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The fruits of my annual retreat - pt. 2

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Some random thoughts jotted down during the retreat:There are moments, generally those quiet, late-night ones, or the stunned-by-the-beauty-of-creation ones, when I feel a kind of vertigo at the fact that I am there at all in that place and at that moment. This happened to me twice in particular during the retreat. Both times the feeling came over me like a wave crashing on the shore.What convoluted chain of events, what minor miracles have led me to be right here, right now? So many of these have depended on the intervention of other people... other minds, other hearts guided by God's hand to help me get here... but also moments of defeat and darkness, yet through which grace was born. A chain reaction of divine circumstance mixed with human weakness, making of each day a crazy, wonderful gamble... Destiny? Free will? Chance? Who knows exactly the balance that these achieve. All I can do is put my total trust in him who has got me this far despite me. I stand and look to the skie…

Cardinal speaks out

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Cardinal Murphy-O'Connor, who has probably only a matter of weeks (or even days) before his successor is named, has thankfully spoken out against the effects on religious freedom of recent anti-discrimination initiatives, as reported below by Fr. Ray Blake. I think the Cardinal does so rather well.

Cardinal; Anti-discrimination legislation limits freedomAnti-discrimination legislation is being used to limit freedom of religion “in unacceptable ways”, says the head of the Roman Catholic Church in England and Wales.

In a lecture at Westminster Cathedral on the Church's future, Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor said the state needed to acquire a better understanding of the contribution and place of faith in British society.

He said: “Legislation on discrimination, much of it good in itself, is now being used to limit freedom of religion in unacceptable ways. The sad and totally needless conflict over the Catholic adoption agencies is one example.

“But that is a symptom of a wider preju…

The fruits of my annual retreat - pt. 1

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Well, it's now been 5 days since I got back from my annual retreat (see previous blog posts); 5 days since, like Peter, James + John in the account of the Transfiguration, Jesus invited me (not that I had much choice! :-) to come back down the mountain into the "world" and share with others the graces received during our time in the "desert".
The view from my room in the monastery one glorious morning.

First of all, the monastic prayer. Benedictine monasteries follow a daily rhythm of prayer, manual work and study which actually creates a very full timetable. Our routine during the retreat certainly followed their prayer timetable (Laudes, Terce + Mass in the morning, Vespers + Compline late afternoon and evening, with optional None after lunch and Vigils in the early hours of the morning for the more courageous). These prayer times (with the exception of Mass) follow the same basic structure with an opening hymn, psalms and canticles mainly from the Old Testam…

On my way "Home"...

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I'm in Paris airport waiting for my flight back home to Liverpool and I see that my cousin Gemma Hayes has a new video on her MySpace for her latest single, funnily enough entitled "Home". Not a great deal actually happens, putting the emphasis on the nostalgia expressed in her lyrics, but it is beautifully filmed.

Recharging the batteries - going on retreat

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Well, tomorrow I leave for Brittany to do my annual retreat with about 30 other Brothers (all French) at the Benedictine monastery of Landevennec, situated on an isolated peninsula on the west coast of Finistère (Brittany, France). I've been on retreat there before a couple of times and there are some glorious walks along the coast and through the forests.

The abbey church.It is part of our congregation's Rule of Life that the Brother must go on an annual retreat, if possible with confrères, to recharge his batteries spiritually (and physically), to take stock of his life, to further discern the meaning of his vocation, etc... We will be having a few talks given by the Abbot of the monastery and by a member of our congregation's Provincial team.

I always look forward to such times as privileged moments of grace for various reasons. One is that even though we do not talk (at least for the majority of the week) it is good to spend time with confrères, i.e. members of my religi…

Worth Abbey encouraging a "come and see" approach to vocations work

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Worth Abbey, the location for the enthralling and ultimately moving 2005 BBC 2 reality series "The Monastery" (see here and here) is the subject of the following article on the BBC News website. It discusses their taster weekends that they initiated in the aftermath of the tv series and the thousands of communications received by the monastery from a wide range of people all seeking some form of "sanctuary" as the Abbot of Worth Christopher Jamison says in his book ("Finding Sanctuary"). These weekends have proved very popular. As have the series of Compass Points vocation discernment weekends that take place there each year.

BBC NEWS | UK | A monk's life... but just until Monday

By Yvonne Murray
BBC News



Brother Robert Verill
A former weekender, Brother Robert Verill, has become a Dominican friar

With Britain becoming an increasingly secular society, the number of people devoting themselves to the monastic life has been in freefall.

But now several monaster…

Vatican statement on SSPX bishops most welcome, but a little late?

Hopefully lessons will be learned from the PR debacle that has resulted from the way the excommunication of the 4 renegade bishops has been communicated. I fully understand and sympathise with Benedict's good intentions in wanting draw these "lost sheep" back into the fold, but it is rather worrying (though also in another way reassuring) that he did not know about Williamson's opinions on the holocaust, etc...


InsideCatholic.com - Vatican issues statement on SSPX bishops


Posted on February 04, 2009, 11:45 AM | Margaret Cabaniss

The Vatican Secretariat of State released a statement today clarifying a few points on Benedict's lifting of the excommunication for the four SSPX bishops. The original statement is in Italian, but Joseph Komonchak over at Commonweal does some translating and pulls out the important information:

1) While the lifting of the excommunications relieves the four from a very serious canonical punishment, “it has not altered the juridical situat…

"Slumdog" team bite back

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Having heard Danny Boyle speak at a live Q&A preview for "Slumdog Millionaire", I never once doubted his integrity and his desire to do what's best for the young cast members of his amazingly successful film, despite the criticism that has been (I feel unfairly) levelled at him and his film for the treated of its child stars. So I was delighted to hear about the following project that goes beyond what his team had already set up before they left India at the end of the shoot.

January 29, 2009

'Significant' part of Slumdog Millionaire profits will return to slums - Times Online

Tim Teeman




Rubina Ali Qureshi, who played the young Latika in Slumdog Millionaire, jumps rope near her home in Mumbai
(Gautam Singh/AP)



An ambitious plan to pump “significant” profits from the film Slumdog Millionaire back into the Mumbai slums where the film is set has been revealed by Danny Boyle, the film’s director.

Boyle said investors, who are set to benefit from millions in box office p…

Poor old Christian Bale...

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An actor whose committed performances (seemingly influenced by Method-acting techniques) have brought him a cult following in the acting world, seems to be having a very bad time of late (see below). The rant that is mentioned below has so many expletives in it that i feel I can't put a link to it here... lets just say that he completely lost it and it wasn't just for a few seconds either.



Bale Rant Becomes Internet Phenom


(click on article title for the website it comes from)

| 2/4/2009 10:42:18 AM

By now, you have all heard the audio recording of Christian Bale tearing a strip off the director of photography, Shane Hurlbut on the set of Terminator: Salvation. American Psycho, indeed.

You can listen to the orginal rant here although please be warned there are 36 f-bombs and other explicit language.

Bale is getting quite the reputation as a hothead. This on-set blow-up occurred just days after he was charged with allegedly assaulting his mom and sister in a hotel room (charges were…