The American Monastic Newsletter

Volume 42, Nr. 1b,   February 2011                  Richardton, ND 58652


In the prologue to his Rule, Benedict invites us to run the way of God’s commandments with an “expanded heart” (dilatato corde). In modern times, monastic men and women have discovered that entering into spiritual dialogue with followers of other religions is an especially effective way of expanding the heart. It was for that reason that Dilatato Corde was chosen as the title of a new multi-lingual, international, on-line journal launched in January of this year. It can be found at, the new website of DIMMID (Dialogue Interreligieux Monastique Monastic Interreligious Dialogue).

The creation of a new journal devoted to the dialogue of religious experience and practice was first proposed in October 2008 at the annual meeting of the European coordinators of DIMMID. Father Pierre de Béthune, OSB, the first secretary general of DIMMID, said that he believed the time had come for the International Bulletin of DIMMID to evolve into a journal devoted to the dialogue of religious experience and practice. His suggestion received the support of the European coordinators and the coordinators of other national commissions for monastic interreligious dialogue.

Thanks to a grant DIMMID received from an American supporter of Monastic Interreligious Dialogue who wishes to remain anonymous, a planning committee was formed and met twice, once in Rome in February 2009, and then in Brussels in November of the same year. In October 2010 the editorial board had its first meeting in London.

The most important tasks of the planning committee were to define the mission of the new journal, determine its format and content, and establish an editorial board and a board of advisors. Serious consideration was given to the pros and cons of publishing Dilatato Corde as an on-line rather than a printed journal. Many monastic communities still do not have easy access to the Internet, and many who do use it prefer to read from a book rather than from a computer screen. However, the costs of printing and mailing an international journal, the ever increasing number of people (including those in monasteries) who rely on the Internet for information, the relative ease of publishing on-line, and the availability of on-line translation services indicated to us that the on-line option was the better one for Dilatato Corde, a journal that is both international and multi-lingual.

However, Dilatato Corde will also be available in print. Thanks to the availability of print-on-demand publishing, each year the articles that appeared in Dilatato Corde during the previous year will be published in book form by Lantern Books in New York.

Issues about format and language are important, but they are secondary to those of content. Dilatato Corde is a journal about the ways interreligious dialogue affects religious experience and religious practice. That is why the first section of the journal is devoted to testimonies, reflections, and reports. We want Dilatato Corde to become the place to which one goes to discover how peoples’ hearts are being expanded by their exposure to the beliefs and practices of other spiritual seekers. The accounts of such experience will, in turn, provide the raw data for scholars who seek to understand what interreligious dialogue at the level of spiritual experience and practice means theologically and philosophically. That is why the second section of Dilatato Corde is devoted to “Studies,” that is, scholarly, peer-reviewed articles on the theology, the spirituality, and the history of the dialogue of religious experience.

The success of this journal will depend, in large part, on the willingness of monastics to submit testimonies, reflections, and reports about how their hearts have been expanded and their spiritual life deepened by inter- and intra-religious dialogue with another spiritual tradition. These spiritual experiences need not be dramatic or extraordinary. In fact, “ordinary” and “daily” spiritual experiences shaped by interreligious dialogue are really the more valuable, for they go deeper and are more enduring. These experiences will, in turn, provide scholars data to analyze and reflect upon, and thus help us all better appreciate the promise, and the challenge, of interreligious dialogue in today’s world.

We would be very grateful if monastic communities would put a link to the DIMMID website <> on their own communities’ websites to share the good news and give us greater visibility as we launch these endeavors.

William Skudlarek, OSB
Secretary General
Monastic Interreligious Dialogue, Rome

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July 1-6  
Saint Meinrad Archabbey - St. Meinrad, IN

The biennial meeting of oblate directors will be hosted by the three Benedictine communities in Indiana: Our Lady of Grace Monastery (Beech Grove), Monastery Immaculate Conception (Ferdinand), and Saint Meinrad Archabbey (St. Meinrad). Oblate Directors may also invite two oblates to the meeting.

The theme of the conference is “Embracing Creation with Reverence and Hospitality:  Listening to Scripture and Rule Speak.” Each of the three keynote speakers will address this theme from her/his life experience.  Sister Kathryn Huber, OSB of Ferdinand will speak on Saturday, July 2; Kyle T. Kramer, of St. Meinrad School of Theology and Genesis Organic Farm, will speak on Monday, July 4; and, Sister Sheila Marie Fitzpatrick of Beech Grove will speak on Tuesday, July 5.

* * * * * *

Oblate Institute
July 14-17
Mount St. Scholastica - Atchison, KS

The fourth annual institute for Benedictine oblates, entitled “Desiring Life: the Benedictine Habit of Wisdom” will feature talks by Norvene Vest, noted oblate author and scholar of Benedictine spirituality and a unique opportunity for oblates from across the country to share with one another. Information available from local oblate directors or Sister Micaela Randolph <micaela @>.

* * * * * *
Monastic Worship Forum Conference
July 12-16
Saint Meinrad Archabbey - St. Meinrad, IN

The Monastic Worship Forum is a result of the merging of the Benedictine Musicians of the Americas and the Monastic Liturgy Forum. Their 2011 conference, entitled “Ancient Wine In New Wineskins: Celebrating Eucharist with Twenty-First Century Documents” will feature two keynote presenters, both Benedictine oblates, noted liturgist and composer Dr. Paul Ford, and Sister Julia Upton, RSM, author of the recent biography of H. A. Reinhold: Worship in Spirit and Truth. Information available from Father Dunstan Morse <dmoorse @>.

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40 Stories to Stir the Soul by Joan Chittister (Erie, PA: Benetvision, 2010) 85 pp., $6.00, ISBN 978-1-890890-24-3.

Looking for something different for a brief daily Lenten exercise? This book is not marketed specifically for Lent because it would be just as good any time of year. Nevertheless, it does coincidentally (or not) have exactly 40 stories. They are not long stories but short (mostly one paragraph) bits of wisdom from the desert tradition, Jewish or Buddhist lore, or other sources. Succinct and profound, each is followed by a very short reflection by Sister Joan and a Scripture verse.

The thing which makes this little book special for each seeker of wisdom is that half of one page is simply a blank frame. Into that space, the reader is invited to write, draw, paste a photo or article, do whatever personalizes this story for him or her. As Sister Mary Lou Kownacki writes in the introduction “Sister Joan loves soul-size stories . . . that you can play with, pulling apart each word and idea with abandon.” This is a real lectio book, ideal for the creative soul and maybe even more valuable as a Lenten practice for those who don’t think of themselves as so creative.


Becoming Fire: Through the Year with the Desert Fathers and Mothers, edited by Tim Vivion (Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 2010) 556 pp., $39.95, ISBN 978-0-87907-525-5.

Although this book did not get mentioned before the beginning of the year, it is never too late to find a good daily meditation. The stories from the desert tradition are so rich in wisdom, and so short and pointed that this resource will be a treasure whether one starts on January 1 and reads the corresponding story on the correct day or not. Like the people of the desert, the modern disciple can receive a “word” of the abba or amma, in public community reading, posted somewhere as a thought for the day, or privately read, and use it as it was originally used. The desert people continue to offer their thoughts for today’s seeker to repeat, reflect upon, savor and uncover the depth. One will not be finished with this book on December 31.

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Seek Peace and Pursue It:
Monasticism in the Midst of Global Upheaval

2-5 August 2012

St. Scholastica Monastery
Duluth, Minnesota

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Monastic Studies Grant

All American Benedictine Academy members are invited to apply for a Monastic Studies Grant. The grant provides funds to support projects that foster the mission of the ABA “to cultivate, support and transmit the Benedictine heritage within contemporary culture.”

Grant support may be used for research, travel, or other modes of exploring and promoting the Benedictine heritage. It may also be used for travel expenses and registration fees for the purpose of presenting a scholarly paper on a monastic topic related to the Benedictine heritage at a scholarly convention. A total of $1150 is available to fund these annual grants.

Applicants must be members of the ABA. Applications will be selected on the basis of

Recipients of grant support must be willing to submit a report on the use of the grant and/or a brief summary of the topic of the scholarly paper to the ABA Board of Directors within a year from the completion of the project/presentation of the paper for which the grant was given.

Application must be received by July 1, 2011. Recipients will be chosen by the ABA Awards Committee and approved by the ABA Board of Directors at their meeting in August, 2011. The awards will be announced immediately thereafter.

To apply for a grant please supply the following information:

Send completed grant applications (Word document via e-mail) to:

               Dennis Okholm
               371 Ogle Street
               Costa Mesa, CA 92627

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