- Un pionnier, dom Lambert Beauduin (1873-1960): Liturgie et Unité des chrétiens
Dom Lambert Beauduin is recognized both as a liturgical reformer and an ecumenist. Since his death in 1960, biographies have been written by L.Bouyer, O. Rousseau, R. Aubert, M. Cappuyns, and A. Haquin. But these two volumes represent the exhaustive efforts of two priest-professors, Raymond Loonbeek and Jacques Mortiau, of the diocese of Malines-Brussels to document the life of this great pioneer, through his writings; extensive interviews with his contemporaries; research in archives such as the archdiocese of Malines, the Pro Russia Commission, and the Congregation for Oriental Churches in Rome; and his papers, which include the rich years when he gave spiritual retreats and taught [End Page 841] university-level courses at San Anselmo in Rome and the Institut Supérieur de Liturgie in Paris. Beauduin was a prolific writer of some two hundred journal articles and several thousand letters. One drawback, however, is the absence of papers from the monastery of Mont César in Louvain, where Dom Beauduin began his monastic life; Dom Bernard Capelle ordered the papers' destruction. The work is made up of ten sections in two thick volumes, which include more than 1500 pages of text and an extensive list of sources.
Beauduin began his religious life as a seminarian at Liège (1893–97), years marked by Pope Leo XIII's social encyclical Rerum Novarum (1891). Drawn to the Société des Aumôniers du Travail, he was ordained to the diocesan clergy but the monastic life appealed to him. In 1906, he took up residence as a Benedictine monk at Mont César and prepared to teach dogmatic theology (ecclesiology). It was here that he dreamed about a renewed liturgy both in parishes and monasteries that would renew the Church. In 1909, he attended the general chapter of the Benedictines in Beuron that would lead him to the Congress of Catholic Works in Malines, which he declared was the official beginning for his work in liturgical reform and ecumenism. But it was during Beauduin's years in Rome (1921–25) while preparing his lectures on ecclesiology that he became acutely aware of the problem of Christian unity through his contacts with Anglicanism and the Christian East. These years nourished his ecumenical outlook that led to the foundation of the Monastery of Unity in 1925 (later transferred to Chevetogne).Wanting the monastery to be free from proselytism, dependence on charitable giving, and ideological imperialism, Beauduin established a new approach toward separated Christians that was founded on respect and love rather than one based on the desire to proselytize. It consisted in listening to an individual to know and understand him or her but still remaining true to one's own convictions. But Beauduin's refusal to proselytize doomed him to exile in a monastery in the south of France (En Calcat) where he remained until 1951. He returned to his home monastery at the age of seventy-eight. Yet the years in exile, intended to silence this charismatic visionary, only established his credentials as a great figure in ecumenical circles as well as liturgical studies. This two-volume work is highly recommended for the serious historian. [End Page 842]