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Norwegian bishop launches website to share gospel message

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Bishop Erik Varden of Trondheim, Norway is launching a new website to share his thoughts, sermons and other writings, in the hopes that it will be a place of conversation with people of good will.

By Charlotte Smeds

As the Church celebrated the feast of Saint Bernard of Clairveux on Friday, Bishop Erik Varden’s new website was launched (www.coramfratribus.com).

The bishop hopes to use the site to provide reflections and an opportunity to promote dialogue within the Church in northern Norway and those in the Diaspora.

“The idea of ​​a website came immediately in connection with my appointment,” says Bishop Varden. Internet allows you to go far. The pandemic has shown the limits of the Internet, but also its power as a means of disseminating knowledge. “

Why “Coram Fratribus”?

The name of the site “Coram Fratribus“comes from his episcopal motto: Coram Fratribus Intellexi, which is a line from a sermon on Ezekiel by Pope Saint Gregory the Great. Bishop Varden read this sermon the same day he learned that the Pope had appointed him bishop.

Saint Gregory reflects on how sometimes it is difficult to understand the meaning of the Bible when he reads it alone, but when he hears the same passage read in church, ‘coram fratribus meis positus, intellex‘. That is to say: “face to face with my brothers, I understood”.

Bishop Varden wants both in his choice of motto and with the website to underline how the living Word of God is addressed to us together, and that we need each other to receive it, understand it correctly and follow it most faithfully. possible.

“My mission as a bishop is to preach the gospel, so the purpose of the website is to act as a channel in this area,” says the bishop. “I feel there is a thirst for homilies.”

Four categories of content

The content of the website is mainly in English and Norwegian and is divided into four categories: Word on the Word, Notebook, Life Illuminated and Archives.

The “Word on the Word” section contains the bishop’s sermons published in the languages ​​in which he gave them.

Under “Notebook”, the Internet user can find reflections similar to those that one writes in the margins of a book while reading. In other words, these are ideas that come during the day, gathered in a notebook, not only on books but also on music, art, cinema and human encounters.

“The Illuminated Life” highlights the bishop’s desire to share his experience of giving chapter conferences during his life as a monk, while allowing faith to illuminate life.

In the ‘Archives’ you can find articles, texts, interviews, book reviews and audio files. Among the audio are readings from the Gospels in the original language, an ongoing project launched with the website. Bishop Varden’s advice is to read one chapter of the gospel per day, and the audio section of the website will provide an opportunity to listen to his reading. He plans to start reading the Bible in Norwegian afterwards.

Near the bottom of the website, it is possible to request email updates whenever something new is posted.

Monk and bishop

Bishop Erik Varden, OCSO is a Trappist monk, as well as a bishop.

He was born in Norway in 1974. In 1993 he welcomed into the Catholic Church. After ten years at the University of Cambridge, in 2002, he entered the English Trappist Monastery of Mount Saint Bernard in Charnwood Forest.

After his priestly ordination in 2011, he taught Syrian and Christian anthropology at the Papal University of Sant’Anselmo in Rome. Back in his monastery, he was elected abbot in 2015. As abbot, he founded a Trappist beer brewery in the monastery, Tynt Meadow.

In 2019, Pope Francis appointed Erik Varden bishop of Trondheim, a diocese that had been without a bishop for a long time. His episcopal consecration took place in the medieval Trondheim Cathedral on October 3, 2020.