A request for advice (or, an Aside in the “A Changing Church” series)

Calling all those who know a little about upholstery tapestry/ecclesiastical furnishings and their repair/renovation.

Yesterday at the abbot’s council here at Douai we approved the resotoration of the old sedilia, used in the abbey church in its first stage. They are a darker oak, and the original tapestry MAY be underneath the latterly-added green fabric. The base of the celebrant’s chair itself wore out. We would like to restore and re-upholster them in a hard-wearing tapestry, with the pattern of a simple Puginesque cross or even the pattern from the tiling in the refectory in our former monastery in Douai, France. We will re-introduce the restored sedalia to liturgical use in the abbey

If anyone knows of a firm or individual who could help us with this, please do let me know. We are prepared to pay for quality but we need to avoid extravagance (I know, I know; we want to keep our cake and eat it…). Mind you, I am not beyond praying for a benefactor who might like to finance the restoration as a good work for the Lord, or even as a memorial to a loved one, or something like that.

Anyhow, some pics are attached. (These are not huge seats, you will see). Thanks and blessings in advance for any help!

A changing church – part 2

A changing church – part 2

Thesis writing and the various thrills and spills of the vita monastica have caused me to neglect the blog. Maybe that is a good thing. A series of events, not with an ominous air when seen together, have challenged any sanguine approach I might have had towards the current state of play in the Church and the world. The dismal presidential election in the USA, the hideous new presidency in the Philippines, the aggressive posturing of Putin, the demonic embodiment that is IS/Daesh, exhortations to “celebrate” the tragedy of the Reformation, the recent radical reformation of the Congregation for Divine Worship, and a series of earthquakes in Italy that have destroyed the basilica in St Benedict’s home town, Norcia – all these militate against optimism. Continue reading “A changing church – part 2”

Not dead yet

It is has not been a year of abundant blogging, and certainly not recently. Easter at Douai is a busy time if one is simultaneously sacristan, cantor and shepherd: lots of liturgical services to set up for, sometimes single-handedly; lots to sing at those same services, and to practise for naturally; and it is lambing season.

The last lamb popped out during vespers on Friday, the reluctant mother Hildegard finally conceding to Mother Nature. She gave birth to this year’s only single lamb, Ambrose (Samson, though now a single, had a sister at birth who sadly only lasted a day). Our much reduced flock of six ewes has had ten lambs, which is a more easily manageable number. Of those ten, eight are rams and only two ewes. Their father, Spitfire, has not interrupted the ewes’ tendency to produce rams. Is this a subtle accommodation to the cloister in the domain of which they live?

Continue reading “Not dead yet”

Happy feast day to us!

What with all the distractions of unexpectedly good episcopal appointments this year in England, and the debate about Catholic, especially clerical, bloggers, and the crisis in the Ukraine, it may understandably escpae the notice of most members of the Church that today Benedictines celebrate the Solemnity of the Transitus (or Passing) of St Benedict.

Below is a translation of the Latin hymn set for this feast, which you otherwise might never see.

Shout, all ye people! Let your measured praises
Ring through the churches solemnly and sweetly;
On this feast day Benedict ascended
Heaven’s high summit.

He, when his youthful joyous years were blooming,
Yet in his boyhood left his native dwelling,
Seeking concealment hid within a cavern
Lonely and silent.

There amid nettles, rigid thorns and briars
Won he the battle over youth’s enticement,
Nurse of pollution; then he wrote a Holy Rule
of blest living.

Thy brazen image, infamous Apollo,
soon hath he smitten; burnt the grove of Venus,
Then to the Baptist, on the sacred mountain,
Established a chapel.

Now doth he witness happily in heaven
Seraphim, leading thongs of shining angels,
While he refreshes faithful hearts of who hear him
With living waters.

Praise to the Father, to the Sole-begotten,
And to Thee, always with the Twain co-equal,
Fostering Spirit; One only Godhead
Through all ages.

“Measured praises” is the sure sign of a hymn that originates in the noble simplicity of the Roman rite. Moreover, the tenor of all St Benedict’s Rule is one of measured common sense. In the midst of all his moderation, St Benedict had no time for pagan idols, the shrines of which he overturned in a moment. With the Church beset by a neo-pagan secularism, she needs even more the quiet witness of faithful, godly monks and nuns.

Please remember Douai Abbey in your prayers, and all English Benedictines, and also the brethren at Silverstream Priory.

May God, who has begun a good work in you, bring it to fulfillment, through Christ our Lord.

The Passing to the next life of St Benedict
The Passing to the next life of St Benedict

 

Birth interrupts blogging

A blog post has had to go on hold for a while due to the birth of our first lamb of the year.

Born in brilliant, blessed sunshine this morning was Basil, named in honour of our own Dom Basil Gwydir, whose centenary of death we keep this year. He was one of several of our monks who served as military chaplains in the Great War. He died when the hospital ship, HMHS Rohilla, sank off Whitby on 30 October 1914, not long after the war had begun. It is said of Fr Basil that he remained below decks with sailors who were immobile and unable to escape, and so drowned with them.

Sinking of the Rohilla

Maiorem hac dilectionem nemo habet, ut animam suam ponat qui pro amicis suis. (John 15:13)

The new Basil is hale and hearty, and of full voice.

Basil

Shearing time!

This evening, muggy and threatening rain, my little flock was sheared. Not by me, though I helped with the worming, tagging, and dosing. Jack and Chris, two sturdy young bairns, did the honours. The flock clearly felt the relief of losing their heavy, hot coats.

Two quick pics. Jack and Chris hard at it:

Shearing

 

A lovely pile of fleece for our oblate Teresa, who will use a goodly portion of it to make sleeping mats for the homeless.

Jpeg

 

Little Malcolm was glad when it was all over.

malcom

Lounging lambs

The cold still bites here in Royal Berkshire, but at least the sun has managed to put his hat on occasionally, and to lovely effect. That said, yesterday was mostly filled with flurries of snow flakes, and the daffodils are terribly confused.

One effect of the sunshine is to encourage a little ritual lambs are fond of indulging in. After joining in the feeding frenzy on barley and hay with the ewes, they like to have a little chill time and think on the eternal verities. And they like to do it together. Normally in the sun they would play, but in the recent bleak and freezing weather they prefer to act like solar cells, and soak up as much warmth as possible. It begins when a nice bed of strewn hay is found in full sun. A couple will settle, satisfactorily gorged for now, and other lambs decide that they have the right idea.

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Quickly you have five settling in for some sun.

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And soon there are six, as a couple of the early comers start warming to their task of… warming.

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After some maternal intrusion and subsequent re-arrangement, they resettle to reveal the sun-and-slumber party has grown to eight.

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Malcolm, the youngest, is very much his own lamb and sits off a little to the side, balancing community with independence… and sleep.

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And looking back to the main assembly we find the other nine have finally settled together, Cher, the only girl among them, showing a suitable juvenile female disdain for boys.

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And they shall stay till the next human diversion arrives; for now, I have become far too boring to notice.

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Pax!