By Heather Walker
FRASCATI, Italy — A group of 26 people from around the world piled into four minivans and a car Oct. 18, and left behind the bustling Eternal City headed for the Capuchin Friary in Frascati, in the beautiful, green, rolling hills south of Rome, to spend a weekend together to reflect, pray and get to know each other. As the convoy headed south, the minivans were filled with laughter, and chatter – a few of the travellers managed to take a short nap, too.
Led by Father Jason Welle, OFM, director of studies at the Pontifical Institute for Arabic and Islamic Studies, The Lay Centre’s annual scholars retreat focused on the theme, “The Lord’s Prayer – A Prayer We Know but Must Learn Anew.” Lay Centre director Donna Orsuto also joined the community retreat.
Lay Centre Leadership Scholars, in collaboration with Father Welle, developed the retreat structure and content. The cover picture of the retreat booklet was Rembrandt’s “Return of the Prodigal Son” and St. Francis’ commentary on The Lord’s Prayer, included at the bottom of this article, was the inspiration for the retreatants.
This year, The Lay Centre residents come from 13 countries: Brazil, China, Croatia, Greece, Indonesia, Ireland, Italy, Malawi, Philippines, Syria, Slovenia, Ukraine, and the United States; three visiting scholars, from France, Israel and Turkey, have joined the community only for the first semester.
The weekend offered opportunities for the scholars to meet each other outside the normal context and day-to-day routine of The Lay Centre and to see each other often in a new light.
A PRAYER INSPIRED BY THE “PATER NOSTER”, by Francis of Assisi
O Our Father most holy: Our Creator, Redeemer, Consoler, and Savior:
Who are in heaven: In the angels and the saints, enlightening them to know, for You, Lord, are light; inflaming them to love, for You, Lord, are love; dwelling in them and filling them with happiness, for You, Lord, are Supreme Good, the Eternal Good, from Whom all good comes without Whom there is no good.
Holy be Your Name: May knowledge of You become clearer in us that we may know the breadth of Your blessings, the length of Your promises, the height of Your majesty, the depth of Your judgments.
Your kingdom come: That You may rule in us through Your grace and enable us to come to Your kingdom where there is clear vision of You, perfect love of You, blessed companionship with You, eternal enjoyment of You.
Your will be done on earth as in heaven: That we may love You with our whole heart by always thinking of You, with our whole soul by always desiring You, with our whole mind by always directing all our intentions to You, and by seeking Your glory in everything, with all our whole strength by exerting all our energies and affections of body and soul in the service of Your love and of nothing else; and we may love our neighbor as ourselves by drawing them all to Your love with our whole strength, by rejoicing in the good of others as in our own, by suffering with others at their misfortunes, and by giving offense to no one.
Give us this day: in remembrance, understanding, and reverence of that love which [our Lord Jesus Christ] had for us and of those things that He said and did and suffered for us.
Our daily Bread: Your own beloved Son, our Lord Jesus Christ.
Forgive us our trespasses: through Your ineffable mercy through the power of the passion of Your beloved Son and through the merits and intercession of the ever blessed Virgin and all Your elect.
As we forgive those who trespass against us: And what we do not completely forgive, make us, Lord, forgive completely that we may truly love our enemies because of You and we may fervently intercede for them before You, returning no one evil for evil and we may strive to help everyone in You.
And lead us not into temptation: hidden or obvious, sudden or persistent.
But deliver us from evil: past, present, and to come.