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This report is taken from PN Review 182, Volume 34 Number 6, July - August 2008.

Archive Corner 10: An Astronaut of Inner Space Stella Halkyard

The travels of dom sylvester houédard

At the age of 62, on his way to deliver a lecture to the Meister Eckhart Society, the poet-monk dom sylvester houédard disappeared suddenly into the exploding galaxy. The untimely loss of this cosmonaut of the cosmic typewriter indelibly inscribed a black hole in our alphabetic (uni)verse in the shape of the letters 'd', 's', and 'h'. Polymathic, erudite, avant garde and arcane, the breadth of his learning was eclectic and prodigious.

Born on the rim of the starlit waters of the archipelago of the British Isles in Guernsey, he was educated at Elizabeth College before going to Oxford to read History. His studies were interrupted whilst he served in British Army intelligence in the Far East. He became a Benedictine monk at Prinknash Abbey, Gloucestershire in 1949 and was ordained as a priest in 1954. A profoundly serious theologian who engaged in the major religious debates of his time, he was at the forefront of the changes to the Catholic Church that were heralded by the Second Vatican Council in 1962. In particular he was inspired to take a leading role in what he came to call 'wider ecumenism':

It sometimes seemed as if his knowledge in the field of Tibetan Buddhism was equal to his familiarity with ... the whole Christian contemplative tradition; and he was equally at home in the works of Muhyiddin Ibn 'Arabi ... Yet once when a university ...

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