In the northern hemisphere, Christmas is celebrated at the darkest time of the year – the sun being furthest away from our planet. Dark, cold, gloom, snow, rain, … yuck! It all can lead to a sense of impatience, even despair. But, as the daylight begins to return and things warm up, little by little there is the sense of renewed hope and excitement. In its original usage, lencten simply meant Spring.
Here at DSPT, we try to learn how to distinguish “rationalizations” from genuine truth as it can be known in the cosmos, in Sacred Texts, and in religious practice. Such distinctions become particularly important during such times as now exist in our nation.
Hoping to make the world a little bit smaller and our community a lot richer, DSPT is happy to welcome friars from the Province of Poland. Beginning this Fall, two student brothers will join us for a year of academic study.
Typically, I don’t like seeing something empty – my class roster, my herb garden, my cookie jar, and especially my chocolate stash! The word “empty” is derived from two Old English words: “without” and “to be obliged (to),” thus leading to the notion in Old English of “without obligation” or “leisure.” This understanding is very different than our contemporary common usage which implies more of an absence or lack. My empty chocolate stash definitely has obligations attached to it. Somebody better fill it back up! Nevertheless, this Old English usage provides something worthwhile for an Easter reflection.
The weather this past month has certainly felt a bit schizophrenic – mid-70’s one day, upper 30’s the next; some rain, lots of clouds. It’s at this point in the year that I tend to get impatient with all this chaos and confusion. I keep thinking to myself, “Why can’t we just be done with it and get back to summer?!”
The exhibition this semester in Blackfriars Gallery produced by Fr. Michael Morris, OP, entitled, “Monks & Friars & Food – Oh my!” is a delightful collection of images, prints, rare books and religious articles has been gathered to explore the long and varied history of this relationship between monastic communities (which were usually sustainable, i.e. produced their own food) and food. Fr. Michael will present a lecture on this exhibit on February 20th, after which we will offer a selection of artisanal foods and beverages – including Brigittine fudge – prepared by monastic communities in the United States (along with a small selection of Belgian beer).
The end of the semester brings with it all sorts of surprises – the rapid passage of time; the complexity of concepts which seemed so simple last month; or the growing awareness of how much care is required to maintain the right balance in our frenetic lives. And, right about now, some of us might feel that moving an inch one way or the other everything will cause everything to come crashing down around us! Well, perhaps it’s a matter of perspective.
It seems hard to imagine that we are beginning November. As I write this newsletter, the northeast coast has been slammed with a snow storm. It is the first time in recorded history that snow hit Central Park in October! Thankfully, things are calmer here in Berkeley.
If the response I received from my first “call for news” for this premier issue of Ad Extra is any indication, I believe that we will truly enjoy these updates. I expect we will be given a privileged look ad intra at the interior motivations which bring forth those topics our faculty bring to classroom discussions.So, let’s see what’s out there . . .