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Archive for October, 2016

img_0130Behold, He Speaks Our Language Too

I’ve always been in awe of Jesus’ words in the Beatitudes.  The same goes for his invitation to consider the lilies of the field and to remember that we are worth more than sparrows.  Then it suddenly hit me.  Did Jesus always talk like that?  Did he speak in elegant turns of phrase when he was a kid at home with Joseph and Mary?  Did he always declaim like a Shakespearean actor when he was hanging out with the disciples?  Probably not.

I’m not sure why this issue popped into my head, but I know exactly when it did.  Last week, as I was preparing a homily on a text from the gospel of Luke, it all of a sudden hit me.  Some Pharisees had warned Jesus that Herod was out to get him, and Jesus for just a moment let down his guard and called Herod a fox — as in “go tell that fox….”  Thankfully Jesus regained his composure before saying anything salty, and that was that.  Why Luke decided to include this in his text I can’t be sure.  But I’m glad he did.

Whatever else may have been going through the mind of Jesus at the time, there seems to be here a hint of grudging respect for Herod.  Herod was nobody’s idea of a good guy, but Jesus did spot in him a singlemindedness of purpose.  Herod knew what he wanted, and he would stop at nothing to get it.  Herod was a suitable opponent in the eyes of Jesus, even if Herod would never win.

img_0129Jesus was just as singleminded, and that was Luke’s point.  He had come to do the will of his Father, and by now there was no going back.  It meant going up to Jerusalem, where he would get a mixed reception.  He would preach, he would be tested, and he would die.  By now Jesus had accepted the consequences of his mission, as his agony in the garden would later show.  He was committed, and nothing or no one would deter him — including a fox like Herod.

Elsewhere in the gospels Jesus showed a grudging respect for those who were knowledgeable in the ways of the world.  In one parable he spoke of an unethical steward who was not above forgiving those in debt to his master — in hopes of buying grace for himself.  He also cited those who rushed to the seats of honor at banquets.  That was sometimes unwise, but at least they too were willing to risk something (including embarrassment), because the rewards could justify it.  Common to all of these people was the grim determination to claw their way to the top, no matter the price.  That singleminded quest was something that Jesus could admire, even if the goals were unworthy.  So it was that he urged his disciples to be as cunning as serpents and as innocent as doves — which I’ve always thought to be a rather odd combination.

img_0131What in the world is Jesus thinking here?  It seems to me that what really irks Jesus are wishy-washy people who hesitate to risk anything at all.  The fence-sitters who take no chances go through life with few if any bruises, but they also have little or nothing to show for their minimal investment.  They live on the naive assumption that sitting on the sidelines is always the wisest course, never quite realizing that life is not a spectator sport.

Jesus wants more from anyone who would be his disciple.  Just as his Father asked of him the supreme sacrifice, so he asked his disciples to go to the ends of the earth.  He acted;  they acted;  and he expects us to act as well.  He suffered;  his disciples suffered;  and so his followers should realize that success doesn’t always come delivered on a silver platter.  The achievement of anything of consequence requires risk, but such is the reward of a life well-lived.

And why did Jesus let slip some pedestrian language every now and again?  I think Luke included it just to remind his readers that Jesus speaks our language too.  It’s nice to orate in high-minded phrases, but when push comes to shove, Jesus is more than ready to talk our talk.  He’s ready to be blunt;  he’s capable of using slang;  and he’s more than happy to chatter away in the language of our choosing.  That’s what he came to do.

img_0134Notes

+From 25 through 30 October I participated in the annual retreat of the Subpriory of Our Lady of Philermo of the Order of Malta.  As has been the custom, the retreat took place at San Damiano Retreat House in Danville, CA, and I have included several photos of the site in today’s post.  It’s located high on a hill (or small mountain) with amazing views.  It is run by the Franciscans, who are always good hosts.  Coincidentally I discovered from our junior monk, Brother Aidan, that he had once lived and gone to high school in Danville.

This year we used as the focus for our discussions a book by Sherry A. Weddell, entitled Forming Intentional Disciples.  A friend of mine from Minneapolis had recommended it to me, and it turned out to be surprisingly stimulating for discussion.  It has the virtue of being written in clear and energetic language; and it’s not overly long, for those who worry about such things.

img_0133On Sunday the 30th our newest member in the Subpriory, Jon Rewinski, made his promise of Obedience in the Order of Malta.  Jon and his family now live in Los Angeles, but we first met ages ago when we were both students at Yale.  It’s been nice to renew on the west coast a friendship that began on the east coast.

+I and many others were naturally saddened by the recent earthquake in Umbria in Italy, and especially because it destroyed the basilica of the Abbey of Norcia.  The monastery is on the site where tradition says that Saint Benedict was born, and I have taken groups to visit there twice.  I also count one of the monks as a friend.  On the plus side, the monks had vacated the site after the earthquake in August had weakened the structure.  But this tremor finished off the 14th-century church, and now only the facade remains.  I’m not sure to where the monks will relocate, but at least they are all safe.

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img_3580Called to be Pharisees?

I’m sure the Pharisees never set out to be the bad guys of 1st-century Judaism.  But here we are, two thousand years later, and scarcely anyone has a good thing to say about them.  Is there anything anyone can do to rehabilitate their public image?

On the positive side, the Pharisees are a reminder of the diversity within 1st-century Judaism, just as 21st-century Judaism has its own diversity of tradition and interpretation. For their part, the Pharisees emphasized the importance of an ethical life — which I’ve always considered to be a good thing.  They were observant in the law, and to a certain extent they represented a relational rather than a mechanistic approach to God.  On this they were on pretty much the same page as Jesus.  Like Jesus they contended that God preferred upright behavior over the sacrifice of bullocks and goats and birds.  Conversion of life was prized over burnt offerings; and here the Pharisees — like Jesus — parted company from those who managed the temple and its daily sacrifices.

That shared perspective may explain why Jesus was so critical of the Pharisees.  It wasn’t that Jesus thought they were wrong when compared to the keepers of the temple.   Rather, the Pharisees were right, but they just weren’t completely right.  So it was that both Jesus and Paul parted company from a group which had come so close but didn’t follow through to the logical conclusion.

img_3621Jesus may have had much in common with the Pharisees, but he found fault with them on at least two important items.  In Sunday’s gospel passage (Luke 18: 9-14) Jesus took the Pharisees to task for their haughtiness, because they exalted themselves in the eyes of others.  In contrast to the tax-collector who humbly admitted his sinfulness, the pride of the Pharisee blinded him to his own faults.  The result?  He logically concluded that he was far superior to the hordes of people who stumbled daily in their religious observance.

Secondly, Jesus called the Pharisees on the carpet for their lack of mercy for those less observant than they.  Pharisees added to the religious burden of others, but in fact they had chosen the high ground for themselves.  They devised rules that were easier for themselves but more difficult if not impossible for others.  They then turned around to condemn the others for their failure.  As Jesus pointed, they made burdens for others to carry, but they were not willing to help others to carry those burdens.

img_3593What the Pharisees seem to have forgotten is that it is God who initiates everything, and it is God alone who redeems.  That redemption is never self-derived, even if you are a Pharisee.  So it is that neither a herd of bulls sacrificed on an altar nor the strictest daily practice will seal the deal with God.  Redemption is a gift from God, and anything we do is merely a response to God’s generosity.

Yet another reason why Jesus is so tough on the Pharisees shouldn’t come as a surprise to any of us.  The Pharisees may have been a distinct party within 1st-century Judaism, but the inclination to be a Pharisee is the sort of behavior that is latent within each of us.  Every now and again we all imagine that the good we do will somehow earn points with God, and God will have to honor those points when we turn up to cash them in at the end of our lives.  The good we do can also tempt us to compare ourselves with others.  It allows us to mouth that self-justifying question:  “Why can’t others do even half the things I am doing for God?  If people only knew all the good I do for humanity!”

img_3627But it doesn’t work that way, because God plays by a different rule book.  The good we do is a sign that the Holy Spirit is at work within us.  The good we do is an answer to God’s call and gift of grace.  It’s the response we give to the vocation that God has crafted and given to each of us.  So it is that the good we do is actually an expression of our discipleship to Jesus Christ.

When you boil it all down, I think there’s a huge advantage for us to play by God’s rule book rather than our own.  As crypto-Pharisees we can do all sorts of good deeds, but at the end of the day we always have to wonder whether we should have done more.  By God’s rules, however, we’re spared that doubt.  God loves us despite the fact that we could never have done enough.  Does that mean that the Lord loves us in spite of ourselves?  No.  It only means that the Lord loves us because of ourselves, warts and all.

img_3647Notes

+On 23 October we celebrated the feast of the dedication of the abbey church, which was blessed fifty-five years ago.  Some seventy-five friends of the abbey joined us for Mass and a luncheon; and afterward Brother David-Paul Lange gave a wonderful presentation on the renovation of the Breuer wing of the monastery as well as plans for the preservation of the abbey church.

+Autumn is my favorite time of the year at Saint John’s, and on these days I especially like to take the outside route to get from my room to the church for evening prayer.  At that time of day it is nearly dark, and the cold crisp air is exhilarating — at least to me.  Visitors to campus also notice that the fall colors are in their last hurrah, and many if not most of the leaves have fallen.  Today’s photos are evidence of that.

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img_0012_2“Pray Always”:  An Impossible Command?

There’s a section in The Rule of Saint Benedict which usually comes as a surprise to novices in the monastery.  In it Benedict deals with the all-too-human conundrum that’s bound to happen in any monastic community.  In brief, Benedict wonders about the moment when the abbot asks impossible things of a monk.  What’s the monk to do?

Naturally there’s no easy answer to this, but I’ve always felt that Benedict’s sympathies fell with the monk who’s stuck in such a predicament.  All the monk can really do is to do his best and to hope for the best.  Being more practical myself, I would add one bit of counsel to Benedict’s sage advice.  If patience is a virtue, this may be one of those times when it can be a good strategy.  A patient monk can hope that the abbot will eventually forget what he had commanded.  And in the extreme, a young monk can rely on the passing of the years, which could very well leave him the last man standing.  Problem solved.

In the gospel of Luke Jesus seems to be asking one of these impossible things.  He tells the apostles to “pray always without becoming weary” (18: 1), and it must have left the disciples wondering.  It’s all well and good to speak those words if you’re the Son of God, but mere mortals like the disciples had a lot on their minds.  And it was not beyond their notice that even Jesus took time out to eat and sleep and to do all the other things that round out people’s waking hours.  Worse still, the disciples too must have realized the distractions that crowd the human mind, especially if you’re trying to pray.  Was Jesus setting the disciples up for a fall?  Was he asking the impossible of them?

img_0021_2Part of the problem of the command to “pray always” is that most of us are not at all convinced that it’s such a great idea.  Some of us have to go to work.   Some of us think it’s really important to concentrate while we’re behind the wheel on the highway.  Some of us have to deal attentively with other people — at least once in a while.  Wouldn’t it be better to reserve quality time for prayer at less critical slots during the day?  And do we really have to do it ALWAYS?

The good news is that Jesus never expected us to spend the whole day on our knees in prayer.  Nor does he expect us to pass the entire day, day after day, reading the Bible.  Nor does he expect us to spend our time in formal worship, ceaselessly.  Thankfully, I don’t think Jesus meant to speak literally when he asked the disciples to pray like this always, without growing weary.

What I think Jesus did have in mind, however, was an expression of prayer in which we consecrate the entirety of our lives to God.  In practice this means that there is no aspect of our lives that is off-limits to God.  Nor can we restrict God to certain gaps in our schedule, such as an hour on Sunday or the occasional fifteen minutes for a session of morning prayer.

Nor can we block off our work from a divine connection.  In practice this means that our work must be honest, done with integrity, and done with an eye to the benefit that it ultimately provides other people.  We must have a sense of mission about our work and do it well, because our work is an expression of who we really are.

img_0016_2The same goes with time spent with friends or in personal time out.  None of this can be cordoned off from God, because it’s all part of a full life lived well.  Such a life is always lived in the shadow of the Almighty, and we can’t reserve big chunks of it as if it were nobody’s business but our own.

Given that perspective, we begin to appreciate what Jesus is asking of his disciples.  Prayer then is surrender to God who has given us the gift of life, and prayer is the expression of the fulness of our lives.  Prayer means more than turning to God when the going gets tough.  Prayer is also the expression of joy and contentment and striving to better ourselves.  Prayer is the admission of God into our lives, in good times and in bad.

Finally, I think it’s important to own up to one item about praying always that intimidates most of us.  If we pray always, don’t we run the risk of sacrificing our distinct personalities?  Won’t God smother us if we pray always?  Could all this lead to a complete denial of self in which we fade into oblivion? By no means.

img_0018_2The goal of prayer is not to obliterate ourselves.  In prayer God neither destroys our identity nor our freedom to act.  On the contrary, God does promise to give us the strength to achieve far more than we could possibly achieve if left to our own devices.

In a nutshell, “praying always” sounds like a frightening command until we realize that God has absolutely no intention of wrecking or stifling our lives.  God merely wants to partner with us as we strive both to flourish and to meet the challenges that come our way.  Given the occasional ferocity of some of those challenges, I think I prefer to have the Lord walking alongside me, rather than me walking all alone.

“Praying always” is not such a fearsome command after all.  It’s nothing more and nothing less than the consecration of our lives to God, in the hope that God who has begun such good work in us will see it through to completion.  And with a little bit of patience, and just a little bit of insight, we might very well begin to see the finger prints of God in our lives.  They’re there, whether we take the time to notice them or not.

img_0023_2Notes

+On October 11th I attended a dinner in San Francisco, put on by the Order of Malta.  It was the annual fund-raiser for the Order’s free clinic at the Oakland Cathedral, but it also honored a very good friend of many year’s standing, Dr. Robert Stein.  He and his wife, Helen-Mary, have been very supportive in introducing me to the work of the Western Association of the Order of Malta.

+On 13 October I attended the opening reception of an exhibit of original folios of The Saint John’s Bible, hosted by the Oklahoma City Museum of Art.  Since Oklahoma City is my home town, it gave me a chance to see spots I’d not seen in quite some time.  That included driving by the hospital where I was born.  The exhibit will continue through the end of the year, and in November I will return to give a lecture at the Museum.

+On 14-16 October I gave a retreat to members of the American Association of the Order of Malta.  The retreat took place at Mundelein Seminary, outside of Chicago.

img_0015_2+A few years ago I had the opportunity to visit the town of Norcia in Umbria, in Italy.  The monastery there is built on the site of Saint Benedict’s family home, and our group had the opportunity to tour the church and ruins, as well as attend Mass.  We also had time to explore the quaint and lovely town.  Unfortunately the monastery and town suffered significant damage in the recent earthquake, and for a while the monks have had to relocate to Rome until repairs could be made to make the monastery safe once again.

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img_3559One More Marvel in Our Eyes

All of us end up doing a few things that in a million years we never imagined for ourselves.  Many, if not most of these, land in the positive column and fall under the biblical heading of “a marvel for our eyes.”  Such was the case when I was privileged to speak a year ago from the pulpit of the First Baptist Church in Jefferson City, TN.  The church serves both its congregation as well as the students of Carson-Newman University, and I was there to speak on The Saint John’s Bible.  It was a happy experience, and I remember my time there fondly.

I describe it as an “improbable” event, because as a kid growing up in Oklahoma City I anticipated neither becoming a monk nor speaking from the pulpit of a Southern Baptist church.  In those days the Catholic population of my hometown was 3%, Episcopalians were 2%, and Lutherans were 1%.  In the context of the times, I’m confident that my Episcopal and Lutheran playmates –who were likewise scarce as hen’s teeth — also harbored no such ambitions for themselves.

Last week I returned to Carson-Newman to take part in the dedication of their gallery which will house both the Heritage Edition of The Saint John’s Bible and a fine collection of artifacts from the ancient Near East.  It was a lovely two-day event, and among the guests were Donald Jackson, the director of The Saint John’s Bible, and Michael Hemesath, the president of Saint John’s University.  Since we are constructing our own Bible gallery at Saint John’s, curiosity was one reason that drove us to see exactly what they had done.  It was well worth the trip.

img_3547On 31 October 2017, Christians in the West will begin a commemoration of the Reformation, an event that has divided them for 499 years.  On the eve of All Saints’ Day in 1517 Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses to the church door of the castle in Wittenberg, and that action unleashed a torrent of debate and conflict that endured for hundreds of years.  Only in our lifetime have the passions subsided enough to realize that what we share as Christians transcends the many items over which we disagree.

When we began work on The Saint John’s Bible we did so knowing full well that monks and Christians had made such Bibles for hundreds of years, but monks hadn’t made one in the last five hundred.  In the Middle Ages the very act of making a Bible from scratch defined what it meant to be both civilized and Christian, and we wanted to replicate the experience.  We hoped too that it would remind Catholics of the centrality of the Bible in our theology, spirituality and worship.  We also intended to make the point that, like our evangelical neighbors, Catholics and mainline Protestants were biblically-based.  There was no harm in pointing out what we all shared as Christians, and our hopes have scarcely been disappointed.

As Christians have begun to anticipate the 500th anniversary of Luther’s action, people have struggled over the verb that should best-describe our observance of the event.  Do we celebrate?  Do we atone?  Do we mark it with indifference, as if it were just one more historical date to memorize for tests?  Do we note it with regret?  Do we emphasize our continued separation or our gradual movement toward each other?  From my vantage, I think all these should be factored in.  But no one’s asked for my views, as of yet.

img_3573Still, if we fail to note how far we’ve come in the last two generations, then we forget that quite possibly it is the Lord who has quietly accomplished this.  On a micro level, the mere thought that a Bible commissioned by an abbey of Benedictine monks might someday rest in a place of honor in the library of a Southern Baptist university has to count as a marvel in our eyes.  The fact that Catholics and Baptists can together give thanks for the Word of God is testimony to the Spirit of God stirring in our midst.

It’s also important to appreciate this one event for what it is not.  It is not an isolated instance in which a few Baptists and Catholics swam against the tide to build a wonderful relationship that’s based on faith.  In fact, it’s part of a larger and longer story that stretches back to events that long-preceded World War II and the advent of warmer ecumenical relations.  This common awareness of a shared faith in Jesus Christ is something that has been developing slowly.  It’s happened under the radar and beyond the coverage of the blaring headlines.  But it’s happened nonetheless, and we should cherish it as a sign of hope.

img_3556It’s easy to turn on the news or open the papers and conclude that our world is headed over the cliff and that there’s little we can do to prevent it.  Worse still, it’s easy to look at all that chaos and justify our own inaction.  But despair and sitting on our hands would be a mistake.

In fact, there’s lots we can do, starting with mutual respect for the people whom we run into each and every day.  From our reading of Genesis we believe that God created each and every one of us in his image — be they Protestant or Catholic or Orthodox, be they Jew or Muslim, or be they people of little or no faith at all.  It’s a joy — if even a puzzling joy — to know that God expects progress as we try and live in this belief.  But we can do it, and we can do it in the confidence that the Lord is there to help us, every step of the way.

At least for me, and I hope for lots of others, this too counts as one of the great marvels in our eyes.  It’s yet one more sign that life itself is one continuous miracle.

img_0121Notes

+On October 3rd I presided at the Mass at Saint John’s Abbey.  Who is My Neighbor? is linked to the short homily that I delivered that day.

+On 5-6 October I took part in the dedication events for The Lynn and Lydsey Denton Gallery on the campus of Carson-Newman University in Jefferson City, TN.  I had a great time and once again enjoyed their warm hospitality.  Still, my one regret was that I was too early for the fall colors.  It’s a gorgeous landscape, sitting at the edge of the Great Smoky Mountains.

+The pictures in today’s post illustrate how late we are with the fall colors at Saint John’s.  The photo at the bottom illustrates a portion of the gallery at Carson-Newman University.

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img_3433The Reward of Discipleship

Several days ago I preached on Luke 8: 16-18, and it’s a passage that ends with some words that some might find disturbing.  It reads thus:  “Then pay attention to how you listen; for to those who have, more will be given; and from those who do not have, even what they seem to have will be taken away.”

There you have it — just the sort of thing that would make a six-year-old scream that “it’s just not fair!”  And in my own jaded reading, I’m tempted to agree.   This verse suggests that Jesus too believed that life was unfair.  Worse still, if this is what Jesus really believed, then it puts the lie to the Beatitudes, where Jesus offered at least some shred of hope to those who have so little.  So what exactly is Jesus trying to do here?  Does he mean to drive the poor into despair, while the rich cry all the way to the bank?

An appreciation of this passage depends a lot on whether you take a materialistic approach to its interpretation.  Thankfully, most experts believe that Jesus was speaking about neither capitalism nor matters of social justice.  Rather, he was talking about the spirit in which people approach life.  If they are generous with their gifts and talents, then they very likely will discover a personal capacity that they had scarcely imagined about themselves.  Conversely, those who are afraid to test the limits of their gifts and talents run the risk of having little or nothing to show for their lives.

img_3468That’s how I developed the sermon, and I concluded with this note.  Life is filled with risk, but perhaps the biggest risk is to give without any assurance that our efforts will make a bit of difference to anyone.  That’s the most challenging thing in the world to do, and I think that’s what Jesus had in mind when he offered this bit of wisdom.

At the end of Mass one woman came up to thank me for my thoughts.  She and her husband had recently completed ten years of service in a project that had demanded a great deal of time and energy.  Appearances to the contrary, it had required not a little grit as they butted up against a culture that ran counter to what inspired them.  Had any of their efforts mattered?  Had they accomplished anything in the course of ten  years?  Would their contribution of time and talent evaporate the minute they left the property?

These issues confront us all, and not just those who commit themselves to some major charitable projects.  Parents realize this instinctively as they raise their children.  Who knows what kids will turn out to be when they grow up?  What teachers don’t worry about what will become of the students sitting in front of them?  What mentors don’t wonder whether their efforts will make any sort of difference?

img_3469These anxieties trouble all of us, and we wonder whether we should have bothered to do anything in the first place.  Worse still, the instances when our efforts accomplished little or nothing sow further doubts.  Should we ever risk anything again?

These questions now haunted this woman and her husband, and they had become almost depressed about the whole thing.  But my words had suggested a way out of their emotional conundrum.

I’d not fashioned my sermon to deal with such practical experiences, but this woman made real to me the challenges that all of us face in the course of life.  How many times do we have the chance to give of ourselves and yet shrink back because we’re not sure of the results?  What if people take advantage of our generosity?  What if people remain unchanged, and our efforts go for naught?  These questions confront all thoughtful people as they risk stepping out of their comfort zone for the sake of others.

img_3524These are the moments when we need to recall to mind the suddenly sensible words of Jesus.  Self-giving can never be reduced to a contractual relationship with the people we help.  Service can never involve a quid pro quo in which we demand specific results from our kids or our students or anybody else whom we help.  All we really have a right to ask is that someday these people will make the right choices in life, just as we’ve been given that same chance.

Two things strike me as good takeaways from all of this.  First of all, giving of ourselves makes the world a better place.  That’s true whether our efforts yield no results at all or spectacular results.  If we don’t risk ourselves, then we can rest assured that nothing will ever happen.  If we do risk something, then there’s at least some chance of a good outcome, even if it isn’t exactly what we had in mind.

Second, in Luke 8 Jesus did not promise that our efforts would  transform the world.  He promised nothing of the sort.  All Jesus promised was that our efforts would transform us. That, after all, is both the cost and the reward of discipleship.

img_3519Notes

+On September 26th I attended the annual meeting of the Friends of the Malta Center at the Hill Museum & Manuscript Library at Saint John’s University.  The Center has been involved in the preservation of documents relating to the history of the Order of Malta, and today HMML has more of such material than any repository outside of Malta.  The Center has been involved in this work for 40+ years and continues to digitize various collections as well as build its own collections of resources.  Among other topics, we discussed current work of the Center at the Cathedral library and museum in Mdina, on the island of Malta.  Since the middle ages Mdina has been the seat of the archbishops of Malta.  It was the medieval capital of Malta, and was only eclipsed with the construction of the Knights’ capital of Valletta in the  17th century.  The city and cathedral in Mdina have a wonderful charm, as this gallery link suggests.

img_3422+On September 27th I hosted my friends John and Jack during a brief visit to Saint John’s University.  Together, John and Jack and I have been working to establish a scholarship program at Saint John’s for graduates of Immokalee High School, which is located outside of Naples, FL.  The photo shows John and Jack with the first four students at Saint John’s from Immokalee.  If you care to learn more about this project and how you could help, please email me at the blog  email address in the box marked “Contact the author.”

+On September 29th I gave three talks on The Saint John’s Bible at Xavier University in Cincinnati.  I had a delightful time, not least because I got to page through one of my favorite books, The Nuremberg Chronicles, printed in the late 15th century.  It is housed in the special collections department in the University library.

+This last weekend in Minnesota it was absolutely stunning weather-wise, and I enjoyed daily walks around campus.  As the enclosed photos illustrate the autumn colors have been slow to arrive.  Included among the photos is one of the new footbridge, which was blessed by Abbot John last week.  It was also a great weekend to contemplate the beauty of Lake Sagatagan, over which the Abbey looks.

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