Ad Extra - Vol. 2, n.4: April/May 2013
by C.J. Renz, OP
I have been thinking a lot this semester about fine art, beauty, and human creativity. My attention alights here in part because of the course I have been teaching and in part because of what I have been observing for the past three weeks at St. Albert Priory (Oakland), home to our student brothers and a number of our friar-professors.
On May 14th, a flurry of activity unfolded in the Priory chapel as the construction of a new tracker organ (2-manual, 22 stops) got under way. One of the premier organ builders today, Paul Fritts, had arrived at 10:30 p.m. the previous evening with his crew of three and a very long U-Haul truck. By noon the following morning, the entire chapel was filled with pipes, casing, and tools. By evening, the framework was up, and by the end of the week the work was nearly concluded.
Fritts custom-designed the instrument for our chapel. Currently known as Opus 36, it was inspired by drawings made of a late 15th-century Gothic Dutch organ once located in the western gallery of a church in Rhenen, near Utrecht. The new instrument contains more than 1100 pipes of tin and lead alloys and has been voiced in the German and Dutch Gothic tradition to match the acoustics of the chapel.
To watch Mr. Fritts and his team was to watch true artisans in motion calling forth – in an “ex nihilo” kinda way – beauty. To have a world-class instrument in our chapel is a blessing and, as I said to Mr. Fritts on several occasion these past weeks, a miracle – mirabile dictum!
Paraphrasing Jacques Maritain, the human soul is “engendered in beauty,” whether it be through the beauty of a finely crafted instrument such as our new Opus 36, or a well-crafted research paper, or an afternoon walk in the Berkeley hills. As we conclude the work of this academic year, I pray that we will take time to rest from study and (re)engage our senses in that constant reminder of God’s ever-present care and self-revelation in the natural beauty which is lovely and quietly presented to us each and every day.
Joseph Boenzi, SDB has just published a new book entitled, St Francis de Sales: Life and Spirit (New York: De Sales Resources and Ministries, 2013).
Hilary Martin, OP will return once more to Australia to meet again with the Aboriginal community at Wadeye. Fr. Hilary notes Australia is a multi-cultured place and finances alone cannot always bring people together. He will be attending some events in Darwin and Wadeye to foster better understanding and cooperation among peoples in those regions. This ongoing endeavor relates particularly well to a course he will teach next year entitled, "Myth, Ritual and Sacrament."
Chris Renz, OP will participate in the Dominican Forum at Holy Family Cathedral in Anchorage, AK this summer. His presentation will be given on August 5th and is entitled, “Sacrosanctum Concilium – 50 years later … and 150 years before.”
Bryan Kromholtz, OP and Anselm Ramelow, OP will attend an international conference entitled, “The Doctrine of God – One and Triune,” sponsored by the Thomistic Institute at the Dominican House of Studies (Washington, D.C.). Fr. Bryan will present a paper entitled, “Eschatology and the Doctrine of God,” and Fr. Anselm will present a paper entitled, “Aquinas on Supernatural Agency, Finite and Infinite.”
Fr. Anselm has also recently published a translation in German with a commentary of Quaestiones Disputatae de Veritate (Disputed Questions on Truth) by Thomas Aquinas. After the conference in Washington, D.C., he will spend time in Munich for ministry at the Dominican church, Theatinerkirche.
Augustine Thompson, OP continues to receive accolades and awards for his most recent publication (Francis of Assisi: A New Biography) which was awarded the "Premio Flaiano di Italianistica 2013" (scroll down on the web page to the section entitled, “PREMI INTERNAZIONALI FLAIANO SEZIONE ITALIANISTICA - VINCITORI”). Fr. Augustine will receive the award at a ceremony in Pescara (Abruzzo), Italy on July 14th, and afterwards travel to Croatia to attend the 2013 General Chapter of the Dominican Order.