November 17, 2011

Into the Silence

I just had the privilege of again spending several days in Norcia, Italy.

There, Father Cassian Folsom, a friend from the early 1990s in Rome, has had the courage and vision to found and lead a now-flourishing Benedictine monastery of about 20 monks (not all of them solemnly professed).

They celebrate the liturgy in both the old and the new forms, in Latin.

Along with my friend Al Mac Elrath, from New Jersey, I was invited to join the monks for lunch, and to talk at length with Father Cassian. (One conversation, which focused on Pope Leo the Great’s Christmas Sermon of 440 A.D., will be transcribed and made into a CD.)

Cassian was born in southern Connecticut, in the United States, where I was also born. So I take a certain pride in his remarkable initiative, and would like to do what I can to help it succeed.

This initiative is well known to Pope Benedict. This morning in Rome, I ran into one of the Pope’s closest collaborators, and mentioned I had just been in Norcia. She immediately said, smiling with evident joy: “With Father Cassian?”

Cassian’s initiative is one of the “points of light” in the Church and world today — and I thought I would mention it in this letter, when the rest of the world is talking about “points of shadow,” like the shocking images Benetton here in Italy, using photoshop, has displayed publicly, showing the Pope kissing a Muslim Imam, or the shocking and extremely dangerous corruption that now seems to run throughout our entire financial system (I am referring to the MF Global collapse, which has rendered suspect the entire futures and options markets).

Norcia (Nursia in English) is the place where St. Benedict, the founder of Benedictine monasticism, was born. It is now the place where Benedictine monasticism is once again alive — the monastery there was closed in 1810, and remained closed until Cassian went there in 2000 and reopened the monastery, virtually alone.

Here is a film trailer which gives a glimpse of the monastic life in the monastery. By clicking on the following link, you will go to the monastery’s web page, and there you can click on the video trailer, and view it. I recommend you take the five minutes or so to do it.

We are working with Father Cassian to bring pilgrims to the monastery, to experience the liturgy and life, as part of our program of pilgrimages to the sources of our faith, which also include Assisi, Subiaco, Manoppello, and the Vatican itself. Please write if you would like further information about how to join us.

Facebook Comments