last dispatch from General Chapter


Posted By on Oct 14, 2017

Tuesday, 10 October 2017 Carissimi, One of the things I find entertaining about the Italian language is the double negative, as we would call it in English. For example, Non c’è nessuno is translated as “There is no one” but it literally means, “There is not no one,” which kind of means to me that there is someone. Just like Non c’è niente literally means “There isn’t nothing.” You could get held back in 3rd Grade for that. And then there is the specifically Tuscan style of voting. There are little black balls and little white ones. Black means Yes and white means No. So today the Prior General officially resigned at the end of his six-year term, and Don Emaneule, the most senior member of the Chapter (and a former Prior General himself) took up the post of presiding for the election. We heard Alessandro’s review again of his job thus far, then we had a good sharing with him, and then a scrutinium, during which he left the room, and then brought him back him and shared with him, all before the vote itself. All this took almost two hours during which time (we Americans wishing we had been informed of this earlier) we did not take a break. Then we voted on whether or not to accept his resignation. So a Yes vote (a black ball) this time meant that we accepted his resignation, meaning we did not want him to be Prior General anymore. And vice versa, a white ball meant No, we did not accept his resignation, meaning we did want him to continue as Prior General. I can’t tell you the exact outcome, but I can tell you we voted that we did not not want him. In other words, Alessandro was easily re-confirmed as Prior General today. May God continue to bless our little sainted congregation of monks. In the afternoon after the election we had a presentation on the possible new foundation in China. This has been a project dear to the heart of our Fr. Joseph Wong, who entered the Camaldolese with us in America before moving here to Italy to serve on the General Council, for as long as I have known him. He still goes to China each year to teach in the seminary there, and it is form these sojourns that he has attracted several candidates. Out of the ten or so that have explored a Camaldolese vocation here in Italy, at present only two remain, Elia and Antonio, though there is at least one other exploring the option still. We were offered a PowerPoint slideshow of...

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Week II, General Chapter, Camaldoli


Posted By on Oct 7, 2017

Ciao tutti! It has been a very intense week, very good, but very intense. Alberto and I usually leave from here at the Eremo first thing in the morning and don’t really return until just before Vespers and dinner at 7:00. Though I have been walking the 3 km up the mountain each day after pranzo just to get a little air and exercise, having to turn around immediately and head back down for the afternoon sessions. (The Italians, by the way, are just mystified by this, the stuff of legends.) We’re actually a little ahead of schedule, believe it or not, thanks to Alessandro being very firm about keeping us on schedule (responding a little to the gentle recommendations of the Americans). Monday we began with the opening conferences, another one by Alessandro himself, a review of the last six years, newness and losses: “We are at a point of maturity in our communal and congregational journey. There are two possibilities: decline or regeneration.” And then he listed seven Christian monastic postures that are necessary for the future, and they were all titled “desires,” so you could easily say seven desires necessary for the future of Christian monasticism: the desire to stop––personal and communal stability; the desire for solitude and silence; the desire for communion; the desire for conversion, conversion of quality and continual conversion––the art of living before God and in front of our sisters and brothers; the desire for vigilance––“on the border between ritual and life”; the desire for waiting for (a phrase of Pope Francis that came up often) il domani di Dio-“the tomorrow of God”; and finally the desire for Easter––“to stay under the Cross, the justice of God, the wisdom of God.” Alessandro ended with a phrase that he borrowed from someone else that I just loved, which of course touches on one of my favorite topics: Uscire dalla gabbia antropologica–“to get out of our anthropological cage”! Actually the phrase “monastic anthropology has come up quite often: what understanding of what it means to be human comes out of the monastic tradition. And when it doesn’t come up, I bring it up, adding that I am not sure that we all agree on that anthropology; I’m not sure we all agree on what it means to be a human being, and what are our goals, our scopos and telos. Then there were two more, much shorter conferences offered, that were actually meant to be, and were, conversation starters. Alberto, vice-prior of the community at the Eremo and certainly one of my models for what it means to be a Camaldolese monk and a...

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30 settembre festa di san girolamo Ciao tutti! The open week of the General Chapter concluded today. It has been a good, full week. The best part of it all of course is being with our monks and nuns from all over Italy, and some from other parts of Europe and the world as well––Africa, India, China, Brazil. Our speaker yesterday made a special note of this. She was speaking of that turn that Karl Rahner had noted––from a European church to a world church. (Remember Bruno made much of this as well.) And this woman yesterday was pretty impressed that for such a small congregation we would have such an impressive presence throughout the world, and in places where real cultural and religious dialogue necessarily take place. I’ve been staying up at the Sacro Eremo since I arrived Sunday. Thanks be to God, it was a very smooth flight across the Atlantic last Saturday and Sunday. (I am a total weeny when it comes to air turbulence, I’m not proud to say.) I had really nothing at all to do for the first two and a half days here at Camaldoli, so I just slept, walked in the woods, crammed myself full of Italian, and basically got over jet lag. By the time we started up Wednesday evening I felt pretty much “here and now––qui ed adesso.” The Prior General, Alessandro, gave a rather long but very powerful opening conference Wednesday on the problems facing the world right now, and then on our response to it. I was glad to see him address again some of the issues that he brought up in his letter convoking this General Chapter. It was also interesting that for all of his involvement and interest in current affairs and modern currents of thought, he still thinks the first solution we Camaldolese have to offer is our contemplative life, our fruitful silence and solitude as moments of encounter with God and one another and the All. We then had a very dense presentation by a New Testament from Rome named Romano Penna on Easter as the Fundamental Event of the Christian Faith, in two parts. Actually, it was in three parts because after the speakers end both sections of their presentation there is always an hour (it goes over most of the time…) of interventi e domande–comments and questions (short speeches and provocations!). It was a very fine presentation and very dense. There was a last minute cancellation for Thursday afternoon. A certain Pierfrancesco Stagi, professor of philosophy from Turin (and Freiburg), was supposed to speak to us on the current relevancy of...

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MONDAY AND TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 11-12, 10AM-NOON; COST: $80 Who Cares for the Caregiver; Who Ministers to the Minister? Presented by Bede Healey, OSB Cam, Ph.D. We are all called to be of service to others. This indeed is the good news. But this service often comes at a price. It is indeed possible to care for others while not over expending oneself. We will explore the issues of human needs and woundedness, pliant boundaries, and still centers. Utilizing a relational approach, we will examine the interdependency of self and others, highlighting the creative potential for growth and wisdom and peace. MONDAY AND TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 25–26, 10AM-3PM; COST: $180 (lunch included) Living Contemplatively Presented by Michael Fish, OSB Cam With an emphasis on finding one’s true, authentic self in God, this two-part course offering challenges one to uncover personal masks and look at life from a new perspective. (Please bring a pillow and blanket with you.) TUESDAY, OCTOBER 3, 10AM–3PM; COST: $95 (lunch included) Discerning the Sacred Images on the Canvas of Our Souls Presented by Arthur Poulin, OSB Cam This course, part lecture and part experiential, will take you on a journey behind the scenes of a painting and into the creative process itself to see how God can be encountered there, in the hope that you will discover a pathway into your own unique gift of creativity. TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 7, 10AM–3PM; COST: $95 (lunch included) Journey of Faith, Journey of the Universe: Interweaving Faith and Science Presented by Ivan Nicoletto, OSB Cam This course intends to explore and foster the connections between our spiritual journey and practice, and the contemporary vision of the Cosmos and the Big story. In this route a new relationship emerges among Divine, human, and Cosmic dimensions. Please read the following information about what to expect and how to best prepare for your time with us. Should you have further questions, call 510-652-1651 or email info@satgtu.org. Arrival and Departure Times If you are coming to SAT for the first time, please arrive 15 minutes early, so we can welcome you and orient you to the program and facilities. Lunch Kindly note: if you have registered for a course offering that is scheduled in both the morning and afternoon, we break for an hour for lunch and reflection time. Greenfeld’s, at St. Albert’s Priory, where we are housed, provides buffet-style hot lunches, with soup and salad, which is included in the cost of your tuition. Unless you inform us otherwise, we will assume you will be joining us for lunch at St. Albert’s. Please let us know as soon as possible if you will not...

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5th Annual Retreat and Assembly


Posted By on May 16, 2017

New Camaldoli Hermitage invites you to join us for our 5th Annual Retreat and Assembly on
Friday, August 18th through Sunday, August 20th, 2017. Prior Cyprian will be joined by fellow monks and the return of our very popular guest presenter from last year, Sr. Donald Corcoran, to reflect on our theme for this year which is “To Love The World: Responsible Contemplation.”

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It was nice to see a recent feature on the Hermitage and our fundraising efforts to rebuild our driveway and help us through these desperate times when we aren’t able to welcome guests to our home here in Big Sur. We are so grateful to everyone who has helped us in our time of need. Beleaguered Big Sur institutions turn to...

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