Friday, December 29, 2006

Ritual and Rite

To Dance with God
Gertrud Mueller Nelson

Have being flipping through this book, and using its incredible wisdom, for years.

Has any one else out there heard of it, used it, or read it?

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Sentence for Midnight

Let us all rejoice in the Lord
for our saviour is born
to the world

true peace
has descended
from heaven

Antiphon for midnight mass

Merry Christmas Everyone.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Ten Things I love Starting with The Letter T

Antony asked us to tag ourselves and play this game.

He gave us the letter and we fill in the blanks.

I actually found this quite hard…

I tried to do the first 10 things that came into my mind:

Time. Love it. Need it. Use it. Never seem to have enough of it to do the things I want. I am trying desperately these days to hallow time with prayer – Liturgy of the hours, meditation, writing, but the trap of being a sort of creative, in-the-moment, sort of fellow is that time slips away quickly when the inspiration strikes.

Tradition: It would be all too easy to just think of this in terms of Church Tradition, although I love that. I adore the idea of praying in ancient words, of celebrating vigils and rituals which Christians have observed for centuries (and I don’t find anything tired in rites or rituals…). I also love more folk traditions: Christmas trees, wreaths, St Nicholas Day biscuits, marking the date of Epiphany with chalk, family holidays, the whole shebang.

Talk. Nothing I like more than a good natter (although Coralie would call it a gossip…!)

Transfiguration Community: You Knew this was coming! I love this motley crew of travellers. We meet, we eat and drink, we pray, we love one another. We bring our experiences, our day, our selves, and healing and holiness is begun. A Privilege.

Test Cricket. I grow in appreciation of this game every summer. Strategy, courage, grit, luck, tactics. Up to five days of magic. And this year Australia won the ashes (Yesterday!) which is the equivalent of the world cup – but only Australia and England can play.

The” Bands: I tried really hard to avoid any “The” ‘s but at least its at number 6. The Beatles, The Jam, The Style Council, The Church, The Small Faces, The Police, The Who, The Byrds, The Smiths – all some of my favourite bands. Just looking at that list tells me fair bit about myself. I like OLD music and my tastes are a fairly wide …

Thomas Merton: The patron saint of the emerging church movement, given many recent blogsphere posts in his memory. I love Tom’s work – some of the more edgy stuff especially, like his oriental interests (Te Ching???), his letters, outlines for monasteries and hermitages, and especially his notebook he kept when he visited Our Lady of The Redwood monastery. Merton also stands for a whole lot of monastic authors I love like Jean Le Clerq, Ester De Waal, Abhishiktananda, Bede Griffiths, Lawrence Freeman and so the list goes on. Helpful, heavy and hopeful.

Tea. Now hear me, I am a coffee drinker. Plunger in the morning, maccihato when I am out, espresso after a large dinner. But in true thirty something fashion, I am rediscovering the things of my youth – and tea is one of them. It took me to read an interview with the current heir to the Twinnings family about matching tea with food to get me started. He suggested having a large plate of bacon and eggs on thick toast with a cup of their English Breakfast, made to the specific instructions. Being a good little camper, I did as I was told and I was hooked.

Tonsils: I don’t have any, neither does my little boy. He breaths a lot easier at night (less like a freight train) and so do we…

Travel: I’ve only made some tentative steps with this activity, but I love it. I have travelled around a lot of Australia and to New Zealand and some other places. I can’t wait to take the family and explore the world together. Maybe I’ll come and visit some of you!

nearly there

and to help you on your journey, a few helpful links

Andrew Dowsett has been keeping a lovely reflective journey to advent

Ron Rohlheiser writes brilliantly Christmas, Myth, Naivety and Faith

Pray as You go keep on offering great stuff



Saturday, December 16, 2006


Our friend Bryan was playing this today….

Thought we’d have a go!

1. Egg Nog or Hot Chocolate?
Australia. HOT at Christmas. Maybe Hot Chocolate if its cool (like, when would that be…) .
More likely cold beer, cold wine, cold chocolate milk.

2. Does Santa wrap presents or just sit them under the tree?
Wrapped. But that doesn’t stop them being shaken, felt and explored…

3. Coloured lights on tree/house or white?
Lights on tree thanks. House too much trouble actually…

4. Do you hang mistletoe?

5. When do you put your decorations up?
First of December. Kids and Coralie put them up. I “supervise” and stalk the corridors feeling stressed!

6. What is your favorite holiday dish?
BBQ seafood. Cooked outside. With a Nice Semillon.

7. Favorite Holiday memory as a child?
Mum and Dad went to midnight mass. When they came home, far from being asleep, y brother and I had snuck out of room, opened allof the presents, and as a masterstroke, had convinced grandma that this was what was supposed to happen!

8. When and how did you learn the truth about Santa?
There’s NO Santa? Or is there more about him I don’t know yet?????

9. Do you open a gift on Christmas Eve?
Only one, after Mass and a glass of Frozen Butterscotch Schnapps.

10. How do you decorate your Christmas Tree?
Lots of home and school made decorations, with other stuff we have. Its fun.

11. Snow! Love it or Dread it?
Its 36°C here – snow would be fab!!

12. Can you ice skate?
Yep. Inside only.

13. Do you remember your favorite gift?
My parents relieving a rather large debt I owed them.

14. What’s the most important thing about the Holidays for you?
Rejocing in Gods goodness. Family. Friends. Slowing down.

15. What is your favorite Holiday Dessert?
Frozen “lollies and chocolate Christmas pudding”!

16. What is your favorite holiday tradition?
Midnight mass. Singing Carols. By Candlelight. Incense. Magic. Mystery

17. What tops your tree?
A Star.

18.Which do you prefer giving or Receiving?
I LOVE being given gifts,but watching other recive and appreciate yours is a special magic...

19. What is your favorite Christmas Song?
Once in Royal Davids City OR O Come O Come Emmanuel Bring me to tears actually…

20. Candy Canes! Yuck or Yum?
I give ‘em out. I don’t eat ‘em!

Play along fans!!!

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Advent Reflections

Still here.
Still praying together.
Still eating together.
Still caring for one another.
Loving each other.
Sharing life.

Tonight is a chance for all of us to celebrate the joy of Christmas and share gifts with the children. It is a fitting end to a long year (as those of you who read my stream of consciousness poetry blog will know!). Over the remaining time of Advent, we will meet in various combinations and forms, celebrating the mysteries of this time of year.

Bless you all.


A time to
Delve deeper into
the loVe of God-
Not spending
Too much money

(From Iona)

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Rohr Again

Wednesday night's session was a continuation of Monday's talk on healing and wholeness. Richard spent the first session recapping his theme, and giving us a little more detail. After a period of silence and a coffee break, he returned to an hour of questions. This was by far the most interesting part of the evening (apart from the people who really didn't ask a question but seemed to only want to make statements and have Richard agree with them...)

He addressed topics of Hell, Letting Go, Ecumenism across Religions, Feminism and God, the Healing process, and a few other issues I have now forgotten!

And we sang that awful song again, and Matt, Coralie and I got the giggles watching the 70 and 80 years old sway to the music....

Here's what I noted down from last night:

  • Belief in things doesnot transform. Love does.
  • A mystic is simply one who knows by experience.
  • You must stand in love in order to see the love in others.
  • Our failure to learn from our "sins" is the largest sin of all
  • We need to learn to find the divine image in all things or we will find it in nothing.
  • Life is not about me. We need to stop self referencing every experience to the "I"
  • Demons are the addicitive behaviours we have
  • Faith is not long term fire insurance.
  • It is heaven all the way to heaven, or hell all the way to hell!
  • Jesus cam to earth to take us back into the divine dance. (He spoke alot about the trinity as a dance of love)
  • God does not adore us, he loves us.
  • You a little s .. t, but also the dwelling place of God!!

Bless you all


Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Richard Rohr in Perth - Monday night

Six of us, four community members, good mate PT and Minister (to some of us officially, some un officially...) Malcolm, went to the first of franciscan Richard Rohr's evening lectures on wholeness and healing.

It was a topic I had heard him speak on before, but it was great to see and hear the man "In the flesh" as it were. He speaks effortlessly and engagingly, easily incorporating quotes and examples from patristic, biblical and theological sources. One of the things I love about Richard's teaching is the way he weaves these sources together to help you understand what he is discussing in the physical, psychological, and spiritual dimensions, of our beings.

Some of what I remember he discussed was:

  • God sees sin as suffering/pain
  • YAHWEH - the sound of the breath in (Yah) and out (Weh) breath. God in and out. As close as our breath.
  • We have to move downward, not upward, in our spiritual life to gain wisdom. This avoids the dualistic mind of in/out.
  • Jesus starts with our suffering not our sin ( our woundedness not conversion?)
  • We are spiritual beings seeking to be human, in all its fullness.
  • Perfection is the incorporation, not the exclusion, of imperfection

But he may not have meant anything of this - it is just what touched me last night.

A great night all up. It ended with all the crowd standing together, holding hands and singing Leonard Cohens Hallelujah, which I have to say was a little bizarre....

More after Wednesday nights lecture.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Binding Us together

In my darker moments I sometimes wonder what brings us together.
We come from such different backgrounds, spiritualities, lifestages, educations etc.
Michelle maintians that this what binds us - the sense of belonging inspite of our differences - it becomes a true exercise in ecumenism and communion.

Here's some of the different expressions of faith that we have been involved in over the years:

Liturgy of the Hours Taize Everyday With Jesus Tea Ceremony Anglican Catholic Quaker Pray as you Go Benedictine Flame Contemplative Evangelical GFS

Not a bad staring list actually ...

Friday, November 03, 2006


Last night I took the kids to their first swimming lessons. To cut a very long story short - one is a very confident swimmer and the other one thinks that water is of the devil. And I don't say that lightly!

The experience of course brought up all of the concerns, issues and worries that all parents have when something doesn't go right - I am a bad parent, what could have I done differently, and the killer - what will these other parents think of me?

All of this got me to thinking about protecting my kids, and comparing it to the monastic physical and spiritual concept of enclosure. In a monastery the enclosure is the physical space which is off limits to guests. Only the community may go there. It often over looks a courtyard and provides a safe, peaceful and beautiful place to live the majority of your life.

I believe monastics also live in the spirit of enclosure.
Guarding and keeping a safe place within as well as without.
Having a safe place within yourself you are able to return.
Knowing your limits and when to say enough.

I suppose as a parent, part of role is to provide a sense of enclosure in the home.
But, as witnessed by the swimming yesterday, helping my children to leave their own personal enclosure and take a risk is also a skill I can teach them.

I am still struggling with my own sense of enclosure - finding that safe place within me, but that spurs me on to teach my children, once again, what the monks taught me!

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Prayer Spaces

A few months ago some of the websites we frequent ran a "Take and share a picture of your bookshelf" blog idea.

I thought it might be nice to share some of the communities sacred spaces in a smiliar vein (so watch out for my camera community members!).

Here's the Kan families space in their living room:
A Taize Cross Icon,
Russian Icon of two Gospel writing saints,
A seasonal candle from Jamberoo abbey,
A nice colourful candle holder,
and on the top left,
copies of the Glenstal Book of Prayer
and our community compline order.

We'll add other communities sacred spaces and places soon, but for now we would like Antony Bryan And Phil to maybe share their spaces too. What do you think Gentleman?!

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Elm Grove Community

Lovely little English Benedictine Community of young people.
Georgeously simple webpages with lots of interesting stuff happening.
Well worth your time!

Monday, October 09, 2006

Shhh ... itis a secret!

Shhh ... but we've had a few emails about this.

True to the original concept, this site is for the Transfiguration Community and their friends to share news, views, opinions and events. We generally update once or twice weekly, more often if we do something special

Chris is writing daily columns over at his site I was Made for afternoons.
He felt this is a better vechicle for his ecclesial wanderings and gave him more scope to be, well, ... interesting! (You could read heretical here if you like...)

Of course we want you to visit both sites and enjoy the conversations!

With love
All the Transfiguers

Thursday, October 05, 2006

casual dinner

Last night we had dinner at Michelle's place we celebrated Linda's birthday and thought of Noah on his 5th Birthday, unfortunately Noah and his family were not here with us as they are holidaying down south. We didn't pray or study in the conventional ways but just meeting together, the dinner conversations (we had an interesting one last night) and the fellowship we share (and the wine & meal) are important to us and have kept us close and together for so many years.
Thanks for a great evening.
God Bless
Michelle :)

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Cultural ADD- finding silence.

I have been reading a womens Christian magazine and also their email newsletters I received this article today about finding silence in an over stimulated world- radios, music, televisions... quite an interesting read. (The bold parts are what really spoke to me) If this apeals there are more articles and information at their website

ADD and Groceries By Joy Williams

I am a noise-addicted woman in a culturally distracted world. Don’t believe me?I went to the grocery store just a few days ago. While I was busy thinking about dinner, I found myself humming along to the top 40 hits blaring overhead. I was reaching for glamorous articles (like toilet paper and lettuce) when I thought about changing the ringer on my phone … it was time. I went out to my car after purchasing my groceries, and my car stereo was tuned to the classical station. While I drove, my mind meandered, and so did my hands on the radio dial. I went from Vivaldi to Kelly Clarkson, from the Yeah Yeah Yeahs to the Doors. Before I knew it, I had pulled into my driveway without absorbing one single song all the way through. With groceries unloaded, I went into the spare room to check out MySpace. Different profiles had carefully chosen songs, colors and banners to burst onto the scene with each visit. I stayed at this online dance club for a half hour and read several blogs of every emotion and opinion imaginable. All the while, in the background was the low hum of the TV I’d inadvertently turned on in the other room.
Somewhere in the back of my mind, I took stock of these “natural” habits I’d formed in my day. The only word that came to the forefront of my thoughts was oversaturated.Have you ever felt this way? Has the noise in your life risen to a louder decibel? I am beginning to wonder if we are quietly suffocating ourselves with the noise by which we so quickly surround ourselves.
I recently had the privilege of going to the symposium of a highly esteemed, international cultural analyst regarding our country’s current temperature. An English accent danced through each word as he described a culture that is so noisy, so vocal. He spoke about an inflation of thought—that we desire being heard in a culture that stifles and yet promotes autonomy. His description of this constant kind of amplified motion and musing, he proposed, had caused a kind of cultural ADD … a restlessness within many of us. What he shared has astounded me, shaken me and invigorated my soul in the last few days. Though I will never demonize technology or music, this thought of “unnecessary noise” in my life has led me to a place of introspection.The world has shrunk because of the Internet. We have avalanches of opinions and information at our fingertips more than ever before.
But, herein, perhaps is the deeper issue beneath it all: If we are all “declaring,” who is really listening? This has caused a series of questions in my mind. “Am I afraid of quiet?” “Why do I always have the radio or iPod playing?” “How much time in my life is filled up with thinking about ‘me,’ when I should be thinking of others?” With this daily rush in our multitasking lives, maybe there is a great need to stop and breathe for a moment. When I tap into the silent stirrings of my soul, I can detect a desire for “still.” There is nothing wrong with quiet-nothing to fear—yet I’ve run from this many times.
For the first time in a long time, I took a walk outside yesterday while the fall was flirting with summer. I listened to the crackling of the leaves beneath my feet. I took in the sweet air wrapping around my face. I heard an old man laughing in the distance. And I sensed more glory in those minutes than I had in all the fast moments I had absorbed earlier.Moments of stillness, perhaps, allow our bulging spirits time to do some laundry.
When our mental hampers are overflowing, maybe it is our souls calling us to listen and quiet ourselves. The “motionless moments” just might allow those deeper mysteries from within to ri se up, and our hearts might be able to find fresh air again. And perhaps we’ll be able to hear a “still, small voice” in those placid moments, as well.I am inspired to remember the gift of quiet, and to be a soul that listens first before it speaks.
Maybe today is a day that you can choose to fight this cultural ADD in your own life. Perhaps today is the day you say no to the noise for a few moments.

May you find some quite motionless moments in your life.
God Bless Shelle :)

Thursday, September 21, 2006


Check out the new site listed immediately right: Afternoons.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

News News News News News News News

Noah has recovered well from his tonsils operation yesterday - in fact so well that they sent him home instead of asking him to stay the night. Thanks for your prayers.

Matt has had some bad news - his employer (in Disablility services) did not recieve much funding for next year, but after a very worrying week it looks like he will be picked up by the local TAFE.

We have all been at 6's and 7's lately: People on holidays, illness, meetings, concerts and winter blues. Hopefully this week we will return to a bit of a regular rhythm. At least some of us are going to be there!

I am reading Jack Dominians book "Living Love" at the moment. A wonderful reflection on love, life, community and singleness and the future of the church. Well worth your time.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Web links

Jamie Oliver teaching monks to cook!

A beautiful monastic funeral homily which contains this great poem:

God and I?
That’s simple.
We are like two big people in a very tiny boat
who are continually,
unexpectedly bumping into each other
and giggling.

Blessing to all of you

Monday, September 11, 2006


One of the community and I had a great chat on the weekend about the nature of community, its place in married and family life and the incrediable, unmissable dimension it beings to our lives.
That moment when you can't imagine being with and caring for those others you are traveling with is not only a grace filled one, but also the moment a deeper journey begins...

Nouwen, as usual, writes about it all brilliantly:

The great mystery is that in community we find a new loneliness, and it it turn, creates a new intimacy.

Paradoxically, if I'm well-embraced, well-held, well-kept by my friends, then suddenly, by the very intimacy of that embrace, I know that I am alone in a very deep way, in a loneliness that I didn't know before.

It is precisely that the love and intimacy of the other which reveals my deepest loneliness which I couldn't get in touch with before I entered into community.

In the freedom to hold, to touch, to be close, we realize how deeply alone we are, and should be, for God alone.

Alone I will die, even when I am surrounded by friends.

It's my unique journey.

I want, need, to live it with others, but life is still my lonely journey.

Yet when I realize that aloneness, I also realize a new intimacy.

As we come together we realize that we can be bonded like this only because we were loved long before we met each other ... A voice that said:

"You are my beloved son, on you my favour rests..."

Henri Nouwen, "The Road to Peace"

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Australian Idol and the Christian Faith

Here in Australia, we have been exposed to the Fourth series of Australian idol. I am sure everyone around the world knows about the process - hopeful thousands are gradually narrowed down to a final winner - who is given a recording contract and instant access to the B-Grade star machine. This year they are encouraging songwriters and singers who can play an instrument to compete as well. Maybe they are searching for someone with real talent...

Interestingly, many of the winners of their respective sections thank God, make the sign of the cross, or some other religious affectation. I would love to see what the losers have to say about God! Maybe a little less complimentary. Now perhaps this is just because it is trendy to be "spiritual", or maybe its a cultural marker for some of these people (Like soccer players) but I am fascinated that an industry better know for its hedonism now is unafraid of some spiritual content...

There are larger issues at play as well. One of the final 12 contestants is the lead singer of a Queensland Based Christian band. How does the win at all costs, or I win because you lose ideal of the show fit with a mature faith view? How can a Christian compete in a competition where specialness, and "Look at me" are praised and rewarded and real qualities of compassion, justice and community could infact damage your chances? How does our real identity develop in this environment - when hidenness is so vital to spiritual growth?

Worse still, the final 12 competitors are put together in a house in a sort of competitive community. How psychologically damaging is it to spend time with people, and begin to develop real relationship, when any of them could most likely be evicted any week because of your success? How can real openness and compassion and humility develop in this environment?

What does this say about us as a society? About me? What messages are my children learning from all this? Success is all? People are to be used and beaten in the achievement of my dreams?

I don't know. But I like some of the music (and a lot drives me crazy...). And especially Bobby (pictured) because he sang the Church's "Under the milky way" - an Aussie mystic rock classic. You can read what the songs writer, the brilliant Steve Kilbey - says here. But be warned. It contains some bad and naughty words.


Saturday, September 02, 2006

On Retreat

Phil, Matt, Jason and Chris

Just us and the Monks.

That's a gift.

Lauds and Mass

Enough for now.

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Tired - a Haiku

We know you love us,
But God we are so tired,
Give us peace tonight.

I think that pretty much sums up how most of us felt as we met last night. Need I say more?


Tuesday, August 29, 2006

I have been rediscovering the meditative tradition via Evelyn Underhill, Antony De Mello and of course Thomas Merton (Who actually doesn’t say much about how to meditate/contemplate but wrote so much about it that it is really a given).

I don't actually think I left it behind - but the last few years I have read more about the Liturgy of the Hours, Communal Prayer and the Benedictine way than about meditation in particular. Contemplative prayer is not opposed or at odds with any of this. In fact I now find that it deepens both my experience of communal prayer and of Lectio to have a large period of silence either before or after the more formal part of the prayer. Last night at Vespers we had a lovely period of silence before we prayed - well, before the children began fighting over their dinner ...

I also find that sacred space helps. In our space at home we have a little incense burner, a lovely Taize cross Icon (as Pictured) and a seasonal candle from Jamberoo abbey. Our kids get the idea that when the candle is on its prayer time – and that means shhhh!

Shared silence together is amazing. Last night the four of us (Chris and Coralie, Matt and Shelle) just sat. Four friends together gathered for prayer in the presence of the Lord. What a privilege. We could hear the traffic, the birds, the children – and through all our great, mysterious God surrounding us.

I have really enjoyed looking around the World Community for Christian Meditation Site. Its director, Dom Laurence Freeman has visited Australia many times, and is a wonderful advocate for the importance of meditation and contemplation in contemporary life. They also have a wonderful article on meditation with children here and at this site.

Yours in hopeful silence


Friday, August 25, 2006

Prayers please...

For Noah, (ages 4) who is going into Hospital in Early September to have his fourth set of grommets and his tonsils out (He has very narrow airways and this should all help him out...)

For Michelle, as she embarks on some new adventures..

For Chris, as he considers career change

For Coralie...

For Matt and Linda...

For The Smiths...

For Pete...

and all of our friends, family and benefactors (to be very Benedictine!)

With Love


Monday, August 21, 2006

Now this is Interesting

Radical Indian Jesuit always make me smile.
This one made me think ...

I have come to a position where most prayer, as we traditionally understand the word, is a pure waste of time. It merely caters to the fantasy needs of the people who have a compulsion to placate a Deity. What a tragedy to see so many hours wasted in worship that could have been better spent in reading a good book , and even better, in advancing self-understanding and self-knowledge....

(From We heard the Bird sing: Interacting with Tony De Mello)

I'm not sure I agree but I can see his point...

Thursday, August 17, 2006

More from Evelyn Underhill

Great community meeting last night.
Pizza, wine, frank and honest conversation with usual silliness and camaraderie!
Good luck tonight Shelle!

The contemplative ... is by nature a missionary. The vision which he has achieved is the vision of an intensely loving heart; and love, which cannot keep itself to itself, urges him to tell the news as widely and as clearly as he may. In his works, he is ever trying to reveal the secret of his own deeper life and wider vision, and to help his fellow men to share it...

From "Practical Mysticism"
(With apologies for the non inclusive language)

Monday, August 14, 2006

Beyond and other grumbling...

I don't want a small God.
I don't want a God who is just a mega me.
I want a God beyond me.
I know my words can't describe God adequately. They let me down.
Whatever I say, it is not enough. Or incomplete. Or often plain wrong.
When I say God is good, I want good to be beyond anything I can understand.
When God is merciful, I want mercy beyond my wildest imaginings.
I am tired of books and people and sermons which "understand" God.
Which reduce God to little theories and ideas and 3 points to take home.
God is bigger than that.

The Eucharist is more than bakery products and port.
Baptism more than a splash.
Marriage beyond what any of us can see.

I will wait for this God beyond me.
Just for a glimpse.
In the silence.
In the unexpected moment.
Within and outside of me.
Beyond me.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006


I don't know about you, but I seem to have a cycle with books.
An initial reading and then deeper readings, sometimes at much later dates.
I have recently rediscovered Evelyn Underhill's "Practical Mysticism".

This quote has stuck with me for days...

" The artist is no more than the contemplative who has learned to express themselves., and who tells their love in colour, speech, or sound:

The mystic on the one side of their nature is an artist of a special and exalted time, who tires to express something of the revelation they have received.

Both have exchanged the false imagination ... For the true imagination which pours itself out, eager, adventurous, and self giving."

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Soldiering On

Community life is just carrying on.

The Smith kids are sick. Eliza has been involved in Wakakirri . Noah has ear and throat infections. Matt and Linda are busy as. Michelle keeps on driving over 100 kms a day to and from work.

This is the stuff of life.

God present with us in the midst of all our business and family and illness and fun and prayer.

The boys are off to New Norcia at the end of the month for the weekend. We can bearly wait.

Have updated our books and listening tastes. Check 'em out.

Two local interesting church links.

The Living Room

Small Boat, Big Sea

Blessings to you. Whatever is happening.


Tuesday, August 01, 2006


This is great. You can find the source and other great cartoons here.

Friday, July 28, 2006

One Book..

Found this over at Kyles. Great stuff.
Other community members need to play!

One book that changed your life:
Esther De Waal "The Benedicitine Way". Began this whole crazy journey

One book that you’ve read more than once:
Henri Nouwen "The Genesee Diary"

One book you’d want on a desert island:
Abhishiktanada "Prayer" (look it up!)

One book that made you laugh:
Ben Elton Stark

One book that made you cry:
Ann Patchet. Truth and Beauty

One book that you wish had been written:
The dummies guide to making difficult decisions in the spiritual life.

One book that you wish had never been written:
Any thing anti catholic.... Just look in your local Christian book store
(and no I'm NOT paranoid!)

One book you’re currently reading:
C S Lewis Essays, Philosophy, Short Stories

One book you’ve been meaning to read:
J H Newman Apologia Pro Vita Sua

Monday, July 24, 2006


You can shampoo my hair,
But I believe in Jesus.

Eliza - Rose, Aged 5.

Sounds like a manifesto....

Tuesday, July 18, 2006


More thinking about our community, the wider church and all the issues which we run across in my discussions with Christians of all denominations and persuasions.

Reading Lewis has made me want to ask big questions of myself, to not waste my time on peripherals, to be honest and intelligent and engage.
I ask these questions of myself, as much as of you.

Does blogging help to build the kingdom or does it just “stir the pot” ?

What long-term effects will the neo-monastic movement have?
Will any of us be able to sustain our close communities in the long term?

Does the Emerging Church really matter?
Will it have long term effects as a movement on its own.?
Will established churches be influenced in the long term by its spirituality, worship or theology?

For how long can a church/movement engage with its dominant culture, as fully as the emerging church does, before it becomes saltless salt, or trite, or rootless, or so relevant it loses its connection with the ancient faith once handed on form the apostles?

Did Thomas Merton like Giant Steps by John Coltrane, or was he a Kind of Blue fan?

Pick a question?
Ask a question!
Write an answer!

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Continuing Education

As I continue to read a biography of C S Lewis, I also continue to think about the importance of education, or lack thereof, in the Christian life, and its place for me personally and that of my two little ones.

Lewis, and many of his contemporaries, were schooled in “classics” – reading and writing Greek and Latin, Greek and Roman literature, philosophy, history, and politics. Not only was this considered a basic education for those going into English politics or public service, but also as a basic degree before going onto studying anything else – be it English, Theology, Languages etc.

I can’t help wondering about the basis of my own education in comparison to Lewis’ and the correlating spiritual issues. I sometimes feel poorly prepared. Many of the Christian writers I admire had the same training as Lewis (For instance, Baron Von Hugel, Spiritual Director of English mystic Evelyn Underhill, who prescribed a reading program of Roman writers to his niece when she inquired about the faith).
To my mind, it gave them a broadness of thought, an appreciation of the expressions of humanity through time. It also gave them a historical and sociological context of their understanding of Christianity of which I have only the smallest knowledge.
This type of knowledge must surely be an antidote to narrow beliefs and narrow sectarian understandings – at least you would hope so! It is also, of course, medicine for the anti-intellectual type Christian, of which I have had the misfortune to meet a few lately (You studied where? And you’re still a Christian…)

I think the Benedictines fill this educative roll for me.
This is not in any way to reduce the great spiritual or liturgical learning I have found at the monastery, but Education is valued. Knowledge is important.
Join the monastery and see the world! (Sometimes in a more than metaphorical sense!) Becoming immersed in a rich tradition like that of St Benedict gives a language and a way of seeing the world which is both broad and informed.

So for my little ones, for who I want “Broad and informed” (I like that!) I encourage them to read. And more reading. To discuss. To question. To not settle for easy answers. To believe. To value learning. To embrace mystery when they find it. To pray. To love richly and deeply. I hope it will serve them well, and in their learning, I will learn these lessons too.

Classics at the University Of Oxford
Classic at the University of Cambridge

Friday, July 14, 2006

Education Part 2

Education without values, as useful as it is, seems rather to make man a more clever devil.
C S Lewis

Thursday, July 13, 2006


BTW, ever since we put our book lists up, comments have ceased!
Hope no ones offended by our taste!

Last night at community Rachel was discussing a documentary she saw detailing the life of several Mennonite families. The families came from two different communities, one more “liberal” than the other. The more basic community had no power, no modern dental services, and no rubber tyres on the tractor – apparently going into town to get new tyres was an opportunity for drunkenness. But most notable was the lack of education overall. Only the Bible as literature. Only able to write own name.

Skip dimensions to our place. Books oozing out of the shelves. I am considering studying for my fourth degree. My daughter aged 6 wants to learn Latin, so together we are learning. My son has a few language issues, so he is going to a Speech Pathologist (and doing well). I am part of a community where we have all been to University after high school. Education is important to us. We talk, debate, discuss, compare. I can’t imagine not continuing to learn, read and discover.

But where should we place Education in the overall view of our lives? As usual I return to the monastic model, where Education is one third of the study – work- pray model. Education is good when it serves the community (which can be by facilitating personal growth). Being bookish I know that there is great joy in learning, and it is easy to be obsessed and become focused on the learning for its own sake. But eventually, as Christians, our learning needs to lead us back to developing our true selves, and in that way serving our brothers and sister.

St Irenaeus’ words “The joy of God is a person fully alive” have great truth in learning.

I do see that Education can be an opportunity for sin and brokeness. We can find new, damaging experiences. We can encounter views we may not have the maturity or wisdom to dialogue with.

But, firmly rooted in a community of faith and wisdom, and trusting in the Holy Spirit, Learning is a journey we are all called to take. Not to superiority and pride, but to understanding and truth. There is no implicit Holiness in being uneducated or illiterate – but neither is there in the opposite. But I know simplicity of heart can go with great learning.

I feel like I’m rambling. I have a cold. I keep trying to find great C S Lewis quote on education.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

St Benedicts Feast Day

Happy St Benedict’s Day !

Oblates, Monastics and religious of every persuasion celebrate today the founder of Western Monasticism.

At mass this morning (I’m on holidays so I could actually go with Matt) Father David called for us to follow St Benedict in finding how “our work and our prayer can lead us to holiness”.

We’ve told the story of Benedict and discussed much of his wisdom in previous posts. You may want to check out
Living in Community
Message from another community

Some Australian links to see are listed on our side post (New Norcia and the Dardanup House of Prayer) but also visit the home of the Benedictine Order at

Has St Benedict influenced your community or your life?

Sunday, July 09, 2006

What's New?

Look down the page.
A few books we're reading.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

New Taize-style ecumenical community

Check this out!
Another interesting church development.

Their site is here.

Happy Birthday to me!

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Why couldn't I say that?

A few months ago I was asked by a close colleague what it was that I really believed in.
I was aware of the context from which my friend was asking: She is a practicing Jew and had stated that Jesus was a social construction to control people.
I acknowledged that their were lots of different ways of thinking about Jesus.
I then told her that the stories of Jesus create something beautiful in my life; and the more I become like those stories the more I seem able to love, to be honest with people, to live life to the full.
She responded that she wanted this kind of spirituality, and this opened up further opportunities for us both to discover about God from each other.
Ana Draper in "The Rite Stuff"

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

What Sort of Catholic Are you

Not sure about this but here's the answer anyway!

You scored as Liberal Catholic. You embrace the social justice mission of the Church, and the view of Catholic community as seen in the Acts of Apostles. You have a great love of the American democratic tradition, but tend to want to apply these traditions to the Church itself and the deposit of faith. You want a married and female clergy, decentralization of power, and an endless list of reforms. You feel that you are a true champion of the Second Vatican Council.Like the Neo-Conservative Catholic, your views may be too determined by American culture, and you may uncritically accept many theories that may be harmful to yourself and society; instead you may need rediscover authentic Catholic thinking. You should emphasize the love of God, as your Creator and sustainer.

Sunday, July 02, 2006


Is not Holiness the result of many patient efforts after obedience, gradually working on us, and first modifying and then changing our hearts?”
John Henry Newman.

I am both drawn and repelled by the idea of Holiness.
Holiness can speak of pious, do-gooder, churchiness.
A Christianity that is spineless and insipid.

But I also know holiness can also speak of being in-tune with the Spirit.
Of time spent studying the scriptures, and of a heart for both prayer and the whole of God’s creation.
Truly a life “Set Apart” for God. In the world, but not of the world.

I know I need more holiness in my life.
I am barren too often - unable to respond to God’s love through my own listlessness, stubbiness and unawareness.

Holiness must have an outward form. A visible, and “sacramental” character.

What might Holiness look like for me as an individual - as a husband, as a father, as a son, as a colleague, as a friend?

Equally as important, what might Holiness look like for us a community?

How to structure, grace and liberty work together for our good?

The test is “Are we living in a mere dream, which we mistake for Christian faith and obedience, or are we truly awake, alive, living in the day, on our road heavenward ?”

I will seek holiness that I may believe.

Friday, June 30, 2006

Hey and other random thoughts

Hey ... Did someone mention the "H" word on Wednesday night...?

Some cool links to check out at the moment.

Aimee is another newish catholic who is thinking deeply about her faith and its practice.

We are continuning to pray for Bryan.

Alan Creech has continues to write great stuff at the moment. And his comments about our community and the Eucharist provide a wonderfully stimulating discussion on Wednesday night.

Oh. And at the moment I am reading "Christian England" (But Volume 2. The link is for volume 3) by David Edwards. Great read.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Living in community

One of the biggest gifts I have been given by my brothers at New Norcia is access to their Reading Room. One book I have recently borrowed is “Engaging Benedict: What the Rule can teach us today” by Laura Swan.

Here an excerpt read recently at the community.

Good Monastics value the greater good of the community: actively seeking to build and protect the members as well as the community as a whole. The health and well being of each individual member strengthens the whole. It takes healthy members to make a health community. There is always a delicate balance between personal needs and the needs of community that create and perpetuates a healthy, forward moving atmosphere.

Benedict’s good monastic yearns to develop the fine skills of building loving, trusting, and enriching relationships, especially with those people we ae not naturally attracted to. The community member does not need to argue, but trusts the process of community living or community discernment. With open, honest relationships there is no room for gossip, grumbling and the formation of political camps.

The good monastic is a deep listener. This kind of listening encompasses the fullness of our being. True listening involves an active response. It is listening into being. Deep listening is fed and supported by quality silence. Silence supports our growth in self-awareness, discernment, and simple confidence in ourselves. We come to know ourselves primarily in our silence and solitude. The monastic heart makes careful use of words; words can give life or destroy it through our anger, jealousy or vindictiveness. Words are used carefully in support of the relationships.

The good monastics prayer is passionate and sincere, simple and to the point. The monastic heart is immersed in prayer in a total wayof life. Gentle compassionate prayer cultivates and sustains a yearning for prayer.

And so goes on this wonderful wisdom. If only we could live this out …

Monday, June 26, 2006

A slightly late "Who am I?"

It all started for me with a resignation/firing. I'd been the youth minister at St Phillip's (the Anglican church Chris and Coralie attend) for about 18 months and was really starting to struggle with a conflict of cultures. Most churches I'd been involved with had youth that were eager to get involved and be active (this was in my Sydney Evangelical days of course). However there seemed to be a trend at St Phil's that the youth minister did/ran everything for the youth and the young people just attended. Anyway lets just say my resignation started with a comment from my 'boss' along the lines of, "This isn't really working is it? Your leaving would probably be for the best," and all went downhill from there.

I returned to my former church (one with distinctly Sydney Evangelical Anglican leanings) but maintained contact with Chris et al via the notorious regular Wednesday night 'bible study'. As you've probably read this group slowly transformed/developed into the Transfiguration Community you know.

From the time I started meeting with these guys until a couple of years ago I was single (and my family all live in Sydney) so the community became my family. Although I don't think I could claim any person to be father or mother ... more brothers and sisters on the same journey.

In the time between then and now I've been received into the Catholic church (in New Norcia), considered becoming a monk (in New Norcia), met and married my beautiful wife Linda (in New Norcia) and for some reason been drawn even closer to this crazy community that is also my family in Perth. I love them all and have valued their input in my life more than I think any of them really know.

Matt J (Burrfoot)

Sunday, June 25, 2006

A Long Post - Our History

Thankyou for all of your comments and thoughts.

It is great to know we are connected to a world wide family of faith – and this has been a real blessing of the virtual community of faith – knowing we are not alone and hearing others struggles and having “Ah ha!” moments.

In response to Alan’s comment – here’s a quick and incomplete history of the community.

Chris and Coralie married in the March of 1997. Jason and Rachel married in the November of that same year. Sometime in 1998 we started having a Lenten bible study at Chris and Coralie’s place, with a few other people including Jason and Rachel and local Anglican youth worker Matt (We all attended various Anglican churches at this point). The study continued after Lent and Michelle joined – as she said after Chris cooked her a curry for dinner!

The next 6 years witnessed the usual round of people coming and going and book based bible studies (you know the sort – 15 days with Luke, Be a better person by 200 Days in Micah’s world etc ). But community life was forming. We had a quiet day. We went bowling together. The boys started walking and breakfast on a Saturday morning. The girls went swimming. Birthdays, Good Friday, Easter and other celebrations began to happen more and more as a group. We all enjoyed a drink. Significantly it was during this period that Chris, Jason, Matt and Besty visited New Norcia for a retreat and developed a relationship with Dom John. Many more visits and much teaching followed. This would prove to be a determining factor in developing our corporate spirituality and practice.

Over time, by 2001 Chris and Coralie had two children and bible study had become contemplative. (but that story is way to long to recount here …). Candles. Icons. Lectio Divina. Ignatian Meditation. Compline. Journaling. Story telling.

The community was quite fully formed at this stage, with Pete being added to our number. At this stage Chris was called, and then received, into the Roman Catholic Church in 2002.
(I have written more about this here.)
Matt followed him in 2003. (On the Same page as Chris').
The other remained happily Anglican or what ever they were…

In 2004 we had our first community retreat at New Norcia and spent time reflecting on the
San Edigio Community. We felt a gentle push from God to formalise ourselves and so Transfiguration was formed. Our new life consisted of praying Vespers together once a week and otherwise we continued as we were – although more closely bound by a name.

Now with four kids and seven adults (Matt and Linda married in 2005), Wednesday nights can be busy and noisy. But we share a meal and each others lives and try not be too hard on ourselves. We always pray – generally Roman Compline – and still meet in various groupings through the week. I suppose after Benedict, our biggest influence is the Taize community – meeting together in trust despite, but respecting, any church discipline differences we may have, and honouring our shared values of silence and community. (Not to mention red wine…)

Any questions??

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Who am I?

A little note: We won't be updating this site until Sunday because its still visitors week.
So go on - be brave.
Leave a comment.
Leave a story.
Leave a credit card number!

I'm sitting here typing to the sounds of Gregorian Chant - very calming ... I am a God-lover, wife, mother to two very energetic, slightly warped but very loveable children. I teach singing, never shut up and whilst my children love my cd's and the songs i write now, I'm sure that in a few years they'll be saying I am so yesterday!

I sing with four georgous girls in a band called Iris and we are currently recording an album. We are an acapella group who all happen to love God and good music. Hence a lot of our repetoire is secular...Oops! Should I say that? We are lucky to also have creative people who write for the group so a hefty amount of what is on the album is original. If anyone would like to order a copy u can do it through me. Because some of us are mothers there are a few songs about the journey we are taking down that path and all that entails...

This community started, in my view, out of a bible study that met in our house on a weekly basis. Most of those members are still part of what essentially is a community. We decided a few years ago to rename what we really had become over the years ... We are the Transfiguration Community and we still meet on a weekly basis starting with a meal then some lectio or compline said at the end of the night.

Because a couple of us "marrieds" have had children the dynamics changed and so we are always adjusting what we do and the length of time we do it! The nights are not late and it works best to have a communal dinner! Some of the community also meet for breaky on a sat. morning at a cafe with the kids in tow and then do shopping at the Re Store afterwards. We all journey together rejoicing in others happiness and grieving together at sorrows.

I love them and they are my family...


Some of the community going to Split Enz:

Monday, June 19, 2006

Who am I?

How did I become a part of this community? My name is Michelle (GooveyM) it all started with a "do you want to stay for dinner?" from Chris. I went to church with Coralie- Chris's wife before they were married and she gave me singing lessons one evening just after they were married after a lesson Chris popped his head through from kitchen- I stayed for tea and bible study- that was the eventful night that Chris would prefer to forget- sorry Chris!! hee hee. I have been a part of the group since then 9 years ago- we have had a few people come and go over the years but the community as we are now has been together for most of the journey since then- Matt's wife Linda joined the community about a year ago and a Coralie & Chris' children Noah 4 and Eliza 6 and Jason and Rachaels children Lauren 2 & Benjamin 6months have also joined us along the way and are a large part of our community.
Great to hear from all of our visitors hope you get to know some of us a bit better too.
Michelle :)

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Tell Us Who You Are!

This week is community visitors week!
As you visit us, leave a comment.
Perhaps tell us where you live and how you found out about us.
Community members this includes you!
We will bring all of our visitors to our Community prayer over the next few weeks.
Bless you.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Goings on

Lovely review of our community over at Kairos Kisses by our friend Andrew Dowsett.
Andrew and his family spent 6 months in Perth last year and of course we only go to know them as they were about to leave ... but we miss them, and their little ones.

Most of the community are excited about going off to see legend Australsian Band Split Enz this Friday night. Some great photosof the Eastern States gig here.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Weekend highlights

(1) My son and daughter fighting in the car as we drove home after Noah (aged 4 ) looked his sister straight in the eye and said "Jesus and ME made the world - not you".
Well you can imagine what came next...

(2) Sitting reading the paper Eliza (aged 6) bringing me a lebanese bread and wine-in-a-pottery-cup communion.

(3) Trinity Sunday and, for a change, a sit down lunch, followed by a swim and then ... um ... report writing!

Thursday, June 08, 2006


Someone stole my bike...

Lord, have mercy.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Where have I been?

No updates for a while so...

  • The community is going well. Meeting regularly and just hanging out, sharing life together, loving one another, eating, drinking and praying.

  • Coralie(Chris' wife) unfortunately had a miscarriage this week and is in hospital tomorrow to have the process completed. Whilst it has been a hard time for us we are thankful that we already have children and that we have been surrounded by so many caring and compassionate friends and family.

Stay tuned!

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Looking back again…

Hope you liked the poem in the last post. R S Thomas is one of my faves…

I have been rediscovering Anglo Catholicism at the moment.

I thing there are Three reasons for this

(1) My last post on social action and faith. The English slum priests were amazing at showing God’s love in action, without slipping into social gospel or reducing belief in any way.

(2) My father was an Anglo-catholic Priest who, now he has joined me in the RC’s, has bequeathed me many of his books. I am reading one in particular at the moment “The Parish Communion” which is both a practical handbook and apologetic for the Eucharist in the Church of England. It was written in 1937, when the Eucharist was generally just listened to ( as opposed to participated in) and sometimes celebrated as little as twice a year. The theology is wonderfully catholic, the pastoral understanding brilliant and the wisdom invaluable. 70 years later it is continuing to deepen my understanding and participation in the Eucharist.

(3) Driving past the local Anglican church which I thought was Evangelical and seen on their notice board times for DAILY MASS and Confession!
Go figure?

I have no real desire to go back to where I came from, but deepening my understanding of my families religious history, and studying some amazing theology and people (esp. Newman and Mascall), whose beliefs are pure Catholic and Patristic, is wonderful.

Didn’t the song say “Read the books your father read…” ? Hmmmm.

Heres a great bit from “The Parish Communion”:

In our worship of God through Christ in his Sacrament we are one in Him;
There we must go to find our unity, and by that road we shall come in time to a real understanding of one another…

As I celebrate the Eucharist tomorrow I will pray for our unity.
Please do the same.

Friday, May 19, 2006

The Bright Field

I have seen the sun break through
to illuminate a small field
for a while, and gone my way
and forgotten it.
But that was the pearl
of great price, the one field that
had treasure in it. I realize
now that I must give all
that I have to possess it. Life is not hurrying

on to a receeding future, nor hankering after
an imagined past. It is the turning
aside like Moses to the miracle
of the lit bush, to a brightness
that seemed as transitory as your youth
once, but is the eternity that awaits you.

by R. S. Thomas

Wednesday, May 17, 2006


Over on Martha Martha, they have a very confronting display of depression images.

I searched for some of Australia and found an excellent resource here and here.

It was awful time in the history of the world. Poverty. Pain and despair.

Even here in “The Lucky Country”

One of the traps I find in any church movement, be it Emerging or Catholic or whatever, is balancing spiritual concerns with social justice. My natural tendency is towards silence and solitude, multi textural liturgy, rich and deep. But how does a concern for the poor fit into this?

But all of this is useless if I do not love the world around me – doing what I can to be a light to those around me and share their journey.

I think of the great Anglo Catholic Anglican priests of the 1930’s who lived and worked with the poor. The monks throughout the world who open their doors to the stranger and guest, without judgement or expectation of payment.

All of them living a rich liturgical life, lifting the hearts of the weary and broken into the mystery of God.

These saints are a model for me; Serving God's people with Balance, Compassion and Grace.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Maybe the Boomers aren't the bad guys...

When I found this article, I sent it on to an Anglican Minister friend of mine (at my wife Coralie's parish, in Cottesloe). I am helping out with the liturgy there - trying to get better flow and use the Arts more effectively. Anyway, when I visited on Sunday he had printed it in the bulletin (anonymously thank goodness!) What do you think?

Maybe the Boomers Aren't the Bad Guys After All"My heart goes out to the Boomers," I muttered to myself, as I sat through a traditional service I visited recently. "They were raised with this stuff, and they ran away. I don't blame them."I've been pretty hard on the Boomers. They moved the church from the urban to the suburban, from the older church building to the suburban mega-complex, and they removed all symbols and rituals from worship and replaced them with praise choruses. What's to like?

I've spent some time visiting some traditional denominations recently, and I have begun to develop some sympathy for the Boomers. These communities, upheld by the Silent Generation, participate in rituals that have lost their meaning. If meaning is what something is and does in the life of a community, then I see no meaning in these activities. In some of the places I've visited, these rituals were lifeless and unconnected to the rest of life. They did not communicate in the 'real' world at all, at least not in mine. This communion really does seem reduced to grape juice and bread. Bread of life? Not in that service!

So, maybe the Boomers did what they could in simply moving away from practices that no longer carried meaning. They introduced rock and roll to church because none of the church music integrated their everyday life to God. They removed Communion because it was anything but that. They moved the church to the strip mall because that is where they lived. I constantly give credit to Emerging Churches for retrieving rituals and integrating them with popular culture -- rooting the community in a tradition while fostering a contemporary vigor. The Eucharist, the Christian Calendar, Ignatian prayers, body prayers, the Jesus prayer, praying the hours, lectio divina, labyrinths, the use of icons, all have a home in Emerging Churches. The difference is that Emerging Churches integrate these rituals into their everyday lives, and these practices are now pregnant with meaning, both corporately and individually. But maybe Emerging Churches were able to do what they did because the Boomers cleared the way. Just maybe..

PS I agree with much of what he says BUT I also think that life is present in the Liturgical Churches (I do wonder what he means by traditional? Protestant? Catholic? Presbyterian?) but it is only "visible" to us when when we are present to it - which takes exposure, time, understanding and grace. And of course, these are prime reasons for my Catholic conversion!

The original, and a very interesting site, are here.

Thursday, May 11, 2006


A Meal.
Glass of Wine.
Easter Candle.
Salva Regina in Latin.

Save us Lord, While we are awake.
Protect us while we sleep.
That we may keep watch with Christ,
and rest with him, in peace.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

From the Carthusian

When I say Christ is our Joy, I mean the total Christ. For our joy is realised not only in our communion with Jesus, but also in our communion with those we love in him, with those who are his dear members. The joy of the love of a dear one, the joy of loving them in Christ, that is the pure joy of the Spirit in us.

Let us accept this joy, openly and gently from the hands of Christ.

Thank you for being my joy.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Confessions of a Liturgical Christian

I am a Liturgical Christian.

But what do I mean by this? Why is Liturgy a good thing? Why do I get grumpy, especially with the boomer generation, who don't seem to, or even want to, get it - or at least want to change it constantly?

For me, and the community, Liturgy is the foundation of our expression of the faith. It is a means by which both the truths of faith are expressed (Readings, creeds, homilies, hymns) and God is seen and experienced (Sacraments, Rites, Rituals, Seasons).

The mystery of God can be expressed liturgically in silence, in confession, in celebration, in simplicity, in brokenness.

We join with the whole history of Christians in worship - especially in the breaking of bread at the Eucharist.

It creates a holistic environment where God is palatable among us. I have sensed God's presence in the liturgy which has bought me to tears - in a way beyond words or explanation.

Liturgy pulls the attention off us and directs us to God. We in turn become formed by the Liturgy - its rhythms and depths opening to us through our participation.

Enough for One day. Off to say Lauds!

Monday, May 01, 2006

More on Practice

As I think about the outward shape of my Christian life again, I have rediscovered a terrific book - which is now part of a series.

Benedictine Sister Mary Mary Funk (also here and here) has written a terrific book - "Tools matter for practicing the Spiritual life".

In it she lists 25 practices which can sustain and support our spiritual journey.

Some she lists are Lectio, guarding the heart, watchfulness of thoughts, fasting, dreams, repentance, ceaseless prayer, manual labor, the cell, vigils, manifestation of thoughts, humility, ministry, and the common table.

It's quite a list, but one which gives me hope and encouragement that I can find a way to pray in the midst of whatever life experience I am having.

She has also written two other books "Thoughts matter ..." And "humility matters...". Think I would like to read these!!

These themes - about how we practice faith and prayer - are being picked up all over the place. Try these cool writings from some of my web friends and people I admire. Here and Here .

How's your prayer life? What is sustaining you today?

Friday, April 28, 2006

What's Your Practice?

Mini retreat over.
A lot LESS successful than I would have hoped.
BUT what have I learned?

(1) I could never be a Carthusian! Really - the discipline required to sustain that sort of life is mind boggling to me.
Besides, I have kids...

(2) I need to create more opportunities to have silence and solitude and slowness in my life.
I know this is a given, especially since I love Benedictine spirituality, but I need constant reminding.
Interestingly enough, two of my favourite blogs have been discussing this too!
Read here and here.

(3) I need a discipline in my life related to point two.
This doesn't only come from the retreat but from two other things.
Firstly, I read a really interesting article in an old magazine about "Zen and Christian Practice" which was using the idea that as Christians, specific practices are a help, as in Zen Buddhism where meditation, vegetarian food etc help define the religious identity.
I think this relates to my earlier post about being a Catholic.
What is my practice as a catholic Christian? What gives me life? The mass obviously comes to mind very quickly but what about praying the office, meditation, Lectio?
Worth some thought I think.

Of course, my Doctors visit was a catalyst too - usual high blood pressure, fast pulse, bit over weight etc etc. Now's the time though...

Have added in a few extra links to interesting folk whon are reading us a bit too.



Thursday, April 27, 2006

Mary and Martha

Strangely enough, the talk I was going to read yesterday was called “Mary and Martha”, and given that I had a really busy, not achieving sort of day. Maybe today’s input will give me an idea on what I could have done instead of running around like a headless chook…

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

An Easter Reflection

Many apologies for not publishing yesterday, but it appears that Blogger had bad day for most of us…

It is ANZAC day here in Australia, a public holiday when we remember the soldiers of Australia and New Zealand who lost their lives in the Gallipoli battle of the 1914 – 1918 war, but also all military actions. As I get older, this day becomes more important and a reason to work for peace for my family, my community and my world.

Some people seem to have enjoyed my post about why I became a Catholic.
Check out a cool discussion

From Jesus, (with Carthusian commentary!)

Peace be with you!
Death, darkness, suffering, egoism, your limitations, your weakness, your sin – all that is defeated, once for all

Do Not Be Afraid
I love you exactly as you are, I have taken your weaknesses upon myself, I shared them, except your sin. Let us not speak about it any further. All that is defeated, finished. Everything is changed….

Give me your empty space to pour into it the vitality of my love and my joy.
Believe in joy – it is possible, even for you.
Believe in love.
Believe in life, in true life.
Believe in me because I love you.
Be my joy in the heart of the church.

These simple commentaries on Jesus’ words have been crucial today. How I need to hear them. When I began the adult part of the Christian journey, taking the faith for myself, “Peace be with you” and “Do not be afraid” were words of life to me – when I felt criticized by others for having faith, when other Christians hurt and isolated me for being contemplative, or just when I was sad.

What I am getting gout of these novice talks is new eyes, a new way of seen myself, my relationships and the world, in the light of the Easter Mystery.
It is both invasively personal and yet cosmic, seeing redemption not only within me, and for me, but within the universe and for the universe. And as my Carthusian brother reminds me, in the heart of the Church, Gods gathered people.

I hope these thoughts will stay with me throughout the day, today.

Monday, April 24, 2006

What is the resurrection for me?

These thoughts are my dialoguing with the text of the day.
They are incomplete, wandering and personal. Take them as you will.

A few years ago I was having some “therapy” for a relationship that went drastically wrong. During this time, the counsellor and I spent a great deal of time focusing on my spiritual journey, seeing this as a way of recovery. As we discussed the contemplative path I was, and still am, following he made the statement
‘This is a lonely, solo path you are following. But you must continue”.
This gave me hope at the time, and still does.

Today’s reading from the Carthusian Novice Conferences book does the same.
In “Alleluia” the anonymous author asks “What is the resurrection for me?”
His response is the remainder of the talk.
Two quotes drew me, which I will spend the rest of today mulling over them and bring them to the Community on Wednesday:

We are all poor people.
Little by little we become aware of that: poverty and solitude are our lot.

In the face of the greyness of the human heart:
Believe in Christ, hope against all hope, love as much as one can, allow the power of the Spirit to act in us, trust in God, trust in the faith of our brothers,
begin again untiringly every day, seek with Easter eyes, cultivate with all our care the seeds of light and love that cross our lives …
Have the courage of a joy that no one can take away, the serenity of a peace born on the cross, the humility to receive everything, gratuitously, without any merit.

These strike me as incredible responses to how to see the world in the light of the resurrection of Christ. If only I had the grace to allow this to happen to me, with me and through me.

What parts of me need to be resurrected, healed, transformed into love,
in the light of Christ’s resurrection?

I think the resurrection means for me – freedom.
Freedom from death, from sin, from myself, from judging others.

Still thinking.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Mini Retreat

Advance notice for ye who read this blog!

Next week - Monday to Thursday, I will be having a mini retreat at home
(Lets just say my lovely wife Coralie is an absolute legend and has arranged for me to have some solo time at home while she and the kids enjoy a break elsewhere...).

I had originally thought I wouldn't blog at all for a few days, but now think I will dialogue with myself about what I am doing, and allow others to enter the discussion.

The plan is to read a chapter from "Advent to Pentecost" in the Carthusian Novice Conferences series in the morning and reflect on it through the day.
I'll pray the office and keep a pray - work - rest sort of rule.

So be prepared to dialogue with me on what I'm reading and praying!

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Back into my Head for a bit

My new good friend Antony (To the Quiet) has very kindly posted one of our blog entries on his site…which made me think “Did I really mean all those things?” and of course, yes I did – but I want to add a few bits!

I do say I “really converted to Monasticism” – but I did very happily convert to Catholicism.
I felt this was right because the tradition that I feel in love with (Benedictine) takes its place within that faith tradition, and I wanted to be part of it.
I have experienced a deep tradition in which I can immerse myself – through the Early Church Fathers, the Benedicitine, Cistercian, Trappist and Carthusian writers, as well as many others who have written after been formed by the worship and life of the Catholic Church (Eg Henri Nouwen)

I also talked about liturgy, and “things of the earth” being a vital element in my conversion process. This is true, but incomplete. As I study the scriptures, read the church’s teachings, slowly (very slowly!) read catholic theologians, I come to more clearly appreciate how (if that is possible) the mystery of God is made tactile through liturgy and sacrament – that they lead me to experience the ultimate sacrament – Jesus Christ. This is of course, a very great mystery, and which I will spend the rest of my earth bound years exploring, and never fully knowing.

I hope these thoughts are not too rambly, but after reading Matt’s post yesterday and talking at community last night, I did feel a little more thinking on my part was necessary.

It’s just a great mystery!


Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Simply coming home

As noted in Chris' last 2 posts, most of us made our traditional Easter Pilgrimage to New Norcia (a 5 year old long should we be doing something before it officially becomes a tradition? I'll have to look that up).

For me this time of year now has a special sense of both solemnity and celebration. 2003 was the year I was recieved into the Catholic church and in a strange way it feels like my birthday when we hit the Easter Vigil.

Good Friday and the reading of the passion remind me about where I have been as much as the last hours of our Lord's life. I know I haven't been hurt or crushed like Jesus was, but in every hurt I do have, I know Jesus travels with me. The veneration of the cross is the other part of this liturgy that gets me every time. There was nothing like it in my previous life as an Anglican. This year it was as 4 year old Noah kissed the cross just in front of me. It was all I could do to hold back the tears. I still want that simple childlike faith.

In the two and a half hours of the vigil on Sunday morning we get to travel through the journey of the people of God as they follow where only he can lead them. We also get a glimpse into the people serving us through the various parts of the liturgy. For the last 5 years our little community has been able to assist with the NN liturgy through music, reading, prayer, participation and the presence of the children (always a joy as you don't know what they'll do). In such a long liturgy there is always the possibility of a slip-up. For example, a couple of years ago Eliza, being carried by her daddy to re-light the candles, set her hair on fire (it was quickly put out). This year in singing the psalms Chris sang that God would provide a "wimple for the simple". It was well covered however and most people went away unsure whether they had heard correctly or not. I, however could hardly keep a straight face. It's these little joys that provide great "birthday entertainment". Like Noah wandering across the sanctuary in the middle of the Eucharistic prayer with a handful of extinguished candles to share with his godfather (me).

After sharing the vigil we go on to share a meal and put the kids down for a nap (hopefully). In the end it is all like coming home. I really feel comfortable when I'm in New Norcia, like a bit of me belongs there. The life shown in the Easter Triduum speaks to a part of me that just keeps wanting to see God. I guess that is why He's given me all these people around me. In their hospitality, friendship and love, I see Him at work.

Matt J

Out of my Head and into my Body

One of the features of the Easter vigil at New Norcia over the last few years has been the reception of Christians of other denominations into full communion with the Roman Catholic Church. In 2002 it was yours truly. In 2003, community member Matt, and this year another beautiful lady from the Anglican church – the same background as Matt and myself (lets not even get into that!)

Participating in Joan’s reception this year provoked some questions in me.
Why did I join the Catholic Church?
What did it offer me I wasn’t finding elsewhere?
I am fond of saying that I really converted to monasticism, and not the church as a whole – and I still have a lot of trouble with some major Catholic doctrines.
But I know, deeply, that this is the place I can be best feed, best grow, and best experience the love of God.
And so, like with any family, I am happy to be in congenial disagreement with other family members, but still share the table (in both the metaphorical and literal sense!)

My main reason for being a Catholic is because of its strong incarnational sense – it gives faith a body and an action - and not just a head full of ideas.
Initially I thought this was an attraction to liturgy, rite and ritual – and I still love these elements of my adopted Christian expression.
But I see more deeply now the importance of the “things of the earth” in enabling faith to become more real. The Lenten and Easter season are full of these aids to faith:

The ash cross on our forehead on Ash Wednesday
The bread, wine and water of the Eucharist
The washing of Feet on Maundy Thursday
The wood of the Cross on Good Friday
Candles, large and small, throughout the season,
especially the Paschal Candle of Easter Day
The waters of Baptism at the Vigil
The Oil of confirmation
The smell of incense hallowing our worship spaces and our selves

These are things that the community have found helpful, deep and encouraging on our journeys – and why we keep coming back to share the rich and silent worship of the monks.

And they are also the reason I think our children love the monastery and the monks so much – movement and colour and above all a faith that has a practice – not just a cerebral ascent. But more on that later!

Peace to you all.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

New Norcia for Easter

The community, as per our long-standing 5 year tradition, spent Good Friday afternoon to Easter Sunday with the monks of New Norcia.
As usual, the liturgy was rich, deep and silent, the hospitality brilliant, and time together as an extended community family, invaluable.

I have no time….
In Benedictine monasteries, and those following the rule, one thing is immediately obvious – the importance and pre-eminence of prayer. In the Liturgy of the Hours (See link left) , the community and guests, visitors and locals, join together for prayer anywhere between 4 and 7 times a day. Meals, Work, and Personal times are planned around these – nothing will take the monk away from sharing in these times of prayer with his brothers or sisters (barring an emergency..).

What does this mean for a lay person ?
Firstly, time belongs to God. Hallow it. Use it wisely. Respect it.
Monks never seem to be in a hurry (But there is the duck – calm on top and paddling madly underneath!) In doing what needs to be done, we are generally on top of things.

Secondly, Life will happen and we need time to be in control.
Hallowing time, allowing ourselves to rest, plan, pray, clean and all the other human needs, will mean we can be responsive and open, using our time wisely in the service of each other.

Lastly, quite simply, perhaps I need to just be less busy –to do less.
In our YES culture, we commit before we know what we’re really doing, afraid of appearing lazy perhaps. We have no time to eat well, get to know our neighbours, love our kids and spouses, care for our garden and our physical, psychological and spiritual selves. The results I see around me are catastrophic because of the supposed time famine. Disintegrating families, communities and people.

And know I know, thanks to the monks, there is a better way.

Happy Easter

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Maundy Thursday and Passover

In very un-politically correct manner, the community celebrated passover last night.

While the official church stance is not to celebrate this meal during Christian Holy Week to avoid any anti semitisim, the Jewish folk I have met have been nothing but encouraging towards me and our celebration of this redemptive event. So we continue.

It was a wonderful time of celebration, food, wine and children, who took a more major role for the first time. It is a tradition which we have kept for 5 years now, and one which we all look forward to each Lent.

Pictures to be posted here soon!

There was much proclaimed by the prophets about the mystery of the Passover: that mystery is Christ, and to him be glory for ever and ever. Amen
From an Easter homily by Saint Melito of Sardis, bishop

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Wednesday of Holy Week

The great gift of Easter is hope -
Christian hope which makes us have that confidence in God,
in his ultimate triumph, and in his goodness and love,
which nothing can shake.

Basil C. Hume

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Tuesday of Holy Week

To attain holiness, then, we must not only pattern our lives on Christ’s by being gentle, humble and patient, we must also imitate him in his death.

We imitate Christ’s death by being buried with him in baptism. We have to begin a new life, and we cannot do so until our previous life has been brought to an end - when we wish to reverse the direction of our lives there must be a pause, or a death, to mark the end of one life and the beginning of another.

From the book On the Holy Spirit by Saint Basil

Monday, April 10, 2006

Monday of Holy Week

Daily Reflection
Brothers and Sisters,
let us then fearlessly acknowledge, and even openly proclaim,
that Christ was crucified for us;
let us confess it, not in fear but in joy, not in shame but in glory.
From a sermon by Saint Augustine

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Holy Week

As we enter this season when “ the church celebrates the mysteries of salvation accomplished by Christ in the last day of his life on earth. beginning with his messianic entrance into Jerusalem” (PCEF) , these words of Henri Nouwen from my daily reflections, seem to hit home :

Every time you celebrate the Eucharist and rceive the bread and wine, the body and blood of Jesus, his suffering and his death become a suffering and death for you.
Passion becomes compassion, for you.
You are incorporated into Jesus.
You become part of his “body” in that most compassionate way you are freed from your deepest solitude.
Through the Eucharist you come to belong to Jesus in the most intimate way, to him who suffered and died for you, died and rose again so that you may suffer, die, and rise again with him.

My Prayer:
that I may enter the Eucharist’s,
and the prayer of this holy week, fully,
and experience this mystery of God’s love
more clearly.

Friday, April 07, 2006

Matts itunes adventure

Tried the iTunes test today,
here's how I was evaluated in the eyes of
itunes (how does it know?)

How does the world see you?
Weary Cutters
Steeleye Span

Will I have a happy life?
Slit Skirts
Pete Townsend
Sounds good to me!

What do my friends really think of me?
Thank you (for loving me at my worst)
The Whitlams
I always knew I could count on my friends

What do people secretly think of me?
In & Out
The Straw Theory
No comment...

How can I be happy?
Until the end of the world
It was "how" not "how long" right? Uh oh!

What should I do with my life?
Moon over Bourbon Street
Show me the street & I'll show you a moon

What is some good advice for me?
Don't smoke in bed
Nina Simone
Very good advice I thought

How will I be remembered?
No one can compare (to you)
Guy Sebastian
No cheating I know, I couldn't have picked it if I wanted

What is my signature dancing song?
It's a cartoon theme, hey that's me

What do I think my current theme song is?
Hey Nineteen
Steely Dan
I thought Linda was older than 19 ... ooh

What does everyone else think my current theme song is?
George's Helper
Pete Murray
Always the helper never the helped

What song will play at my funeral?
Prove my love
The Violent Femmes
Pretty punked up funeral I'm having

What type of men/women do you like?
What a shame
Steely Dan
Doesn't sound like I pick em well does it?

What is my day going to be like?
I wanna be adored
The Stone Roses
It's all about me today you know!