Saturday, April 28, 2007


I have been reading "Radical Hospitality: Benedict's way of love" since I got back from the Abbey.

It is a relaxed and chatty book, two authors writing their shared story, as well as their own monastic and lay experience of living out a spirit of hospitality. A great example:

"When we create a life surrounded by people exactly like us, it is a very narrow life. We will not be challenged by such a life ... letting ourselves believe that our experience constitutes normality and that other ways of life (and I add, belief) are abnormal, is both delusional and dangerous"

I love the idea of hospitality. It is easy to open my door to the people on our street, the community, to family. To people I agree with. But to those with whom I disagree? To those who make me uncomfortable? Where do I draw the line?

The Benedictine way is to welcome the stranger, the other, and to care for them as if you are seeing Christ in them, which of course, if we look the right way, we are. By meeting their needs, making them comfortable, feeding them, speaking kind words, we show hospitality, and love.
We need not go out of our way to find the stranger, the other. Our lives throw up opportunities for care every day. Our spouse. Our children. Our neighbour. The postman. All can be welcomed in their way as Christ.

But what a Challenge!

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Overheard Yesterday...

An older lady to a young inquirer..

"Are you going to be a nobbit in the munkery?"

Maybe she meant hobbit?

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

A word with the Abbot

This afternoon with the Abbot...

A good shooting the breeze conversation about Catholic Traditionalists, Jon Sobrino, raising children, Olivetan Benedictines, my dad, praying when you feel disconnected etc

You know, a good ole yarn which is great for the soul.

Actually, I think this was perfect spiritual direction today. Just being. No Agenda. Hanging out.


This morning

Up at 5 for Vigils, rudely awakened by by alarm.

Breakfast, Lauds, Mass and then a few hours of good reading and writing, puntuated by a mid morning nap.

Off to Sext now.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Reading afternoon

First, Humility Matters by Meg Funk

then another chapter of Oxford Apostles ( A Book form the 1930's trying to psychoanalyse the Tractarian movement)

and now some Lectio on Ecclesiastes..

At the Abbey

Off at New Norcia for a few days time out.

A note from the abbot, lovely quiet novice room, fabulous fish lunch and the throwing out of my readng plans and agenda.

Seems God wants me just to rest a while.



Monday, April 16, 2007

We all belong together

Antony has been reading and commenting on the Charles de Foucauld posts, as has a lovely lady called Maria.

Interestingly, Antony quite rightly notes that Carlo Caretto is the foremost of writers/monks following on in the Foucauld tradition.

And in the 1970's Carretto got together with a young French Catholic priest to bring the desert to "the heart of the city" - it was Père Pierre-Marie Delfieux and the order which came for their thinking was Fraternité Monastique de Jérusalem - whom you know I love.

And the order based its structure on?
A modified Benedictine rule!

See how it all fits together!

Sunday, April 15, 2007

All Over the Place

In a physical sense we are all over the place this weekend and next week.

Coralie is off singing at the fairbridge folk festival this weekend, so I have taken my kids to visit my parents in the near by city of Mandurah.

Michelle has been working on Kids Camps.

On Monday, Coralie and kids drive four hours south to her parents in Augusta, and on Tuesday morning Chris goes to spend a few special days with the monks in New Norcia (Link on the left).

Pray for safe travel and arrival.

Meanwhile, for the rest of the community, children have to be cared for, babies are ready to be born, jobs and houses need attending to....

And more on Charles de Foucauld in the near future...

Friday, April 13, 2007

Day 3 with Charles de Foucauld

Evangelical preference for the poor

Let us not worry about those who want for nothing, those who people think of, let us worry and be concerned about those who lack everything, those nobody thinks of. Let us be the friends of those who have no friends. (Letter to Louis Massignon, April 1916)

How do I behave towards someone whose physical appearance put me off?

What sort of interest do I take in people in need of others ... the elderly, sick people, those with no fiends or acquaintances?

Who does this refer to in our society?

Who are the little, the poor, the disenfranchised?

Who misses out on goodness merely because of who they are, what they look like, where they live, their ethnic background?

My immediate reaction as a teacher, and parent, is children. Although in the West at least, children have never been more materially wealthy, the reverse is that they have never been lonelier nor more rejected. Homes packed with everything but love. Foods of every description available, but more obese and under nourished children than ever. Educational opportunities only dreamed of a century ago, yet dissatisfaction and anti-social behaviour continue to grow.

Loving children as the poor, really listening to them as little ones through whom God can speak, requires my openness and readiness to become little myself. Their openness to themselves can speak to me, casting aside my adult mask and sophistication. To listen to children is to bring in the kingdom of God, the place where real love and communication can take place, where openness and transparency can begin.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Day 2 with Charles de Foucauld

To be poor with Jesus

"Even if God desires us to remain rich, it is solely to allow us to become the treasurer of the poor, to live as one of the poor, and only to make use of our possessions in the service of souls and bodies"

What are the attachments that prevent me from allowing God to act in me?
Responding to the appeals of my brothers and sisters?
How do I imitate Jesus poor in my life?
What are my relationships with other people?

An at the keyboard meditation.

Oh dear, I can be a little hidden one, but today it is right "in the face" time.
Does what I/we own, what I fleetingly possess, bring me closer to God through it use, or drive me further away?
Is my/our life style cutting me off from others, or opening doors?

In our affluent west, these questions are of urgent importance.
What do I have to offer someone in Dafour, Iran, East Timor - apart from my gift of aid?
But is this too easy?
Send off some excess cash and feel better.

What about the poor and needy in my neighbourhood,or in my own family?
What about those in our affluent west who are spiritually poor?
How do I respond to these people?
Do my possessions, my lifestyle, hinder my connections, or the possibilities of contact?

Not much more than questions today, and a pricked conscience.
Allowing Jesus to act with my hands, my lips, my heart.
This requires some emptiness, some putting aside.

And all of this requires some thought and prayer.


Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Day 1 with Charles de Foucauld

In the footsteps of Jesus of Nazareth?

"We ought to work for the salvation of souls, go out and meet them, involve ourselves with them, live with them in familiar and close contact"
(Tamanrasset Notebooks, 1903)

How do I/We live in the imitation of Nazareth - in our family, in our work, in a non-Christian environment, in my behaviour?

I have always loved the days after Easter, and looking over the blog entries of the last few years, it has been a time for me to do a lot of reflecting on my own life, and our life as a community. This may be because it is holiday time here, or because usually we have been up at the monastery and I have come home with a slew of new books. But I suspect it is because, in the light of the Resurrection, I can see who I am, and how I am going, and head into that light, trusting and trying.

Our Nazareth is our daily life.
Our family. Our work. Shopping. Cooking. Washing. Consuming. Struggling with prayer. Paying bills. Normal stuff for normal folks. The Scriptures of Jesus' life in Nazareth point to the same reality - Visiting family, Travelling to the temple, reading and learning, fishing and probably working with dad in the tool shed.

Yet this simple, hidden family life becomes the building block for a universe changing kairos event - God entering our world and transforming it in this seemingly ordinary and quiet man.

My Nazareth experience needs to be to be a normal, little one, a hidden one of God.
"Taking the humblest place" St Benedict would call it.

Not seeking attention, but paying attention.
Not talking on endlessly about God, but listening to him in silence, in scripture, in Liturgy, and in others.
Caring for my family and things as gifts.
Not killing myself in pursuit of "vain and empty things".
being able to say know.
Loving those who cross my path.
Being happy with what is.

Working in the Arts does not always make this easy -as we pursue individuality instead of anonymity, seek to make OUR contribution or make OUR statement.

But for us to be fully human, we need moments of self negation, of renunciation and above all, of simplicity, to keep us centered with each other. And as St Benedict shows us, and Br Charles echoes, we do this is our ordinary life, day by day.

That will be our Nazareth.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Living Easter Joy

Lent is over and Easter Joy has begun!

How to enter into this joy?

How to bring this joy to those around us?
My reading of the Jerusalem Communities (See the links all through this site) and the communities who follow the work Charles de Foucauld has awakened my spiritual senses, to think again why we as a community follow Christ in this way.

We meet together because we know that we find Christ in each other, in joining in simply being with each other, sharing the journey, encouraging, crying, rejoicing, living the mystery day by day.

We pray together with ancient words and rites, connecting to the generations of Christians before us. We strive to make our prayer silent, simple and beautiful, as silence, simplicity and beauty can evangelize and bring others, as well as ourselves, into God's presence.

We reach out to others by sharing their journeys with love.
What will happen, will happen in God's own time.
We simple speak of Christ with love and respect and openness.
Over these Easter weeks, I am going to be reading and studying a reading paper produced by the Lay Fraternities of Charles de Foucauld. Feel free to enter into dialogue with me/us about it!

Sunday, April 08, 2007


Day by day we bless you, Lord: we praise you for ever and for ever
(From the Te Deum)

Happy Easter to all our friends and visitors from all of the community.
May the light of the Risen Christ be with truly with you this Easter season.

Today we celebrated a lovely picnic in Kings Park with extended family and friends.

And you know we love them!
The Jerusalem Communities have a lovely Icon mediation in French here - but it is worth watching just to get to the lovely hymn at the end.

Blessings rich and abundant to you all.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Holy Saturday

Something strange is happening – there is a great silence on earth today, a great silence and stillness. The whole earth keeps silence because the King is asleep. The earth trembled and is still because God has fallen asleep in the flesh and he has raised up all who have slept ever since the world began. God has died in the flesh and hell trembles with fear...

From Vigils.

I feel very alone today. Spiritually, emotionally, liturgically.

Ready for resurrection.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Maundy Thursday

Did you know what "Maundy" meant?

As I cruised around this afternoon I came across this definition:

The Holy Thursday liturgy, celebrated in the evening because Passover began at sundown, shows both the worth God ascribes to the humility of service, and the need for cleansing with water (a symbol of baptism) in the Mandatum, or washing in Jesus' washing the feet of His disciples, and in the priest's stripping and washing of the altar.

Cleansing, in fact, gave this day of Holy Week the name Maundy Thursday.

Deep within us all is the desire to be cleansed, to be washed and restored.
To be made new.
This is a major theme of the action on the cross - Jesus, as the saying goes, "Washes us whiter than snow" (Or as "white as the inside of a coconut" - but that's a long story...).

I need these three days to be cleansed, to be washed, to experience, through the power of liturgy, word and sacrament, the power of Jesus in the mystery of his death, and resurrection.

God Bless you.

Have you downloaded a Holy Week Background yet from the Jerusalem Communities?
Go on - You know you should!!

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Passover communion and us

Today I celebrate passover twice:

Once with my children at school - as a teaching tool about the last supper, and a way into beginning the great three days.

And tonight with the community gathered, we celebrate a more detailed ritual, with our children, a lamb roast, and at least four glasses of wine...

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Tuesday of Holy Week

The apparent failure of Jesus, this seeming end, brings me to my own failures, my own hurts, my own struggles, and to cry "Into your hands, I commit my spirit".

Faced with my own littleness, I see the littleness and longing in others.
I become the excluded one. The disenfranchised one. The outsider.
I see how much I don't belong.

After the cross, no longer is there in or out.

Merely our vocation to be fully human, through our littleness and weakness, with the whole world, living out of love for Christ.

The passion of Christ forces me to see humanity, the whole of creation, with new eyes.

When he was placed on the level of evil-doers, definitively excluded on pain of death, I was also there, watching from afar. Who was still thinking of the Kingdom on that day? He was erased from the list of the living:
"Not my will, but yours be done. Father, forgive them, they know not what they do. Why have you abandoned me?"
But another excluded person who still believed in it, gave the only word of consolation,"Jesus, remember me when you come into your Kingdom". (Here)

Jerusalem Communities have some lovely screen backgrounds available for holy week
(One for each important day) here.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Monday of Holy Week

Holy week, culimnating in our Lord's passion, is a chance for me to experience my own littleness, my own weakness and powerlessness.

We desire to share the life of the poor, the little ones, to be with them as 'one of them', not first of all in order to help them out, but because Jesus was poor, because littleness is the condition to know Jesus (Here).

Pray for us.