Community, language-learning, and, of course, apfelstrudel

Theresa, an Austrian Studium Generale student who started her studies here this fall, has been hosting, with some friends from the ITI, Tuesday night common dinners–with a catch.  All attendees need to come prepared to practice their German!

Theresa, a Studium Generale student, is from Linz, Austria.

Theresa faithfully and joyfully prepares traditional Austrian food with her roommate and some other generous souls every week for up to 2o hungry fellow students, often completed, like last night, with a well-known Austrian dessert such as Apfelstrudel.  It is thus well-attended, and a welcome break from studies as students laugh over their varying levels of German.  There are some whose German is close to perfected, some who are confident in the necessities, and some still struggling to ask for the salt.

It is the perfect atmosphere for students to engage the German language–an element of many of the ITI’s programs–and to come to love the nuances of a different manner of speaking.   The learning takes place in a semi-immersion atmosphere with no judgment or pressure and a lot of laughter, so it’s an optimal place to expand vocabulary and expression.

It is also a great sign of the life at the ITI.  As a small community, an individual’s gift to the community life has a notable effect.  The group of girls hosting this event tangibly add to the goodness of our time here.

May they reap one-hundredfold of the opportunity for joy and community they are offering to so many!

Sheep at the ITI!

Our faithful and skilled gardeners, Lukas and Franz, have brought a great and unusual surprise to the ITI: 18 sheep and goats, on loan from a nearby farmer, to tend to our Schloss’s fall garden overgrowth!

If it seems like a joke to you at first read, you are in good company.  As a few of us walked to Thursday night’s lecture (on the Filioque, given by our own Dr. Alan Fimister), one of the students remarked that we were now pasturing sheep at the ITI.  Trying to avoid being “the gullible one,” most chose to assume it was a joke where we didn’t quite get the punchline, and thus quietly and courteously laughed the comment into silence.

The ITI’s temporary herd of sheep grazes in the orchard behind the Schloss.

As we have learned, however, since receiving the e-mail announcement this morning notifying us of our new visitors, it is a fairly common practice for owners of sheep to lend them out for a mutually beneficial temporary situation, where the sheep have plentiful greenery to eat, and large gardens get their necessary–and otherwise laborious–trimming.   Our wise gardeners sought to take advantage of this practice.

So, behind our fairytale castle, in our beautiful orchard, a small herd of sheep and goats can be seen grazing at any time of the day for the next few weeks.  They have found special favour with all of the ITI’s children–who spent the better part of the late afternoon inspecting and petting the curious and contented creatures.

It is true that the small things bring much joy, and, for that reason, it seems the sheep will benefit more than the garden.  This is simply one more way God seems to be inviting us all to look anew at the world, with the eyes and heart of a child, fascinated and delighted at both his creation and the humorous and quaint oddity of sheep in a university’s backyard.

A close up of our sweet little dears.

(Although, I must say, they are certainly doing an excellent practical job of being hungry and responding to this need accordingly, to the benefit of our grounds—there is a lot of top-notch grazing going on in our little pasture!  We are already so proud of them..).

ITI students witness to life in Vienna despite opposition

The 6th World Congress of Life continued in Vienna on Saturday 6th of October with Mass and a planned vigil outside the city’s biggest abortion mill. The atmosphere around the church Maria vom Siege before Mass was tense as the organisers were expecting some form of protest there.

At the Mass Monseigneur James Reilly, founder of the Helpers of God’s Precious Infants, said that witnessing to life at modern day Calvary was always effective even when there are no turnarounds.  He reminded the large congregation of the witness of Mary, St. John and the women at the foot of the cross and to never give up hope even in the face of great opposition.

Little did the ten ITI students present realise how important these words would be as the morning unfolded.  After Mass the congregation was directed to the underground and asked to reconvene at the Congress centre before beginning the procession of prayer to the abortion site. The ITI students decided to travel by van directly to the abortion site and re-join the rest of the congregation there. After parking nearby they arrived at the site which was already encamped by at least fifty young opposition protesters under the watchful eyes of four policemen. In the meantime at the Congress centre the organisers decided to cancel the procession and vigil to the abortion site for some reason.

With the words of that morning’s homily fresh in their minds the students decided to huddle in a circle and pray the Rosary against a backround of whistles and jeers. They were joined in prayer by a member of the public.  As they walked away afterwards the students were followed through Vienna’s central streets by all the protesters still jeering and shouting.  In what seemed a bizarre sequence of events the students eventually took refuge at the cathedral St. Stephen in the city centre as the protests continued outside before being more closely monitored by police.

Monseigneur Reilly’s words seemed certainly true—that, no matter what the opposition, all prayerful witnesses against the Culture of death is effective.