March 8, 2009

A happy interlude in our hectic life...

I was recently given a tip about a cool blog, Dominican History. It has a post on P�re Marie-Joseph Lagrange, O.P. , who founded the �cole Biblique, the famous Dominican research center in Jerusalem.

Which has kept me thinking lately of a couple of the happiest hours Charlene and I have spent in recent years. It was during our trip to the Holy Land last May. Our group visited the �cole, and Charlene and I loved it. It was like taking a step back in time to a happier, more civilized era. Especially, the gardens were a dream of peace for me. Not fancy or pretentious at all; rather dry and dusty and shabby, but the sort of place I could have just sat in or walked in all day.

I wish I had taken more pictures there, but this one gives at least a hint of the flavor of the gardens. That's our dear friend Fr. Francis Goode, looking a bit tired, but we all were on that fast-moving pilgrimage.

Fr. Francis in the gardens at the Ecole Biblique

Here's our motley crew being shown about by two of the faculty. That's Fr Olivier an the left, and Fr. Gregory on the right. The cool thing is, we know these men. They've stayed at our priory in San Francisco. It gave me a charming feeling of being part of the Dominican universe...

Ecole Biblique, Jerusalem

Here's the Church of St Stephen (the first martyr), which is part of the school. It was built in 1900 on the site of the 5th Century Byzantine church, which was destroyed in the 12th Century. You can still see mosaic floors from the old church. It is also the largest Christian church in Jerusalem, so the other flavors of Christians borrow it if they need to hold really big ceremonies.

St Stephen Church, Jerusalem

Here's a bit from the post on Pere Lagrange...

...He taught Church History and Holy Scripture for a while, then was sent to the Vienna University (Austria) to hone his oriental languages skills. There, on February the 5th, 1889, he was ordered to leave for Jerusalem. Right away, he sketched a working programme, and on November the 15th, 1890, in a former Turkish slaughterhouse, in which the rings the animals were to be hung from were still to be seen, he opened what he insisted on calling l'�cole Pratique d'�tudes Bibliques (Practical School for Biblical Studies).

Father Lagrange was a partisan of the encyclical Providentissimus Deus of Pope Leo XIII, inviting scholars to solve the difficulties created by a rationalist analysis of the Bible through an exegesis that would be at the same time rooted in tradition, but progressive. But some disliked his scientific approach and, as he was working doggedly to refute those who were questioning the essential data of Christian faith, he got censored and had to leave Jerusalem for a year, in 1912. Neither formally condemned nor rehabilitated, the Dominican remained heroically faithful to the Church. Through work and prayer, enlighted by his faith, and wih great scientific rigour, he put his intelligence to the service of the Gospel and the truth...
Posted by John Weidner at March 8, 2009 5:40 AM
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