A Jeremiad against Pedantry

Though well and truly ageing, I am still capable of naïveté. As a feed for the monastery website I have set up and linked an Instagram account. By means of it it was hoped that tasteful shots taken from those amazing modern pocket computers, the smartphone, might afford visitors and enquirers a little insight into our life at Douai. The world-wise among you are probably already shaking your heads.

In quick succession last summer were Breakfastgate and Lunchgate, when your correspondent posted photos of a monastic breakfast and a monastic lunch taken in the refectory garden (in holiday time our meals are informal). A few people found them decadent, shocked that monks might eat homemade bread with homemade jam and washed down by a mug of coffee, or have glass of wine with the Sunday luncheon roast. But these were minor niggles really. Continue reading “A Jeremiad against Pedantry”

Merton the Rigid?

On Facebook this evening I posted a quotation, asking people to guess its author without recourse to Google. There were some interesting guesses, but one canny lady got to it by a clever process of questioning and reasoning.

The author was none other than Fr Thomas Merton OCSO (or O.C.R. as it was), from his 1950 pamphlet “What is Contemplation?” as published by Burns & Oates as title 7 in their Paternoster Series. This is early Cistercian Merton, grappling intellectually and manfully with spiritual things. Reading this particular little section, I was stopped in my tracks on page 13: Continue reading “Merton the Rigid?”

The end is nigh?

As we enter into the last weeks of the liturgical year the readings get more eschatological. The preacher here today was of a mind that we should not ever be prone to thinking that we are in the last days. To be sure, there has been many a Protestant sect that has predicted even the very day of the parousia, with results we can all to easily guess. Yet the end has to come some time, and both our Lord and the apostle assure us that there will be signs of its impending arrival.

What a year it has been. IS/Daesh apocalyptic atrocities, the disaster in the Yemen, a new cold war between Russia and the West, renewed attempts at militant Muslim terrorism in the West (most of which we will not hear about for a long time to come), an even more fanatical North Korea, and the election of Donald Trump. Continue reading “The end is nigh?”

Purgatory Revisited

This morning I was down to celebrate the conventual Mass, and on this day every November we offer Mass for the deceased relatives and benefactors of the English Benedictine Congregation. It got me thinking on purgatory, and I was propelled a little further along by something I read in the latest (and last?) from the pope emeritus, Benedict XVI: Last Testament in his own words, translated by Dr Jacob Phillips (one of those bright young things at St Mary’s University, Twickenham) and hot off the press and into our mailboxes this past week. Continue reading “Purgatory Revisited”

Beyond Ad Orientem: Final Gleanings from Sacra Liturgia 2016

In the home stretch now, with the last set of nuggets from Sacra Liturgia 2016. Continue reading “Beyond Ad Orientem: Final Gleanings from Sacra Liturgia 2016”

Beyond Ad Orientem: Further Gleanings from Sacra Liturgia 2016

Having, in the first gleanings, looked at Dr Bullivant’s small time bomb for the exegesis of the conciliar declaration on liturgy, it is time finally to extract the gems from the other talks at Sacra Liturgia 2016 in London a few weeks back.

This will be a light buffet not a banquet, a tasting menu not the full dishes. You can tell I am fasting today! Fuller details will be found in my series of posts from Sacra Liturgia in this blog. Continue reading “Beyond Ad Orientem: Further Gleanings from Sacra Liturgia 2016”

Beyond Ad Orientem: First Gleanings from Sacra Liturgia 2016

The controversy that has been stirred up over Cardinal Sarah’s encouragement to priests to return to the traditional orientation at the altar during Mass has been fascinating, alarming, and perhaps ultimately necessary. It has provoked people on various sides to play their hands: unswerving loyalty to the status quo of liturgical reform, and a willingness to use an iron fist in a velvet glove to defend it; a commitment to reforming this reform to bring it more in line with the explicit intentions of the Council on which the status quo bases its legitimacy;  a rejection even of a reform of the reform and an overriding commitment to the pre-conciliar liturgy as liberated by Pope Benedict XVI in 2007; and, incredulity among a minority at this bickering over such a peripheral thing as liturgy —”people are starving”, etc. On the positive side, it has renewed a discussion into what Christian worship is all about, what is its focus and what are its essential principles. This has led some to make more concrete and definitive judgments on related issues on which they had not previously come to any firm and final decision.

However, Sacra Liturgia 2016 had three full days of talks beyond Cardinal Sarah’s controversial address. So to help further the effects and fruits of the conference, I propose to single out what struck me as particularly noteworthy and deserving of ongoing thought and application. These strike me as seeds that deserve the water of our attention, our study and prayer, and our action. Continue reading “Beyond Ad Orientem: First Gleanings from Sacra Liturgia 2016”