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Dilatato Corde, An Expanded Heart: A New Online Journal of Interreligious Spirituality

Trustee CornerBy Leo Lefebure
CPWR Trustee

Dialogue Interreligieux Monastique/Monastic Interreligious Dialogue (DIM/MID) recently launched a new online journal dedicated to exploring interreligious dialogue concerning spirituality and religious experience. The multi-language journal provides a forum for interreligious exchanges concerning prayer and contemplation, spiritual experience, and the spirituality of interreligious dialogue, including contemporary personal testimonies as well as academic and historical studies. The new journal takes its name from a phrase in the prologue of the Rule of Saint Benedict, which invites readers to follow the path of God’s commandments “with an expanded heart.”

Dilatato Corde, as the journal is known, appears twice a year free of charge at www.dimmid.org. In the Foreword of the second issue, dated July 1, 2011, editor-in-chief Pierre-Francois de Bethune, OSB, considers the significance of the twenty-fifth anniversary of the World Day of Prayer for Peace, convoked by Pope John Paul II at Assisi in 1986 and also of the upcoming gathering in Assisi next October. De Bethune recalls a comment made to him in 1986 by a Zoroastrian participant, Homi Dhalla: “From now on I will not be able to pray as before; I will always be in communion with all those who pray.”

A number of essays share personal experiences of transformation in dialogue. For example, a moving testimony from Lucy Brydon, OSB, describes the “enlarging of the heart” through her interreligious experiences of many decades, ranging from living with Muslims in Africa to a transformative encounter with Theravada Buddhists, to her current work in Buddhist-Christian retreats focusing on mindfulness. In another personal testimony, Mary John Marshall, OSB, shares the intersections of her Christian monastic journey with the path of her late natural sister, Maylie Scott, who was a Zen Buddhist priest; the essay includes a reflection that Maylie Scott wrote in 1998.

Some authors consider the meaning of another religion’s perspectives for their own practice. Archbishop Michael Fitzgerald, the Apostolic Nuncio to the Arab Republic of Egypt and the Delegate to the League of Arab States, reflects on the significance for Christians of Muslim veneration of the Ninety-nine Most Beautiful Names of God. Fitzgerald notes texts from the Qur’an and the Bible that may be conducive to prayer, exploring both the Qur’anic context of the Beautiful Names of God and analogies in the Hebrew Bible, and then offering a Christian reflection in light of the New Testament. Richard Zeikowitz ponders the significance of the teachings of the Rule of Saint Benedict in light of his personal experiences of Tibetan Buddhist and Christian monasticism.

DIM/MID is an international organization of Catholic monastics involved in dialogue with the spiritual and monastic traditions of the world’s religions. For more than half a century, Catholic monastics have been pioneering and developing new forms of spiritual encounter and interreligious dialogue with monastics and practitioners of other religious traditions. In North America, Monastic Interreligious Dialogue (MID) coordinates the work of these monastic communities in relation to other traditions; Dialogue Interreligieux Monastique carries on this work in Europe and beyond. Since 1994, these and other comparable monastic initiatives around the world are united under the leadership of the General Secretariat, which was established by the Abbot Primate of the Benedictines in consultation and cooperation with the Abbot General of the Cistercians. William Skudlarek, O.S.B., a monk of St. John’s Abbey in Collegeville, Minnesota, serves as the General Secretary of DIM/MID and is associate editor of Dilatato Corde.