Monday, October 10, 2011

Deir Mar Musa.

In a comment on a recent post on Syria, Macrina mentioned Deir Mar Musa, a Syriac Catholic monastery about fifty miles north of Damascus. The original monastery on this site dates to the sixth century, but the monastic community that currently makes its home here was founded in 1991 by an Italian Jesuit, Father Paolo Dall'Oglio. The above video by Canadian filmmaker Yasmin Fedda offers a brief introduction to Deir Mar Musa, focusing on the monastery's efforts to foster cooperation and dialogue between Christians and Muslims.

Yasmin Fedda returns to Deir Mar Musa in this twenty-five minute film entitled Milking the Desert, which looks at life in the monastery as experienced by a seasoned Syrian monk and a young Frenchman who becomes a novice of the community. If you want to know where the community at Deir Mar Musa stands on the current situation in Syria, take a look at the monastery website, which includes some recent statements emphasizing the need to pray for reconciliation and non-violent solutions to conflict.

If you'd like to hear more detailed comments on the Syrian situation from the monastery's founder and leader - and if you have some time on your hands - watch this lecture by Father Paolo Dall'Oglio, delivered earlier this year at the University of Scranton. The actual lecture is fairly brief, but it is followed by a long and frank question-and-answer session in which Father Dall'Oglio offers interesting and provocative comments on many different topics (for example, he explains that he chose to embrace the Syriac Rite in part because "it never was the culture of an empire . . . just a local church, never in power"). Like me, you may find yourself in disagreement with some of what Father Dall'Oglio says, but I hope that you'll agree that his perspective is worth hearing. AMDG.


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