Christmas Message 2022
A Christmas message from a student of the University
From the Very Rev Dr Jonathan Munn OblOSB, current doctoral student in the Faculty of Theology.
I had seen birth and death but had thought they were different.
Those of you who have been fortunate to hear Benjamin Brittens adaptation of T. S. Eliots Journey of the Magi may have been struck by that line. It comes as a stark realisation by the Magi that they have struggled and struggled and struggled to get to the Birth of the Christ Child and, when they arrive, they realise that somehow this birth is not a happy birth but hard and bitter. They travel in the very dead of winter, with truculent camels, unreliable servants, night fires going out, and having to travel all night while the voices of the darkness taunt them that what they are doing is all folly. This is all folly. This is all folly.
Its a voice that we hear again and again in our lives. It is a voice that can kill our sense of wonder stone dead. Faced with the challenges of simply living, simply continuing from one day to the next, amid the constant distraction and noise from the business of the world around us, to stand and gaze at the canvas of Creation, or to tilt ones head and listen for the music of Eternity seems all folly.
We look at the year just gone, and we see nothing but the same struggle as Eliots Magi. Emerging from behind masks, closed doors and bottles of hand sanitiser, we find ourselves in a world of economic turbulence, political turbulence, social turbulence a strange land in which the old order has been rocked, a new normal has been promised but is amorphous, unsettling and consuming.
Here in the United Kingdom, our society has been shaken by the passing of Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth after an unprecedented length of service. The birth of the third Caroline age is precisely the death of the second Elizabethan. As Sir Terry Pratchett observes, the speed of monarchy is faster than the speed of light. Birth and death do not seem to be different to a world in which any effort to stretch out of the darkness is met with disdain from a universe of indifference. The death of one means the birth of a replacement that is all that is needed. The rocking of our lives as we struggle just to become ourselves is met with that same pitiless indifference and our efforts to shine drowned by a barrage of noise that would make Ligeti sound like Bach. This is all folly.
In this darkness, however, something extraordinary happens. In amidst the cacophony of hopelessness, one single voice penetrates with the word hope and is joined by another voice and together, spem in alium nunquam habui! Hope in any other have I none. And from that darkness, emerges a chorus of voices as coaxed out from Eternity by that other British Composer, Thomas Tallis. The taunts of folly cease with that rising tapestry of sound, order, versicle and response based upon that single word jope, a hope that can be expressed most adequately by the voice of a little child in a school play singing, Away in a manger.
The hard and bitter birth met by the Magi is not that of Our Lord. It is the hard and bitter birth of the Magi themselves realising that it is the death of their old selves that is bringing to birth the new. The Baby is the hope they need in order to slough off the skin of the old man and allow the skin of the new to harden in the light of Christ Himself. In one little manger, Man finds the ability to be renewed, saved from the darkness, saved from the indifference of a chaotically mechanical universe and to find warmth, light, strength and joy.
Here, at our university, we are engaged in this constant sloughing off of our old selves in order to embrace truths that are new to us and yet are older that we can know, having their origin before Time itself and yet emanate from the Ever-New in His manger. Christmas means that we can reach out beyond the material universe into Heavenly Realms through the portal of Our Lords Incarnation: God Himself expects nothing less. As scholars and students, it is our duty to use our work to show our brothers and sisters how they can do just that and shine like stars for all Eternity with the Divine Light.
As a student of the University, I wish you all a very merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!
The Department of Religious Education is pleased to announce the appointment of the Rev. Dr. John Taylor Brantley as a Fellow in Religious Education. Reverend Brantley earned a Bachelor of Theology (Th.B.) in 2013, a Certificate of Theology in 2015, and a Master of Arts in Christian Education in 2020. In July of 2022 he completed a Doctorate in Christian Education (C.Ed.D.) from Wycliffe Theological Seminary .
Dr. Brantley, also Registrar of Latimer Theological Institute will collaborate on areas of educational recognition and assist in the supervision of students in the department. We welcome him to Pestalozzi!
The academic calendar for staff and students for the coming academic year.
The Board of JHPCU conferred the Doctor of Religious Studies degree (D.R.St.) on Don Carmelo Monello, in a congregation, in Rome, in 2018. Don Carmelo is a distinguished Italian Count, Caballero Maestrante de Hermandad de Castilla, and Ordinary Member of the Union of Italian Nobility.
Dr Monello is a journalist, publicist and essayist, a former actor, voice actor, and assistant director. He is a graduate of the Academy of Dramatic Arts of Turin and a member of the International Academy of the Immortals of Italy "Amici della Sapienza" ["Friends of Wisdom"]. He was born in Avola (Syracuse, Italy) in 1945.
He participated in several films, from 1970 to 1982, as actor, voice actor, and assistant director, under the pseudonym of Gianni Montebello; he further received great recognition for his performance in various theatrical and radio shows.
In 1974, he moved to Rome where he currently resides.
During the above-stated period he wrote various plays, including “Extrasensusres”, “The Dawn of the Great Day", as well as several screenplays.
In recent years Dr Monello has published several excellent essays of considerable religious, philosophical, sociological, and cultural interest: "The Legend of the Grail", "Why Did God Create One Man in His Own Image While Creating Another With Clay?", "The Mystery of the Biblical Serpent”, and “John's Esotericism”.
Since 2005, he has actively collaborated as a freelance journalist and publicist with various newspapers, such as "L'Attualità" (Movimento Gaetano Salvemini), distributed in twenty Italian regional editorial offices and nineteen foreign editorial offices, “Panoroma” - “L'Aniene è” (Effetre S.A.S.-Rome), and “Kuthuma di Erks”, an online magazine of Rome curated by Maestro Alfredo Di Prinzio.
We give a hearty welcome to Dr. Pier Felice degli Uberti, a new Doctor honoris causa of our University. After a successful career at high levels of management in the banking industry, Pier Felice degli Uberti became a world authority in heraldry, genealogy and orders of chivalry. He holds leading positions in various associations such as President of the International Commission for Orders of Chivalry – ICOC, President of Federazione delle Associazioni Italiane di Genealogia, Storia di Famiglia, Araldica e Scienze Documentarie della Storia - FAIG, and others. He also belongs to various noble corporations and knightly orders. He is also director of the journal “Nobility” focusing on heraldry, genealogy, and orders of chivalry, and also “Il Mundo del Cavaliere”. For his services to the world of heraldry, genealogy and orders of chivalry, Pier Felice degli Uberti has been honoured by Johann Heinrich Pestalozzi Christian University with an Honorary Doctor of Laws for his distinguished public service. Our President, Dr. Stephan U. Breu presented the honour in Casale Monferrato, Italy, in December 2021, in the presence of several distinguished international dignitaries.We
from The Rt Revd Dr Andrew Linley, FSJ
As we begin Advent, another strange and turbulent year draws to a close, with the prospect of a second disrupted Christmas celebration looming over some parts of the world.
The last eighteen months have brought unprecedented upheavals to our lives, among the most unsettling of which have been those which prevented us gathering in person, either for casual get-togethers with friends and family, or for more formal rites of passage, such as weddings and funerals, or the planned degree ceremonies of universities – including our own.
This separation from others has brought a profound sense of unease, and, in some cases, very real personal trauma. Few images of 2021 can have been so affecting as that from my own United Kingdom, of our Queen, Elizabeth II, seated alone and masked in the choir stalls of St George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle, at the funeral of her beloved Consort of more than 70 years, Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. Particularly striking though this image was, it is sobering to remember that it reflected one among millions of harrowing experiences of separation brought about by the pandemic conditions.
These traumas have highlighted the importance of personal contact to the human condition: much as modern media has done to offset the difficulties of physical isolation, it has become abundantly clear that the likes of Zoom are only a partial substitute for meeting in the flesh.
It is particularly apt to consider this as we approach Christmas, the feast of the Incarnation of our blessed Lord Jesus Christ.
At every Midnight Mass and carol service around the world are read those resounding words from St John’s Gospel, ‘and the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us.’
The Word was made flesh. That is the meaning of the Incarnation – that the Word, Christ, the living power of God, took upon him human flesh, and lived among us, having been born in the humblest of surroundings.
His mission was to save us from our sins, by taking our own fleshly nature upon him and consecrating it forever unto immortality.
This, we notice, is the Word made flesh, not the flesh made words.
How different, then, the Christian attitude is from that of currently fashionable philosophies, which seem to view the physical plane primarily as a state of existence to be transcended and done away. It is not difficult to discern the influence of such worldviews in the impulse, under pandemic conditions, to reduce or remove human contact from our daily lives, on a semi-permanent basis, to be replaced largely by digital means of communication.
This difference in attitude is exemplified by the prevalence in the Christian life of sacraments: acts of worship in which physical objects, such as water, bread, wine, oil, or the touch of the human hand itself, become not only signs of God’s grace acting upon those who receive them, but the very means by which such grace is bestowed and received.
It goes without saying that the physical presence of the worshipper is an absolute requirement if one is to partake of the sacramental life of the Church. One might speculate as to whether much of the loneliness and despair felt by so many in recent times is, at least in part, the result of withdrawal from these sacramental channels of God’s sustaining grace, not to mention from the image of God’s love borne in the faces of other people.
Let us hope and pray for a very different Christmas this year, in which we are able to be present to receive the Incarnate Lord in the Blessed Sacrament of the Eucharist, and to experience his love in and through the presence of our loved ones and fellow worshippers.
On behalf of the University, I send you my blessings and good wishes for the Christmas season, and the New Year to come.
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