In a monastery cupboard

If you do not like books, you are bound to be bored here. If you are indifferent to liturgical books, you are likely to yawn a little. If books and liturgical history fascinate you, even if presented in a fairly superficial and fleeting way—then read on Macduff.

A monastic friend has asked if we have copies of an old liturgical book. I endeavoured to track down our stash of them, seen years ago in a now-reformed part of the monastery. They must have been moved somewhere else, right?

As yet there is no sign of them. Perhaps they were moved without not within the monastery. However, along the way I discovered a small (St) Aladdin’s cave of liturgical and monastic incunabula (I use the term loosely of course 👨🏻‍🎓). Some of you may be interested to see some of the things that cupboard held. Continue reading “In a monastery cupboard”

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!

sedilia-1
The celebrant’s chair without its seat bottom
sedilia-2
Deacon’s stool 1
sedilia-3
Deacon’s stool 2
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A film photograph from 1982 of the Minton tiles in the refectory at old Douai
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Another old film photograph  of the refectory at old Douai

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”

An English Benedictine Discovery

Recently the abbot stumbled across an image hitherto totally unknown to him. It has lain unrecognised (by us, at least) in the Bibliothèque National in Paris until they digitised the image. It is rather important for my community of St Edmund, or Douai Abbey. It is displayed at the very end of this post.

Continue reading “An English Benedictine Discovery”

A Striking Chalice: Once Lost, Now Found

There’s nothing like procrastination to prompt a blog post.

Yet this post obeys the adage, carpe diem. For yesterday I discovered a chalice we had feared lost. It belonged to our Fr Terence who died last October after years battling cancer. He came as close to peace as he ever did in his last year, and he died well-prepared for his encounter face to face with Christ. As a young monk he was at the vanguard of the reformers in the 1960s, and until the end he gave short shrift to liturgical or theological recidivism. He was a Vatican II priest of a particular stamp, and his hopes had been pinned on the Council unreservedly. His faith was not feigned and his commitment was utterly sincere. Continue reading “A Striking Chalice: Once Lost, Now Found”

The Future of the English Benedictines

In the latest issue of the Tablet there is a brief article covering the recent Extraordinary General Chapter of the English Benedictine Congregation (EBC), which was held hard on the heels of the first ever EBC Forum, of over 30 EBC monks and nuns aged under 55 elected by all 13 communities. Representing Douai Abbey were myself and Fr Paul Gunter, who is Vice-President of the Pontifical Liturgical Institute in Rome. The article (see below – click the picture to make it larger) has an alarming headline but is largely fair in its content.

Optimized-ebc gc tablet

By way of background, Continue reading “The Future of the English Benedictines”

Good Friday Respite

Good Friday evening is an oasis of peace for this monastic sacristan. It is grey outside, steadily and consistently drizzling, and drab. Even the lambs were subdued (oh yes, we have seven so far – you will meet them soon). Nature has on her mourning cloths

This respite from the recent hurly-burly and hubbub allows a moment to share a thought that came during the proclamation of the Passion according to St John this afternoon. For no apparent reason, what was striking today was the conclusion of the narrative, the denoument after the death of our Lord. The Twelve have disappeared totally from view, they have fled and melted away, though we can take it as implied that John was faithful enough at the end and went off with Mary, now his mother too.

Continue reading “Good Friday Respite”

Where is St Edmund?

Where is St Edmund?

This will be an interesting read. The town would no doubt lay claim to his body, but his shrine was with the monks of Bury St Edmunds, whose successors we are.

If they find his body, St Edmund should come home to the monks of St Edmund’s at Douai Abbey. Naturally.

Gaudete! An online Christmas card.

Gaudete! Christus est natus ex Maria virgine.

A holy and happy Christmas to you all. Somewhat too economically I offer you the online card I have just uploaded for the abbey website as my Christmas greeting to you all. It’s a busy day for monks, so some economizing on time has been necessary. If it is a little more generic than personal, the sentiment is no less sincere for that. You will all be remembered at Mass tonight.

Oremus pro invicem – Let us pray for each other.

Click the pic to see the card.

Douai Abbey crib 2013
Douai Abbey crib 2013

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.

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