In the Goodness of God / Seeking God in Scripture / Stained Glass Windows / Baptismal Stoles & Sacramental Certificates / Contemplating with the Tarrawarra Windows / New Antiphonaries / Experientia / Season
In this issue
In The Goodness of God
In The Goodness of God
Br Luke Rudd, as the community’s (fully credentialed) archivist, has a growing treasure trove in his care. Over the past two years he has beavered away at editing Dom Kevin O’Farrell’s autobiographical writings spread over a number of notebooks in his not always easily deciphered script – despite the fact that he was a keen and competent calligraphist.
On 25 September, the fourteenth anniversary of Dom Kevin’s death, the community staged a private (Covid lockdown) book launch, accompanied by a celebratory evening meal. After our inner-man had been put into a good space, Luke gave a presentation on the process of working, with the material available, towards his eventual publication of In the Goodness of God: A Memoir. Luke has drawn the title from a phrase used by Kevin near the end of the book. It captures well Kevin’s understanding of the primacy of God’s love in his life. A Religious Sister back in 1972 thanked him in a letter for helping her to come to the same important insight: “Really Father I do not know how to thank you for the tremendous help you have given me – for sharing with me your deep spirituality and your insights into the kindness, understanding and goodness of God… Father, I do want you to know that the realisation – the growing realisation of God’s love and kindness has been a tremendous help to me in every way”. One appreciative reader commented that what Luke wrote in the Preface was “very good”, noting also that “Dom Kevin did ramble at times”, thus needing a careful, respectful editor. The Memoir is an attractive volume, including some of Dom Kevin’s family photos and others from different stages of his monastic journey. One Irish monastic reader has been spurred – pending Ireland’s return to post-Covid freedom of movement - to make a pilgrimage to Shanballymore, Kevin’s beloved hometown in Cork.
Dom Kevin had a pronounced personal taste for autobiographies by very ordinary Irish folk. Three on the top of his recommended list were from the Blasket Islands, off the western coast of Kerry, uninhabited now since 1954: Tomas O’Crohan’s The Island Man (1926); Maurice O’Sullivan’s Twenty Years A-Growing (1933); and Peig Sayer’s Peig (1935).
Born in Ireland on St Patrick’s Day 1919, and with a string of other Patrick “coincidences” (as he observes), yes, of course, he was baptised Patrick. He entered Mount St Joseph Abbey Roscrea in 1937. After ordination, he taught at the monastery’s secondary college for ten years. He was appointed novice master for the Abbey in 1955.
In 1958, the newly founded community at Tarrawarra elected Fr Kevin as our first Abbot. He remained in office for thirty years.
In the Goodness of God is Dom Kevin’s honest and reflective recounting in faith, of his own story, as well as that of the people who nurtured his life, and the monastic communities he loved and served.
Dom Kevin formerly published three books: On the Abbatial Office, Talks from Tarrawarra Abbey, and Life with Mary: A Monastic Journal. As one of our friends wrote for the blurb of this memoir, he was “a holy man, not without suffering… As he experienced the love of Our Lady, Father Kevin himself personified the same love to those he encountered”.
Someone who obtained a copy of In the Goodness of God soon after publication wrote to Br Luke: “I have been working through the work as my spiritual reading for the past couple of months and I have found it very inspiring and educational for my own spiritual life… After reading the book I feel that I do know him in much the same way as if I had met him and listened to his homilies and addresses… I was particularly impressed with his humility and his self-knowledge, especially the way he saw himself as ordinary and with few if any of the gifts associated with what I might call public life. Yet he achieved a sort of greatness just by being himself… I could identify with much that Fr Kevin had to say about leadership. I only hope that I was able to exercise my leadership in a way which approached the leadership he showed as abbot at Tarrawarra”.
The same correspondent penned words of appreciation and encouragement to Luke for his efforts in moving this manuscript from the obscurity of the archives to the light of day: “I wanted to write to you as the person who appears to have guided this significant work through to publication and to congratulate you on the publication and to thank you for making this remarkable piece of work available to a wider audience… Sometimes you put a lot of effort and indeed love into a project and never hear much about its impact on others. I hope you have been getting lots of notes of congratulations from readers”. We second those sentiments. And, yes, Luke reports that he has received good feedback.
In the Goodness of God: A Memoir is available through Br Luke Rudd (email@example.com).
Seeking God in Scripture
Seeking God in Scripture
Our abbot, Steele Hartmann, in late 2020, published a modest fifty-page booklet, Seeking God in Scripture: An Introduction to Lectio Divina. (Actually, it had made an earlier appearance in German translation. “Danke shoen”, however, probably exhausts his personal vocabulary in the language!). The book’s genesis was in teaching Steele gave to the novices. But the topic has a relevance to a much wider audience.
Lectio divina has been a treasured way of praying with the scriptures over many centuries. Vatican II called the whole Church to re-embrace it, a call eagerly and fruitfully taken to heart by increasing numbers: “The sacred Synod forcefully and specifically exhorts all the Christian faithful… to learn ‘the surpassing knowledge of Jesus Christ’ (Philippians 3:8) by frequent reading of the divine scriptures. ‘Ignorance of the scriptures is ignorance of Christ’… Let them remember that prayer should accompany the reading of sacred scripture, so that a dialogue takes place between God and man or woman. For, ‘we speak to him when we pray; we listen to him when we read the divine oracles’”.
Steele sets out in the pages of his booklet to assist the reader to enter into this traditional way of prayer in order to grow in relationship with Father, Son and Spirit.
Stained Glass Windows
Stained Glass Windows
Miloslav Dismas Zika, in 1957, designed the two distinctive Tarrawarra church windows shown and explained in this issue of the Newsletter. M. Pater and Jim Armstrong were associated with him in their 1958 production and installation.
Miloslav earned a doctorate in Psychology and Fine Arts from Charles University in Prague before World War 2. He married Heda Schaefer, a Jewish convert to Catholicism, in 1941. For this, and his successful protection of her, he was sentenced to forced labour in his native Czechoslovakia and Germany during the Nazi occupation. Miloslav and his wife and two young sons escaped after the Communist government came to power in 1948, eventually arriving as refugees in Melbourne on 14 May 1949. (Argentina, Canada, and New Zealand had turned them down – definitely Australia’s gain!) After a period in the Bonegilla Reception Centre, and the birth of a third son soon after their arrival, Miloslav was employed as a foundry worker and stained glass painter, and in the Victorian Public Service. Heda taught Biology and German at the Sion Sisters’ school in Box Hill.
Dr Zika (signed as Bro. Dismas in the windows) and Jim Armstrong (recorded there in Latin as J. Manusfortis) cofounded San Damiano Religious Art Studios in Box Hill in 1959. He lectured in Art History at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology from 1966, and was head of the Art Department at Christ College, Chadstone beginning in 1969.
Miloslav’s windows have been an enduring artistic and contemplative contribution to Tarrawarra. He and his family have enriched Australian culture, particularly in the areas of art and medieval history.
Baptismal Stoles & Sacramental Certificates
Baptismal Stoles & Sacramental Certificates
Covid-19 restrictions kept the faithful from church for long periods of 2020. As a result of this sacramental deprivation, our Eucharistic Breads Business experienced its worst year since it began in 2000. “You can’t win 'em all!” It is the farm rather than the Breads that will get the thumbs up in this year’s financial report.
The Eucharistic Breads Department now has available stoles and certificates (for Baptism, Confirmation, First Communion, and Reconciliation) carrying representations of the Tarrawarra windows shown and explained in this issue of our Newsletter.
Contemplating With The Tarrawarra Windows
Contemplating With The Tarrawarra Windows
By Fr David Tomlins
O Light Invisible, we praise Thee!
Too bright for mortal vision…
We thank Thee for the lights that we have kindled,
The light of altar and of sanctuary;
Small lights of those who meditate at midnight
And lights directed through the coloured panes of windows…
(T.S. Eliot: Choruses from the Rock, 10)
St Benedict reminds his disciples: “We believe that the divine presence is everywhere… But beyond the least doubt we should believe this to be especially true when we celebrate the divine office” (RB 19:1-2) Tarrawarra’s founders commissioned two stained glass windows for our Abbey church, powerful, consoling reminders of this truth each time we gather as a community to pray. They proclaim God’s loving, active presence, as Creator and Saviour, among his people: in particular, through the sacraments.
The stained-glass artist, Dr Miloslav Zika (see separate article), has communicated his message in two windows that parallel each other. The window on the right of the viewer seeks to suggest prefigurations of this divine presence among the people of the Old Testament. To the left of the viewer, we have symbols of fulfilment in the Church, in the seven sacraments.
Each window has an upper and a lower triangle, separated by five diamonds.
THE UPPER TRIANGLES (A) represent God’s creative and re-creative presence in the gardens of the first creation and of the New Creation. In the garden of Eden, God’s hand is seen reaching through the waters above, calling into being all that is: the Tree of Life and other vegetation, animal life (the bird) and humanity (Adam, and Eve being drawn through Adam’s open side). God saw that all this was “very good” (Genesis 1:31). And God “walked in the garden in the cool of the day” (Genesis 3:8). But the closed gate at the entrance speaks of the fall and banishment from paradise as a result of human disobedience to God’s Word and Will (Genesis 3:24).
The garden of the New Creation, set in parallel, combines Calvary and the empty tomb: the place of new life, resurrection from the dead. In the garden of Gethsemane, Jesus embraced God’s Will: “Abba, Father, all things are possible to you; remove this cup from me; yet not what I will, but what you will” (Mark 14:36). The cross, surmounted by “INRI”, Pilate’s inscription “Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews” (John 19:19), is presented as the green Tree of Life. Again a bird and flowers are symbolic of creation. The spear, sponge and drops of blood suggest the Passion. The redundant burial shroud, draped across the arms of the cross, signifies the resurrection. The heart at the foot of the cross - suggestive of Mary’s faithful presence at her Son’s redemptive death (John 19:25) - portrays her as the open gate of heaven.
The Risen Jesus is the source of this new life: “The first man Adam became a living being; the last Adam became a life-giving spirit” (1 Corinthians 15:45).
THE BOTTOM TRIANGLES (B) represent the shekinah, the dwelling, the presence of the divine glory with the Covenant Peoples. The Ark of the Covenant and the throne of mercy surrounded by the two golden cherubim was where Yahweh met with, and spoke to, the people of Israel in the Tent of Meeting, and later in the Temple in Jerusalem (Exodus 25:10-22).
John’s Gospel speaks powerfully of the shekinah in the New Testament in the words: “The Word was made flesh, he lived among us/pitched his tent among us, and we saw his glory” (John 1:14). God was personally and visibly present to mankind through the incarnation of the Word. It is no longer a presence unseen and awe-inspiring as in the Tent and the Temple. The window on the left takes up this theme in the Book of Revelation’s wonderful final chapter (21) in its image of the New Jerusalem and the ultimate future. Jesus’ promise to the Church on earth, “I am with you always” (Matthew 28:20), assumes its definitive expression: “I heard a loud voice call from the throne, ‘You see this city? Here God lives among men. He will make his home among them; they shall be his people, and he will be their God; his name is God-with-them… Now I am making the whole of creation new’” (Revelation 21:3-5).
THE FIVE DIAMONDS in each window spell out something of this active, loving presence of God with his Pilgrim People as they journey through life. In the case of the left window, this refers to the Church’s seven sacraments. Each of the three sacraments of initiation – Baptism, Eucharist, and Confirmation – has its own space; the two lower diamonds per force accommodate the symbols for two sacraments apiece.
BAPTISM (C): is foreshadowed by the post-deluge dove and olive branch above Noah’s Ark. 1 Peter provides the artist’s chosen symbols here: “… when God’s patience waited in the days of Noah, during the building of the ark, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were saved through water. Baptism, which corresponds to this, now saves you… through the resurrection of Jesus” (1 Peter 3:20-21). The Spirit descending on the water of the font indicates Christian baptism (John 1:33; Acts 1:5; cf Romans 6:3-11).
CONFIRMATION (D): The artist has chosen Judith, sword in hand in Holofernes’ camp, his severed head at her feet, and trampling the serpent under her heal (Genesis 3:15), as a symbol of the mature Christian, clothed in the Spirit. Her prayer, as she slays Israel’s enemy, “Lord, God, strengthen me now” (Judith 13:8), points to the divine source of her victory over evil. The portrayal of the sacrament borrows the imagery of Ephesians 6:10- 20: “Be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might… Take the whole armour of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day… above all taking the shield of faith… and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Pray at all times in the Spirit…”
EUCHARIST (E): The centrality of the Eucharist in Christian life is marked by its allocation of the diamond at the heart of the windows. Two Old Testament symbols – the Brazen Serpent (Numbers 21:4-9) and Jonah and the Whale (Jonah 2:1-11) – both taken up by the New Testament (John 3:14- 15; Matthew 12:40; 16:4) carry the promise of life out of death, the Paschal Mystery of Christ’s death and resurrection made ours in the Eucharist. The Greek letters IC XC for “Jesus Christ” explicitly lay claim to the Serpent and Jonah to this end. Wheat and grapes, loaves and fishes connect it to the gospel feeding of multitudes and to the Last Supper.
ORDERS (F): The tablets inscribed with the Ten Commandments are used to signify the Levitical priesthood. “Yahweh set apart the tribe of Levi to carry the ark of Yahweh’s covenant, to stand in the presence of Yahweh, to do him service and in his name to pronounce blessing as they still do today” (Deuteronomy 10:8). The Chalice and Book stand for the Sacrament and the Word of God, central concerns of the Christian priesthood’s service. The Book carries the Greek letters Alpha and Omega, the Almighty’s self- proclamation as the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End (Revelation 1:8; 21:6; 22,13).
MATRIMONY (G): Marriage shares the same diamond as Orders. The scene of the deer leaping over the mountains (Song 2:8-9) evokes the entire drama of the love of Bridegroom and Bride sung in the book of the Song of Songs. “My Beloved is mine and I am his”. The cross and the linked wedding rings summarise Ephesians 5:21-33 where the mystery of Christ’s sacrificial love for the Church models the mutual love of Christian husband and wife.
PENANCE AND ANOINTING (H): The final diamond is devoted to two sacraments of purification formerly known as Penance/ Confession and Extreme Unction, more recently as Reconciliation and Anointing of the Sick. The emphasis in understanding, in both cases, has changed since the Second Vatican Council. The imagery in each window is perhaps less evocative today as a result of this shift. The three young men with hands raised in prayer in the fiery furnace refers to the lengthy song of Azariah (Daniel 3:24- 45) in which he confesses “yes, we have sinned… but may the contrite soul, the humbled spirit be as acceptable to you as holocausts of rams and bullocks…” The stole and crossed keys denotes the reconciling authority entrusted by Christ to the Church (Matthew 16:19-20; 18:18). St James urged pastoral care for the sick: “If one of you is sick, he should send for the elders of the church, and they must anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord and pray over him. The prayer of faith will save the sick man and the Lord will raise him up again” (James 5:1415). Both blood and oil, in scripture, are used for sprinkling/anointing, hence the bucket of blood (as in the rituals on the Day of Atonement in Leviticus 6) and the stock of oil.
Stained glass is a joyful expression of the human spirit and a revelation of God’s love.
The community gathers seven times a day to pray as St Benedict stipulated in his Rule. But, as structured liturgical prayer, we do rely on the support of the organ and of the availability of books with texts and music. Currently we enjoy the invaluable services of Brian and Simon on the organ, and our friend Paul Curtis for the Sunday Mass.
The books require ongoing renewal. To this end, a small team has been “working away quietly”, as Dom Kevin would have phrased it. Michael has enriched our repertoire with additional hymn texts. Brian has been responsible for the editing of the music, the hymns, the psalm tones and antiphons. This calls for both sensitivity to the capacities of the community, and close attention to the words and notes that actually end up on the page. There are so many details – doh-re-mi, sharps and flats, dots and dashes that lengthen notes, two-four, four-four signatures, text aligned under the appropriate notes, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera! Simon has done all the typing (words and music), a huge commitment, and again demanding close attention. Proofreading and interim books constitute a breathing space before the final product. Samuel is production manager.
Over the past two years a steady flow of seasonal booklets have appeared on our choir desks on queue: Advent, Christmas, Lent, Easter, Solemnities and Feasts. The Ordinary Time revamp is expected later in 2021. Our heartfelt thanks to those involved in providing these easily followed sources for our “full, conscious, active participation in the liturgy”. We don’t always hit the right notes – but where would we be without these aids?!
On Thursdays during 2019 and 2020, in place of the usual program of ongoing formation, the members of the community gave themselves to Experientia, a course of reflection and study organised by the Order and offered in various translations to all its 178 communities scattered across the globe.
The first purpose of the program was to broaden and deepen the knowledge and appreciation of the spiritual heritage of the Order, especially through the closer study of the great Cistercian writers of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. A second aim was to increase the level of spiritual literacy by inviting each to reflect on his or her own experience in the light of the texts being studied – to find common ground, as it were, so as to learn something from these great masters of the spiritual life. A third goal was to become aware of the many brothers and sisters around the world engaged in the same spiritual pursuit as ourselves and to appreciate their different responses to the material.
The program was divided into ten Units, each spread over six weeks or so. After an introduction, the focus shifted to different aspects of one’s spiritual journey and experience of monastic life and of life in community. Each Unit comprised questions for personal reflection, a major text from one of the medieval Cistercian writers, introduced by one of the contemporary luminaries of the Order; then there were seven shorter texts from other authors complementing the main item, together with brief comments from a variety of ordinary monks and nuns from every continent. The aim was that each participant would combine all these ingredients not only to arrive at a better knowledge of our spiritual tradition but also to become more aware of the special characteristics of their own spiritual journey.
At the end of each Unit the community would come together to share what they had gained through their reading and reflection and this, also, was a time of special grace for us all.
Spring at Tarrawarra… The dawn chorus… Add the grey butcherbird as we sing Lauds-Mass… You can’t beat it! What was Adam Lindsay Gordon thinking when he spoke of Australia’s “songless bright birds”? Hollis Taylor, violinist and composer, (born in the U.S.A, living in Sydney since 2002), fell in love with the versatile pied butcherbird, spent an age capturing its performances around many parts of the country, and composed instrumental and vocal ensemble settings, based on and sometimes alongside field recordings of the bird itself. Her Absolute Bird 41 track double CD pack is “out of this world” but at the same time absolutely evocative of our landscape. Australia’s recorder virtuoso, Genevieve Lacey, provides a number of the tracks. Perhaps we must concede that this does beat even spring Lauds-Mass with the butcherbird at Tarrawarra!
La Nina has been very kind to our part of the continent. Instead of “dreaming of a white Christmas”, we had the benefit of a green Christmas and a never-ending green summer. Br Peter recorded pleasing rain at intervals during the spring and summer. The farm rejoiced in abundant pasture and a very successful hay season. When the cattle went to market in early January they looked a million dollars. No, I didn’t say we made a million dollars, but the market was bringing great prices. (Sorry for your more expensive steaks!). Leon, the farm manager, and Br Hausia, self-styled jackaroo, are grinning from ear to ear. Like Queen Victoria, however, they were “not amused” when someone stole one of their ATVs (All Terrain Vehicles) used for mustering the cattle and buzzing around the property in general. Autumn calving is underway.