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April, May, and June 2015

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June 2015

Arson at Church of Loaves and Fishes

Reuters reports that Israeli authorities credit arson as the cause of several fires at the church and bookshop in the care of Benedictine monks, Tabgha, Galilee. "The Roman Catholic Church of the Multiplication of the Loaves and Fish was extensively damaged 'both inside and out' by the fire, according to police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld" (Independent UK). "Hebrew graffiti found on a wall is thought to indicate the attack may have been the work of Jewish extremists" (Reuters/BBC, 18 June 2015).  The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung provides more details (in German). The community at Tabgha is a dependency of Dormition Abbey, Jerusalem.

Dom Mark Sheridan OSB and Images of God

Vatican Radio reports on Language for God in Patristic Tradition: Wrestling with Biblical Anthropomorphism by Fr. Mark Sheridan OSB. Fr. Mark is a former professor, dean, and rector at the Pontifical University of Sant'Anselmo in Rome. Now based at Dormition Abbey in Jerusalem, he sought to write this book after a years-long interest in the history of biblical interpretation. His book describes how the ancient Church dealt with problematic images of God in the Bible as jealous, angry, or vindictive, heavily citing biblical commentaries from the Church Fathers.

Listen to the report by Andrew Summerson (MP3 audio).

St. Ephrem of Syria - 9 June

The ascetic writings in Greek attributed to St. Ephrem the Syrian (306-373), deacon and doctor of the church, are some of the basic texts of Orthodox monasticism. He lived as a solitary and apparently never became a priest. Ephrem wrote exclusively in Syriac, but his works were translated into Armenian and Greek, and via the latter into Latin and Slavonic. His writings extensively employ typology and symbolism. Over 500 genuine hymns survive, of great beauty and insight. Syriac churches honor him as "the Lyre of the Holy Spirit" (Syriac Orthodox Resources). The most complete, critical text of Saint Ephrem was compiled between 1955 and 1979 by Dom Edmund Beck OSB as part of the Corpus Scriptorum Christianorum Orientalium.

New Prioress for Duluth

On Friday, 5 June 2015, the Benedictine Sisters of St. Scholastica Monastery elected Sr. Beverly Raway OSB to succeed Prioress Lois Eckes OSB. Her six-year term begins 15 August 2015. Prioress-elect Beverly earned a doctorate in nursing at The Catholic University of America, Washington, DC, and she has been a professor of nursing at the College of St. Scholastica for 22 years.

Saint Benedict's Prep, Newark, NJ

Public Broadcasting's Religion and Ethics Newsweekly offers a video profile by Marylou Bongiorno of St. Benedict's Preparatory School, "a school for boys led by Benedictine monks [that] has helped 95 percent of its senior class go on to college by emphasizing personal responsibility, Christian community, and the Rule of St. Benedict."

St. Boniface - 5 June

Bishop, religious, missionary, and martyr. The "Apostle of Germany" was an English Benedictine named Winfrid (672?-754). A great number of Anglo-Saxon monks and nuns followed him to the continent. He introduced Benedictine nuns to the active apostolate of education. St. Boniface anointed Pepin, first in the line of the Carolingian dynasty.  Boniface and his companions suffered martyrdom on a mission to the Frisians. St. Boniface is often depicted holding the axe he used to destroy an ancient oak tree sacred to the god named Thor the Hammerer. The Letters of Saint Boniface are available online.

Swiss Monks Elect New Abbot President

On Thursday, 28 May 2015, the general chapter of the Swiss Congregation elected Abbot Christian Meyer OSB, Abbot of Engelberg, to a six-year term as president of the congregation. He succeeds Abbot President Benno Malfèr OSB who served three terms. Born in 1967, Fr. Christian became the 59th abbot of Engelberg in 2010. Before his election he had served as a pastor and novice master. The Swiss Congregation, founded in 1602, consists of seven monasteries: Einsiedeln, Muri-Gries (in Bozen, Südtirol), Fischingen, Engelberg, Disentis, Mariastein, and Marienberg (Südtirol).

May 2015

Bede the Venerable - 25 May

Bede Icon by Nathanael Hauser OSB

Within the walls of the imposing Norman Cathedral of Durham lies the simple tomb of a Christian monk who has earned the title "Father of English History." Venerable Bede was born at Tyne, in County Durham, and was taken as a child of seven to the monastery of Wearmouth. Shortly afterwards he was moved to become one of the first members of the monastic community at Jarrow.

The scholarship and culture of Italy had been brought to Britain where it was transported to Jarrow. Bede's monumental, Ecclesiastical History, is the indispensable source for the history of Christianity in Britain before 700.

Bede (673-735), claimed by the Benedictines, wrote numerous hymns and other verse, the first martyrology with historical notes, letters, and homilies, works on grammar, on chronology and astronomy. Bede was aware that the earth is a sphere, and he is the first historian to date events Anno Domini, and the earliest known writer to state that the solar year is not exactly 365 and a quarter days long, so that the Julian calendar (one leap year every four years) requires some adjusting if the months are not to get out of step with the seasons.

In 1899, Bede was made a Doctor of the Church by Pope Leo XIII; he is the only native of Great Britain to achieve this designation (Anselm of Canterbury, also a Doctor of the Church, was originally a Benedictine from Aosta, Italy).

+ Rev. Cyprian Davis OSB PhD

Fr. Cyprian Davis OSB, 84, archivist and professor emeritus of Church history at Saint Meinrad Seminary and School of Theology, died 18 May 2015. He will be especially remembered for The History of Black Catholics in the United States, a 350-page study of the American Black Catholic experience from the early Spanish explorations to 1970. It is regarded as the essential study of the American Black Catholic experience. Fr. Cyprian was preparing a revised edition of this work at the time of his death. His obituary is available online. The Saint Meinrad community celebrated the Mass of Christian Burial, Thursday, 21 May, in the archabbey church, 10 a.m.

Pope Francis and the Consecrated Religious of Rome

The Holy Father spent an hour with thousands of the men and women religious of Rome, 16 May 2015. Responding to a question, Pope Francis mentioned the long awaited revision of Mutuae Relationes, the 1978 document concerning the relationship between the local bishop and the consecrated religious of his diocese. "The bishop," he said, "should not use consecrated persons as substitutes, and equally the religious should not see the bishop as the head of a company providing work." Pope Francis, citing early monastic practice, identified spiritual direction as a "charism of the laity," distinct from sacramental confession (news.va and CNS).

New Monastic Spirituality Forum: Community of Nazareth

The Community of Nazareth is a spirituality forum inspired by the Rule of Saint Benedict and the wisdom of the Desert Mothers and Fathers. The community plans to meet regularly at Ealing Abbey and other monasteries in England, focussing on lectio divina, methods of prayer, and monastic crafts. The forum will also learn from other Christian, Buddhist, and Hindu monastic communities in London. For more information please see: <www.communityofnazareth.com>.

+ Rev. Aelred Cody OSB SSD

Fr. Aelred Cody OSB, 83, monk and priest of Saint Meinrad Archabbey, died peacefully in the Lord, 11 May 2015. Fr. Aelred earned STL and STD degrees from Ottawa University, an SSL from the Pontifical Biblical Institute in Rome, an SSD from the Pontifical Biblical Commission, and an Élève diplômé from the Ecole biblique at archéologique française de Jérusalem. Fr. Aelred was a professor at the Pontifical Biblical Institute in Rome from 1968 to 1978, serving for two of those years also as procurator for the Swiss-American and American-Cassinese congregations. He returned to Saint Meinrad in 1978 where, in addition to continuing his scholarship, he served as novice-junior master for 14 years. The full obituary is online. The community celebrated the Mass of Christian Burial, Wednesday, 13 May, in the archabbey church, 10 a.m.

Abbey of St. Walburga

Jim West (CNS) reports on a recent visit with the Benedictine nuns of the Abbey of St. Walburga, Virginia Dale, Colorado (The Boston Pilot, 12 May 2015).

April 2015

Saint John's Bible Presented to Pope Francis

Abbot John Klassen OSB, Saint John's Abbey, and Donald Cardinal Wuerl, Archbishop of Washington, DC, accompanied the Papal Foundation presenting the final volume of the Saint John's Bible, Saint Peter Apostles Edition, to Pope Francis, 17 April 2015. A YouTube video includes the presentation and several interviews.

YCL Conference for Formators

Pope Francis received in audience about 1,300 religious who had participated in the international conference for formators of consecrated persons, held in Rome from 7 to 11 April 2015. Vatican News summarizes at length his address to them. “'Seeing so many of you, you would not believe that there is a crisis of vocations!' [the Holy Father] went on to highlight the beauty and importance of consecrated life for the world and for the Church.” Vatican Radio also reported on the event and supplies the insightful and rewarding full text of the Pope's message.

Benedictines Host Major Superiors of Germany

St. Benedict Monastery, Damme, Germany, hosted major superiors from some 35 congregations for several days after Easter. The meeting, sponsored by the Conference of German Superiors, focused primarily on legal issues of leadership and administration. The talks and presentations dealt with developments in the church and laws governing social security, contracts, and taxes. The participants also looked at data protection. Prior Stephan Veith OSB, who had worked as a tax consultant in civilian life, spoke to his guests about the taxation of guest and retreat houses, liability for economic operations, and laws concerning donations (NWZ Online).

Monastic Institute 2015

The 30th Annual Monastic Institute runs from 28 June through 2 July 2015. The theme is “Monasticism: Soul of the New Evangelization.” Check the website of the School of Theology, Saint John's University, Collegeville, Minnesota, for the full schedule and more information.

Anniversary - 1 April

1 April 1995 the OSB Website made its appearance on the World Wide Web. This year marks the twentieth anniversary of the website. “For fools rush in where angels fear to tread” -- Alexander Pope: Essay on Criticism, 1.625.


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