Monday, January 22, 2007

They crave for bread: we give them candyfloss!!!

I remember a conversation with the late Fr Michael Hollings when I was trying to decide whether I should be a monk or a secular priest, we spoke about the great mystics of the Catholic Church and the English Mystics in particular, he asked where in England can someone go to discover and understand their writings. I have always wondered how we could get these incredible books into people's hands. When I had this conversation with Michael, thirty years ago, it wasn't unusual to meet Catholics who were familiar with the writings of St John of the Cross or St Theresa of Avila, and who gradually ascended Mount Carmel with them. It is not just the English Mystics that concern me now, it is that people just do not read or even seem to be aware that we Catholics actually have this great tradition. "People crave for bread and we give them candy floss," used to be the cri de coeur of my predecessor here, Fr David Maskell. Indeed it seems that people look for the "spiritual" not in the Catholic Church but in any looney sect that panders to their vanity. Even in Catholic circles the "prayer of the frog" or the hateful Enneagram seems to have more influence that the "Ladder of Perfection" or the "Cloud of Unknowing".

So what is to be done? I thought we might start a book group. I put a note in the newsletter about this, normally diocesan things, Lent groups, for example go unnoticed people don't want to join in them here but I was surprised by the response to this. So the first book is going to be the Rule of St Benedict, we thought we would start with something short (and not too espensive) at first, and as at the moment I have Br Francis a monk who appeared in the television series "The Monastery" staying with me, he can help run it. The following book I have decided on will be the autobiography of St Theresa of Avila, easily read, may be a bit long, but good alternative to the television for Lent, then maybe something by St Aelred. Eventually we will get round to St Augustine's Confessions, Imitation of Christ, Introduction to the Devout Life, St Theresa of the Child Jesus, The Interior Castle etc etc etc, ther is so much. Has anyone tried doing this? Any advice?

I was very grateful to the manager at the CTS bookshop at Westminster for his help, in finding cheap editions of some of the books we are looking for, and he told me he reads this blog occasionally. They are so helpful nowadays, it is a joy to speak to them and go into the shop.


Anonymous said...

What a fine idea! I have long wanted to read some of these books, but on my own rarely get very far. I am in America so would not be able to join...However, I hope that many will want to join you. I wish you very well.
God bless

Anonymous said...

You can download/read aloud at meals, The Rule of St.Benedict in its entirety online:

and it will cost your nothing!

Anonymous said...

Can I draw your attention to the new website of the publishers, The Catholic Truth Society (CTS).

It’s got some downloadable publications on it, plus it’s got a great range of Catholic books, DVDs and other things.

Thanks, Sophie (CTS)

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