Update on the Byzantine Chapel

Chapel -2012
Chapel -2012
The first phase of the Trumau Byzantine Chapel project at the ITI has already been completed. Our architect donated the first plans and our students did almost all of the work of this phase. They cleared the space, removed the un-needed walls to reveal the original arches and helped a local firm to level the dirt floor. We are now in the middle of the second and third phases.
Chapel - April 2013
Chapel – April 2013
The base concrete floor has been completed and the walls have been added to delineate the chapel space and create the sacristy and utility rooms.
Chapel - October 2013
Chapel – October 2013
In September 2013, the ceiling was plastered with careful precision to keep the lines of the original arches.
We installed the floor heating, electricity and plumbing. Then the second plastering coat was applied to the ceilings and sanded by hand, as this coating served as the base coat for the iconography.
Br. Ioan Gotia prepares sketches of the Iconography
Br. Ioan Gotia prepares sketches of the Iconography
While the ceiling preparation was in process, we hired two iconographers, Br. Ioan Gotia, dcjm, from Romania, and Fr. Tomas Labanic, from Slovakia to begin their artistic work. Both are graduates of the ITI. Fr. Tomas Labanic will work from home and do iconography on panels for the walls of the chapel. Br. Gotia first made sketches from home for the iconographic work he will do on the ceiling.
Chapel - January 2014
Chapel – January 2014
Br. Gotia arrived at the ITI in January 2014 and the first fruit of all this preparation can now be seen in the icons he is writing in the chapel. He will remain at the ITI for six months to complete the ceiling iconography.
February 2014 - Deacon Johannes van Voorst (STM '13) gives the homily at Mass in the Byzantine Chapel
February 2014 – Deacon Johannes van Voorst (STM ’13) gives the homily at Mass in the Byzantine Chapel.
Once the heating and electricity was installed, we were able to begin using the chapel regularly for Vespers, and recently had a Mass there to celebrate the visit of one of our graduates who was just ordained a deacon.

A new media apostolate for Catholic Men

One of our alumni, Mr. Bryan Gonzalez, is involved in a new website called “Those Catholic Men” – go check it out!

From the website:

Thosecatholicmen.com is designed to embolden, enlighten, and engage Catholic men for the renewal of masculine character and spirituality. Our team of laymen, seminarians, and priests welcomes you to join a movement which will result in the restoration of Catholic men and, consequently, Catholic families and communities.


45th Anniversary of Humanae Vitae

Fr. Basil Nixen, O.S.B.

ITI Graduate and Norcia Monk, Fr. Basil O.S.B., gave a recent homily on the 45th Anniversary of Humanae Vitae.  It is entitled, “The Prophetic Lament of Christ Through the Ages.”  Read it here.

The Beauty and Joy of Marriage Despite its Enemies

Fr. Basil Nixen, O.S.B, an ITI graduate from Norcia, Italy,  delivered this beautiful homily on Jan 20th about the Wedding Feast at Cana.  Enjoy!

Liturgical Date EF: Dominica II post Epiphaniam

Readings: Rm 12,6-16 & Gv 2,1-11

The Gospel reading today is about the Wedding Feast at Cana, one of the most beautiful and luminous mysteries in the life of Jesus Christ.  With this Gospel, we continue our reflection on the various manifestations of the Lord.  The first manifestation was that of the Magi, which we solemnly remembered two Sundays ago on the Feast of the Epiphany.  The second manifestation of Christ was his Baptism in the River Jordan, which we remembered last Sunday.  Finally, the third manifestation of Christ is his presence at the Wedding Feast at Cana, especially in the miraculous way in which he transformed the water into wine.  The Church has always seen a close connection among these three mysteries in the life of Christ.  The thread that unites them is the concept of marriage between God and man: God unites himself to man with a nuptial and indissoluble bond in the Incarnation of His Only-Begotten Son.  In the words of St. Augustine, “the word is the bridegroom, the human flesh is the bride” (Eighth homily on the Gospel of St. John).  The marital union between man and woman thus acquires a greatness and supernatural beauty, precisely because it becomes a precious image of the union between God and his human creature, and for this reason, it constitutes a perennial source of hope and joy.

It is precisely the joy of marriage that we feel radiate from this Gospel passage.  As the venerable Russian monk Father Zosima observes in the classic novel of Dostoyevsky, The Brothers Karamazov: “Ah, that sweet miracle! It was not men’s grief, but their joy Christ visited, He worked His first miracle to help men’s gladness….He who loves men loves their gladness, too”.  We all know the indescribable joy that is felt when we see the beauty of a bride, adorned with her jewels (cf. Is 61:10) and ready to give herself to her bridegroom in holy matrimony.  Christ wanted to affirm with his presence at the Wedding Feast at Cana that he himself “is the author of Marriage” (St. Augustine, Homily 9 on the Gospel of St. John), and thus he expresses through his acts the words which he speaks with his lips elsewhere in the Gospel, namely, what therefore God has joined together, let no man put asunder (Mt 19:6).

However, since ancient times, marriage has had its enemies.  Writing to St. Timothy, St. Paul foresaw that some would even prohibit marriage (cf. 1 Tim 4:3), considering it an evil to be avoided.  Such heretics rejected marriage because they considered the human body to be evil, and therefore they saw procreation as the gravest of evils.  These are the errors produced by an excessive spiritualism that goes to the point of rejecting the material world, of denying its inherent goodness.

In our days, however, marriage undergoes an attack from the opposite side, from an excessively materialistic society that negates the existence of the spirit, and therefore, the transcendence of man.  The modern world is almost convinced of the materialistic philosophy, and thus advances a flawed anthropology, proclaiming that man is exclusively body.  According to such a point of view, love is reduced to its physical expression, and consequently, marriage loses its true significance of being a bond of loyalty, becoming instead a relationship that can be broken whenever it ceases to offer a merely materialistic or bodily experience of happiness.  This is when divorce enters the picture, which constitutes a true evil and one of the most serious threats to the family.

In addition to materialism, the Holy Father has identified other dangerous errors that threaten the existence of the family in his annual pre-Christmas address to the Roman Curia, which took place last December 21st.

The first consists in a wrong understanding of freedom, which rejects entering into a life-long relationship, because those bonds are a cause of suffering, and therefore are considered to be in conflict with freedom.  Here’s what the Pope says:

Man’s refusal to make any commitment – which is becoming increasingly widespread as a result of a false understanding of freedom and self-realization as well as the desire to escape suffering – means that man remains closed in on himself and keeps his “I” ultimately for himself, without really rising above it. Yet only in self-giving does man find himself, and only by opening himself to the other, to others, to children, to the family, only by letting himself be changed through suffering, does he discover the breadth of his humanity.

The second error that threatens the family highlighted by the Pope is the most grave of all, and consists in a rejection of the very human nature revealed in the masculinity and femininity of the human body.  The Pope affirms that

According to this philosophy, sex is no longer a given element of nature that man has to accept and personally make sense of: it is a social role that we choose for ourselves, while in the past it was chosen for us by society. The profound falsehood of this theory and of the anthropological revolution contained within it is obvious. People dispute the idea that they have a nature, given by their bodily identity that serves as a defining element of the human being.

The Pope’s words declare that modern man thinks that he can create and choose his nature, and therefore even the family isn’t defined by nature, but by the will of man.  According to this reasoning, marriage can consist between two men or two women, thus eliminating the fecundity of offspring and therefore defining human procreation as a simple mechanical action which can be manipulated according to one’s wishes.  The Holy Father states that “the manipulation of nature, which we deplore today where our environment is concerned, now becomes man’s fundamental choice where he himself is concerned”.

But we Christians can’t let ourselves be convinced of these errors; instead, we must give full assent to Divine Revelation which states that God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them (Gen 1:27).  We must let ourselves be guided and formed by this truth, because—as the Pope explains—“The defense of the family is about man himself. And it becomes clear that when God is denied, human dignity also disappears. Whoever defends God is defending man.”

We must turn to Mary to overcome these errors; let us run to Her who destroys error in her humble adherence to the divine truth.  Let us pray that the Holy Mother of God will continue to reveal to us a true and authentic humanity, which consists in the full assent of man to the natural law written by God in our bodies.  Let us follow her loving admonition to obey her Son in everything, putting into practice her words, do whatever he tells you (Jn 2:5).

(Translated from the original Italian by B. Gonzalez.) http://osbnorcia.org/2013/01/20/marriage


Another Ordination!

Ordination of Br. Basil Nixen, OSB

A group of ITI faculty and students jumped into cars to speed down to Norcia for a quick weekend to witness the ordination and first Mass of our beloved Don Basilio.  He was ordained by His Excellency Renato Boccardo, on Saturday, September 24, 2011.  After he graduated from the ITI, we all eagerly awaited news of his ordination date.  Br. Basil is now Fr. Basil and the weekend was a treat not many of us will forget.  As the birthplace of Sts. Benedict and Scholastica, Norcia is a pilgrimage place – also know for its great prosciutto!  We prayed and feasted and then jumped back into our cars to arrive home just in time for classes.  Fr. Basil, you will be in our prayers as you carry out your ministry!

The Significance of the Miracles of the Loaves

Our students come from all over the world…and they then go out to serve all over the world.  Here is a recent sermon from ITI graduate Fr. Thomas Bolin:

Fr. Thomas Bolin's First Mass

The Significance of the Miracles of the Loaves
by Rev. Thomas Bolin, O.S.B.
Subprior , Monastery of San Benedetto, Norcia, Italy



In today’s Gospel passage, Jesus performs a miracle, and thus provides food for a large crowd of about 4,000 people, with seven loaves of bread and a few fish.  Earlier in the Gospel, Jesus performs another similar miracle, and later, after the passage from today, compares the miracles:  “And do you not remember?  When I broke the five loaves for the five thousand, how many baskets full of leftover pieces did you take up?’ They said to him, ‘Twelve.’  And the seven for the four thousand, how many baskets full of leftover pieces did you take up?’  And they said to him, ‘Seven.’  And he said to them, ‘Do you not yet understand?’” (Mk 8:18-21). 
Perhaps we, too, don’t understand the meaning of these particular numbers, even if one could say that both numbers, seven and twelve, are different ways of expressing perfection:  each of these two numbers is composed, in a different way, of three and four.  Three plus four is seven, and three times four is twelve.  Thus, the number of baskets in each case signifies perfection.  We could reasonably say that the miracle of the loaves signifies the Sacrament of the Eucharist, and therefore, perhaps, the remaining baskets signify that when one divides the Eucharist, Jesus fully remains in each portion.  In the same way, his body and his blood are both present under the species of bread and wine.  But if we understand the miracle in this way (or in another way), the general meaning would be that the power of God remains perfect when he does something for us, i.e., nothing is lost. 
However, let’s look at the specific numbers.  In the miracle of today’s Gospel passage, Jesus feeds 4,000 people with seven loaves.  On the other hand, in the previous miracle, he feeds 5,000 people with five loaves.  Thus, he uses fewer loaves to feed a larger crowd, and more loaves to feed a smaller crowd.  What this indicates is that when God does something, he prefers to utilize weaker instruments to manifest his power with greater completeness.  Thus, St. Therese of the Child Jesus says that God loves to use weak and imperfect people to bring out his plan, because this glorifies God more.  Thus, he reveals himself as the true source of salvation, which could otherwise be erroneously attributed to the instruments.
This type of miracle, a miraculous multiplication of food, is common enough in the lives of the saints and is found in the Old Testament.  For example, the prophet Elisha performs a similar miracle, giving food to a hundred people with a small quantity of loaves, and likewise, he multiplies the widow’s jar of oil such that she could pay her debts (cf. 2 Kgs 4).  Jesus deliberately performs similar miracles to those of the ancient prophets, but his are even greater, inasmuch as 5,000 is greater than a hundred, and in the end, this demonstrates that he is greater than all of the prophets.  Thus, not too long after the discussion of these two miracles, we read about the episode at Caesarea Philippi, where Jesus asks: “Who do men say that I am?” (Mk 8:27).  Men think that he is just one of the prophets, but only the disciples, and in particular Peter, see that he is someone greater than the prophets:  “You are the Christ” (Mk 8:29), to which Peter adds in the Gospel of Matthew, “the Son of the living God” (Mt 16:16). 
We can see in all this an optimal reason to trust ourselves to Christ and his power to guide our lives.  And the weaker and more impotent that we are, the more Christ can operate in us, just as he feeds the larger crowd with fewer loaves.  Therefore, let’s go to him each day and let’s try to follow him ever more closely, in particular with the heavenly bread of the Sacrament of the Eucharist.

Need a Smile?

When I need a smile I go to the youtube page of ITI graduate Fr. Johannes Schwarz and watch one of his ad spoofs.  He has a real gift.

Here is my favorite