Novak (novak) wrote,

Personal/Theological Notebook: Mourning Chrysogonus Waddell

I've been pretty completely shot all day today, and yesterday, since hearing the news of Chrysogonus' death. He's being buried right about now. Diane was a great help last night, taking me out to a late dinner down at the new place on Kinnickinnic in Bay View, Cafe Centraal, that Tim has been managing for a few months now, since it opened. So we caught up over soup and meatloaf and hot chocolate, then moved over to the bar where Tim could more easily join us in frequent pauses while watching painful moments of the Packers game. I had been listening closely to the Chrysogonus Fest recording by way of mourning for awhile, and she gave me a bit of a break for my heart by pulling me to the present for a few hours. I had a long talk with Mark yesterday, the only one of the guys who I caught on the phone when I went to pass the news on, and while also doing some good and necessary catching up, we were kind of kicking ourselves for having failed to pull off another Chrysogonus Fest last year or this summer. We could never all get free at the same time, or have enough money to take off at the same time. It was yet another one of those times where you find yourself wondering how you missed out on a friend for reasons that seemed sensible at the time. Having the utter leisure of being rich enough to not work only appeals to me when I think of taking that time and being with friends; but I suppose that if I were one of the idle rich, I wouldn't be interesting enough to visit with. I don't know. But we were just kicking ourselves for assuring one another that we could visit Chrysogonus "next year."

I found the following article through USAToday, to my surprise. I also found some entries online by bloggers that were a comfort just by giving me a little more information, or by reporting on the liturgy and vigil at the Abbey of Gethsemani.
Michael Wurtz – Eternal Rest...
Bryan Sherwood – Fr. Chrysogonus Waddell, RIP
Bryan Sherwood – Keeping Vigil
Steve Taylor – Rest in Peace Fr. Chrysogonus
Steve Taylor – Sitting Vigil with Fr. Chrysogonus
Steve Taylor – The Trappist Way of Death (A blogger's account of Chrysogonus's funeral)
I had been staying at the Abbey once with Erik when one of the elderly monks had died, and we attended the funeral. The monks have – as one might expect for "Trappists," for the Order of Cistercians of the Strict Observance – a very stark burial, with the body being given to the grave with no trappings at all, not even a coffin. Merton, in fact, is the only monk buried in a coffin in their cemetery, because of the burning of his body during the accidental electrocution that killed him, and because of the long passage of shipping his body back from Bangkok, where he died. So I've been spending the day in my mind, revisiting the slope of the cemetery grounds, imagining Chrysogonus's body being lowered into the earth, and feeling something of that starkness inside.

Tuesday, Nov. 25, 2008
Chrysogonus Waddell, monk and author, dies
By Jim Warren -

The Rev. Chrysogonus Waddell, a Trappist monk, composer, author and member of the Abbey of Gethsemani for 58 years, has died. He was 78. The Rev. Waddell died Sunday at the abbey infirmary after suffering a series of strokes. He had declined life support.

The Rev. Waddell was born March 1, 1930, in the Philippines, where his father was serving in the U.S. Army. Although he grew up in an Episcopalian family, he converted to Roman Catholicism at age 19. He came to Gethsemani in 1950, arriving on a bus just like the Rev. Thomas Merton, another member of Gethsemani who became famous as a writer and thinker. Although he traveled around the world, the Rev. Waddell lived the rest of his life at the abbey. He was ordained a priest in 1958.

The Rev. Waddell held a strong interest in music from his youth, and studied for two years at the Philadelphia Conservatory. In 1962, the Trappist order sent him to Rome to further his theological studies at the Pontifical College of San Anselmo. He composed many chants and pieces of music, some of which went into a recording, Music From the Abbey of Gethsemani. It featured pieces sung by monks at the abbey, composed and arranged by the Rev. Waddell. He also adapted the traditional Gregorian chant for use in vernacular liturgy. In addition to composing music, the Rev. Waddell wrote five books and more than 175 articles. He also was an accomplished organist.

A funeral Mass will be held at the abbey at 4 p.m. Tuesday. The Rev. Waddell will be buried afterward in the cemetery on the grounds of the abbey.

I also include here my YouTube files of two of Chrysogonus's pieces that we performed in the Notre Dame Folk Choir, where Chrysogonus was one of our contributing composers along with director Steven C. Warner. The first and most important in "Rosa Mystica," a Marian Christmas text he set to music and which I consider Chrysogonus's mystical masterpiece. While this recording does not do the performance justice, being off of a single 1997 videotape camera's microphone during the Folk Choir's Ireland tour, it still gets the idea across. And to think that this gem of a piece of music was something he had written and then put into a drawer as being of no interest to anyone, only for Steve to find it 40 years later while going through some of Chrysogonus's files with him. The other piece, also a delightful rendering, is Chrysogonus's "Unto Us A Child Is Born," a piece of 7th century chant, another Christmas text, that he re-arranged in English and for four parts. The rich theology in the text gives the lie to calling the song's original singers and writers as living in "dark ages."

Rosa Mystica
Chrysogonus Waddell, OCSO

There is no rose of such virtue
As is the rose that bare Jesu;

For in this rose contained was
Heaven and earth in little space.
Res miranda [O Thing of Wonder!]

By that rose we may well see
There be One God in Persons Three,
Pares forma [Incomparable, perfect form]

The angels sang, the shepherds, too
"Gloria in excelsis Deo!"
Gaudeamus [Let us rejoice!]

Leave we all this worldly mirth,
And follow we this joyful birth.
Transeamus. [Let us cross over....]

Unto Us A Child Is Born
Chrysogonus Waddell, OCSO

Tags: catholicism, christianity, chrysogonus waddell, friends-marquette era, friends-notre dame era, liturgical, milwaukee, musical, mysticism/spirituality, notre dame folk choir, obituary, personal, restaurants, theological notebook, travel-1997 ireland/northern ireland/uk, youtube

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