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By Brother André Marie, M.I.C.M., and Dr. William Fahey
Theme: The Romance of Wisdom
2010 Opening Remarks & "With what wisdom shall he be furnished that holdeth the plough?": Liberal learning, manual labor, and experience
Opening Remarks: Brother André Marie’s talk is both an update of all the good news that has recently come the way of Saint Benedict Center, Richmond, including the gift of a resident priest and the conferral of a degree of canonical recognition for the religious congregation in the visible Church, as well as an introduction into the theme of the conference. This short talk is also an excellent survey of the genre of the classical romantic literature that, before it was corrupted in the Renaissance, enhanced Catholic culture and the ideals of chivalry in the Middle Ages. Elevating romance to its highest aspiration, there is divine romance, which is what inspired such seraphic saints as Francis of Assisi and his beloved Lady Poverty.
Dr. William Fahey: Taking the title of his talk from chapter 38 of the Book of Ecclesiasticus, one of the seven wisdom books in the Bible, Dr. Fahey, president of Thomas More College in Nashua, NH, raises questions concerning the role of liberal education, the arts, and manual labor born of experience, in forming a wise man who is a more complete man in natural perfections. The question raised by the inspired author, Jesus, son of Sirach, is not posed to deny wisdom to the artisan or farmer, but rather to posit it, providing that husbandry or craftsmanship does not forfeit contemplation. The verse immediately preceding the one in the title, The wisdom of a scribe cometh by his time of leisure: and he that is less in action, shall receive wisdom, may seem, if taken out of context, to contradict Dr. Fahey’s thesis, but as the speaker demonstrates so well in his erudite presentation, it complements it. The speaker draws much from Blessed John Newman’s Idea of a University taken together with his lesser known, but perhaps better work, Rise and Progress of the Universities. More than Newman, however, the speaker highlights the Benedictine genius for an integral and even familial oriented education, incarnated in the motto, ora et labora, with natural and supernatural studies incorporated in both work and prayer.
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