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Posts Tagged ‘Saint John’s Bible’

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We Are People of he Resurrection

“If Jesus Christ died and rose from the dead, then nothing else matters.  And if Jesus Christ died and did not rise, then nothing else matters.”

So wrote Jaroslav Pelikan, and his application of logic to the life of Jesus has profound implications for the direction of our lives.  Believe in him or not, Jesus was one of the central figures of human history.  But for Christians Jesus is more than an historical figure.  He is in fact the central figure of our lives.

I fist met Professor Pelikan when I was in college, and he was already an eminent historian at Yale.  The occasion was an appearance he made alongside Cardinal Leo Suenens of Belgium, and together they made for a striking duo in the gothic sanctuary of Riverside Church in New York.  In his red robes Suenens contrasted sharply with virtually everybody else;  but it was Pelikan who dazzled me.  During the exchange that followed their talks, someone posed a question to Pelikan.  Without a moment’s hesitation Pelikan referenced a Czech theologian, whom he quoted at length, without notes, in Czech.  Then and there I decided that someday I would study with that man.

6862A6D6-A078-4157-8421-30AA5D90AFCAYears later Pelikan was the main reader for my dissertation and, true to his sense of the dramatic moment, he announced at a dinner in the Great Hall at Saint John’s that he had signed off on my work two days earlier.  It was an energizing moment for me, as you can imagine.  But that gesture underscored for me how important people can be in our lives.  Be they teachers, parents or friends, we do not walk this earth alone.  Such people are gifts from God to us.

I’ve often mulled over Pelikan’s words on the resurrection, not just for what they say about Jesus, but for what they say about us.  If Jesus did die and rise for us, then each one of us has intrinsic value.  As sons and daughters of God, each one of us matters, and each of us is a gift sent to our brothers and sisters to accomplish something important.

So the upshot of all this should be life-changing.  If Jesus Christ did die and rise from the dead, then nothing else matters.  That means that God loves each of us and to each of our brothers and sisters you and I are a gift.  It’s an extraordinary vocation that the Lord has given us, and nothing else matters.

30B89EBF-7CD3-4198-8FF7-557F02A55148Notes

+Not surprisingly, I did not leave the abbey grounds last week.  However, I am learning once again to appreciate the value of Benedictine stability and claustral life in the monastery, though the first couple of weeks away from the airports did not come easily.  Now I’m getting used to it and have enjoyed the chance to go for long walks on the abbey grounds.

+On April 8th my dear friend Fra Carl Noelke passed away suddenly, though not unexpectedly.  Fra Carl was a Knight of Justice, that is, a member in the Order of Malta who had professed religious vows of poverty, chastity and obedience.  To look at Fra Carl’s face was to get a glimpse of the beatific vision, and he was a joy to be with.  He was widely respected within the Order, and all who knew him will miss him dearly.

On April 11th I led the Office of the Dead for Fra Carl, which we conducted via Zoom.  Ca. 60 of us joined together, and participants included members of the Order in Rome, Paris and London, across the United States, and in New Zealand.  Given my total lack of technical expertise, we were fortunate to have someone other than me to manage the entire exercise.  Following the service individuals were able to offer their personal tributes in memory of Fra Carl.  All in all it was a remarkable experience.  Fra Carl practiced law in San Francisco and was a member of the Bohemian Club, to which he contributed his deep booming voice.  He will be buried in his hometown of LaCrosse, WI.

+One of the surprises of the Triduum was the installation of an icon painted by our confrere, Fr. Nathanael Hauser.  At 7×12 feet it is certainly large, and it almost did not fit through the door of his studio.  It sits above the Abbot’s throne and dominates the space.  The last two photos in today’s post show an icon by Aidan Hart, commissioned for Saint John’s Abbey.  Aidan did significant work in The Saint John’s Bible.

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A New Age of Hermits

Not since the 11th century have so many people opted to become hermits.  Back then hermitages and communities of solitaries dotted the landscape of Europe.  Today, however, we have whole cities of hermits, and suburbs are filled with single people living in homes designed for families.  The result?  For some it’s unintended isolation.  For others it’s loneliness

I’m not the one to explain all of this, but sociologists note the changes, at least in America.  The fact is, people have been retreating into the safety of their dens for decades.  Fewer people join clubs and other social organizations.  Church attendance is down; malls close for lack of customers; and people would crawl into their laptops and cell phones if they could.  And when they do participate in something, it’s something big, like massive sporting events or mega churches.  In such places it’s much easier to protect their anonymity.

95799A87-C199-4C66-B4DE-948FB58DB632In light of all this,  I do offer one observation.  It puts a strain on our ability to develop social skills.  Those, after all, require practice if they are going to blossom and flourish.

In his Rule for Monks Saint Benedict allowed that the best kind of monk is the hermit.  But when we read the entirety of his Rule it’s clear that he pushes in the opposite direction.  He skews everything toward the creation of a healthy and vibrant community.  All is geared toward the respect and nurture of neighbor.  It’s the neighbor that brings out the best — and the worst — in us; and without the presence of that neighbor personal growth is much harder.

In Matthew 5:16 Jesus says that our light must shine before others, and obviously that requires some sort of community.  But of even greater significance is this:  the gifts God gives us ought not be stashed away or placed under a basket.  When we hide our talents no one benefits, and that includes the owner of the talents.  Rather, gifts given to one are gifts meant to be shared.  Only then will we grow.

45B503C8-1293-400D-8F11-B4DFB52F3B0ASharing gifts and talents requires effort on our part.  It takes gumption to show up regularly for activities that build relationships and communities.  It takes initiative to reach out to others.  For some it requires real effort to overcome the urge to live totally private lives.

Ironically, we only fool ourselves if we think we can live totally private lives.  If we rely on others for food, for safety, or for any sort of emotional support, then we owe all those people a debt of gratitude.  We in fact live in community with them.

The words of Jesus offer us a challenge.  Will our experience of community be minimalist — one in which neither we nor others see what gifts we have to offer?  Or will we take any sort of risk to reach out to others?

Jesus commanded the paralytic to pick up his mat and walk.  In less elegant language he asks each of us to get up off our bottoms and make some little difference in our community.

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+On February 5th former president of Colombia and Nobel Peace Prize winner Juan Manuel Santos arrived at Saint John’s for a two-day residence.  In the course of his visit he delivered the 13th annual Eugene J. McCarthy Lecture, and he met with faculty, staff and students at various luncheons and receptions.

+On February 7th I met with Novice Felix for the first of a series of classes that will address the history of the Benedictine tradition.  In this first class we reviewed The Saint John’s Bible — a project I’ve been involved in for what seems like forever.

+Later that day I drove to LaCrosse, WI, with one of my colleagues, where we attended a vigil service for the mother of one of our alumni.

+While in Washington DC recently I had the opportunity to visit one of my favorite haunts, The National Gallery.  There I saw an amazing exhibit of the work of Alonso Berruguete, a 16th-century sculptor who worked in Castile.  Son of an artist, a visit to Italy where he saw the work of Michelangelo was pivotal in his development.  The works on display are part of a retable that Berruguete created for the Benedictine abbey of San Benito Real in Valladolid, Spain.  I find his work just amazing in its originality and emotion, particularly the figure of Jesus at top.  Below that is the figure of Abraham, about to sacrifice his son Isaac.  Tap on the photo to enlarge and savor the anguish on the face of Abraham.  Next comes John the Baptist, and at bottom is a section of his Adoration of the Magi.

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Advent:  Not Just for Winter

“It is the hour now for you to wake from sleep.”  (Romans 13: 11)

Every now and again it hits me that the liturgical calendar was made to order for people living in the Northern Hemisphere.  Easter and the resurrection of Jesus align rather nicely with the flourish of new life in springtime.  Advent by contrast gets its oomph from the approach of winter and the longest nights of the year.

Now disconnect those experiences for people living in the Southern Hemisphere and you appreciate the challenge.  How do Australians digest Advent readings that evoke dark days and deep sleep as they’re driving off to the beach for a day in the sun?  I honestly don’t know how they do that, and were it not so far away I’d be willing to go and find out for myself.  But then I’d miss out on the idyllic Advent weather that we have in Minnesota.

3A22527F-F91D-47D4-814E-FA2615F7E295It’s nice that the climate can reinforce the readings of Advent for those of us living in the northern half of the planet.  However, the word of God was meant for people of all ages, living in all sorts of climates, and spread across an array of geographies.  So it is that we cannot relegate to the summertime Isaiah’s invitation to “walk in the light of the Lord” (Is 2:5).  And when Jesus urges his disciples to “stay awake” in Matthew 24: 42 he’s not talking about the urge to nap on a long winter’s day.  No, in both cases the passages encourage readers to get a grip on their lives and make the most of each and every opportunity to live in the light of the Lord — all the year round.

Without pushing it too far, Advent is much more than a segment in the march of the liturgical calendar.  Advent is a not-so-subtle reminder that we can drift away from the Lord in virtually any season or on any day of the week.  It can happen over the course of half a lifetime or in the space of a few minutes on a summer afternoon.  When that does occur we’ve given up on an anchor that can give stability and meaning.  Absent that meaning we wonder about the direction of our lives.  In the process we shut our eyes to those unique chance encounters with Christ.

So what are we to do in response to the call to be alert — always?  Well, first of all it involves a leap of faith.  It also includes an awareness of the principles by which we choose to live.  Are there ideals for which we strive?  Are there boundaries over which we will not step?  These are the qualities that make us noble in the master plan of God, and this is the fruit of the self-awareness to which Jesus invites us.

Of equal importance is the need to be opportunistic.  By that I don’t mean that we take advantage of others every chance we get.  No, this opportunism looks for the encounter with God at every turn.  It requires we be alert not just for a few minutes or for a day, but for all of Advent if necessary.  The good news of the gospel is that the Lord won’t keep us waiting for very long.  Quite possibly around every corner and on the other side of every door we’ll see the face of Christ.

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+In my first year at Saint John’s the first snow of the winter arrived on Thanksgiving Day.  Ever since then I’ve thought of Thanksgiving as the official start of winter, though I also accept that winter reserves the right to show up whenever it wants.  This year’s first big snow came a few days earlier, and the snows are here for the long haul.  Now every trip by car requires extra time to brush and scrape off the snow.

+While we enjoyed the winter landscape over Thanksgiving in the monastery, the University’s football team flew off to Orange County, CA, where I presume there was no snow.  There it won its playoff game against Chapman University.  By coincidence I spoke at Chapman last year, and it happens to own a copy of the Heritage Edition of The Saint John’s Bible.

+Over Thanksgiving I finished a book that took me a while to get through, and which I found fascinating.  William Dalrymple is a prolific author, with an interest in India.  Several years ago we read in the monastery refectory his book From the Holy Mountain: A Journey in the Shadow of Byzantium, and we enjoyed it.  I read a review of his newest book in the Wall Street Journal, got it, and then spent weeks of spare time getting through it.  The Anarchy:  The East India Company, Corporate Violence, and the Pillage of an Empire, details the history of the East India Company.  It’s the story of a corporation that conquered a rich empire, systematically looted it, and left it impoverished.  Appalled by the atrocities, the British government nationalized the company in the 19th century, and so began the British Raj in India.  Dalrymple’s work is a good read, though the flood of unfamiliar Mughal and Indian names left me dizzy now and again.

+At the top of today’s post is a photo of the Advent wreath in the abbey church, and below that is the view we monks see as we process from the cloister into the church for prayer.  The Annunciation (ca. 1490) is by the French artist Jean Hey, and is housed at the Art Institute in Chicago.  Like so much of religious art of the time, the artist made no attempt to portray the scene as it may have looked in the 1st century, and as a result such renditions are often replete with wonderful historical anachronisms.  In this case, Mary prays from a book, even though the artist knew good and well that Jewish sacred texts were scrolls.  Even more curious is the painting of her son Jesus that Mary has hanging over her bed.  Artistically it makes the important statement that Mary’s life points to Jesus.  Please click on the photo for a closer look.  Finally, at bottom is a view into the courtyard of the east cloister walk of the abbey church.  Winter is here to stay.

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We Are God’s Building

I have to admit that I find it easier to get worked up about some feasts more than others. Christmas and Easter obviously attract.  On the other hand, lesser saints challenge my interest, though I’m always intrigued by some of the more arcane monastic saints.  Who doesn’t find the feast day of Saints Odo, Odilo, Maiulus, Hugh and Peter the Venerable not exciting?  Well maybe not a lot of people do, but I for one feel like I know them like old friends.  They were the five long-lived medieval abbots of Cluny in France.

Still, testing the limits of my enthusiasm are feasts that celebrate furniture — like the Chair of Saint Peter — and the dedication of buildings.  That said, I do make exceptions, and my favorite is the dedication of Saint John Lateran, which we celebrated on November 9th.  It’s a building, of course, and it’s in Rome.  But beyond that I have always felt a bit sorry for it, simply because it does not get the respect it deserves.

15A0A072-524B-4372-8506-5735992A2F90Why does it deserve better?  Well, for one thing it is the seat of the bishop of Rome, someone who also carries the title of pope.  Most people believe that Saint Peter’s is the presiding church in Rome, but in this case most people would be wrong.  Saint John Lateran heads the diocese of Rome, and all of its administrative offices have been there for centuries, and they still are.

Hands down Saint Peters draws more visitors than Saint John, but those who do visit Saint John are rewarded with a glimpse of a complex filled with history.  Originally an imperial palace, Emperor Constantine in the 330’s gave a boost to the local Christian community by building a massive basilica on the site.  It had the look and feel and size of an imperial basilica, as was fitting for a space meant to be the home of the Christian community of Rome.  It was not intended to be a place for a parish community, however, so modesty was not one of the goals in its construction.  It was meant to impress an entire city.  It asserted that after nearly three hundred years of persecution the Church was there to stay.

8F787189-70BA-4DF7-8D7C-EA4F6347D971Saint John Lateran has hosted five church councils (three more than the Vatican) and it’s seen fires and all kinds of change through the centuries.  But the interior still has the feel of an ancient basilica, and it has one surprise that Saint Peter’s lacks, a wonderful medieval cloister.

Sadly, most visitors are in too much of a hurry to venture through an unobtrusive door into the cloister, but those who do discover a stunningly beautiful and serene space.  Those precincts housed the community of Benedictine monks who served pilgrims for centuries.  The monks are long gone, but thankfully the cloister has survived generations of modernizers.  Not so fortunate was the old Saint Peter’s, which Pope Julius II had the temerity to pull down in the early 1500s.

A visit to Saint John Lateran conjures up an extraordinary history, but what it does best is remind tourists of the people who have entered its doors as pilgrims and as participants in grand liturgies through the centuries.  It is precisely for this reason that we should recall the second reading from the feast of the dedication of Saint John Lateran when we enter these monuments to faith.  In I Corinthians 3:9 Paul reminds us that we always have to maintain a proper perspective when we behold such stunning edifices.  “Brothers and sisters, you are God’s building.”

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+This was an exceptionally busy week for me, and one which I will not repeat any time soon.  It began with a talk on The Saint John’s Bible that I delivered on November 5th at Marian University in Indianapolis, IN.

+On November 7th I spoke at Baylor University in Waco, TX.  This visit had special significance for me, since my father was born a few miles to the south in the village of Westphalia, TX.  My grandparents and great-grandparents are buried in that area, and our twice-yearly visits meant that we drove by Baylor on the way to see them.  I have absolutely no doubt that my grandparents would be stunned to know that I had spoken there.

+On November 8-10 I gave a retreat to members of the Lancaster PA area of the Federal Association of the Order of Malta.  I had given their retreat last year as well, and I enjoyed the return.  But it capped a busy week, and the last of my major commitments of the fall semester.

+The photos in today’s post show the apse of the basilica of Saint John Lateran and perspectives from the cloister where the monastic community lived in the Middle Ages.

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We are Called to Be Artists

Last week I visited Joslyn Art Museum in Omaha to give an encore of a talk I’d given there years earlier.  In 2006 the museum had hosted a major exhibit of folios from The Saint John’s Bible, and by any measure the attendance of 70,000 people made it a success.  And while I would not dare to attribute any of its success to the lecture I gave during its opening, at least I didn’t scare that many people away.

Last week I spoke once again to the Friends and docents of the museum, and I enjoyed being back.  As in 2006 the exhibit of folios is well-staged, but it is quite different from its earlier incarnation.  In 2006 we had folios from the first three volumes of The Saint John’s Bible.  This time around the project is complete, and the current exhibit includes folios from all seven volumes.  That in itself is quite an achievement because — as I reminded the audience — the only thing better than perfect is done.

17280824-BDB1-4F35-AB62-E1A5E9ADE994It was nice to have the opportunity to reflect on the project in its entirety.  For one thing, I noted, the project didn’t turn out quite the way our scribe Donald Jackson had promised nor had we imagined.  To be specific, it took a lot longer to make.  We thought it would take a mere seven years.  In retrospect that timeline now seems ridiculous.  Notably, it took almost two years of planning before Jackson put quill to parchment for the first time.  All kinds of other issues cropped up along the way, and in the course of time seven became fourteen years, and that translated into a budget that more than doubled.

At the beginning of the project Donald Jackson promised to give us exactly what we asked for and more than we ever imagined.  We certainly never anticipated some of the snafus and other grief-producing moments, but not for a moment do I believe this was the kind of experience that Mr. Jackson had in mind when he made those promises.  To cast it in the most favorable language, it turned out to be a genuine learning experience for all involved.  But out of that experience came something truly wonderful.

9ED52866-F447-44A0-BB9C-F3F177EBA314If there’s one unanticipated challenge that I would single out for special attention, it’s the one I touched on in my talk last week.  When Donald Jackson delivered the second volume I expected it to be nice, just as the first volume had been.  But it wasn’t.  Volume II was nicer.  Then each successive volume proved to be even nicer.  Jackson too noticed the progression; and when he proposed doing the first volume all over again we replied with a resounding “NO!”  By then, however, it was not just a matter of done being better than perfect.  It was a matter of artistic growth and insight.  His understanding of the Bible had deepened in the course of the project, and the illuminations reflected that.  Had we let him start at the beginning again there certainly would have been greater nuance in his work, but at what cost?  Better to be done and perfect in this particular case.

I didn’t dwell on that issue in Omaha last week, nor did I tease out one parallel observation that struck me in the course of this project.  Not often enough do we stand back and reflect on the course of our lives.  Not often enough do we appreciate our personal growth or whatever achievements we’ve racked up in the course of the years.  Still, we’ve been allowed to be artists with the materials God has given us, and God gives us the time and opportunity to be creative with our lives.  We can only hope and try to make the most of the chances we have.  For all of us, however, the day will come when we’ll be able to say that the only thing better than perfect is done.  That’s the day when we stand before the Lord and he welcomes us into his kingdom.

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+On October 7th I spoke to the Friends and docents of Joslyn Art Museum in Omaha.  The address was part of the opening activities of the museum’s new exhibit:  Word and Image:  The Saint John’s Bible.

+On October 12th we had our first snow of the season at Saint John’s.  It was nothing big; but nevertheless it was a jolt, considering that most of the leaves are still on the trees and have yet to change color.  We may have missed autumn entirely.

+The photos in today’s post show scenes from The Saint John’s Bible gallery in Alcuin Library at Saint John’s University.

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Saints Francis and Benedict

I found Pope Benedict’s reflection on Saint Francis that we heard at morning prayer to be a real spark for my imagination.  As he pointed out, Francis has transcended the centuries, and he’s done so because all sorts of people have found different reasons to like him.  Francis truly was and is a man for all seasons, a man for all times, and a man for all sorts of people.  And in that light I want to comment on Saints Francis and Benedict.

Most every Benedictine monk knows that Francis made a pilgrimage to Subiaco, where Benedict began his monastic journey.  There on one of the walls is a fresco of Francis as a memento of that visit.  Clearly Saint Benedict must have meant a lot to Francis, and perhaps he saw something of himself in Benedict.  And if at first blush they seem to have little in common, I think we’d miss an element that is key to the story of each.  Both of them fled social environments that they found toxic.  For his part Francis fled the bourgeois wealth of his family, and Benedict fled the wealth of Rome.

E45B1A7C-8B38-4DA5-A825-FCC20E425617All too often we’ve assumed that Benedict sought escape from the dissipated student life of the city.  In fact it may have been more likely that he fled the wealthy ways of the Church in Rome.  So I’m not sure what Benedict expected to find when he got to Rome, but it may have been the wealth and growing power of the Church that sent him packing.  The churches that he entered looked every bit like the basilicas in which the emperors had presided, and where the emperors had once sat the leading clergy sat instead.  And manuscript historian Christopher de Hamel notes that illuminations of the day show the apostles and bishops clean-shaven and dressed every bit like members of the Roman senatorial class.  And so it’s entirely possible that the wealth of the Church sent Benedict into the wilderness, just as it did the Egyptian ascetics in the 4th century.

What might we conclude about Benedict and Francis?  For one, they were not Manichaean dualists.  For them neither wealth nor creation were intrinsically evil.  On the other hand they each had seen how wealth and power could transform even the best of people.   Neither wanted to be in the number of the latter.

And so, on the feast of Saint Francis may we celebrate with joy all of God’s creation, as Francis did.  And then let us remember that God has put us here not to be transformed by the good things of the earth.  Rather, let us transform all those good things and put them into the service of the Lord.

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+On September 30th through October 2nd I hosted four supporters of the Immokalee Scholarship Program at Saint John’s University.  While at Saint John’s I got to spend some wonderful moments with John, Jack, Sandy and Bill, and certainly the highlight of the visit was the evening when we join nine of our students from Immokalee for dinner.

+On October 4th I presided at the Abbey Mass, and today’s post is the text of the homily that I preached that day.  In the monastery we began the day with a morning prayer reading in which Pope Benedict XVI reflected on the appreciation for Saint Francis through the centuries.

+On October 5th I flew to Omaha, NE, and the next day I gave a tour of an exhibit of The Saint John’s Bible, now at the Joslyn Art Museum for the next few weeks.  On Monday the 7th I will give a lecture to Friends of the Museum.

+Readers may find it a surprise to learn that Saint Francis made a pilgrimage to Subiaco, where Saint Benedict began life as a hermit.  The fresco of Saint Francis was painted shortly after his visit, and the absence of a halo indicates that he was still very much alive at the time of the painting.  That fresco is included in today’s post, along with other photos of the abbey of Subiaco.

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Wisdom Finds Delight in Us

Every now and again a passage from Scripture can surprise us with a meaning it did not intend.  Take for instance Proverbs 8.  It offers a sublime reflection on Wisdom, which from the beginning of time has hovered over creation.  Then, all of a sudden, it inserts what seems to be a rather snide reference to some people I know:

”When there were no depths I was brought forth, when there were no fountains or springs of water;  before the waters were settled into place, before the hills, I was brought forth;  while as yet the earth and fields were not made, nor the first clods of the world.”

My cynical side wants to argue that here God was being honest with this little aside;  but my sensible side argues that it may be time for an updated English translation.  Either way, though, Wisdom’s real thoughts are best reflected in the verse that concludes this passage:  “And I found delight in the human race.”  That I find truly amazing, because sometimes I don’t see that at all.

B3597EA0-AAE4-404D-BF0B-3FFA3036A53BIn the liturgy on most Sundays of the year we recite the Nicene Creed, and in it Christians profess their belief that God saw the world and saw that it was good.  That includes not only the few masterpieces among us but also the clods and idiots and all those other deeply flawed people whom we know.  Of course by the time that we total up the complete list it pretty much includes us all.  Coming to terms with that reality is one of the ongoing challenges of life — at least for me.

Giving other people the benefit of the doubt, forgiving them, and owning up to our own faults are what make life so challenging.  They’re also what make life potentially so creative.  On any given day we all endure a tug-of-war between our better selves and the temptation to view others as Satan would have us view them.  From his perspective people are pretty much nasty, brutish, and a bunch of clods.  But of course that is not really the case.  Each of us, as a creation of God, carries some spark of divine life that drives us forward.  Certainly there are moments when we tend to come off as clods, but that’s not who we really are.

Sooner or later we all confront the temptation to write off our neighbors as hopeless causes.  But of course they are not.  Nor are we.  So whenever that inclination starts to well up within us, it’s worthwhile to recall God’s own delight in us.  If God sees in us what we can’t quite see, then perhaps it’s time we look again.

38005A36-26B0-49FE-8465-1A417DE4C3B9NOTES

+On June 10th I flew to Phoenix for a meeting and a series of visits with friends of Saint John’s.  Back in March, when I scheduled this, a trip to Phoenix sounded like a terrific idea.  Once I landed I had only one regret.  Save for Tuesday, when the temperature plunged down to a balmy 108, it reached 111 every other day.  It was not what I had hoped for, and in retrospect I should have gone sooner.

+On June 16th I received welcome news from Fr. Petrus Nowack, the librarian of the Abbey of Maria Laach in Germany.  For some time we have been in communication regarding the gifting of a set of the Heritage Edition of The Saint John’s Bible, made possible by Mrs. Hella Hueg, a friend of Saint John’s and native of Heidelberg.  Shortly before her passing she expressed the desire that her set be sent to an institution in Germany, and she welcomed the thought that it would go to Maria Laach.  We at Saint John’s have had a long relationship with the monks of Maria Laach, though we do not go back to the 11th century as they do.

+The translation of the passage from Proverbs that I’ve quoted in today’s post is from The New American Bible, which Catholics in the United States currently use in the liturgy.  It has its shortcomings, and recently the American bishops decided to abandon the current translation in favor of something more congenial.  They illustrated their decision with several passages from that translation in which the English has evolved to mean something other than what was originally intended.  Among them was one passage that recalled the Israelite conquest of a particular Canaanite town, after which “they paraded around with their booty.”  Seniors hear one thing and their grandchildren hear another when that passage is read.

+Wisdom is associated with the Holy Spirt;  and given that Sunday was the feast of the Trinity I searched for photos that might illustrate the Trinity.  At top is a piece of stained glass (ca. 1520) from the Cistercian abbey of Mariawald, near Cologne, and now housed at the V & A in London.  Below that is a glass panel of the Trinity (early 16th century), now housed at the Schuntzen Museum in Cologne.  The next photo shows The Saint John’s Bible and its case made at Saint John’s, positioned in the library of the Abbey of Maria Laach in Germany.  At bottom is a wooden Trinity, early 16th century, also housed at the Schuntzen Museum.

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