I’m in WV for the St. Paul Center (East Coast) conference/retreat for priests in West Virginia.
The trek from PIT by shuttle van was uneventful, if a little bumpy. The location for this conference, Oglebay Resort and Conference Center, is impressive. They have chosen well. The land is beautiful and the facilities excellent.
Last night we had a first talk by Scott Hahn, who introduced the primary theme of these next days: holiness.
The sessions start with prayer, one of the liturgical hours depending on the time.
Hahn tried to provide a view of “the holy” that goes beyond our sense of holiness when in its presence (which reduces the creator to the reaction of the creature) and beyond righteousness (which reduces the holy to ethics). This was very helpful. Of course, both our reaction and our ethics are necessary in the pursuit of holiness, but holiness can’t be reduced to them. He also said that the major crisis we face in the Church (and everywhere) is the loss of the sense of God and God as holy, of holiness. What thrilled me, and I do mean thrilled, is that he also went to liturgy. When he started talking about Isaiah 6 and the cleansing of the prophet’s lips with the coal, I nearly hyperventilated. Moreover, this morning’s talk, by Prof. Bergsma, was about Isaiah, and it started with the description of the calling and cleansing of Isaiah before he could be anointed for the prophetic task. Anyway, I was pretty engaged.
There is a good bookstore available. Of course they are pushing books of the speakers pretty hard, but there are other things as well.
This was a great sight. Sets of St. Thomas Aquinas, Latin/English facing columns, beautifully bound. One Africa priest was sighing over them. He, a student of systematic theology, will eventually return to his native place to teach. He said that he had already saved and spent a lot on English only volumes. If only he had known about these!
Frankly, the complete Summa is only $320, which is an amazing price. I have a couple of these volumes, commentaries on St. Paul, but I don’t have any of the others.
After the evening talk, there was some convivium including an open bar. Quite a few of the brethren spent a couple hours hanging out. I had some good conversations.
Also, the food has, so far, been good. I took a big step today in that, for the first time in my life, I willingly helped myself to some grits (bowl not pictured). After admitting this to my table companions, I was knowingly advised to eat the grits together with my scrambled eggs.
I am not sure that I will have more grits tomorrow. We’ll see.
We are on a break now. The group has gone off for Mass.
AHHH! That’s another thing I wanted to point out.
When I had written to the organizers of the conference about the possibility for priests who don’t want to concelebrate or who prefer the Traditional Mass (not to mention Divine Liturgy), I received a note back immediately that they would do their best to provide such a possibility.
Sure enough. When I registered, I was hunted down and told and shown what my options were for celebration of Mass on my own or TLM. Very friendly and accommodating.
What that means, is that they are tradition friendly here. Fathers, if you are in any way hesitant about such a conference because you think you’ll be railroaded into concelebration or funneled into only the Novus Ordo, put that aside. Yes, for the group sessions we say the hour from the Liturgy of the Hours. But, hey! Say your office on your own. And I did bring a minimalist Mass kit just in case.
- great talks so far
- good food
- international and diverse
- great conversation
- open bar
- tradition friendly
One of the wings of the place is dedicate to the late Sen. Robert Byrd.
Just one angle. It’s a beautiful place.
Ralph Martin on New Evangelization.
At supper I was seriously tempted to go back for seconds. Alas, I didn’t take photos at the beginning.
But… it was very Eastern European.
Pork and kraut, cabbage rolls, smothered chicken.
And there’s this!
Everything was really good.
Back in the conference room after supper… sigh… Liturgy of the Hours. It seems that what we sang was a translation of Telluris alme conditor. Oh yeah? Look. This is not a big deal. The gains here are great.
Scott Hahn gave an energetic talk which reassumed a lot of what he said yesterday. However, he delved into the concept of working out our salvation with “fear and trembling”. And, yes, he went to liturgy again!
After the conference talk, there was a reception. I had great conversations with a priest from Australia and a priest from Iowa. Then for a few minutes I watched a few young guys play a card game that I couldn’t make out at all. Clueless. No idea what the heck was going on. Definitely generational thing.