Thursday, February 21, 2008

Desert Wisdom from Oregon...

Today we have a guest lecturer - Father Jeremy Driscoll, OSB - a monk of Mt. Angel Abbey, Oregon, and professor at both Mt. Angel Seminary and Sant' Anselmo in Rome. Father Jeremy specializes in the desert fathers and Evagrius Ponticus, but lectures and writes on liturgy as well as monastic studies. He is a dynamic teacher - passionate about the the WORD present and active in the wisdom of the desert abbas.

His topic this morning was the Sayings of the Desert Fathers - an alphabetical codex of monastic wisdom from the middle of the fifth century. (We have been listening to this collection aloud at dinner every night since we arrived in Rome. It's been only two days since we finished the book and have begun another equally intriguing work: The Lives of the Desert Fathers. I found the "sayings" rather difficult to digest with our main meal (pun intended.) Some were quite accessible offering the hearer a clear and profound message. Others were nearly unintelligible - absurdly humorous to most of us because their deeper meaning seemed obscure to a 21st century monastic ear.)

In his lively lecture, Father Jeremy condensed a decade of research into two and a half hours. Moving from how to approach the text in three different ways - scientific, existential and theological - to the primary text itself, Father Jeremy taught us to use the lens of Sacred Scripture to decode the sayings. His emphasis throughout was on the monastic as a seeker of "what to do" and the Scripture as the abbas' answer. If the Nike corporation made bibles instead of running shoes, "JUST DO IT" would take on a whole new meaning.

We have a short siesta today and begin again at 3:00 PM. I am very glad to be spending the whole day with Father Jeremy. Next, we examine The Life of Antony - a monastic classic. And with Father Jeremy as my guide, I'm looking forward to the desert trek.

Blessings and love to you all...

- Sister Vicki