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Fr. James of St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, OCD

Herman CohenThe world does not know enough about the Hebrew Catholic Carmelite priest, Fr. Augustine-Marie of The Blessed Sacrament, OCD., whose birth name was Hermann Cohen. A slim body of popular literature did emerge from the presses, and some pockets of people around the world caught a glimpse of the gift of God for our time that this man’s life was destined to be.

I write to thank you, Mr. Moss, for the faithful support that the Association of Hebrew Catholics has consistently given to promoting the works of Fr. Antonine Newman, OCD and Fr. Tadgh Tierney, OCD who, themselves, worked tirelessly in their time to further educate a generation concerning the meaning and implications of the life, work and prayerful example of Fr. Augustine-Marie of The Blessed Sacrament, OCD. I represent another generation of Carmelites who have been touched by the fact that long before the current Catechism of the Catholic Church put the articles on the Eucharist before us, Fr. Cohen’s life and ministry was a perfect model of the centrality of the Eucharist.

The institution of the Eucharist

“Jesus chose the time of Passover to fulfill what he had announced at Capernaum: giving his disciples his Body and his Blood:

“Then came the day of Unleavened Bread, on which the passover lamb had to be sacrificed. So Jesus sent Peter and John, saying, “Go and prepare the passover meal for us, that we may eat it….” They went … and prepared the passover. And when the hour came, he sat at table, and the apostles with him. And he said to them, “I have earnestly desired to eat this passover with you before I suffer; for I tell you I shall not eat it again until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.”…. And he took bread, and when he had given thanks he broke it and gave it to them, saying,

“This is my body which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” And likewise the cup after supper, saying, “This cup which is poured out for you is the New Covenant in my blood.” (Catechism, par. 1339)
“Do this in memory of me”

“The three synoptic Gospels and St. Paul have handed on to us the account of the institution of the Eucharist; St. John, for his part, reports the words of Jesus in the synagogue of Capernaum that prepare for the institution of the Eucharist: Christ calls himself the bread of life, come down from heaven.” (Catechism, par. 1338)

Fr. Tierney’s book, The Story of Hermann Cohen From Franz Liszt To John of The Cross, begins with a poem by Fr. Cohen one verse of which says:

I know a dew which God sheds from heaven
And which must sustain us for the remainder
Of the road we have to travel;
I know a tree whose wood can sweeten
The bitter waters which are our portion
To drink here below,
And make them give us a foretaste
Of the heavenly Canaan.
I know a victim whose sacrifice ascends
In an odor of sweetness to the
God of Abraham.

The life that Fr. Hermann Cohen so beautifully modeled for us is, once again, most timely and, as was printed in a French Catholic periodical in 1982, these wishes and sentiments need to be embraced today:

“Let us endorse the wish to see Fr. Hermann’s beatification introduced. For us his holiness is beyond doubt and his canonization highly desirable at the present time.” [Fr. Joseph of St. Marie, OCD.]

I am working for the republication of Fr. Tierney’s book and to renew the work begun by Fr. Antonine Newman, OCD. I would be very pleased to see the existing strong links between the Association of Hebrew Catholics, “The Friends of Hermann Cohen” and the Carmelite family renewed and strengthened around our common concern for the spreading of the Eucharistic message that was so fully articulated by Fr. Hermann, and is so necessary to our generations of today.

Yours sincerely.
Fr. James of St. Teresa Benedicta of The Cross, OCD.