The last few months have been hectic, demanding, occasionally rewarding, often dispiriting but generally productive. At the end of August, (to twist the Preface of the Dead) my life was ended not changed when I was appointed bursar of the monastery. My day had been structured, for most of my almost-18 years here, principally around the monastic liturgical horarium. Now it revolves around another sort of office, with computers and files, income and (always-greater) expenditure, staff crises and, most recently, storm damage to the abbey church. Some days I spend up to nine hours in the office. I am out of practice for a “normal” nine-to-five sort of job.
Sometimes I manage to use my downtime not in wallowing in problems but in recognizing that people can be surprisingly, and very cheeringly, good. In the past year I have received often surprise gifts of books, fountain pens, handkerchiefs, a bottle or two of something heartening, a floor-standing bookstand, and no doubt things I cannot recall at this very moment. Such gifts never fail to bring encouragement and cheer, and so often they come just when I could do with some! Sinner though I am, I do try to ensure that I manifest my sincere gratitude as directly as possible to my benefactors.
Continue reading “A Word to an Anonymous Northerner”
It’s been a busy day so just one piece today in the series on Douai Abbey’s Ward vestments. Today it is the cope.
The cope was another significant piece of the set that was ready in 1896, though in that year the morse for it had not yet been made. It is essentially easy to describe: the orphreys on the front show the 12 apostles grouped in pairs. Continue reading “More that was not lost”
In the 1890s our priory (Douai became an abbey only in 1900, along with the other ancient EBC houses) in Douai, Flanders, was blessed with a series of generous benefactions from Edmund Granville Ward (1853-1915), of the Isle of Wight, son of the Tractarian convert to Catholicism, W G Ward. Mr Ward had discovered Douai on his way to Rome in 1894, and in 1895 he gave £100 for the library. The next year he funded the building of a new cloister, which came to be named after him, as well as the development of cricket oval and tennis courts at the monastery’s villa down the road in Planques. A little later he funded a new lavatory block (not named after him) and a guest wing. The great tragedy is that in under a decade the community would have to abandon its newly-embellished monastery and school in the wake of the French government’s 1901 Law of Associations, a law which saw a mass exodus of monastic houses to Britain, including Solesmes to Quarr and La Grande Chartreuse to Parkminster. Continue reading “Not all was lost”
A triverberate (!) of Latin words does not make for good “clickbait”, but this is for the serious reader not the passing internet surfer. All will soon be clear enough.
Today the Order of St Benedict keeps the feast of Scholastica, the sister of St Benedict (and he, not she, is the patron saint of Benedictine nuns, for the record). Glimpses into her life can be gleaned from Book 2 of the Dialogues of Pope St Gregory the Great (or, in the eastern Church, St Gregory the Dialogist). A homage to his spiritual master, it was written between 593 and 594, less than 50 years after the death of Benedict. The relevant passage was read this morning at Matins, St Gregory as narrator: Continue reading “Contemplatio, consideratio & caritas”
Sorry – another mega missal post, but the last, so—courage. [As usual, if you click the photos they will open in full size.]
First from the cloister haul is this example of a missal I had not come across before: a Missal-Vesperal. Many of the 20th-century people’s missals began to include vespers and even compline, as a way of bringing the life of Christian worship out beyond the confines of Mass and to imbue daily life with the spirit of the liturgy.
Continue reading “Missals in the Monastery Cupboard—2”
This will verge on a megapost. There was quite the variety of missals in the cupboard. As a great lover of the old hand missals I found these of special interest. If the old missals do nothing for your adrenalin levels then this post may not be of interest to you. There is no particular rationale to the following sequence.
The first is a representative of the high-water mark of the hand missals for the laity that were one of the great fruits of the authentic liturgical movement.
It has an intrguing inscription. Either Christopher is something of an indian giver, or Judie is very possessive.
Continue reading “Missals in the Monastery Cupboard—1”
London has been hit by terrorists again, with all the hallmarks of those inspired by the Islamic jihadists of Daesh. The details are gradually becoming clearer now but it seems prudent to withhold comment until we know quite certainly the full nature of the attacks. Of course for now we pray: for the seven dead and commend them to Christ’s mercy; for the injured and commend them to the Spirit of Consolation; for those who mourn or who are afrighted and commend them to the Father’s paternal care.
So as we worship this Pentecost day we might remember the victims, pray also for the conversion of terrorists, and offer ourselves to the Father with Christ in solidarity with the persecuted Church in Egypt, Syria, Iraq, and in parts of Africa and Asia.
But this is not what the title of the blog post refers to. If I may, a brief pause from the worries of terror.
In yesterday’s post, one of the items covered was a two-volume set of choir breviaries. A reader, papamac71, spotted what I had not: Continue reading “O happy fault!”
Some people actually seem interested in this, so herewith the penultimate post about the cloister hoard.
**NB In this series, any picture is able to be clicked to reveal the full-sized version.**
Today, office books. First is this diurnal, ie the day hours off the office as found in the monastic breviary.
Continue reading “Even More in a Monastery Cupboard”
Since it is a Friday, it seems fitting to supply some opportunity for penance. Thus, here follows some more discoveries from a cupboard in the monastery’s long cloister.
Last time we left off with a taster of a book that you will not have seen in bookshops before.
This little book was published by no less than Douai Abbey. I had never heard of it.
Continue reading “More in a Monastery Cupboard”
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”