Suscipe me secundum eloquium tuum, et vivam, et non confundas me ab exspectatione mea. (Psalm 118)
Each year at about this time I have published a list of those who have risked everything to follow Jesus Christ more closely as a priest, deacon, monk, friars, nun, or sister. I think it is a good thing to keep this information in front of us, especially as it concerns how each of prays, fasts and financially support vocations in the Church. Our Christian life helps us to see the need for such witnesses and each of us participates through our good example, by inviting others (even ourselves?) to consider serving the Lord and the Church in this “more excellent” way and by assisting by of the good works.
Let us pray with the psalmist, “The just grow tall like palm trees, majestic like the cedars of Lebanon. They flourish in God’s house, green and heavy with fruit” (Ps 92).
“What counts is to be permeated by the love of Christ, to let oneself be led by the Holy Spirit and to graft one’s own life onto the tree of life,” the Lord’s cross, Pope Francis said on July 7.
What follows is an imperfect collection of information; if there are updates, please zap me an email.
The active life
The New York Province of Dominicans have brought together several media initiatives and created for themselves a new media division under the sponsorship of the Province of Saint Joseph with the debut of Blackfriar Films. They are off and running…
Here we have a treat with Father Austin Dominic Litke, OP, Father Robert Koopman, OSB and Leah Sedlacek performing a new arrangement of the beautiful 17th century hymn, “Come, My Way, My Truth, My Life.” The beautiful scenery of New York City is the God-given canvas for preaching Gospel and sharing the Christian faith with the world.
Father Austin is a campus minister at NYC and Father Robert is a monk of Saint John’s Abbey (MN) where he’s a music educator and artist.
In case you want to meditate on the beautiful words Father Austin is singing, here they are:
Come, my Way, my Truth, my Life:
such a way as gives us breath,
such a truth as ends all strife,
such a life as killeth death.
Come, my Light, my Feast, my Strength:
such a light as shows a feast,
such a feast as mends in length,
such a strength as makes his guest.
Come, my Joy, my Love, my Heart:
such a joy as none can move,
such a love as none can part,
such a heart as joys in love.
The theory of how the image ‘@’ came into being is passing through cyberspace, again, these days. We all know that monks of all types, Benedictines, Cistercians, Augustinians, etc., had much to do with culture. This is particularly true, I believe with the Benedictine and Cistercian monks who worked out tools for writing but also useful things for art, cooking, gardening and beer making to name just a few ideas. What was helpful and labor-saving in the monastery had applications for the rest of the world.
Here is a 2009 story on @ found at Wired.
Just the other day the Huffington Post published this note about the ubiquitous @.
The point is not raise your awareness about the history of the @. It is to help you recall that things don’t fall out of the sky on to your plate, or your computer screen. A real person has had to dream and work out the tool used.
Our intellectual and religious history needs to be recalled and honored. Much of the world that uses email has to use ‘@’ to send a message. Next time you do, pray for the Benedictines.
Saint Bernard was the brother of Saint Humbeline. At 22, he and four of his blood brothers with 25 friends, entered the new form of monastic life at Citeaux; at some point later, another brother and his father joined him. The monks at the Abbey of Citeaux were reformed Benedictines. In a short time Bernard became the abbot of Clairvaux with a constituency of nearly 700. One of his spiritual sons became Blessed Eugene III, pope.
Bernard (+1153), Cistercian abbot, saint, and Doctor of the Church, is no easy thinker to face alone. You really do need God’s grace to help you get through his works. Challenging is a good word when thinking of Saint Bernard.
History credits Bernard with the foundation of no fewer than 163 monasteries in his lifetime. When Bernard died, historians labeled the Cistercians as the first true Order in the Church with nearly 343 communities. He singularly did more than any other for the Cistercian order than any.
As one Benedictine nun said of Saint Bernard, he was angry a lot of the time, a brilliant writer even when he nothing to say, at odds with Abelard, condemned for preaching the Second Crusade, and kind to Jews at a time when no one was kind to Jews (we know of a German rabbi saying his community received help and protection from the holy abbot).
Bernard’s love of family, affection for others, and capabilities are well-known, but so are his limitations. One of the power-broker churchmen of the time, Cardinal Haimeric, thought that Bernard was meddling in matters above above his competence. The Cardinal cleverly said, “It is not fitting that noisy and troublesome frogs should come out of their marshes to trouble the Holy See and the cardinals.”
And Bernard’s response, “”Forbid those noisy troublesome frogs to come out of their holes, to leave their marshes . . . Then your friend will no longer be exposed to the accusations of pride and presumption.”
One of the theological positions Bernard held was not holding to the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception of Mary. This doesn’t make Bernard a questionable man of the Church because the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception was not defined until the 19th century. And yet, he sang eloquently of the Virgin Mary.
Questions of the parameters of justification John Calvin to quote Bernard in his heretical teaching. Bernard was a solid theologian that led Pope Pius VIII to name him a Doctor of the Church and the “last of the Fathers.”