The previous post – the news gets better

A little further reading has revealed that BAC Systems, the subject of the previous post, is even more active in matters of the faith than I had thought. Though they manufacture modular storage, they have diversified into publishing devotional and catechetical works, and the building of a farm chapel in rural New South Wales which now also has a resident Franciscan hermit serving it. They also support religious sisters in Australia and a parish in Peru, as well as churches, a trade school and an orphanage in Uganda.

Is this the very model of a Catholic manufacturing firm, or is it not?! A place to visit on my next trip home.

The farm chapel of Christ the King, near Condobilin in rural New South Wales (Australia)
St Andrew’s parish centre under construction in Uganda


A monastic workplace, a commercial success

Part of the genius of the Rule of St Benedict, which quickly surpassed other, earlier rules in the western Church to become the pre-eminent monastic rule [to head off any potential pedants at the pass, the Rule of St Augustine is not, strictly speaking, monastic, nor is it as comprehensive as St Benedict’s], is that it is moderate and balanced. It does not depict monastic life as a spiritual utopia, nor monks as Christian supermen. St Benedict knows well the humanity of monks, their first fervour and later laxity, their aptness to cut corners if even from the best of motives, their capacity to annoy each other and their tendency to value more highly what they want to what they need. He imposes a healthy discipline and allows for it to be modified, though this perhaps is also its weakness: it has ever after been modified in the name of holy pragmatism. He places a high value on a demanding formation that begins with strictness in order to make the life sweeter to live in the long term (and indulgence of novices’ preferences and weaknesses has been a perpetual source of trouble for monasteries, not least today when we are so desperate not to lose our few candidates whatever their faults). Continue reading “A monastic workplace, a commercial success”

Br Choleric – RIP

To the best of my knowledge there is no monastic blogger (mogger?*) at Downside Abbey. [*I guess a clerical blogger is a clogger.] Which is a pity. For there is so much about Downside that is worthy of sharing with a wider audience on social media.

Today is the anniversary of the death of Dom Hubert van Zeller (†1984), a far-from-boring monk of Downside, whose prodigious talents have given joy to many a monk, though perhaps some heartburn to an abbot or two. He was very gifted sculptor, with a clean and distinctive style that breathes the air of Ditchling. He was a popular spiritual writer whose works are still in print. Yet for some of us who were not his immediate brethren at Downside, he is most memorable for his books of caricatures published under the pseudonym Br Choleric. Continue reading “Br Choleric – RIP”

Sacristans and Justice

One of the jobs yours truly has at the monastery is sacristan. For the last 6 to 9 months I have taken on washing and ironing the smaller of the sacred linens—purificators, lavabo towels, corporals and amices. The housekeeping staff do the bigger cloths for the altar and credence tables. Continue reading “Sacristans and Justice”

A glaring omission

In my haste and weariness, manifestations of the frail flesh of my humanity which cancels out all guilt, I omitted one commentator from my list in the previous post on the divided opinion in the wake of Amoris Laetitia. You will find it a bracing digestivo that will help remedy any mental gastric reflux from so much heavy intellectual food.

It is from a source close to Eccleston Square. Bruvver Eccles no less. Click his official portrait below and read on, and guffaw and snort with consideration for others. His opinions are not necessarily my own, etc etc. Amen.



Bits and Bobs (some serious)

It’s been so long I almost forget how to do this blogging thing. But it’s coming back…

It has been busy here at Douai; that’s one excuse for the silence. Another is that it has been hard to find anything really good to write about, so it was best to say nothing, or so it seemed.

Another reason, if not an excuse, for the silence is that I found the whole blogosphere had become overwhelming. Just going through my Digg blogroll took longer and longer, even with skim reading, and it was getting more and more depressing in content. So I went cold turkey, and I have not opened Digg or looked at blogs (except through the odd single link on Facebook or Twitter) since January.

So here am I writing a blog post. The irony is not lost on me.

Continue reading “Bits and Bobs (some serious)”

To hate and not to hate — the necessary balancing act

In haste, as busy-ness looms again in this not-too-quiet cloister.

As we recover from and reflect on the Paris atrocity (and for those who have cared to notice, the Beirut outrage on the same day) we will find strong words being said. Some are necessary and true; some are unhelpful and off-target. Several commentators and news outlets seized on the Syrian passport found near the corpse of a suicide bomber as proof that terrorists are coming in with asylum seekers. It was strange to those of us who spent a second or two thinking about this — strange that the bomber’s body should be in a million pieces but his passport intact. Now we hear that the authorities feel it was planted and that indeed it is a fake.

Making us fear all asylum seekers is part of the tactics of terror. Divide and conquer is a tried and true strategy.

This strength of feeling brings into focus some uncomfortable truths. It is time to begin hating. It is time to hate terrorism, structures of violence and oppression, torture and inhumanity, bloodlust and the creeds of antichrist. We must them with a perfect hate: measured, thoughtful, discerning and calm. They must be decried, dismantled and destroyed.

It is not time to hate people. It never can be. Christ died even for the butchers of Paris last Friday, even if they rejected that redeeming death. God desires that all people be saved and come to knowledge of truth (1Tim 2:4). So our duty is to love (in the active, not emotional, sense) the Islamist terrorists, by confronting them with the truth, admonishing them, shaming them, and punishing them, for the Lord punishes those whom he loves (Prov 3:12; Hebrews 12:6), that they might be saved.

But what a fine line to walk – to hate the sin, and love the sinner. It can be spoken glibly all too often. However, it is a real and mighty challenge for Christians, and salvific. If we are to hate the sins we do not like, we must also start hating our own sins lest we become hypocrites.

Thus this latest atrocity is a reminder to us of our constant need to repent and to receive God’s forgiveness and so experience the mercy of God which is ever on offer. Always on offer. For all of us.

Take the time to read this story, which puts a human face to this duty we have to hate the terror but not the terrorists. Even more, it reminds us to be careful whom we label as part of this programme of terror. There are more victims than we realize, and some of them will be victims of us not Daesh if we do not get this balancing act right. Most victims of Daesh are Muslim, and we must not become agents of Daesh in our reaction to them.

Terror must not win.

paris symbol
Can you see the Cross?