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!

Thursday, April 06, 2006


Lectio divina is a slow, contemplative praying of the Scriptures.

You can read about it here.

For Your Lectio:
The best prayer is the one in which there is the most love.Adoration, wordless admiration, that is the most eloquent form of prayer:that wordless admiration which contains the most passionate declaration of love."
- Charles de Foucauld

"Receive very simply from God
the gift of being"
- Abhishiktananda

Wednesday, April 05, 2006


Nice paper on the work/home balance here - but probably not for long!

I wonder whether getting up earlier
means a slower start to the day...?

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Transfiguration at Flickr!

Check out our photos at Flickr.
The link on the side bar will always take you there!

Monday, April 03, 2006


Confirmation at St Philips Cottesloe of community member Michelle's sister, Rosemary.

A wonderful morning with Archbishop Roger of Perth.

Creator Spirit, strengthen Rosemary with your gifts of grace, to love and serve as a disciple of Christ. Grant that she may grow into the fullness of the stature of Christ. Fill her with the joy of your presence. Increase in her the fruit of your Spirit: the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of love, patience and gentleness, the spirit of wonder and true holiness.