertaken in his leadership role.

PART IV

THE VISITATION PROCESS


C 127.1. An ordinary visitation of each autonomous monastery of the Congregation is to be held at intervals of not fewer than three and not more than five years according to the procedures established in the proper law of the Congregation.

D 128.4. Sufficient time should be available for the visitation, according to local needs and circumstances, to give unhurried attention to all aspects of the process.

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