Danielle La Scala, who organized the meeting, is a former resident of France and Switzerland. The meeting was held from Friday, August 28, to Sunday, August 30. Of the eight Italians who wrote that they would attend the gathering, only three were present for the full meeting. Memo Z., the chief translator of the Italian translation, came Saturday and Sunday, and one person came just for Saturday afternoon. In addition to Danielle, my wife, Marlène, and I, Antonio Schefer from the Netherlands, representing Urantia Association International , were in attendance. A Swiss man from Lausanne was also present as well as three French readers, a woman and two men, from Marseille, France.
Friday night was devoted to socializing and enjoying a good meal at the hotel.
On Saturday morning, Danielle introduced the schedule for the weekend. As an attending Trustee and on behalf of Urantia Foundation, I said a few words of greeting. The President of the Association Francophone des Lecteurs du Livre D’Urantia (AFLLU) delivered a short welcome, and Antonio Schefer spoke briefly about Urantia Association International.
The Saturday morning session was devoted to the study of the Thought Adjuster. After five minutes of meditative silence we engaged in the study of the introduction to Paper 107. We sat in a circle, each participant reading one paragraph and commenting. Many questions were raised during the sharing. Cross-references with other paragraphs of Paper 1, Paper 108, and the Foreword were used during the discussion to answer participants’ questions. Many clarifications occurred in the minds of participants, especially the Italians. Participating in a study group like this was a new and significant experience for the Italians, as they had never attended a study group.
Saturday afternoon, after lunch, we gathered again in the same study room and had our five minutes of silence. The afternoon session was devoted to the study of “the divine perfection plans,” using the same study methodology as the morning session. Again, many clarifications came from the questions and cross-referencing with other paragraphs. Each participant could feel the atmosphere of fellowship that comes when truth seekers are gather to find out more about God, and we really experienced the meaning of the first paragraph of paper 100:
The experience of dynamic religious living transforms the mediocre individual into a personality of idealistic power. Religion ministers to the progress of all through fostering the progress of each individual, and the progress of each is augmented through the achievement of all. [Paper 100:0.1, page 1094.1]
We finished with a silent prayer.
A short visit to Verona was organized that evening. After the visit we had a tasty dinner with much fellowship. All the Italians spoke some French, which facilitated our communication and enhanced the convivial spirit of the evening. We discussed 1) plans for future gatherings, 2) the formation of study groups in Italy, and 3) ways to find other Italian readers. Two of the Italian participants expressed a desire to participate in our six-day seminar next summer in Recloses, France.
We devoted the first part of Sunday morning to the study of mind spiritualization. We read and then discussed paragraph 7, section 3 of Paper 1:
In the inner experience of man, mind is joined to matter. Such material-linked minds cannot survive mortal death. The technique of survival is embraced in those adjustments of the human will and those transformations in the mortal mind whereby such a God-conscious intellect gradually becomes spirit taught and eventually spirit led. This evolution of the human mind from matter association to spirit union results in the transmutation of the potentially spirit phases of the mortal mind into the morontia realities of the immortal soul. Mortal mind subservient to matter is destined to become increasingly material and consequently to suffer eventual personality extinction; mind yielded to spirit is destined to become increasingly spiritual and ultimately to achieve oneness with the surviving and guiding divine spirit and in this way to attain survival and eternity of personality existence. [Paper 1:3.7, page 26.1]
A two-hour sharing ensued about the meaning of “the adjustments of the human will and those transformations in the mortal mind” described in this paragraph. Again, clarification of ideas and consequences in human daily life were examined.
After eleven o’clock it was time to pack and get ready for lunch, which took place in a nice, typical Italian ristorante with much frutti di mare and pasta.
The results of this gathering look very positive and promising. Two of the three Italians are dedicated readers and want to become active in the process of creating study groups, preparing other gatherings, and fostering interest among Italians in The Urantia Book. Memo Z. wants to retire from his position as contact person. Danielle offered to take over his position.
Danielle did a great job in taking the initiative and organizing this gathering. She deserves a great deal of respect for this service.