Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Archbishop Sample's Homily Sets 17 Seminarians on Fire

by Br. Lorenzo Conocido, O.S.B.

Editor's Note: This is a more extensive story on the Candidacy Mass that was celebrated earlier this semester.

The Very Reverend Archbishop Sample of the Archdiocese of Portland presided over the Candidacy Mass at Mount Angel Abbey on Oct. 24, along with six other bishops and a total of thirty-nine priests from different dioceses, the Seminary, and the Abbey.  It may have been cold, foggy, and wet on the hilltop but not inside the Abbey Church when the Archbishop's homily ignited the spirit of the 17 seminarians who were admitted to candidacy for ordination as deacons and priests.

The Gospel from St. Luke set the entire theme of the Mass with the passage: "Jesus said to his disciples: 'I have come to set the earth on fire, and how I wish it was already blazing!'"

"The readings were chosen by the Mother Church for you today," explained Archbishop Sample, who chose to preach while sitting, an image of a pastor instructing his own people. He said that these readings were not chosen for this occasion but were generously given for the people of God, both for the candidates and the assembly.

He noted that a vocation is not all about the person but "about Jesus and service to the people of God," thus reminding the candidates of the real meaning of their vocation.

"The Church needs men on fire for the Gospel of Christ and the New Evangelization" were the blazing words said by the Archbishop in his homily.  There was no better day for the Archbishop to make this appeal than on this occasion as these Theology III and IV seminarians responded with a resounding "Present!" as their names were called one by one during the presentation of the candidates.  This showed their full intention to continue on to the transitional diaconate and eventually to priesthood.

The day was yet another time in the life of these candidates as the Archbishop emphasized that the response they made was a "solemn and public yes" to the Lord.

"This is not a graduation but an intense period of preparation," the Archbishop said.  He bid the candidates to submit all the more to formation, to die to themselves more and more each day, and he added, "Submit yourself humbly to formation."

The entire celebration flowed smoothly and was led by Fr. Liem Nguyen, O.S.B., the Master of Ceremonies, with Rev. Mr. Francisco Bringuela, Jr., and Rev. Mr. Brian Sattler serving as deacons.  The beautiful voices of the seminary choir added to the warmth and complemented the solemnity of the Mass with music selected by Mrs. Myrna Keough, the seminary choir director.  Sr. Teresa Gould, F.H., conducted the choristers while Br. Teresio Caldwell, O.S.B., played the organ.

The Archbishop concluded his preaching with an invitation to invoke the Holy Spirit and to let the Spirit do His work among His people.  He also added, "Pray for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit for perseverance."

Warm wishes, greetings and hugs later followed the Mass when the Archbishop and the candidates, together with their bishops, vocation directors, and guest priests gathered outside the Abbey Church for a photo opportunity.

When asked whether he is on fire after the Candidacy Mass, Mr. Marinelo Sanguin of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles said, "Dare we hope!"

Off the hilltop, the "fire" of the day's event was contagious when photos were posted on the Facebook page for Mount Angel Abbey and Seminary.  One Facebook follower commented, "Felicidades y estan en nuestras oraciones!" (Congratulations and you are in our prayers).  As of the writing of this article, the post has reached more than 2000 views, making it the most viewed post on the Mount Angel Abbey and Seminary Facebook page.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Br. John Paul Le, O.S.B., Embraces God

by Brother Marinus Kim, O.S.B.

Mount Angel Abbey was a place for one solemn profession this year, the profession of Br. John Paul Le.  The ceremony was Thursday, September 12, 2013, at 7 p.m. in the Abbey Church.  To do his solemn profession, Br. John Paul Le prepared for five and a half years.

The presider in the Mass was Abbot Gregory Duerr, O.S.B. The monks, seminary faculty and seminarians, and the invited people witnessed Br. John Paul Le's covenant moment with God.  They filled in the church and some moved up to the mezzanine.

All the people participated in the celebration through the different roles of witnesses who were singing, greeting him as friends and family, and applauding him as his companion in the seminary and monastery.  After the Mass was a reception in Aquinas Hall.  Everyone waited for Br. John Paul's arrival. As soon as his face appeared in the hall, all the people yelled and applauded to congratulate him.  He walked around the tables to respond to their presence in the ceremony.

After the Liturgy of the Word and the homily, the Abbot took his place in front of the altar.  Br. John Paul Le stood in front of the Abbot.  Then Abbot Gregory said, "My dear confreres, Br. John Paul Le, the Lord God inspired you to profess stability in this community, fidelity to the monastic way of life, and obedience according to the Rule of our Holy Father St. Benedict.  Let us pray that he strengthen you with the grace of the Holy Spirit as you come before Him today to confirm your monastic profession."

Br. John Paul then read his profession document by his own voice, placed it on the altar, and signed it.  To sing the suscipe, he stood in the middle of the church.  He began the first time, singing with outstretched arms, "Accept me, O Lord, as You have promised, accept me and I shall live.  Do not disappoint me in my hope."  To do the second time, he approached a position in the midst of the monks and sang again the suscipe.  Lastly, he stood in front of Abbot Gregory and repeated the suscipe.

After that, Br. John Paul stepped down from the altar and laid face down on the ground as when a priest is ordained.  Before the Lord's Prayer, Br. John Paul got up and joined the Lord's Prayer and was greeted with the sign of peace by all of the solemnly-vowed monks.  The Mass flowed to the end.

When he returned from his vacation, Br. John Paul said, "The solemn profession means that Christ has called me to total commitment to him.  I am able to live the life he lived and continue his work through the liturgy.  It is a most precious gift that God would call a person to himself in loving communion.  I am happy to have a home and to be at peace.  This is the path God has given to me."

Also he explained, "I chose the verse 'Totus Tuus' [for my profession].  'Totally yours.'  It is from St. Louis de Montfort, and I want to be totally Christ's through Mary.  She always brings us closer to Jesus."  Finally, he added the comment to the people who are hesitating to answer to God, "Do not be afraid.  There is no greater journey than the journey to God's heart."

Sunday, November 24, 2013

MAS Soccer Finishes the Season with Win against PSU

In their last game of the season on the afternoon of November 23, 2013, the MAS Guardians soccer team defeated Portland State University 2-0.  The additional win gave the Guardians a season with 6 wins, 2 losses and 2 ties.

Jonathan Cheevers and Andres Guerra chased down the first goal in the first half of the game:


After some final words of instruction and encouragement from their coach Daniel Miller, the Guardians gathered for a prayer and cheer before the second half of the game.

The Guardians kept near the PSU goal for much of the second half, and after the PSU goalie repelled one attack, the Guardians immediately pushed forward again and scored the second goal of the game:


The MAS Journalism blog will continue to cover MAS basketball this semester, as well as cover basketball and volleyball next semester.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Guardians Basketball Beats Reed College

Photo and video by Fredy Preciado and Sister Hilda Kleiman

In a game in which the Guardians maintained their lead for almost the entire duration of the game, the MAS Guardians basketball team beat Reed College the evening of Friday, November 22nd.

At halftime the score was 41-15, and the game finished with a score of 75-41.

Alex De Paulis (73) and Romple Emwalu (4) defend against the Reed players in the first half of  the game.

A score by the Guardians, also early in the first half:


Guardians basketball continues its season with one home game and one away game this semester, and several games next semester as well.

Friday, November 22, 2013

MAS Soccer Team Moves from Humble Beginnings to One of the Best

by Frank Villanueva

Editor's Note: This is a more extensive story about the soccer match against Lewis & Clark that was covered on the MAS journalism blog on October 20, 2013.

The sun is shining, the smell of freshly cut grass is in the air, and players are slowly making their way to the green field as the start of another match gets on its way.  The Guardians are preparing themselves phyically, spiritually, but more importantly mentally for their match against the men of Lewis and Clark.  The pressure to keep their undefeated season is ever present in the minds of these players.

However, the challenges these men faced were challenges with which the Guardians were all too familiar.  From their inception until now, the men have endured several challenges over the years.  In a press conference given to the Mount Angel Seminary journalism class, Dr. Andrew Cummings, fellow teammate, center midfielder for the Guardians, and faculty advisor to the team, shared with the students the history of the soccer team.

"It wasn't always this great in the past," Cummings said.  "There was a time when we would only have two or three teams to play against."  The undiscovered team at the time would have to scramble to get other teams to challenge them. Now, the Guardians belong to the Cascade Collegiate Soccer League.

This year the team has a full season schedule that is packed with 10 games, and among the seven teams in their division, the Guardians have a reputation as being one of the best in the league this season.

Dr. Cummings shared how soccer has helped to make a name and face for the seminary.  "Many people had no idea that we even existed before we came to be part of this organization" he said.  First-year seminarian and player Felipe Villalobos of the Diocese of Orange said, "It can be tough to try and focus on the game and be an aggressive player while maintaining the image of a seminarian at the same time."

Villalobos, who played outside and defensive midfielder against Lewis & Clark, said, "It could conceivably be difficult to associate a seminary whose main focus is to form men into priests [with a soccer team]."  Before they entered the league the lack of knowledge from other teams about Mount Angel Seminary having a soccer team made it difficult, at that time, to schedule games and build up a soccer program.

The commitment required to play such a sport also poses a challenge for the young team.  Richard Hardisty of the Archdiocese of Portland said, "It can be difficult to get your mind into the game when we have our studies waiting for us back at the seminary."

In one aspect of their formation growth, the seminary instills the importance of commitment into the students at Mount Angel Seminary.  They are told that their commitments to sports should be just as important to them as any other commitment they have here on the hilltop.  Villalobos, who played for many years before entering Mount Angel Seminary, said, "The commitment needed to play at club level is the same here in the seminary."  He also added, "These men have to juggle soccer, their studies, prayer life and everyday seminary life, so the players work just as hard at the game as some of my fellow teammates I have played with in the past, and in some cases work even harder."

These challenges will continue to arise as the Guardians meet new opponents and juggle all that is thrown at them.  The Guardians will meet these challenges with courage and determination.


Richard Hardisty scores against Lewis and Clark
Video by Sister Hilda Kleiman, O.S.B.

The game against Lewis & Clark ended with a goal made by Richard Hardisty, making the score 1-1.  To date, the Guardians have a record of 5 wins, 2 losses, and 2 ties. They have one game left in the season.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Abbot Gregory Duerr, O.S.B., Celebrates Anniversary of Abbatial Election

by Br. Lorenzo Conocido, O.S.B.

Abbot Gregory Duerr, O.S.B., the eleventh abbot of Mount Angel Abbey, celebrated his fourth year of abbatial election on Monday, November 18, 2013.  He was elected abbot in 2009, following the retirement of Abbot Nathan Zodrow, O.S.B. (reigned 2001-2009).

In his abbatial address given on February 26, 2010, Abbot Gregory said, "In word and deed, but primarily in deed, point out Jesus, so that all together we may challenge ourselves day by day to conform to the Spirit and to the Gospel of Jesus, to walk by the pathway of the Gospel."

His abbatial motto, "He Shall Be Peace" is the main theme of his sixth "A Word from the Abbot," reflections on the Rule of St. Benedict and the Holy Scriptures that were originally given to the monks on Fridays after Vigils.  He now shares his reflections with the public through the Abbey's website.

Abbot Gregory, called "Father Abbot" by his confreres and friends on the hilltop, made his profession on September 8, 1958, and was ordained on May 7, 1964.

* * *
Editor's Note: as of 9:30 a.m. on Thursday, November 20, 2013, the date of Abbot Gregory's ordination has been corrected.

MAS Seminarians Join Archbishop Sample in a Memorial Mass for Victims of Typhoon Haiyan

by Br. Lorenzo Conocido, O.S.B.

Portland, OR - This Sunday, Archbishop Alexander Sample led a memorial Mass for the victims of typhoon Haiyan at St. Clare Parish in southwest Portland.  He celebrated with many members and supporters of the local Filipino community.

Mount Angel seminarians attended and served at the Mass, and Mount Angel Seminary alumni priests also concelebrated with Archbishop Sample.

Read more coverage from the Oregonian and the Catholic Sentinel.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Photos from Fr. Ralph's Pilgrimage to Turkey

Earlier this month MAS Journalism published a story on Fr. Ralph's pilgrimage to Turkey.  Visit Mount Angel Abbey and Seminary's Facebook page for photos of the adventures of the pilgrims.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Shakespeare Students Share Their Insights

Editor's Note: This is the first of several essays from this year's Shakespeare class that will be published on the MAS Journalism Blog.  This class traveled to the Oregon Shakespeare Festival this fall, and stories by Daniel Miller and Frank Villanueva covered this trip.  The student essays discuss the two plays, King Lear and A Midsummer Night's Dream, that the students saw at the festival.

Jesus Mariscal is a college-four seminarian studying for the Diocese of Yakima.

Emotional Control: Lear vs. Theseus
by Jesus Mariscal

The tragedy King Lear and the comedy A Midsummer Night's Dream, both written by William Shakespeare, share similar characters and themes.  Under the light of the plot that develops from the conflicts between fathers and daughters in the first scenes, a significant difference between Lear and Theseus unfolds.  A significant difference between Lear and Theseus that is evident throughout both plays is their personalities.  While Lear maintains an intemperate personality, in contrast, Theseus preserves a temperate personality.

Jesus Mariscal

From early on in King Lear, Lear demonstrates his intemperate personality.  Lear's first appearance in the play shows his lack of emotional control when Lear's youngest daughter, Cordelia, refuses to participate in Lear's absurd love contest.  Disappointed by Cordelia's rejection, he explodes into a furious rashness and "disclaims [his] paternal care, propinquity, and property of blood [from her] forever" and asks her to "avoid [his] sight" (15).  In other words, he disowns and exiles her from his kingdom.  Lear indulges in a reckless rage, blinds himself and does not realize he banishes the daughter whom he calls his joy; the daughter whom he loves the most and had planned to "to set [his] rest on her kind nursery" (15). This means that Cordelia rejects his love contest.  Lear loves and trusts her so much that he had planned to live with her to be cared by her during his retirement if she had participated as his elder daughters do in his contest.

However, in seconds, when Cordelia rejects his love contest, Lear suddenly flips from referring to Cordelia as his joy and most loved daughter to comparing her to a "barbarous Scythian" (15), a savage personage from "classical literature savagery" (14).  The sudden and unexpected change of sentiments towards his daughter that move from affection to abomination clearly shows Lear's reason blurred by a lack of emotional control.

Lear maintains his intemperate personality during and after his contrition.  The night during which Lear experiences his conversion is a cold and stormy night.  The extreme weather helps him to recognize and purge all his unjust rancor and prejudice towards Cordelia and homeless people.  Once he comes to a realization of things, he does not need to further risk his health under the extreme weather.  However, he becomes overwhelmed with a roaring contrition and unreasonably prefers to stay out under extreme weather to invoke the heavens requesting justice (137), rather than taking shelter and finishing his reflection in safety.  If he had not lost control of his emotions, he would have taken shelter to protect his physical health.

Furthermore, towards the end of the play when Lear and Cordelia are arrested and sent to jail, Lear, now with a tender heart indulged in love does not realize or care that they are going to be imprisoned.  Instead, he is happy to go to prison with his daughter.  Blinded by the bliss of being reconciled with Cordelia, Lear tells her that in prison they will have time together and "sing like birds i' the' cage" (235), and that when she asks for his "blessing, [he will] kneel and ask [for her] forgiveness" (235).  His over joyous ecstasy does not allow him to realize that they will be deprived from freedom like the singing birds that he talks about to Cordelia.  Although Lear is now experiencing positive emotions, they are still extreme emotions that make Lear to unreasonably embrace the fact that he and his beloved daughter will be imprisoned.

In contrast, Theseus preserves a temperate personality throughout A Midsummer Night's Dream.  From the opening scene, Theseus shows his temperate character by containing his impatience and desires from making love to his fiance Hippolyta before the wedding day.  He tells her that although he has the power to force her into making love to him as he did in the past, he will abstain and "wed [her] in another key, with pomp, triumph, and reveling" (7).  In other words, Theseus wants to do things right for Hippolyta this time, and he will throw a festive and royal wedding for her.  Therefore, Theseus overcomes his lustful desires and romantic affection for Hippolyta by exercising self-control over his emotions.

Theseus's temperate personality is also evident through his serenity and calculated response with which he receives Egeus in his palace.  Despite that Theseus and his fiance Hippolyta are in the middle of working on their wedding preparations (6), he takes the time and helps him with his concerns.  Theseus could have become irritated and told Ageus that he was busy with his wedding preparations and to come back later after the wedding.  Yet, he does not turn Egeus away.  He hear Egeus's problem and then proceeds to help him.  This displays Theseus' control over his emotions.  Also, when Theseus deals with Egeus's problem, which is the disobedience of his daughter, Hermia, calmly he stabilizes the situation.

Due to the proximity of Theseus's wedding and the stress involved in planning a wedding, plus his impatient desires for Hippolyta, he could have lost control of his emotions and over reacted and simply have forced Hermia to an unwanted marriage or executed her right away.  However, he keeps calm and reasons that either of these two options, far from establishing order right before his wedding, would most likely create turbulence and controversy.  Instead, Theseus not only gives Hermia more time to reflect on her disobedience to her dad, but he also gives her two other options besides death as her father Egeus had suggested, namely, a chaste single life or forced marriage.  With such a prescription, Theseus drives tension, interruptions, and controversy away from his wedding preparations and establishes order at least for four more days.

Lastly, on the wedding night, Theseus can hardly wait the "three hours between [his] after-supper and bedtime" (145).  He wants to seal the marriage already, but he has to wait three more hours.  If Theseus wants he can call off the celebration early to go and consummate the marriage, but before he lose control to his affection and lustful desires, he asked for entertainment to help him "ease the anguish of the [the] torturing [hours]" (145).  Theseus has such control of his emotions that when he thinks he might not be strong enough to resist them, he arranges for assistance.  Whether he fights his emotions by himself or with the help of other means, he still is the one controlling his own emotions because he is the one who arranges for such means.

In conclusion, although the two different plays have the filial relationship theme in common, a main difference in the personalities between Lear and Theseus is discovered under this theme.  While Lear is depicted as blinded or confused due to his inability to control his emotions, Theseus is portrayed as stabilizing any situation due to his ability to conquer his emotions whether by his mere strong will or by assistance that he arranges when he feels threatened by the power of his primed desires inside of him.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Aikido Helps the Seminarian Gain Discipline

Story by Romple Emwalu; photos by Romple Emwalu and Sister Hilda Kleiman

This fall the Aikido class, which meets three times a week and is taught by Mr. Jim Sisley, teaches the student discipline. "Aikido creates mental flexibility for me," said Mr. Gonzalo Siller, a second-year theologian at Mount Angel Seminary.

Mr. Jim Sisley, far right, leads the Aikido class in warm up exercises.

The warm up exercises included rolls and falls.

Mr. Siller is taking Aikido because he likes to exercise daily, and he has learned to protect himself without attacking his opponent.  He also finds Aikido very helpful because it gives him a calm moment and helps him to contemplate in prayer.  "The techniques of Aikido could apply to seminary life and the studies at the seminary," said Mr. Siller.

Mr. Jim Sisley, an assistant professor in English Communications, said his big challenge is to help the seminarians to understand that Aikido is not about fighting.  It is about learning how to protect yourself and your opponent and to discipline yourself to be able to defeat yourself, your anger, and your pride.  Mr. Sisley said, "It is hard to teach the class because there are only guys who are learning it.  Sometimes it would be helpful where there are girls because they could teach the guys to be gentle and not to be harmful."

Mr. Sisley said, "One great similarity between Aikido and the Catholic Church is the teaching of do unto others as you would have them do unto you."

"It is difficult to love your enemy; Aikido teaches you how to be able to love that person," said Mr. Sisley.  He sees that the philosophy behind Aikido is very hard to understand, as is the teaching of the Church.  "Aikido takes time to learn and is always welcoming of anyone to give it a try," said Mr. Sisley.

Mr. Jim Sisley and Dr. Duncan Parks offer a demonstration for the class.

Michael Sztajno and Gonzalo Siller practice the move demonstrated by Mr. Sisley and Dr. Parks.

After seeing another move demonstrated by Dr. Parks and Mr. Sisley, Michael Sztajno practices with Dr. Parks. 

Romple Emwalu practices with Dr. Parks.

Mr. Sisley and Dr. Parks demonstrate a final move for the day's class.

According to Mr. Sisley, Aikido helped him to be calm and taught him not to be egotistically involved in the conflict.  "Aikido is different from other martial arts.  Aikido's technique is more focused on the unity and harmonizing with your opponent.  You don't have to be a big or strong person, but rather use the person's energy in finding your balance to be able to control and protect the person and yourself from harm," said Mr. Sisley.  "It also teaches one to respect the opponent," said Mr. Sisley.

Mr. Sisley sees that Aikido provides a positive attitude and discipline for the seminarian's life.  Mr. Sisley first learned Taekwondo, a Korean martial art.  Mr. Sisley was looking for a martial art that would help his health mentally and physically and that would help him gain discipline.  After he started to attend the Aikido class in 1995 at Washington State University, Mr. Sisley became interested to learn more about it.

The students practice defending themselves against their opponents without causing any harm.

Mr. Sisley offers additional suggestions as the class continues practicing.

Mr. Sisley said, "Aikido is a modern Japanese martial art method that came from the way of the sword, but now it focuses on the power from within the master or person who masters it."  Mr. Sisley explained that during the 1800s when Japan was not united, there were some samurai, lords, and clans fighting each other.  Even though they had an overarching emperor, battle happened all the time.  At one point, Japan became united, and the samurai were no longer needed.

Their service was no longer necessary, so they ended up teaching what they knew.  From this time, many martial arts started to be taught.  "Aikido is one of those martial arts that was developed by Morihei Ueshiba," said Mr. Sisley.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Fr. Ralph Follows in the Footsteps of Saint Paul

by Jesus Gonzalez

Editor's Note: Fr. Ralph Recker was a participant in the first press conference for the journalism course, and the pilgrimage to Turkey is now in progress.

Imagine this for starters: A country that has been a center point for trade, a place where East meets West, where great empires held their capitals, a place of meteoric rises and calamitous falls.  All of this might sound like a cliche to say about a country, yet all of this and more can describe Turkey, which has been hailed as the other Holy Land.  The early Catholic Church, Orthodox Christians, Muslims and Jews have settled here in what was once the center of the world.

This November 4-16 Father Ralph Recker, O.S.B., a monk of Mount Angel Abbey and Director of Admissions for Mount Angel Seminary, is leading a pilgrimage to Turkey, following the footsteps of Saint Paul.

This small group of 31 people that is traveling to Turkey are going all around the country seeing many different religious sites.  When asked about the group and where they are from, Father Ralph said, "People from around the area that includes Eugene, Oregon, and even some people from California and even some from other faiths [will join the pilgrimage]."  Father Ralph continued and said, "The trip will be very ecumenical."

The seven churches in the Book of Revelation are all located in Turkey, and the group plans to visit each one.  They will be seeing Cappadocia; boulder and rock formations litter the scenic mountains, so some say it's the closest one can get to the lunar landscape.  The volcanoes and erosion have helped to naturally shape the land, but so have people.  The Cappadocian people carved into the mountains, making homes and complex tunnels to accommodate 25,000 people.  "I can't wait to see Cappadocia," said Fr. Ralph.

Another highlight of going to such an historically important place is seeing some of the old churches decorated with beautiful icons.

When asked how he prepared for the trip, Fr. Ralph said, "You'd be amazed to see how easy it is to do research online." Father Ralph was helped in organizing this trip by Lavern Hayworth, who is a spiritual guide and has done this trip before.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Soccer Against OSU Ends in a Loss for MAS

In today's soccer game with OSU, the MAS Guardians lost 3-4.  With a halftime score of 3-2, OSU scored two additional goals in the second half of the game.

The first goal of the first half was scored after a long kick from goalie Stephen Cieslak of the Archdiocese of Portland. Jonathan Cheever of the Archdiocese of Seattle headed in the second goal for the Guardians.

The presence of only one referee rather than the usual two referees contributed to the challenge facing the Guardians.

Watch the MAS Journalism Blog for more coverage of MAS sports!

Saturday, November 9, 2013

MAS Soccer Beats Reed College

With a score of 4-2, the MAS Guardians soccer team beat Reed College in a home game this afternoon.

At halftime, the score was 3-1 in favor of the Guardians, with the third goal for the Guardians scored shortly before the end of the second half by Felipe Villalobos of the Diocese of Orange.  The fourth goal for the Guardians was scored by Andres Guerra, also of the Diocese of Orange.

Watch the MAS Journalism blog for much more coverage of MAS sports!

Friday, November 8, 2013

Basketball Game Against Concordia a Loss for the Guardians

Tonight the MAS Guardians played a fast game of basketball against Concordia.  With a score of 37-53 in favor of Concordia at halftime and final score of 75-96, Concordia achieved a victory against Mount Angel Seminary.

Watch the MAS Journalism Blog for a photo essay based on tonight's game, as well as more coverage of MAS sports.

Abbey Monks Receive a New "Old" Gift

A 15th Century Book of Hours Joins Collection of Rare Books

Story and photos by Brother Lorenzo Conocido, O.S.B.

A Welcomed Gift

Every once in a while, the Abbey receives rare and sometimes rather amusing gifts from generous people that add to our eccentric collection of artifacts and historical pieces, from life-sized taxidermy, to fine vestments from Samoa, to old Chinaware, to even the world's largest porcine hairballs!

The morning of September 26th was one of those days, and a small group of curious monks gathered at the monastery switchboard after the morning Mass to welcome yet another rare gift.  The gift that we recently received well might just keep Victoria Ertelt, the Abbey Library Administrator, our dear Joe Sprugg, and perhaps Fr. Augustine De Noble, O.S.B., smiling for awhile.

Victoria Ertelt delicately opens the pages of the manuscript while presenting it to the monks at the monastery switchboard area.

A Generous Bequest

Thanks to an extremely generous donor who preferred not to be named, the Mount Angel Abbey Library has been able to purchase a lovely addition to its rare book collection.  A fine 15th century illumimated vellum manuscript Book of Hours in Latin and French now joins the thousands of Antiquarian and rare book title collections that were printed and published from the 12th to 19th centuries, most of which are Roman Catholic.  This new illuminated manuscript was purchased from Pirages Fine Books, Inc., a well-established seller of fine books and medieval manuscripts.

Bookplate of the former owner, Edward Hailstone (1818-1890); Hailstone was a Yorkshire antiquary who amassed a collection of manuscripts.

A handy size of 7x5 inches, this 110-vellum page Book of Hours contains a Liturgical Calendar, Psalter, collections of prayers, and a shimmering Litany with page after page of brushed-gold geometric shapes and intricate full border accents.  The manuscript's vellum, a writing parchment normally from the skin of a calf, sheep or goat, is generally in excellent condition with an ornate morocco bookplate in the inside cover engraved with a name, Edward Hailstone, the former owner of the book and an antiquary.  With a manuscript this thick, you can only wonder how many flocks of sheep that were sacrificed in the name of art to produce this book!

Inside the Manuscript

One couldn't help but get fascinated with its eight full pages of arch-topped miniatures, enough to keep someone drawn into deep meditation at the delicate fine brush strokes, vibrant colors and the illuminating brilliance of gold and silver, a well-deserved treatment to depict very important mysteries and scenes from the Bible like the Annunciation, Nativity, and Crucifixion.  Living up to its name of illuminated, as described in the bookseller's catalog, "nowhere is gold better employed than in the Pentecost miniature," where the radiance and heavenly brightness of the dove, the Holy Spirit, mightily glistens down to the Virgin, St. John and St. Peter.

Pages of the manuscript contain elaborate borders, all hand-painted.

The Pentecost miniature

The pages of the Litany where gold shows up quite nicely in this photo.

During the Middle Ages, the materials that were used to color images in the manuscripts were all natural pigments.  According to Br. Claude Lane, O.S.B., one of the Abbey's finest iconographers, these pigments came from stones and minerals of the earth, from which colors never fade so that its vibrancy is immortal.  Br. Andre Love, O.S.B., a monk and iconography student at the Iconographic Arts Institute, said that the vibrant blue pigment that was extravagantly used in the miniatures is called azure-gesso or the lapis lazuli, an expensive mineral that can only be found in present-day Afghanistan.

With no FedEx and UPS available for next-day delivery during the Middle Ages, Fr. Augustine, one of the Abbey's archivists, imagines "perhaps everything was transported either by foot, or with poor camels to haul these earth stones and minerals."

The Manuscripts Today

But just how relevant is this manuscript?  Today, manuscripts of this type are valued with a hefty price tag because of their rarity and high artistic quality, and if you are in the serious business of collecting valuable artifacts, it might just have secured you a comfortable retirement.  Well, if you are a seminarian and vying for Paper of the Year award with an impressive, authentic 15th century bibliography, you might as well throw that idea out now for just some obvious practical reasons.  Unless you are a Latin scholar or an Old French linguist, the texts contained in this manuscript are no more than a display of beautiful typography, with words that are too highfalutin.  Google Translate may only provide little help, if any at all.

Keeping the Treasure

Keeping and preserving manuscripts of this kind is like keeping a precious gem.  In fact, the Abbey Library's collections are kept mostly in restricted areas, temperature-controlled rooms and secured glass display cabinets.  They are in rooms 208, 111A, the Archives room, the "Fall" room on the first floor and inside "The Vault," and according to Joe Sprugg there are only three people on the hilltop who know the vault combination.  The Abbey Library website provides a downloadable application form to those who are interested in seeing these excellent collections of rare books. (See form here.)

Sprugg, a professional librarian and an Abbey Library Volunteer for nearly twenty-five years, in one of his interviews for MAS Journalism, recalls cataloging over 4000 books for the Library just for the rare book section alone.  According to Sprugg, "There are over 7000 rare book titles available right now if you go to our online library catalog."  Among the thousands of rare book titles in the Library, he also mentioned that there are only twelve Book of Hours of this kind that are in the current collection.

So, does the arrival of new illuminated Book of Hours still excite him? "It doesn't happen always . . . yes," he said.  "Every piece is history.  It is exciting!"

The pages of these manuscripts are very sensitive to foreign contaminants.  Holding the book like a true expert herself, Victoria wore white gloves when she opened and presented the newly acquired manuscript to the monks.  She said, "Other libraries and owners even prohibit people from breathing on the manuscripts."

Now you wonder why you can't find these books in the general circulation area!  That's why most of them are now digitized so you can enjoy fingerprint-free, no breath-holding browsing, and you can print your own personal copy (and perhaps spare another herd of sheep!).

Victoria said that the Abbey Library will hold an exhibit on December 7 featuring rare books, Civil War documents and artworks.  Phillip Pirages, the owner of the company where the book was purchased, is going to be there to talk more about this new addition in the Abbey Rare Book Collection.  Victoria said, "This book is the star of the event!"

A Spark of History

According to Sprugg, trade unions that were composed of miniature artists, vellum producers, calligraphers and pigment providers were established during the 1400s just to accommodate the laity's demands for more copies of the Book of Hours so they could share in the Liturgy of the Hours said by the priests, monks, and nuns.  He also mentioned that a copy of the Hour can be finished in a month to six months depending on the intricacy and details of the book and because they are all handmade, no two books or images are alike.

The presence of this Book of Hours in our midst today gives us not only beautiful images and typography but also reflects the laity's thirst for deepening their spirituality and humanity's ingenuity and innovation in the history of book making.  Even in the absence of Photoshop, Quark, and Publisher, the intricacy of images and texts reflects the hours and the resources spent to produce these illuminated manuscripts.  With each single character, every fine brush stroke, the pages of these manuscripts tell about our history, preserve an extinct culture, and illumine a mystery.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

MAS Shakespeare Students Go To Oregon Shakespeare Festival

Story by Frank Villanueva; photos by Sr. Hilda Kleiman

Editor's Note: This is the second of two stories written by our journalism students about this trip.

Seminarians spoke a short prayer - Lord, be with us as we travel this long but anticipated trip - as they started the four-hour car ride on the way to their annual outing to the Oregon Shakespeare Festival in Ashland, Oregon.  For some, this was their first trip, and for the veterans it was another opportunity to experience all that the festival has to offer.

Drs. Creighton Lindsay and Seymour House have been taking students that double major in literature and philosophy to Ashland for several years.  The idea is to give the students the opportunity to experience the works of Shakespeare in an environment that allows the students to develop their understanding and to experience the awe of this great literary icon.

On Friday night, the seminarians arrived at the Newman Center where they were booked to stay for the three-day weekend.  Shortly after the bags were dropped off and the room and floor areas were selected, they headed to the Standing Stone Brewing Company for dinner.  They were greeted there by Drs. Lindsay and House, their wives Deborah and Paula, Abbot Peter Eberle, O.S.B., and Sr. Hilda Kleiman, O.S.B., of Mount Angel Seminary, and Fr. Angelo Te, pastor of Our Lady of the Mountain Church in Ashland.

The evening was filled with food, fun, laughs and some great in-house made beer.  One highlight of the evening was the fried Brussels sprouts.  Student and third-time participant Gary Bass from the Diocese of Monterey, CA, said, "These were the best Brussels sprouts I have ever tasted."  When dinner had concluded, everyone headed to the Elizabethan Theatre to see A Midsummer Night's Dream.

The shield on the outside of the Elizabethan Theatre that features the Shakespeare plays offered by the Oregon Shakespeare Festival during its 2013 season.

The play was set not in the traditional setting but in the 1960s.  Fourth-year collegian and third-time participant to the Festival Andy Mendoza from the Diocese of Yakima, WA, said, "The character's names and roles were the same but it was nice to see a fresh, more modern take on the play."  Mendoza said, "I think it's very comical, and I like the whole mystery thing about who is going to marry who, and I think it was portrayed very well, and I would recommend this to anyone."

Some shared their likes and dislikes about the play.  Mendoza said, "I really like that you can see it [the play] being portrayed."  First-time participant Paul Grandi, seminarian for the Diocese of Tucson, AZ, said, "When you read it you use your imagination to create characters and create scenes but when you see it live it makes it a little better to understand as the characters use facial expressions, dialogue and props to deliver their act."

Tony Lopez and Christopher Schmidt on the stage of the Elizabethan Theatre

On Saturday morning, some seminarians went to experience the backstage of the various theaters while some stayed behind to play bocce ball at the local park.  Then at 1 p.m. everyone met to see King Lear. "The theater we were in was not your traditional theater where the stage is in front of you," Grandi said.  "The stage was in the middle where the audience sat around the main stage so it required a creative use of space and creative placement of actors" to put on this production.  Grandi's favorite part was the depiction of King Lear.

"The actor portrayed King Lear as a kind of ridiculous character as the play starts and when the character of King Lear goes through a great transformation he brings out the emotion of King Lear.  It was portrayed very well," Grandi said.  When the play ended, everyone got together for a photo shoot in front of the theater when King Lear played.  The evening ended with dinner at Pasta Piatti.

The Shakespeare students and faculty outside the Thomas Theater.

On Sunday, those who stayed for the remainder of the trip gathered for Mass at Our Lady of the Mountain Church and then drove back to the seminary.  Many seminarians shared their thoughts about the weekend's festivities and made the four-hour trip seem a lot faster.  It was truly an experience to remember.

Watch the MAS Journalism Blog for several essays on King Lear and A Midsummer Night's Dream written by this year's Shakespeare students.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Guardians Basketball Defeated by Multnomah

In their first game of the season, the Guardians scored early and throughout the game but lost to their opponents from Multnomah University.

Before the game started, coach-player Alex Woelkers welcomed the Multnomah players and coach as brothers in Christ, and the teams gathered at midcourt for an opening prayer led by the chaplain for the Guardians, Fr. Theodore Lange:


The Guardians scored in the opening minute of the game, and again moments later:



Some of the action from the second half of the game, with points for Multnomah and the Guardians:


Alex Woelkers was also featured in the third MAS Journalism press conference.  As the season continues, watch the MAS Journalism Blog for more on Guardians Basketball.