The launching of a Festschrift at the Augustinian Institute at Tal-Pietà

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Non Laborat qui amat! No labor is grievous to those who love it. This title, which is taken directly from Tractate 48, 1 on the Gospel of St. John, written by St Augustine of Hippo, powerfully explains the life and ministry of Rev. Professor Salvino Caruana OSA in these seventy years he has been living with us. The official launching of this scholarly volume took place on Friday 3 January 2020 at the Augustinian Institute of Tal-Pietà.

In fact, in this festschrift one can notice the remarkable achievements that Rev. Prof. Salvino Caruana OSA has made during these years of complete dedication to study, teaching and research on St Augustine. His various publications practically on different aspects of Augustine’s writings together with his spiritual heritage are truly amazing. Moreover, Non Laborat qui amat is also a precious testimony of the love and esteem Fr Salvino has managed to earn in these years not only locally but also internationally.

In its initial pages this festschrift offers four contributions of praise for the sterling and assiduous work Fr Caruana has carried throughout all these long years laboring in Augustine’s vineyard. Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, the late Cardinal Prospero Grech OSA, Fr Alejandro Moral Antón OSA, the Prior General of the Order of St Augustine; as well as Fr Leslie Gatt OSA, the Maltese Provincial Minister of the Order of St Augustine were the authors of these important acknowledgment for his daring work. Although Fr Salvino shies away from laus et honor yet it was truly right and just to appreciate his unique contribution ad perpetuam rei memoriam.

This interesting volume is divided into five themes, namely Theology, Christology and Mariology, Anthropology, Christian living, Augustine’s Conversion and a Pastoral Application of St Augustine’s rich teaching within a hospital setting. Martin Boven wrote about The Subtle Art of Plagiarizing God: Some Personal Notes on Augustine’s Dialogue with Divine Otherness. Ritienne Debono delved into The Blessed Virgin Mary in the Writings of St Augustine of Hippo. Joseph Lam tackled Beyond Reasonableness? Etienne Gilson’s Critique of Augustinism. Joost Van Neer and Anthony Dupont wrote about Celebrating the Day of Christ’s Birth: The Rhetorical Structure and Doctrinal Content of Augustine’s Nativity Sermons. Johnatan Farrugia, the first editor of the volume, approached the subject-matter: Augustine on St Crispina: Comparing Augustine’s Image of the Saint with Her Acta.

Carrol Harrison reflected upon The Offence of Beauty: An Augustinian Reading whereas Matthew W. Knotts gave his ideas on In Search of the Augustinian Imago Dei: The “Nothingness” of the Human Person. Mathijs Lamberigts offered his reflections on Augustine on Baptism during the Controversy with Julian of Aeclanum. Michael J.S. Bruno’s contribution tapped into Seeking Augustinian Insights for the Christian in Public Life Today. Andrè Debattista, the second editor of the volume, dealt with the political Augustine in his contribution Augustine and the Tranquillitas Ordinis: Some reflections on Politics and Liberal Democracy from De Civitate Dei, Book XIX.

Silvio Meli spoke about Saint Augustine: Episcopalis Arbiter. Paul Van Geest studied: Inner Balance, Autonomy and Credibility: Classical or Christian virtues? Augustine’s De Opere monachorum Re-read in the Light of his De beata vita. The only non-English and French contribution, that by Bernard Bruning, spoke about La Double Conversion d’Augustin. Hector Scerri, the third editor of this volume, studied Augustine’s Struggle with the Problem of Evil and His Conversion to Neo-Platonism. And, finally, I was blessed to contribute to this special festschrift in honour of one of my closest friends, by presenting a humble essay on Augustine of Hippo: The Experience of a Hospital Chaplain.

In their editorial note entitled Gratis et Amoris, which bears the date of 13th November 2019, the three editors lavished heaps of praise to the academical, Christian and consecrated witness sterlingly given in all these years by Rev. Prof. Salvino Caruana OSA. They wrote:

“The title, Non laborat qui amat (Io. Eu. tr. 48,1) mirrors Salvino’s long and exemplary academic commitment at the University of Malta, the Augustinian Institute (which he still leads) and other duties he has carried out – and still carries out – in the Order of St Augustine…

Salvino Caruana has continuously drunk from the ever-gushing springs of Augustine. As many can attest with no hint of doubt, Salvino has left no stone unturned to share with others this knowledge of the great Church Father of the Latin West. He has done so to generations of students at the Faculty of Theology and the Faculty of Arts of the University of Malta, which is celebrating its sestercentennial, this year, Salvino has furthered his research in many places, particularly Rome, Leuven and Würzburg. He has led the Augustinian Institute for over two decades, seeking to bring the treasure trove of the Augustinian corpus to the general public. His many scholarly publications are another feather in Salvino’s cap…

Another praiseworthy initiative taken by Salvino is the translation of several works by Augustine into the Maltese language. The genesis and ongoing organization of the Annual St Augustine Lecture at the University of Malta bear the mark of Salvino. His academic legacy is, as we can all testify, enormous…

This festschrift is a token of gratitude by the international and the local academic community, as well as by the general public, to Salvino for having shared his God-given talents with so many people. Despite bouts of ill-health, he has soldiered on, and has proved to be indefatigable, even when obstacles cropped up on the way…

Deep gratitude is afforded to Salvino Caruana on his seventieth birthday. We are indeed privileged and satisfied to have coordinated this labour of love in honour of our very dear friend, teacher, mentor and colleague. We are sure that Salvino humbly repeats the Lord’s words, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done our duty’ (Lk 17:10), as well as Augustine’s, ‘I tasted you, and now hunger and thirst for you; you touched me, and I have burned for your peace’ (conf.X,27,38).”

This 330-paged volume is not only the result of Rev. Prof. Salvino Caruana OSA’s passion for St Augustine but, and much more, it openly speaks about his God-given charism of infecting those around him with his burning love for his spiritual father, the great saintly Bishop of Hippo. The three editors were aware of this when they commented in their editoral note to the volume: “At the same time, we can also vouch that the festschrift’s title also reflects the enthusiasm and cooperation shown by several academics who willingly and gladly agreed to offer their scholarly contribution, while affirming Non laborat qui amat.”

Obtain a copy of Non Laborat qui amat, this monumental work dedicated in honour of Rev. Professor Salvino Caruana OSA on his 70th birthday from Malta’s main bookshops.

Fr Mario Attard OFM Cap

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