Trumau 2019: The Phoenix Institute

Just as it does every year, it could be seen how the phoenix bird was born again to open its wings into the great heights of the Truth, the Beauty and the Good. In the heart of a small town in Austria the miracle took place once again and a varied group of unknown beings turned to become a deep community of friends. After last year in Notre Dame, I admit that my arrival to Trumau was a complex mix of expectations and fear. My soul was willing to discover again that charming spirit and environment that makes you feel at home in a couple of days while it opens the door to unimaginable questions and concerns that you maybe even did not know that could be of your interest. Simultaneously, I was afraid of being incapable of repeating such atmosphere, of missing those people who built it last year, and feeling alone in the midst of strangers, yearning for those memories to be alive again.

However, the Phoenix Institute never disappoints. You can be sure of the fruitful results of each summer, wherever it takes place and whoever is there to share it with you. Being fair in describing what it is, but even more, how it truly impacts your life I would say it is practically impossible. Maybe it is just like music: it has such a deep effect on our souls as Plato and Aristotle highlight music does. But at the same time the way it shapes us is far away from our understanding, so we can only acknowledge its imprint in the soul, recognizing its role in who we are and no more. In this sense making a proper, full and right explanation of what you live in the Phoenix Institute summer seminars and how your life goes afterwards seems to be also unachievable. Considering this fact, this only tries to be a humble attempt to grasp the truth, the beautiful and the good that lies behind the Phoenix Institute.

The first strokes are full of the inestimable encounter with the truth, focused on understanding what it really means to be human and what is needed for the flourishing of the human life. Outstanding professors are part of this quest in which transcendental and key aspects of our lives are put onto the table to be discussed in a context of sincere pursuit. Endless conversations among a huge variety of people take place both in class and outside. Very different positions are presented in order to find a light that illuminates the lives of all. Even if you had the opportunity of talking about all these issues, it is never the same. There you find yourself full of freedom, you do no longer want to demonstrate you are right, instead you take out all your doubts and not-answered questions while you listen carefully and show your ideas to the rest in order to find the truth and to help others in this search.

Afterwards, in a moment of deep reasoning, the charming harmony of beauty comes into your soul to wake you up through the musical presence of Prof. Bernhard Dolna. He is definitely of that sort of people you identify as different from the rest of us, simple mortals. His eyes, embedded with peace and joy, make you desire to have the chance of seeing through his gaze and thus discovering the marvelous reality that surrounds us as he does. At the end, I realized that I finally understood a little more about the true power of beauty and the importance of developing our capability of admiring it through a life full of contemplation. ‘Beauty gives a taste of eternity’, he said in one class, and then he managed to lead us through this experience, letting us almost grasp it for an instant. This challenged my mind and soul, questioning my lifestyle, asking for a real change in order to give contemplation a place in my everydayness. I realized I had a great thirst for beauty, truth and transcendence which was tacitly neglected and forgotten on a daily basis. The rush in which the world leads us to live has something inhuman, in a way, and we have to recover that plentiful depth of our nature that was unveiled in Trumau.

Nevertheless, the final result was also carved by the inestimable richness of true friendship. This group of foreigners became a community where true and higher goods where shared in a couple of weeks. Not only were there laughs and coffee, I also found people with the same aims and perspective of life with whom I was able to pray the Rosary or attend Divine Liturgy as well as sharing a ‘cellar’ night or a weekend in Vienna or Budapest. It cannot be understood how complete strangers turn to be so close friends in such little time, yet it is a fact. So, all the aspects of the human being were lived fully, accompanied by those who turned to be real friends, adding the last but most important brightness of this gift.

Thereby, the course finished and all of us returned to our daily lives, far away from this charming schloss where everything seemed to be like a fairytale. It could be said that the phoenix bird has now died, that a year has to be awaited in order to have the privilege of experiencing this magical present again. Still, the bird may have died in Trumau but it is now born again in our hearts, in our souls, flying one more time from the humble limits of this tiny town to the great realities of multiple countries and taking this message to those who did not have the chance of being part of it. This is the last gift the Phoenix Institute gives when you depart: the consciousness you now have and the duty of leading others to grasp the Truth, the Good and the Beauty every day and in every corner of the world. You finally know that you have to give them a place in your life and that you have to be the means to let others encounter with the ‘Pulchrum, Verum, Bonum’.

“Beauty gives a taste of eternity.” Prof. Dolna

«Ese anhelo ha sido lo más dulce de mi vida: alcanzar la Montaña, encontrar el lugar de donde vino todo cuanto es bello…» C.S. Lewis