The characteristics that define an Inspirational person upon which we have agreed should be as follows: i. Self giving rather than selfish ii. Humility rather than pride. Not a false humility which makes people stay in the background. When their actions, are accomplished with a sense of oneness. iii. Courage to always do the right thing, a wrong is always wrong no matter how you embellish it. iv. Principled, always acting out of principles for good rather than material or financial gain. v. Happiness, an inspirational person makes the world a better place and gives people a positive outlook for the future. vi. Vision, they must have a vision and help turn hope into reality.
Dom Marcellin TheeuwesO. Cart., the 72nd successor of St. Bruno, has passed away. He died after a long illness on January 2 at the southern French Charterhouse of Méounes-lès-Montrieux.
Our Lord and heavenly Father, Marcellin is gone now from this earthly dwelling and has left behind those who mourn his absence. Grant that we may hold his memory dear, never bitter for what we have lost nor in regret for the past, but always in hope of the eternal Kingdom where you will bring us together again. Through Christ our Lord. R/. Amen.
Jacobus Johannes Maria Theeuwes, known by family and friends Jac, was born on 12 May 1936 in Gilze-Rijen, between Breda and Tilburg in the Netherlands, he was the youngest son. He had six older brothers.
From a very early age, Jac felt a monastic vocation. He made contact with the then flourishing Cistercian Abbey Marienkroon. This monastery had a good reputation and a great attraction for young men in those years. Jac Theeuwes devoted himself in Marienkroon theological studies. In this monastic atmosphere he became attentive through spiritual reading both on the Carthusian order and on its deep spirituality. He felt the call to live in a deeper solitude. The way of life of the Carthusians seemed to correspond to his calling.
Jac decided to become a Carthusian and enters on December 7, 1961 in the Charterhouse Selignac (Department Ain, France). He was ordained a priest on June 25, 1966; On December 8 of the same year he makes his solemn profession and received the religious name Marcellin. The monks of his monastery recognised his many talents and he soon became procurator in Selignac.
On June 11, 1973 Dom Marcellin was sent in the same function in the southern French Charterhouse Mougères. This monastery, located in the middle of the Languedoc vineyards, would be vacated and transferred to another religious order. Dom Marcellin was responsible for ensuring a smooth retreat in November 1977, as well as a good transition of the monastery to the community of the Sisters of the Monastic Family of Bethlehem, of the Assumption of the Virgin and of Saint Bruno.
After completing this discipline he returned to the Order on 17 November 1977 as a procurator in the Charterhouse of Montrieux in the Department of Var. The monks of this Charterhouse elected him as their prior on April 27, 1983.
When the Carthusian Prior General Dom André Poisson (1923-2005) stepped down from this position in 1997 as Prior of La Grande Chartreuse, the Carthusians elected Dom Marcellin, who was esteemed throughout the Order, as their new Prior entrusted to the order of the Prior of the Great Charterhouse and the Reverendus Pater, the Prior General of the Carthusian Order.
During his time as Prior various important decisions were made. Some Charterhouses had to be closed. There were new male monasteries in Argentina, Brazil and Korea; in Asia they also opened a women’s charterhouse. More opportunities were increasingly created for the nuns, comparable to that of the monks, to live in individual houses, so allowing them greater solitude.
For health reasons, Dom Marcellin Theeuwes resigned in September 2012 from his posts and asked for mercy, to acceptance of his resignation. It was granted to him – by the Order but also by the Holy See.
His last years he spent again in the Charterhouse Montrieux, where he served his brothers as Prior. He died on 2 January 2019 after a long illness.
It should be remembered that until now the Church has always encouraged contemplative life for religious men and women. The separation from the world to religious life constitutes a state of perfect life and is necessary for the Mystici corporis Christi (The Mystical Body of Christ) as a manifestation of one’s holiness and as a permanent source of grace.
The sanctuary of the cloisters of female contemplative life has been violated by the latest stipulations issued by the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life. The Apostolic Constitution Vultum Dei Quaerere on womens contemplative life [June 29, 2016], and Cor Orans [April 1, 2018] the “Implementing Instruction of the Apostolic Constitution for “Vultum Dei” on Women’s Contemplative Life, as was explained in an Italian article by Veronica Rasponi “La distruzione dei Monasteri femminili”[The Destruction of Women’s Monasteries – our translation can be read here], published in «Corrispondenza Romana» on October 10th last, states that the sole purpose of the Apostolic Constitution was to cause harm to the founding principles of cloistered monasteries, and to the juridical autonomy (sui iuris) of each monastery.Corrispondenza Romana call’s it the ‘Sovietisation’ of the monasteries.
It should be remembered that until now the Church has always encouraged contemplative life for religious men and women. The separation from the world to religious life constitutes a state of perfect life and is necessary for the Mystici corporis Christi(The Mystical Body of Christ) as a manifestation of one’s holiness and as a permanent source of grace.
However, the enclosure regime means a separation from the world, and not from the society that the nuns support with their prayer and penance. Pius XII in the encyclical Sacra Virginitas of March 25, 1954, explains that the renunciation of the world by nuns, protected by enclosure, is not the equivalent of social desertion, but rather allows a wider service to be given to the Church and society.
The same Pius XII, in his Apostolic Constitution Sponsa Christi of 21 November 1950, foresaw a birth of the federations of monasteries, as an instrument to help revitalisethe life of some monastic communities which, following the war, had found themselves isolated and in difficulties. The experience did not turn out to be a happy one and should have imposed an abandonment of these forms of structures, by contrast under the pontificate of Pope Bergoglio it has increase exponentially, delivering a mortal blow to the institutions of female monasteries.
The word “monastery” enters into the Italian language during the first half of the XIII century, from the late Latin monastērĭum, from the Greek word μοναστήριον, of μοναστήριος – monasterios from μονάζειν – monazein “to live alone” from the root μόνος – monos “alone” (all Christian monks were originally hermits); the suffix “-terion” indicates a “place for doing something”. The earliest extant use of the term monastērion is by the Alexandrian philosopher Judaeus Philo On The Contemplative Life, ch. III.
The monastery, therefore, by its very nature, must be a place of solitude (separation from the profane world), of silence (care of the intimacy of the soul with the divine realities), of prayer (communication of the soul with the Most Holy Trinity and the Virgin Mary), these persona’s, have always been the pillars upon which the very fabric of the claustral life was founded on.
But it is evident that the emergence of the “Federation of monasteries”, “Association of monasteries” and the “Confederation of monasteries” is a calculated obtrusion inflicted by the Vatican, which inevitably, undermine with the addition of an irregular hybridisation of external influences that are now present in every single cloisters – it is being perceived by many religious as a sort of “globalisation” connecting different monastic charisms (in this manner they become less and less monastic and are steadily absorbed by the diktats that are foreign to the abbey’s), furthermore the disperse and confusing “refresher courses” – eventuate the suffocation and repression of the sacred independence that the Church, in its wisdom, had until now defended the custody and protection of every single consecrated soul.
The life of the cloister is a self-giving to the Bridegroom Jesus, which implies transcending the world to set out on a privileged path of greater communion with God and, precisely by virtue of this communion, the nun, bride of Christ, intercedes for the people who live in society and for the redemption of souls. A mission, that is irreplaceable.
The Cor Orans document concerns all monasteries and its application was immediate from the moment of its publication (April 1, 2018). “The provisions of the Apostolic Constitution Vultum Dei quaerere for all the monasteries concerning their obligation to enter a Federation of monasteries also apply to other structures of communion such as the Association of monasteries or the Conference of monasteries;” “This obligation also applies to monasteries associated with a male institute or gathered as an autonomous monastic congregation;” “Individual monasteries must comply with this within one year of the publication of these Instructions, unless they have been legitimately dispensed;” «Once this period has elapsed, this Dicastery will assign monasteries to one of the Federations or to other existing structures of communion».
In the course of the history of the Church, when the places of contemplation have dwindled, the saints have reacted with force and determination to restore the reality that in the world represents a more perfect connection between heaven and earth, respecting the chronological order, of the teachings of three saints who made the contemplative life the sole reason for their existence, acting and reforming what did not work and thus becoming an exemplar prototype and teacher for the Church: Saint Hildegard of Bingen, Saint Clare of Assisi, Saint Teresa of Avila.
St. Hildegard of Bingen
St. Clare of Assisi
St. Teresa of Avila
Doctor of the Church Hildegard von Bingen O.S.B. (1098- † 17 Sept., 1179), a Benedictine nun and abbess, was unyielding in bringing back prelates onto the right path, monks and nuns who transgressed the dictates of Tradition. A spokesperson of God, who admonished and taught by divine command. With regard to Hermann I von Arbon, O.S.B. († 20 Nov. 1165), Bishop of Konstanz [Constance], his cry of solicitous conversion is
manifest in order to be saved and to guide others to salvation: “Many workers [in the building of the Church] come to you and seek the narrow and narrow path. But you – according to the disposition of your heart – speak with magniloquent presumption and arouse indignation in their hearts. Turn from the darkness to the right way and enlighten the spirit of your heart so that the Father of everything does not turn to you saying: «You, mad, why do you go up on a support that you have not built?». For the day will throw in the darkness that man whose work does not follow the right path” (Gronau, E., 1991. Hildegard von Bingen, Stein am Rhein: Christiana Verl. p. 398).
Hildegard’s peregrination from one monastery to another, giving life and realism to the tired, dejected and demotivated in the face of arrogance of those with civil or ecclesiastical authority, who kept them in check using power and money. But in spite of the distortions and sins of men in the beloved Church, Hildegard did not lose her hope or her conviction. She not only took care of the great sinners in the Church, she also gave life to those who, for example, the abbess Sofia of the Benedictine monastery of Kitzingen, who felt tired and had wanted to abdicate her office.
This prophetess of the Church, therefore, helped individual children to rediscover, their own responsibility be they little or great, the vigour’s of the Faith and the beauty of working for the Kingdom of God. The echo’s of this teacher, who brought a new and healthy ferment, salt and flavour to the different ecclesiastical realities, which then spread throughout Europe.
She urged the strengthening of the soul and bear the burden’s of work and of one’s duties; she called them to combat, inviting them to go against the will of the ecclesiastical and/or the civil authorities who argued against contemplative life according to the will of God. Se wrote to the abbess Sophia: “Accept these words by virtue of the true vision of the divine mysteries! O daughter, born of the man’s rib when God created man! Why do you incessantly suffer pain, so that your spirit is like the variable clouds carried by the storm, now it is clear how the light then suddenly darkens? This is your spirit because of the scandalous customs of those who do not shine before God. But you say: ‘I want a little peace, I want to make myself a place where the heart can find refuge, where the soul is at peace’. O daughter, it is not a merit before God to throw away the burden and abandon the flock, for your heart does not shine in that weakness which causes you so much pain because of the innocence of earthly life. You, on the other hand, must live because God’s grace wants it. So watch yourself from getting away from it and letting your spirit wander. May God help you, so that you may be alert in pure knowledge!”(Gronau, E., 1991. Hildegard von Bingen, Stein am Rhein: Christiana Verl., p.p. 383-384).
She sustained the weak and the wavering, at the same time she responded to the heretics, particularly the Cathars, and solved detailed and difficult theological questions that bishops, abbots and monks had placed on them. She submitted to the Lord the questions that were asked of her and the Light, which had from her childhood always accompanied her, presented her with the visions in which she received the answers. From Paris they wrote to have explanations, as did the Magister Odo of Cheriton († c. 1246), who at the Synod of Trier had heard Pope Eugene III read aloud the pages of the work of Edward Scivias, and for this reason wanted to get in touch with the author, at the end of solving the theological diatribe of those who denied that God is fatherhood and divinity together.
Hillin de Falemagne., Abp. of Trier (1152-†1169)
St. Matthias Abbey & Basilica minor, Trier.
Arnold I of Vaucourt., Abp. of Trier (1169-†1183)
St. Hildegard’s relations with the Bishops of Trier were excellent, both with Bishop Hillin de Falemagne († October 23, 1169) and with Arnaut I de Vaucourt († May 25, 1183). There was a special bond that linked them to the Benedictine monastery of St. Eucharius [St. Matthias Abbeyin Trier], the oldest in Germany. The life of the bishop-princes were extremely complex, their power divided between the temporal and the spiritual; the prince-bishop being both a bishop and civil ruler of a secular principality and suzerainty.
Their divided consciences were petitioned by the prophetic voice of the “Holy Mother” as it was called, to which Archbishop Hillin of Falmagne († October 23, 1169) pleading, as a “sinner”, to have some droplets of her words as spiritual comfort for his soul.Hillin had engaged in correspondence with Hildegard, having approached her for advice and under his auspices had visited Trier, to preached a stern sermon to the clergy and people thereof.
Mother Hildegard did not allow herself to procrastinate: «So wisdom resounds and says: this is the lukewarm weather of the donnicciole […]. [ed. donnicciola: a fishwife, or woman of humble condition, or mean, ignorant: gossip; a sissy or a man with weak fearful disposition]. But now listen, o shepherd: divine justice holds you firmly because the grace of God has not penetrated you in vain. However, when you undertake a good work, you tire quickly. Even when, summoned to the festive Mass, leading in prayer, you soon tire [ed. that is, during the Mass his mind wandered and his temporal thoughts intruded.]. […]. The tower is assigned to you [ed. the diocese]. Protect the tower and cause the whole city not to be ruined and destroyed. So watch out, keep the discipline with an iron sceptre and educate yourself. Grease the wounds of those who have entrusted themselves to you». Hildegard spoke of the negligence, corruption and misuse of power by the clergymen; her words regarding the hierarchy of the Church were anything but reassuring: she unrelentingly denounced the evils present in the church and her words reverberate like thunder within it.
So corrupt was the situation, both from a doctrinal and moral point of view, of the dioceses and monasteries in Germany, that the Lord allowed her to leave the cloister to reproach those who did not do their duty. On her first long journey, which she achieved when she was almost sixty years old, she had crossed the entire region of the Main River to Bamberg and Steigerwald (1158-1159). In 1160, during an illness that lasted three years, he reached the mountainous region of Hunsrück towards Trier, descending the Moselle to Metz, in the Lotaringia towards Krauftal, near Saverne.
The third journey (1161-1163) led her to travel the Rhine in the direction of Cologne; then she reached Werden on the Rurh and, probably, Liege. Later she was seized by another disease that lasted three years, forcing her to bed and between 1170 and 1171 undertook the last journey of her life, in Swabia, above Maulbronn, Hirsau, Kircheim, up to Zwiefalten. It took a lot of physical and mental effort to scold monks and nuns, abbots and abbesses in an attempt to re-establish monastic discipline and order. Alas, it was not enough, she publicly preached conversion and penance, she did it on the road she travelled, in the marketplaces of the cities she visited, or in the great churches, in front of the clergy and the faithful.
This is what the Lord requires and this she willingly gives, remaining a cloistered nun, despite serving an itinerant apostolate, aimed at healing, with rigour, those who have been gravely and dramatically led astray. And her labours produced the prodigious fruits of a return to the spiritual and ecclesiastical order for the good of the Church and of civilisation, according to what is due to our Creator.
There’s an undeniable mystique about 16th-century England, an era peopled with colourful characters like Henry VIII, epic events like the Armada, the adventures of Francis Drake on the SpanishMain, the Reformation, and the heroic stand of St. Thomas More. An exciting if overlooked tale of heroism is the work of the Jesuits to keep Catholicism alive in 16th-century England. Hundreds of Englishmen trained abroad, their religion outlawed, returned home to restore the “old faith,” facing certain death if caught. Many are listed today in the Roman martyrology.
For four decades, Ignatius Press has reclaimed many forgotten Catholic classics. One of these is Autobiography of a Hunted Priest, byFather John Gerard (1564-1637), an English Jesuit who spent eighteen years clandestinely ministering to his fellow countrymen. Born a Catholic in Derbyshire, young Gerard studied in Europe where he joined the Jesuit order. Founded in 1540, the Jesuits were the shock troops in the campaign to win Protestant Europe back to the Catholic faith.
Trained and ordained on the continent, Father Gerard secretly returned to England in the fall of 1588. Anti-Catholic hostility, exacerbated by the recent defeat of the Spanish Armada, was at a fever pitch:
“Everywhere a hunt was being organised for Catholics and their houses searched; in every village and along all the roads and all along the roads and lanes very close watches were kept to catch them.”
Catholics were forced to attend Protestant services or pay a fine. (Only the wealthy could afford to remain openly Catholic, although under intense pressure to convert.) Pope St. Pius V‘s 1570 bull Regnans in Excelsis exacerbated the situation by excommunicating Elizabeth and absolving her subjects from allegiance to her. Catholics were now seen as traitors to the realm. Jesuits were the subject of a special ire. Three years before Gerard’s return, they were banned from entering the country. They were political fugitives.
To stay above suspicion, Gerard cultivated a respectable public image. For six years he
traveled through England, staying in the homes of wealthy Catholics, the safest place available. Here he posed as a visiting relative while secretly celebrating the sacraments. But even in these homes there was the risk of the “priest hunters” appearing. Some of the most heroic figures in Gerard’s book are the laypeople who kept the faith alive at great risk, harbouring clergy in secret passages known as “priest-holes.” (Gerard hid in one for four days with nothing but a biscuit for food.)
Betrayed by a servant, Gerard spent three years in prison. (All Catholics, he notes, lived in constant fear of betrayal.) Some of the book’s most interesting passages cover this period. He spent an entire month in chains doing the Spiritual Exercises (.pdf) of St. Ignatius Loyola from memory. He describes the many uses for an orange. From the peel he made a rosary, while using the juice to write letters legible only when heated (so the recipient would know if the letter had been intercepted). Sometimes he bribed the guards to look the other way while he celebrated Mass and conducted retreats for his fellow prisoners.
Through it all, he writes, he was entirely ready to “water the Lord’s vineyard” with his blood. For six months he stayed in theTower of London, Elizabethan England‘s version of a maximum security prison. It was here that he underwent torture, an experience he describes in detail:
The chamber was underground and dark, particularly near the entrance. It was a vast place and every device and instrument of human torture was there. They pointed out some of them to me and said that I would try them all. Then they asked me again whether I would confess. “I cannot,” I said.
On October 3, 1597, with the help of friends, Father Gerard escaped from the Tower of London. For the next eight years he continued his ministry among the English people before he was recalled to the continent to train Jesuits for the English Mission. He spent the rest of his life at The Venerable English College in Rome. Toward the end of his life, Gerard’s Jesuit superiors asked him to write a memoir of his work in England, which he did, in Latin. Translated into English in 1871, the present edition was re-translated by the English Jesuit historian Father Philip Caraman S.J.
In his preface to the new edition, Father James V. Schall S.J., a Jesuit at Georgetown University, calls it “an ecclesiastical adventure story with a rather happy ending.” At a time when Christianity is undergoing new persecutions worldwide, Father Schall notes, “It may, in fact, be a very up-to-date book in its own way.” If you’re looking for a good read, or if you’re looking for a great Christmas present to give someone, you can’t do better than this.
A “computer genius”, a “popular girl” and a “beautiful brain”
When one reads the lives of saints, sometimes one can remain discouraged because one does not even find one that resembles us even remotely. It may seem that only priests, nuns and monks can become saints. Nothing, however, is farther from the truth, as clearly emphasizes in his exhortation Gaudete et exsultate:
To be saints it is not necessary to be bishops, priests, religious or religious. Many times we have the temptation to think that holiness is reserved for those who have the possibility to keep their distance from ordinary occupations, to devote much time to prayer. It is not so. We are all called to be saints living with love and offering each one their own testimony in the occupations of every day, where he is.
Young people in particular are able to become saints, even if we often think it is impossible. Their zeal and energy, if conveyed in the right direction, can change the world. Here are three teenagers who experience how holiness is possible for anyone and how God uses youthful gifts and talents for his greater glory.
Chiara was a popular girl with many friends. He loved practicing sports, singing, dancing and going out with his peers. At 17 she was paralyzed and offered everything to God, saying: “If you want it, Jesus, I want it too”. She died of cancer at the age of 18, saying: “Be happy because I am happy”.
Carlo loved computer science and used computers to spread the faith. One of his most significant informatic experiences was the cataloging of all the Eucharistic miracles of the world. He said: “The more Eucharist we receive, the more we will become like Jesus, and on this earth we will foretell Paradise”. He died of leukemia at 15 years.
Anna was a simple teenager who loved Jesus dearly. She wrote: “True beauty is hidden in the fidelity in little things. I have always wanted to make great and heroic gestures of love, but when I saw that I was not able I was agrieved. Now I find great heroism in small things, and so I have not the slightest regret about being able to do something or not “. She died of tuberculosis at the age of 17.
In Rome Hawes met Bishop William Bernard Kelly from Western Australia and was recruited for his Geraldton diocese. The dual role of outback missionary and architect with a commission to design a cathedral appealed strongly to Hawes’s two major enthusiasms.
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John Cyril Hawes (1876-1956), architect and priest, was born on 7 September 1876 at Richmond, Surrey, England, third son of Edward Hawes, solicitor, and his wife Amelia Mariana, née Boult. Educated at Brighton and at the King’s School, Canterbury, he was greatly influenced by the splendour of Canterbury Cathedral and showed an early talent for drawing. In London in 1893 he was articled to Edmeston & Gabriel, architects, and attended lectures at the Architectural Association School and at the Central School of Arts and Crafts under Professor W. R. Lethaby. There he came under the influence of the Arts and Crafts movement: the work of Ninian Comper and Charles Voysey, and the writing of John Ruskin.
In 1909 Hawes was invited by Bishop Hornby to join the Church of England mission in the Bahama Islands where many churches had been damaged by a hurricane. On Long Island he ministered to his native parishioners, repaired the churches, and designed and built St Paul’s, Clarence Town. After several years dissatisfaction with High and Low Church divisions, Hawes experienced a second conversion in 1911 and left the Bahamas for New York to become a Roman Catholic. Then followed three years of indecision and wandering, mainly in Canada, where he worked as a teamster and labourer on the Canadian Pacific Railway. He entered The Beda College, Rome, in 1913 and was ordained priest two years later.
In Rome Hawes met Bishop William Bernard Kelly from Western Australia and was recruited for his Geraldton diocese. The dual role of outback missionary and architect with a commission to design a cathedral appealed strongly to Hawes’s two major enthusiasms. Arriving in Geraldton in November 1915, he took up a temporary appointment in the Murchison goldfields parish of Mount Magnet and Cue, but started work on his Geraldton cathedral next June. By August 1918 the nave was opened for services but the Cathedral of St Francis Xavier was not completed until 1938, owing to lack of funds and the hostility of Dr Richard Ryan who succeeded Bishop Kelly in 1923. The cathedral is Hawes’s most important building: frankly eclectic, a mixture of Romanesque and Californian Spanish Mission styles, but with a roughcast simplicity and dignity totally in harmony with the surroundings.
Of Hawes’s other buildings in Western Australia, the most interesting include his highly individual parish church of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, Mullewa, again largely Romanesque and built of local stone mainly through the architect’s own labours, and the adjoining priest’s house (1927). There are also churches at Morawa (1932), Carnarvon (1934), Northampton and the Utakarra cemetery chapel (1935), and Perenjori (1936); and he designed chapels at Yalgoo, Bluff Point, Nanson and Melangatta homestead.
In 1922 Archbishop Clune commissioned Hawes to design a new cathedral for the Perth diocese, but while Hawes was in England ordering stained glass and mosaics for the project his plans were rejected and the choice of architect switched to M. F. Cavanagh. Bitterly disappointed, Hawes was later befriended by his next bishop, James Patrick O’Collins, who greatly valued his work and arranged in 1937 for him to receive the Papal title, monsignor.
Throughout most of his life Hawes was attracted by the eremitical ideal: in 1939 he returned, via England, to the Bahamas where he built a hermitage on Cat Island and attempted to live as a hermit under the name of Fra Jerome. But his architectural talents were soon sought and he spent much time designing churches and supervising building on Cat Island, Long Island, and in Nassau where a convent, a boys’ college, and the Benedictine Monastery of St Augustine brought him fame. Worn out through hard work and a severe regimen, he died in St Francis Hospital, Miami, Florida, United States of America, on 26 June 1956. He was buried in the cave he had prepared for himself below his hermitage on the hilltop of Cat Island.
• P. F. Anson, Abbot Extraordinary, and The Hermit of Cat Island (Lond, 1958) (.pdf)
• J. M. Freeland, Architecture in Australia (Melb, 1968)
•Westerly, Nov 1963, Sept 1976
• J. C. Hawes diaries and letters (St Augustine’s Monastery, Foxhill, Nassau, Bahama Islands, and Bishop’s House, Geraldton, Western Australia).
A. G. Evans, ‘Hawes, John Cyril (1876–1956)’, Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, (Link), published first in hardcopy 1983, accessed online 15 December 2018.
Below you will find the complete text of the homily of Cardinal Giovanni Angelo Becciu, Prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints and Special Envoy of the Holy Father, as pronounced during the celebration of the beatification of the 19 martyrs of Algeria at the Shrine of Our Lady of Santa Cruz d’Oran:
Dear brothers and sisters !
The passage of Apocalypse (Rev. 7:9-17), proclaimed in the second reading, introduces us to the “immense crowd” (v.9) of those who have already reached the goal of eternal salvation towards which we are all on the road: the kingdom of hope, the kingdom of those who see God as He is. The Apostle John in his vision rich in symbols sees them standing in front of the throne of God, “dressed in white robes”, the colour of divine light and paschal glory. But the whiteness of the robes is obtained by plunging them into the red blood of Christ: these elect have experienced the “great trial; they have washed their robes, they have whitened them with the blood of the Lamb “(v.14). The splendour is reached through the crucible of suffering, of self-giving, of the cross. By participating in the passion and death of Jesus, the king of martyrs, we reach the light: per crucem ad lucem (by the cross to the light) says the ancient Christian saying. In this way “what remains to suffer from the trials of Christ in my own flesh, I fulfil it for his body which is the Church” (Col 1:24) underlines St. Paul.
Those saved hold in their hands a palm, which in the Old Testament is the sign of triumph and acclamation; the suffering, the rigorous engagement of the testimony, the renunciation of oneself do not lead to death but introduce into the glory; they do not produce failure but life and happiness. The scene of the Apocalypse then shows the mighty chorus of saints singing with a loud voice: “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne and the Lamb” (Rev 7:10).
The text of the Apocalypse has thus traced to us the portrait of the blessed and the saint: it belongs only to God, it appears in every point of the earth and at every period of history, it lives with fidelity even in the ordeal In traversing the way of the cross, he reaches the glorious goal of eternity, where he will live forever in joy, in song, in glory, in that infinite whirlwind of light and peace, which is God.
In the immense crowd of those who have reached a fate of glory, the Church wants to call today by name 19 new Blessed, killed between 1994 and 1996 in different places and times but in the same restless context. On this earth, here in Algeria, they announced the Lord’s unconditional love for the poor and the outcast, testifying to their belonging to Christ and the Church to the point of martyrdom. It is beautiful to think now that they are among those who have gone through “the great trial and have washed their robes and have bleached them with the blood of the Lamb” (verse 14). Coming from eight different Institutes, our brothers and sisters lived in this country where they performed various missions; they were strong and persevering in their service of the Gospel and the people, despite the threatening climate of violence and oppression that surrounded them. Reading their biographies we are struck by the fact that everyone, well aware of the risk they run, courageously decided to stay on the spot until the end; in them has developed a strong spirituality of martyrdom rooted in the prospect of sacrificing themselves and offering their lives for a society of reconciliation and peace.
Blessed Pierre Claverie and his 18 companions and companions martyrs carry on them the salvific seal of the Redemption of Christ. By inscribing their names in the book of the saved and blessed, the Church wishes to recognise the exemplarity of their virtuous life, the heroism of the death of these extraordinary peacemakers and witnesses of fraternity, and at the same time , to pay the highest homage to Jesus, Redeemer of man. In Christ, the Church desires to worship the living God: since the glory of God is the man who receives from him the fullness of life.
This fullness of life, the Virgin Mary – whose Immaculate Conception we are celebrating today – has experienced it in an incomparable way, when the Archangel Gabriel announced to her that she had found favour with God and that by the action of the Holy Spirit she would conceive of Jesus, the Son of the Most High. “Rejoice, full of grace: the Lord is with you” (Lk 1:28). We too, today, contemplating these new Blessed, are invited to overcome all narrow-mindedness and to rejoice, because in them we see the mystery of the eternal sanctity of God shine forth; holiness which is offered to us through a new actualisation of the Gospel by our martyrs who witnessed it until the shedding of blood. We remember them as faithful followers of Christ who loved poverty, who were sensitive to suffering and caring for the abandoned, who took part in the anguish and affliction of their brethren. These heroic witnesses to the love of Jesus have gone to the very root of the experience that man has of his own limits: humiliation, tears, persecution.
They fully complied with the sacrifice of Christ who, according to the prophet Isaiah, identified himself with the suffering Servant of the Lord; he who, as we have heard in the first reading, offering himself “as a sacrifice of reparation, […] as a result of his torments, will see the light and justify the multitudes” (Is 53:10b.-11). This happens precisely by the Cross, since in the death of Jesus God has definitely become close to humanity and man has become fully conscious of his dignity and elevation. By their death as martyrs, the new Blessed also entered into the light of God, and from above they watch over the persons whom they have served and loved, praying unceasingly for all, even for those who have them. struck. They continue this prophetic mission of mercy and forgiveness, which they have witnessed during their earthly life. May their example inspire in all the desire to promote what Pope Francis has defined as “the culture of mercy that gives birth to a true revolution” (Apostolic Letter Misericordia et misera, 20 Nov. 2016). By welcoming the dynamic of forgiveness, admirably experienced by the new Blessed, we hope that Algeria can definitely overcome this terrible period of violence and misery and we pray for it!
The tragic death of Blessed Peter Claverie and his 18 companions and companions martyrs is a seed fallen in the ground in difficult times, fertilised by suffering that will bring fruits of reconciliation and justice. This is our mission as Christians: to sow every day the seeds of evangelical peace, to enjoy the fruits of justice. By this beatification we would say to Algeria as a whole only this: the Church wants nothing more than to serve the Algerian people, testifying to her love for all.
In all parts of the world, Christians are motivated by the desire to contribute concretely to build a bright future of hope through the wisdom of peace, to build a society based on mutual respect, collaboration, and love. Such a society can be fully realised if everyone strives to develop the pedagogy of forgiveness, if necessary also in this country.
The Christian community in this country is spreading small but significant seeds of peace. Through this Beatification, she can feel comforted in her presence in Algeria; by these 19 martyrs, strengthen her belief that her precious presence near this people is justified by the desire to be a light and sign of the love of God for the whole population.
The luminous witness of these Blessed is a living and close example for all. Their life and their death is a direct call to all of us Christians, and especially to you, brothers or sisters in religious life, to be faithful at all costs to your own vocation, serving the Gospel and the Church in a lifetime. true fraternity, perseverance and witness to the radical choice of God.
I can not end without expressing deep gratitude to the religious congregations to which our brothers belonged as well as to their natural families who have suffered so much from their loss, but who now can rejoice with the whole Church to know them blessed in heaven. We are all comforted by the certainty that our martyred brothers and sisters, by their sacrifice, by their constant intercession and by their protection, will produce on this earth abundant fruits of goodness and fraternal sharing.
For this we address them and say: Blessed Peter Claverie and his companions and companions martyrs, pray for us!
The past is filled with people who have had a great impact on our present time but are not as well-known as they should be, given the amount of influence they have had. They suffer from what is known as the “Todd Rundgren Syndrome,” named after a musician who has had a wide influence on current popular music but is barely known outside his fan base. One of these people who are not as well known in Western society as they should be is Evagrius Ponticus.
Evagrius was born in AD 345 in the town of Ibora, which was located in the Roman province of Helenopontus (his name means “Evagrius from Pontus”). The location is now in modern day Turkey. His parents were Christians, and he became a deacon in Constantinople. During his time in the imperial capital, he liked to dress in fancy clothing and flirt with women, some of whom were married. In time he became aware that his lifestyle was not productive of the sort of person he wanted to become, so he moved to Jerusalem and eventually became a monk in AD 383. He soon moved to Egypt to live in the famous monastic communities there, and died in AD 399.
He was more highly educated than many of the monks in Egypt at the time, and he wrote some theological works that are now considered quasi-heretical. He was writing at a time when orthodox Christian theology had not been as well-defined as it is now, and he was merely trying to explain theological concepts in a way he thought helpful to his intended readers, but because of the accusations of heresy, these theological works were removed from many libraries and lost to Western Christians.
Besides these troublesome theological books, he also wrote some other works dealing with the more mundane topic of monastic life, and these have been more accessible to us because they were treasured by the monastic communities that had copies of them. They are still treasured by monastic communities because of their insight into (and concrete suggestions to help correct) recurring problematic thought patterns experienced by nuns and monks. These insights into thought patterns mark Evagrius as an important early psychologist. They are also the reasons he should be better known now than he is, because his insights and helpful suggestions hold true not only for nuns and monks in the fourth century Egyptian desert; they are also helpful for us now, whether or nor not we live in monasteries.
The psychological insights of Evagrius stem from the idea that recurring thought patterns greatly influence our actions. Therefore, a person who wants to act in a loving, peaceful way needs to replace his greedy, self-centred thoughts with loving, peaceful thoughts. That is harder than it sounds. In order to do it, one must first be aware of one’s thought patterns – something of which we are rarely aware. So, the first step is to objectively observe one’s thoughts for a period of time in order to see what is going on inside our heads. After we have come to know our thought patterns, we realise that some are helpful (love, compassion, gratitude, etc.) and so we want to foster them, and others are harmful (judgmentalism, jealousy, bitterness, etc.) and so we want to lessen their frequency. Fostering the helpful ones is the easier task: whenever they pop up, dwell on them. Lessening the harmful thoughts is the difficult task. Evagrius suggests certain scripture verses to repeat to ourselves whenever these harmful thoughts pop up. Eventually the scripture verses will crowd out and replace the harmful thoughts. His suggestion does indeed work, but it is slow and difficult work. That is ok – any lessening of harmful thoughts, no matter how small and hard won, is change for the better. As our thoughts slowly become more loving and peaceful, so do our actions. One important thing to remember is the fact that having harmful thoughts is not sinful or shameful or even our fault, but wilfully grooming them and acting upon them is.
Evagrius came up with a list of eight major harmful thoughts (logismoi λογίσμοι in Greek) as a diagnostic tool for discerning which areas of our own thought patterns we need to work on: gluttony, greed, acedia, sorrow, lust, anger, vainglory, and pride. It is noticeable that some of these harmful thoughts are about good things such as food, money, and sex – the problem comes when we are obsessed with them to the point that our lives are controlled solely by trying to acquire more of them than we need or even more than we can really enjoy. Sorrow is also on the list, but it is in the sense of self-pity, rather than depression (which should be taken care of by a professional). Acedia is the one item on the list whose name is least known to us nowadays but is perhaps most experienced by us; it is a combination of sloth, loathing, boredom, and torpor. Maybe the best word we have for it now is “ennui.” Basically, it is a crippling disgust of one’s current situation, no matter how good and normal that situation is (being in truly unhealthy surroundings is another case). In other words, it is an angry desire to be anywhere but where you are, doing anything but what you are doing, and being with anyone but whom you are with. Changing one’s situation is not a cure for acedia, because unless you yourself change, you are bringing the acedia with you. A cure for acedia common to many monastic elders is not to change your surroundings, but to learn to see the inherent beauty in them and be grateful for them.
If these “Eight Logismoi” look a little familiar, it is because many of them are found in the list of “Seven Deadly Sins” which became popular in the centuries after Evagrius (the new list became more popular, not the sins; they have always been a hit). Don’t try to figure out which of the two logismoi are combined in order to bring the list from eight to seven – they are a reworking, rather than a condensation. One might get the idea that if people were coming up with lists of sins, then they were unhealthily preoccupied with sin. Actually it is the other way around: Evagrius was healthily interested in helping people live full and joyful lives free from the bondage of unhealthy and misguided attachments to the otherwise good and beautiful things of this world.
If you are interested in learning more about Evagrius, there are several books about his life and work. Three of the most popular in our library here at the monastery are: Talking Back, an English translation by David Brakke of Evagrius’ book Antirrhetokos from Cistercian Publications; Praktikos, an English translation by John Eudes Bamberger OCSO of Evagrius’ Chapters On Prayer from Cistercian Publications; and Thoughts Matter by Mary Margaret Funk OSB, a survey of writings on the “Eight Logismoi” by John Cassian (AD 360 – AD 435), a slightly younger near contemporary of Evagrius, from Continuum Publishing Company. Of course, you can always Google both Evagrius and John Cassian – there are many websites devoted to their teachings. Learning from these almost forgotten pillars of Christian life can be a rewarding experience. And while you are at it, look up Todd Rundgren.
It is with great sorrow that we announce that the father of the Carthusian studies Professor James Lester Hogg completed his labours and joined the Lord on November 18, 2018.
He was founding director of the University of Salzburg Press,havingpublished, in excess of 550 books in his “Salzburg Studies in English Literature” series between 1971 and 1998. One branch of his publishing programme was devoted to republishing books by British poets neglected by mainstream publishers. Between 1994 and 2000 he also co-edited the The Poet’s Voicemagazine .
Between 1971 and 1996 James taught at the Department of English and American Studies at the University of Salzburg. His many academic publications comprise such diverse fields of studies as contemporary British literature, Elizabethan literature, Romantic poetry and Restoration drama. James also distinguished himself as a worldwide ‘cognoscente’ and historian of the Carthusian Order of which he had been a member, he took the habit as Fr. Aelred at the Chartreuse de Selignac on June 23, 1961; Professed in June 24, 1964 and sent to Farneta on November 22, 1965. He left the Order on June 24, 1968.
In the “Analecta Cartusiana” series, founded by him in 1970, he had edited and published in excess of 300 volumes.
His work in the field of Carthusian studies brought him two gold medals in 2006, one from the Federal State of Lower Austria and one from the Bishop of St. Pölten. The same year the President of France, Jacques Chirac, nominated him as a Grand Officer of the Légion d’honneurfor his decisive contribution to the recovery of the Carthusian memory.In 2007 Queen Elizabeth II officially acknowledged his great services to academic research. In December 2009 the Vatican made him a Knight of the Order of St. Sylvester.
A good friend, academic advisor and donor to St. Mary’s Hermitage and our library, having provided us a vast collection of research material on Carthusian History & Liturgy.Always available to give research advice even when Ill. Fr. Ugo-Maria last heard from James last October when he sent James the latest transcript on Carthusian Liturgy for comment; James been in and out of hospital for some time and said that he would be going back to hospital.
A part of his life from the 70s onwards was dedicated to the documentary, historical, artistic and historiographical collation for the Carthusian Order, founded near Grenoble by Saint Bruno the Carthusian in 1084; a work which was condensed in the publishing of approximately 350 miscellaneous and monographic issues from all the Charterhouses particularly in Europe.
James actively participated in the “Congrés Internacional sobre les Cartoixes Valencianes‘ (El Puig de Santa Maria, Altura and Serra, April 2003), and was one of the signatories of the ‘Manifesto Asociacion Cultural Cartuja Valldecrist‘ (Altura, January 2004), visiting the foundation of Cánava Valley for the last time in 2008. He was interviewed in Saó magazine, nº 308 (2006), on the occasion of the monograph ‘Les cartoixes valencianes: el silencio de la memòria’ and collaborated in the series’ Les cartoixes valencianes’ (13 chapters) for RTVV, broadcast in 2007.
Among the works published from Salzburg include those dedicated to the houses of Portaceli (Serra, Valencia), Valldecrist (Altura, Castellón), Aracristi (El Puig de Santa Maria, Valencia) and Viaceli (Orihuela, Alicante) – in addition to the female foundation of Benifassà (Castellón) -, as well as some of its most important inhabitants, such as Bonifacio Ferrer, Francisco de Aranda, Francisco Maresme, Juan de Nea, Juan Bautista Civera, Joaquín Alfaura, Juan Bautista Giner, etc.
Two of his last works in the Central European collection brought to light this year are dedicated to the Valencian Carthusian, Fray Bonifacio Ferrer (1350-†1417) brother of St. Vincent Ferrer, coinciding with the VI centenary of his death: his monograph (nº 336) and the collected minutes of the presentations of the seminar that were dedicated last April in Valencia, Altura and Segorbe (No. 338).
Some of the most distinguished historians of the Valencian Carthusians, such as Francisco Fuster Serra, Josep-Marí Gómez i Lozano, Josep-Vicent Ferre Domínguez, Miguel Ángel Catalá Gorgues, Estefania Ferrer del Río or Albert Ferrer Orts among others, as well as the Cultural Association Cartuja de Valldecrist, of Altura (which paid him an emotional tribute in the autumn of 2008) want to express their condolences, as well as to remember at this moment an essentially good man determined to restore the silent memories of the Charterhouse.
A Requiem Mass was held for James (Frá Aelred) Hogg this morning at St. Mary’s Hermitage by Fr. Ugo-Maria, entrusting James to God’s love, the salvific value of the Passion, Death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Cartuja de Santa María de Scala Coeli is an exceptional space of silence and spiritual exaltation.
QUE ELE CRESÇA E EU DIMINUA
The Holy Father appointed Rev. Can., Francisco José Villas-Boas Senra de Faria Coelho, of the clergy of the Archdiocese of Évora as the Auxiliary of the Archdiocese of Braga (Portugal). He was installed into his See on the 2 September 2018.
D. Francisco Senra Coelho, has always been a great friend and admirer of the Carthusian Order and of the Cartuja de Santa María de Scala Coeli at Evora.The Carthusians due to their strict enclosure rule could not attend the Archbishops instillation, so they invited His Excellency to preside at the solemn feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary on Saturday 8 September at the Charterhouse of Santa Maria instead.
D. Francisco Senra Coelho was delighted to accept the invitation of his friends the monks,concelebrating the Eucharistic Liturgy.After the Mass he shared lunch with some monks in the refectory which is traditionally eaten in silence.After lunch D. Francisco then spoke with the Prior, monks and brothers, calling all present to mind that he was their parish priest and had prepared for his episcopal consecration at the Charterhouse with a spiritual retreat. The monks wished that this video of the Holy Mass be shared! Here.
Cartuja de Santa María de Scala Coeli is an exceptional space of silence and spiritual exaltation.
The Monastery of the Cartuja was built at Evora between 1587 and 1598 by the Archbishop of Evora D. Teotónio de Bragança (1578-† 1602) of the House of Braganza, whom, whilst archbishop, had the monastery church artistically enriched. The church was declared a national monument in 1910.
It is here that the Carthusian monks lead a solitary life of prayer, dating from 1598.
The monastery is near Évora and its bell, especially the midnight bell, which is part of the allure, and now designated as a world heritage site. Today the Carthusian Monastery of Santa Maria Scala Coeli is considered by the Evoran citizens as one of its spiritual and artistic treasures.
In 1834, the revolutionary forces expelled the Carthusians, along with all religious. The monastery came under the ownership of the State which turned it into agricultural school (the monumental church served as a barn …). In 1871 the Eugénio de Almeida family bought the ruins from the State.
In the middle of the 20th century, Vasco Maria Count of Villalva, decided to restore the monastery and return it to the Order of St. Bruno. Seven founders in 1587 and seven restorers in 1960. The restoration to the Carthusian Monks was initiated in 1960, at the invitation of the Foundation’s Institution, who, for this purpose, undertook extensive reconstruction and restoration of the building.
This simple but deep and exalted life, divine life in its term, although human in its conditioning, develops in the ample monastery, open to the Alentejo sky, seems cheerful with its lime walls and the evergreen plants, orange trees, cypresses, boxwood, myrtle, is a “desert” of 80-hectares surrounding and sheltering the house, with eucalyptus, cork oaks, olive trees and pastures for the white cows and helps to create a favourable environment for union with God. It is precisely this union with the Lord that kindles charity within their hearts, which moves them to pray intensely for the salvation of all mankind and also leads them to unite intimately with the other solitaries whom they live in the monastery.This union is practiced and expressed on Feast days, which they celebrate with frequent community events: they sing in the church, they eat together, they talk in the afternoon. Every other week in the afternoon a they take a walk called the “Spatiamentum” talking among themselves, through the breathtaking Alentejo countryside, which to the north of the city is uninhabited and deserted.
It is a place of simplicity, silence, prayer and contemplation, and is currently the only Carthusian presence in Portugal.This union is practiced and expressed at parties, which they celebrate with more frequent community acts: they sing longer in the church, they eat together, they talk in the afternoon. Another afternoon a week they take a walk, talking among themselves, through the Alentejo countryside, which to the north of the city are uninhabited and deserted.
And so Carthusian life was reborn and revived at Santa Maria Scala Coeli, and it once again opened its doors to the Noviciate.
You can read more about this event at Cartusialover here there is an online translator on this website on the top left hand corner which will translate it into your desired language.