I have returned from the colloquium on the Syrian Fathers in Ghent and will try and write up my notes for a series of posts, although it will probably take a few days before I have them all. It was a very good experience despite being very intense. The speakers were excellent and two of them were leading authorities on the subject who were also responsible for important translation work. The colloquium was jointly organised by the Leerhuis voor de kerkvaders which I mentioned before, the vicariate for formation of the Catholic diocese of Ghent, the Orthodox parish of St Andrew in Ghent and the Catholic National Council for Ecumenism. There were over 90 participants from all sorts of backgrounds. Despite the high scholarly qualtity of the content there was a pastoral concern and an emphasis on what the Syrian Fathers can mean for us today. On the Friday evening we all went to the Orthodox parish for a short prayer service followed by a public lecture by Dom André Louf on “The liturgy of the heart” followed by a reception.

The conferences that were given, and which I will try and post on, were:
  * An introduction to the Syrian Fathers by Joris van Ael
  * Simon of Taibouthèh by Dom André Louf
  * Isaac the Syrian by Br Sabino Chialà
  * The Liturgy of the Heart by Dom André Louf
  * John of Dalyatha by Br Benoît Standaert

There were also two sessions devoted to reading texts.

Please note that what I am posting here is based on my rather hurriedly scribbled notes and, while I have tried to accurately reflect what the speakers said, errors are always possible. Also note that, except in cases where I indicate otherwise (i.e. where I have access to English translations) quotations from the Fathers are my English translations from the Dutch, which are themselves usually translations from the French … thus a translation of a translation of a translation. This is hardly ideal, but I’m posting them nevertheless, partly because doing so provides me with a stimulus to further process what I heard, and also because I believe that the content is worth sharing with others.

The papers that were presented will be published in the next edition of the journal Heiliging, published by the Benedictines of Zevenkerken.

Update: in case anyone is interested, there are photos available here.