Robert P. Imbelli

Rev. Robert P. Imbelli, a priest of the Archdiocese of New York, is Associate Professor of Theology Emeritus at Boston College.

By this author

Poetry and Prayer

The current issue of Commonweal features two lovely poems by Christian Wiman.

The Scottish poet, Edwin Muir, at the end of the Second World War, wrote a very personal prayer-poem on the Transfiguration. It ends:

Ignatius: Reform in Continuity

It is well known that during his convalescence, Ignatius of Loyola read the Life of Christ and this reading prompted his radical turning to the Lord. The author of the book that so influenced Ignatius was Ludolph of Saxony, also known as Ludolph the Carthusian, though he had been a Dominican Master of Theology before entering the Carthusians.

The fine "General Introduction" to the Paulist Press volume, Ignatius of Loyola, says of Ludolph:

The Velvet-toned Tenor

Today's New York Times reports:

Carlo Bergonzi, one of the 20th century’s most distinguished operatic tenors, renowned for the refined interpretive taste and keen musical intelligence he brought to his art, died on Friday in Milan. He was 90.

Silence/Words/Action (Update)

The auxiliary bishop of Baghdad laments Western silence regarding the plight of Christians in Iraq:

“Where is the respect for the rights of Christians?” the Auxiliary Bishop of Baghdad Shlemon Warduni asks Vatican Radio. “We have to ask the world: Why are you silent? Why do not you speak out? Do human rights exist, or not? And if they exist, where are they?  There are many, many cases that should arouse the conscience of the whole world: Where is Europe? Where is America?”

Utterly Abandoned (Updated)

From Vatican Radio:

The last Christian families still present in Mosul are leaving the city and are heading towards Iraqi Kurdistan.

The exodus was caused by the proclamation on Thursday by the self-proclaimed Islamic Caliphate that Christians must pay a special tax or be killed.  Islamists have for the past two days been marking the doors of homes belonging to Christians and Shia Muslims living in the city.

Volatile and Visionary Desire

The poet, Christian Wiman, has a complex and complelling review in today's Wall Street Journal of a new biography of Dietrich Bonhoeffer by Charles Marsh: Strange Glory. I am not sure if one can get beyond the firewall, so below is a long excerpt.The fascinating rest of the review may be accesed here.

Absence and Presence

John Eliot Gardiner's magnificent series of recordings of Bach's Cantatas (Soli Deo Gloria label) includes on one CD the four works which Bach composed to celebrate the Feast of the Ascension. Listening to them today (in Boston the feast is celebrated on the day God intended!) I was swept up by their joyful affirmation of Christ's triumph -- trumpets and timpani resounding.

Yet it struck me that the main thrust of the texts was upon the absence of the Lord and the longing for his return.

Planting Seeds

Peggy Rosenthal, the author of the wonderful book, The Poets' Jesus, has a suggestive reflection about her own journey to faith. She credits a summer spent with Dante as planting seeds that eventualy bore fruit in the waters of baptism. But Dante was not the only sower. She writes:

I suspect that my immersion in the Divine Comedy did indeed “plant seeds” within me.

Gaudium et Spes

From the homily of Pope Francis at the Mass of canonization of John XXIII and John Paul II:

Close to the Chest

My first "encounter" with John XXIII was during my Junior Year abroad at Louvain. Albert Dondeyne, prominent Belgian theologian, came rushing into the theology class I was taking at Louvain, breathless and flushed, to announce that "we had a Pope." But he couldn't remember the new Pope's name!