Last week I was in Steubenville, Ohio for the Letter and Spirit Summer Institute. It was incredible.
Each day began at 6am with the Office of Readings, lead by the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal who were with us: Fr. Luke Fletcher, Br. Sebastian, Br. Felix, Br. Jacob, and Br. Paschal. Then there was an hour of silence. At 7:30pm there was Morning Prayer followed by breakfast.
We then traveled to Dr. Hahn's home for morning lectures by Dr. Hahn.
At noon we attended the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass on the campus of Franciscan University, followed by noonday prayer.
We then returned to the Hahn's home for a Bible study with Curtis Mitch (drafter of the Ignatius Study Bible) over the book of Matthew.
This was followed by Evening Prayer an an hour of Eucharistic Adoration.
We had excellent dinners every night, seasoned with stimulating conversations.
After dinner, we listened to individual presentations by a different speaker each evening. This was my favorite part of the day.
Dr. Jeremy Holmes of Ave Maria University (though soon to be part of the faculty at Wyoming Catholic College) presented “Participation, Exegesis and Liturgy”. Dr. Holmes focused on how Scripture exhibits a hermeneutic of participation. For example, Christ is not simply a replacement for King David, but rather that King David participates in the divine reality that is Christ. There interesting and important.
Dr. Ben Wiker of Steubenville presented “The Bible Politicized” which examined how the liberal textual studies that came to reign in the 19th century have their origin in nominalist tendencies arising in the 14th century.
Dr. Jeff Morrow of the University of Dayton presented, “Modern Biblical Interpretation and the Sacramental Hermeneutic” in which he familiarized us with Leo XIII's Deus Proventissumus and Pius XII's Divino Afflante Spritu and the modernist controversy of the early 20th century in Catholic biblical studies.
On Thursday night, Dr. Bryan Stewart, the only non-Catholic presenter gave an interesting presentation entitled “Levitical Paradigms for Christian Ministers in the Third and Fourth Century Church”. In his presentation, Dr. Stewart demonstrated how early church fathers already described the Christian clergy with sacerdotal language and concepts.
On Friday night, Dr. John Bergsma presented “All Israel: The Eschatalogical Self-Identity of the Qumran Community”. Dr. Bergsma drew out the distinctions between "Jew, Judean, Israelite, and Hebrew" in the second temple era. The Qumran community understood itself as "children of Israel" and not "Jewish". Similar distinctions can be found in the New Testament, especially in John's writings and those of Paul.
Each evening concluded with Compline (Night Prayer), the chanting of the Salve Regina, and the Holy Rosary.
It was a fantastic week. The Friars of the Renewal were like sacred leaven in our midst. There is always a temptation at academic gatherings to leave behind the heart in pursuit of the mind. This week reminded me once again that academic pursuits should lead us more deeply into the Sacred Heart of Christ. The week was as much a retreat as it was a summer institute.
A special thank you to Dr. Scott Hahn and Matthew Leonard of the Saint Paul Biblical Center for putting together such a wonderful week. I can't wait for next year.
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