Wednesday, 31 August 2011

September Menology Nunraw Abbey

Pope's Month Prayer Intentions September 2012

General Intention: That politicians may always act with honesty, integrity, and love for the truth.
Missionary Intention: Help for the Poorest Churches. That Christian communities may have a growing willingness to send missionaries, priests, and lay people, along with concrete resources, to the poorest Churches.    
for the
of September

September 28th.
Nunraw: Joseph Denis O’Dea
 1930 - 1980

born 1930
entered 1946
professed 1951
ordained 1953
died 1980



Aleth, mother of St Bernard
This day in 1106 she went to her death surrounded by her sorrowing family and the neighboring clergy who had come to Fontaines to celebrate the feast of St Ambrosian, patron saint of Dijon. 
Aleth had instilled into the minds and hearts of her children true values which found fulfillment in the religious vocation of them all. Frequently, as they came to the decision to follow Christ, each experienced the presence of her guidance and inspiration. This happened especially with Bernard and later with Andrew.
MBS, p. 153                 

William Moennet + 1640
As a monk of Hauterive, Switzerland, he was appointed confessor of the nuns of La Maigrauge and later of La Fille Dieu. In 1616, elected abbot of Hauterive, Dom William labored to effect reform within his community. Seeing the aspirations of the Sisters at the abbeys where he was formerly chaplain to live their monastic consecration more deeply, he guided both communities to reform with the help of his sister, Marie, abbess of La Fille Dieu (December 17). He restored enclosure and perpetual abstinence.
Les Moniales, p. 105


Niece of St Bernard, daughter of his brother, Guido (November 1), she entered a Benedictine convent with her mother after Guido had entered Citeaux with Bernard. She later transferred to Tart and subsequently was sent to the Abbey of Poulangy where the Benedictines wished to embrace the Cistercian reform. The community of Poulangy elected Adeline abbess and, under the guidance of St Bernard, she inspired her sisters to an ever deeper interior life of prayer.

Clement Gimenez +  c. 1600
Monk of Valparaiso, Spain.


Nicolas Fitzgerald
A monk perhaps of Mellifont or St Mary's Abbey in Ireland, he was martyred in 1581. When his monastery was confiscated, he escaped but was captured and condemned to be hanged and quartered. Loyal to the Catholic faith until death, he was regarded as a true martyr and his Cistercian habit was divided into small pieces to provide relics for the faithful.

Moses Chapelliere + 1849
A lay-brother of Port du Salut in France, he was uneducated, unable even to read, but learned in the science of the saints. His humility and unaffected love endeared him to all his brothers.


David  13th century
A monk of San Salvatore di Settimo in Italy, he was asked by the monks of Camaldoli to be their superior. Appealing to Pope Boniface VIII for guidance in his decision-making, he was encouraged to accept. The Pope felt that David's life of virtue and love of the desert eminently suited him to the task. He was a true superior, inspiring the Camaldolese monks until his death.


Mark de Porras
A monk of Nogales in Spain, he had a great love for the Divine Office and while singing it often experienced God's majesty and grandeur. Elected abbot, he determined to put himself at the service of each of his brothers and succeeded so well that he was universally loved. At his death his community witnessed the tremendous joy of their abbot reflected in the light and happiness on his face and in his eyes.


Madeleine Therese Baudet de Beauregard + 1688

She was sent as superior of a Paris foundation of the Bernadines in Grenoble. Here she dedicated the new monastery to the Precious Blood of Jesus and inspired her sisters with her own spirit of reparation. With the approval of the bishop, they drew up constitutions more in conformity with the Rule of St Benedict, and the Congregation of the Bernadines of the Most Precious Blood was born. Mother Madeleine remained superior until her death at eighty-four years of age.
Les Moniales, p. 91


Thomas Madde + 1583
A monk of Jervaulx during the reign of Queen Elizabeth, he was captured while offering Mass in the home of Sir Thomas Percy, Earl of Northumberland. Defending the Real Presence in the Blessed Sacrament, he was imprisoned, and died while awaiting sentence. 
On the dissolution of Jervaulx, see Lekai, p. 122

Sebastian Gaudin + 1914
A monk of Port du Salut, he wholeheartedly embraced his monastic life which was interrupted twice by the call to military service. While in the army, he endeavored to live a life of deep interior prayer. Offering himself completely to God's will, he entered into the fullness of the monastic profession he was to have made September 8, l914 by his death on the battlefield the evening before.

`             SEPTEMBER 8

Bl William of St Thierry + 1148
Born in Liege,Blegium, and educated perhaps at Laon, he entered the monastery of St Nicaise at a time of its spiritual renewal. In 1119 he became abbot of the Benedictine monastery of St Thierry near Rheims and became a leading figure in a gradual reform of monastic life. 
At this time he visited Clairvaux and thus began the famous friendship with St Bernard. It was at William's urging that Bernard wrote his Apologia and the two treatises, On Grace and Free Will and On the Errors of Abelard. Longing for the silence and simplicity of the Cistercian life, although persistently dissuaded by St Bernard, William finally resigned his abbacy and entered Signy in the diocese of Rheims. During the ensuing years as a simple monk, his ardent contemplative spirit and firm Catholic faith were expressed in remarakable and very beautiful monastic and theological works.
CS 10, 78; CS 94

"The soul in its happiness finds itself standing midway in the embrace and kiss of the Father and the Son. In a manner which exceeds description and thought, the man of God is found worthy to become not God, but what God is; that is, man becomes by grace what God is by nature." The Golden Epistle 

"When I love anything for your sake, I love not it, but you for whose sake I love that which I love. For you only are truly the Lord." On Contemplating God

"Those unsearchable riches of your glory, Lord, were hidden in your secret place in heaven until the soldier's spear opened the side of your Son on the cross, and through that open door we may enter whole, O Jesu, even into your Heart, the sure seat of mercy, even into your holy soul that is filled with the fullness of God, full of grace and truth, full of our salvation and our consolation." Meditations

Stephen of Sawley + 1252
He was born in Yorkshire toward the end of the 12th century and became a monk at Fountains, where he was cellarer. In 1223 he was elected abbot of Sawley. Later he became abbot first of Newminster and then of Fountains.
We know him chiefly from his four treatises (CF 36) which offer practical advice to young Cistercians about the basic elements of the monastic life, prayer and devotion to the Blessed Virgin.

"Employ the Scriptures as a substitute for a mirror wherein the soul finds a reflection of its own image. It sees those things that are corrupt and corrects them; and things that are beautiful which contribute to its radiance."

Odette Clause + 1632
Named by the king in 1597 to be abbess of Villers-Canivet, she received her abbatial blessing from her brother, Bishop Henry. She was a true spiritual mother, filled with humility and a deep love for her sisters. She took special care of the poor and sick, and had an ardent zeal for the divine office.

Les Moniales , p. 102


Martin von Kollenberg + 1653
Elected abbot of Engelszell, Austria in 1645, although he governed during eight years of the Thirty Years War, he was able to foster both spiritual and temporal growth in his community, as well as preserve the Catholic Faith among the neighbors in the surrounding district.


Bl Ogler + 1214

Abbot of Our Lady of Locedio in Italy, he was devoted to Mary and in his writings praised her prerogatives, especially the Immaculate Conception. Not only a man of learning, but of humility as well, he was found by Pope Innocent III to be an "instrument of peace" in settling quarrels among warring factions in Italy.

Bl Serlon + 1158
Abbot of Savigny, in 1147 he persuaded the General Chapter and St Bernard in the presence of Pope Eugene, to accept his abbey and its thirty-one daughterhouses as part of the Cistercian Order with Clairvaux as their motherhouse. Five years later he resigned and entered Clairvaux where he was encouraged by Abbot Robert, St Bernard's successor, to help in the monastic training of the younger monks.
CF 48


Luke Gotz + 1546
In 1534 when the abbey of Herrenalb in Wurttemberg was confiscated and the monks dispersed, he refused to embrace the Lutheran heresy. False charges were brought against him and he was tortured and imprisoned. Twelve years later, still in chains, he was called by God to the reward for his fidelity.

Lawrence  12th century
Lay-brother of Clairvaux, he was often sent on errands by St Bernard. Feeling confident of his abbot's protecting intercession, Lawrence was successful in the undertakings entrusted to him. After St Bernard's death, he continued to negotiate business and then return to Clairvaux to resume monastic living with great joy. He always attributed his success to St Bernard.

MBS, p. 230


Peter of Tarentaise 1102-1174

Born of peasant stock, he became a monk at Bonnevaux, and in 1132 was sent as founding abbot of Tamié. He was appointed bishop of Tarentaise, a diocese in the Alps of Savoy, in 1141. He gave himself unsparingly to the needs of his diocese, preaching the word of God, caring for the poor and providing for the upkeep of churches. He also had the gift of healing the sick. He actively supported Pope Alexander III against Fredrick Barbarossa. Already ill a year before his death, Peter journeyed to Normandy to negotiate peace between Henry II of England and Louis VII of France, and it was on another peace-making mission from the Pope that he died at the monastery of Bellevaux.

Anne De Vieupont + 1636
Nun of Parc aux Dames, she was appointed novice mistress and later elected prioress. She inspired others by the total gift of herself to Jesus.


John Labarthe + 1678
Lay-brother of Sept-Fons, his outstanding virtue was faith especially in his relations with his abbot in whose person he saw Christ.


Joseph Hayes + 1913
He entered Mount Melleray Abbey in Ireland and soon after his profession was stricken with tuberculosis throughout his body. During the remaining six years of his life he was a joy and inspiration to his confreres. He died as the community was celebrating the feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross.

Magdalen of Jesus + 1666
After the death of her husband, she determined to give herself to Christ and embarked on a life of virtue and asceticism. At fifty-eight she entered the convent at Valladolid, Spain, where a few years later she was stricken with paralysis and blindness. Despite her infirmities, her faith and joy were always evident, and at her death, her sisters and all who knew her venerated her as a saint.

Maxime Carlier  1891-1917
Born in France, he entered Chimay in 1911 and made his simple profession two years later. When World War I broke out, he had to leave the monastery to serve in the army; he passed through some of the hardest fighting in the war, receiving the Croix de Guerre for his bravery, ever remaining a monk at heart. Having postponed a leave in order to remain with his men, he was killed in action.


Elizabeth Piette + 1851
Born in Liege, Belgium, she entered Our Lady of Eternity in Westphalia where the community endured many privations. She was appointed superior at St Catherine's Convent at Laval. Elected abbess, she was a real spiritual mother to her sisters, serving them in humility and love.

Godefroid Belorgey 1880 - 1964
Born in France, he was a lieutenant in the army when thanks to what he called "an extraordinary grace and an exceptional disposition of divine Providence", he became a monk at Scourmont in Belgium at the age of 30. He was successively novice master and prior; then, from 1932 to 1952, auxiliary abbot of Citeaux. Having resigned, he spent two years at Caldey, then was chaplain at Our Lady of Peace, Chimay. He returned to Scourmont in April 1964, and died there six months later.
He was one of the pioneers of the Order's renewal in the first half of the 20th century, and led many monks and nuns by the paths of obedience and humility to a deep interior life. His books include The Practice of Mental Prayer, Benedictine Humility, and God Loves Us. These lines in which he describes a person with a deep inner life are an unconscious self-portrait: "One feels that such a soul is in possession of the truth. It radiates peace and joy, for it possesses God."


Jean Eustache de Mons + 1478
An Augustinian, he entered the monastery of Moulins and later in conjunction with monks from Aulne and Cambron, he established Cistercian life at the abbey of Jardinet, formerly occupied by nuns.
Not only a great ascetic, but also a charismatic leader, Dom Jean attracted to Jardinet forty-six monks and thirty-five lay-brothers as zealous as their abbot in living monastic life to the full. Much against the wishes of his community, he resigned in 1474, and four years later died in great peace and joy.
Lekai, p. 115


Anne Biena + 1617
She entered the monastery of Felipre, Belgium, and during the fifty-three years of her monastic journey she grew in her devotion to Christ's Passion which found expression in charity, profound humility and a spirit of poverty.


Albin O'Molloy + 1222
He was in his mid-thirties when the monks of Baltinglass chose him as their abbot. Leading his brethren in the ways of holiness, he also influenced many beyond the enclosure. Especially devoted to the liturgy, he used his musical talents to enhance the Divine Office.

Appointed bishop of Ferns, Dom Albin took an active part in the reform of the clergy. After thirty years of devoted service to his people, he died.
MBS, p. 250

Patrick Plunket + 1679
After study at Louvain, he returned to Ireland and became a Cistercian. Later he was appointed abbot of St Mary's, Dublin. After the accession of King Charles I of England in 1625, expectations for a basic change in the status of Catholics in Ireland ran high, and in anticipation of a greater leniency, Pope Urban VIII authorized the formation of the Irish Cistercian Congregation of St Malachy and St Bernard. Patrick was elected the first president. However, Cromwell's bloody invasion of Ireland in 1650 ended the precarious existence of Irish Cistercians. No further record exists of the Congregation's survival.
Meanwhile, in 1647 Patrick was appointed bishop of Ardagh. Although harassed on all sides, he continued his duties as bishop often in hiding. The Pope later made him head of the See of Meath, and he died while governing this diocese.
Lekai, p. 135


Marguerite de Forbin de Solliers + 1652
At an early age she entered the monastery of St Bernard d'Hyeres, France. She was elected abbess, and in this office for the following fifty years she endeavored with all the gifts of nature and grace at her command to establish and maintain monastic discipline.
Les Moniales, p. 105

              SEPTEMBER 20

Eustache de Beaufort
In 1656 at the age of twenty, through royal favor, he received the abbey of Sept-Fons in Bourbonnais, France. At the encouragement of his brother who was a priest, he decided to become a monk and completed his novitiate at Clairvaux. In 1664 he joined Sept-Fons to the Strict Observance and the community became a center of fervent monastic life. At his death, Dom Eustache left a community of one hundred monks and fifty lay-brothers.

Aloysius Van Rijsenburg + 1892

A lay-brother of Villa Regia, Netherlands, he was inspired to offer his life for the union of the three Trappist Congregations. He asked and obtained permission from his abbot to make the offering, which bore fruit shortly after his death, when Leo XIII convoked an extraordinary chapter of the representatives of the Trappist Congregations in Rome for the expressed purpose of union. There was near unanimity and the united Trappists assumed a new title: Order of Reformed Cistercians.


Octave Arnolfini  1579-1641
A cleric of noble Italian ancestry. When nineteen years old, he was appointed by King Henry IV to be commendatory abbot of La Charmoye, a Cistercian house in Champagne, France. Realizing he could not initiate reforms unless he himself became a Cistercian, he entered Clairvaux and under Denis Largentier completed his novitiate and made monastic profession in 1603. Largentier, pleased with his desire for reform, entrusted to him the abbey of Chatillon where he became regular abbot in 1608.
At the College of St Bernard in Paris, Dom Octave and Etienne Maugier, his successor at La Charmoye, met a nephew of the abbot of Clairvaux, Abraham Largentier. The three signed a document in which they renewed their monastic profession and their determination to press for reform which included perpetual abstinence. Through many visiccitudes and trials, this pact bore fruit in the new Congregation of the Strict Observance. Failing in health, but seeing his reform take root, Dom Octave died.
Lekai, p. 131


Bl Otto 1113-1158
Son of Leopold III of Austria and Agnes, daughter of Emperor Henry IV, he studied at Paris under Abelard, Gilbert de la Poree and Hugh of St Victor. Returning home after his studies, he spent a night at the abbey of Morimond and was moved by grace to enter the community. In 1137 he was elected abbot and, shortly after, was made bishop of Freising. With his stepbrother, Emperor Conrad III, he joined the Second Crusade. He was counselor to both Conrad and his nephew, Frederick Barbarossa. Through all his activities, he remained devoted to the monastic life which he furthered in his diocese.
Otto's great interest in intellectual pursuits bore fruit in his historical works: The Chronicle of Two Cities and The Deeds of Emperor Frederick. His Chronicle was the first medieval attempt to write a "philosophical" history. Suffering from physical infirmity, he died at Morimond.
Lekai, p. 235; NCE, vol. 10, p. 821

Louis de Gonzaga Moirant + 1905
He entered Aiguebelle and while still a novice was chosen to be among the founders of Les Dombes. Appointed prior, his aim was complete obedience to his abbot and a gentle service of his confreres. In 1882 he was elected abbot and his talents came to full flower in his chapter conferences to his community and in the celebration of the monastic liturgy. He died on a Saturday as he had desired.


Maria Vela y Cueto + 1617
Born in Cardenosa, Avila, Spain, she entered the Cistercian monastery of Santa Ana in February 1576. Though not physically strong, she was heroic in her practice of humility and patience in continual illness, ever showing a faithful obedience coupled with absolute confidence in God. Her spiritual nourishment was Scripture as it unfolded in the liturgy and Christ, the Word, central point of creation and redemption was the nucleus of her doctrine. Her autobiography, written under obedience, and another work telling of the mercy and favor of God shown to her, are preserved in manuscript at Santa Ana de Avila and have been translated into English by Frances Parkinson Keyes. Her body was found incorrupt in 1623, 1664, 1812 and 1981.

"The surest indication that we are ignorant of our faults is to make evident the faults of others."

Mary Berchmans Piguet  1876-1915
She entered the monastery of the Immaculate Conception at Laval on the feast of the Sacred Heart 1899. In 1902 she was sent to the new foundation, Our Lady of the Angels, in Hakodata, Japan. Separation from her country and the Laval community caused her intense suffering but gradually she was able to make the complete sacrifice. The trials of the early years in Japan deepened her capacity for compassion and discernment and eminently prepared her for her work as mistress of novices. Although never fluent in the language, by her own ardent monastic living she inspired in her Japanese novices the same love for Jesus that was the center of her life. By her total dedication even to death, she became a fit instrument of the Holy Spirit in forming a generation of fervent nuns.
Thomas Merton, Exile Ends in Glory


Caesar of Heisterbach + 1245

Novice master and prior, he is best remembered as author of a large collection of edifying stories about monks and nuns known as Dialogus Miraculorum. Although the historical accuracy of many of these episodes remains questionable, the work must be recornized as an inexhaustible source for the study of 13th century monastic customs and religious folklore.

CS 65; Lekai, p. 234

Malachy Bertrand + 1798
Procurator of Orval, Belgium, after the suppression of his monastery, he remained in hiding exercising his priestly ministry. Arrested in November 1797, he was imprisoned and eventually sent to the penal colony in Guiana where he died six weeks later. Calm through incredible trials, he born witness to the power of Christ's love over suffering and death.

Anselm le Bail 1878-1956
Born in France, at the age of twenty he entered the Congregation of the Holy Spirit, but feeling his vocation was to the contemplative life, he, six years later, began his novitiate at the abbey of Scourmont in Belgium. He was succesively novice master, sub-prior and prior, and in 1913 was elected abbot. In 1928 he sent a group of monks to the Island of Caldey off Wales, Scourmont's first foundation.  He also dreamed of making a foundation in India, but the Second World War put an end to the project. Seven years before his death he suffered a stroke, and from then on was unable to walk or speak.
As abbot he was much concerned that his monks, and indeed all the members of the Order, should have a solid monastic foundation, based on the Rule of St Benedict, the liturgy and the Cistercian heritage. He wrote a great many articles on these subjects, most of which remain in manuscript. He furthered the intellectual and human development of his monks, while never losing sight of their essential vocation to seek God. He also helped found Collectanea.             
     His labors bore fruit in the renewed interest in our Cistercian Fathers and in the spiritual development of the Order in the second half of the 20th century. 


Anne de Villaroel + 1600
Nun of St Anne's Convent, Avila, Spain.
Bruno Le Digne + 1691
While living a somewhat tepid religious life in the Benedictine monastery of Val-des-Chaux, Burgundy, France, he heard a conference on the monastic life by Abbot de Rance, and was so inspired he asked to be received at La Trappe. His conversion was tested during the following eight years by illness and aridity, but, by God's grace, he grew in an intense love for Christ and a deep humility.


Guichard + 1181
A monk of Citeaux, he was elected abbot of Pontigny and held that office for thirty years. It was during this time that he welcomed St Thomas Becket to Pontigny and a close friendship united the two men. Through the influence of St Thomas, Guichard was named archbishop of Lyons and later legate of the Holy See. He governed his diocese for fifteen years giving his flock an example of "incomparable holiness."

Abbess of Clairefontaine, Luxemburg.


Nunraw: Joseph O’Dea 1930 - 1980 see above.

Bl John of Montmirail + 1217
Prince of royal blood and a descendant of Charlemagne, he once saved the life of King Philip Augustus when they were surrounded by the soldiers of Richard the Lionhearted. His entire horizon during this time was dominated by a love of power, ambition and vanity, but moved by the advice of a holy priest, he turned away from the world and turned completely to God. He converted his castle into a hospice for the poor and sick, and served them himself. Finally, over fifty years old, with his wife's consent, he entered the monastery of Longpont in 1210. With the same enthusiasm of his early conversion he gave himself to monastic life until his death seven years later.   

MBS, p. 254


Conrad + 1227
A young man of nobility, he entered the monastery of Villers. In 1209 he was elected abbot and soon after abbot of Clairvaux, and, in 1217, of Citeaux. We owe to him the tradition of our singing the Salve Regina daily. He proposed this to the General Chapter while abbot of Citeaux.
Appointed cardinal in 1219, he served the Holy See in many ways: preaching the Crusade in Germany, cooperating with and supporting St Dominic's infant Order, reforming the clergy. The great grace of concentration on the matter at hand, whether prayer or wordly affairs, sustained Conrad and deepened his contemplative mindfulness of God.

Jean-Baptiste Chautard 1858-1935     
He entered Aiguebelle at the age of nineteen. In 1897 he was elected abbot of Chambarand, and two years later of Sept-Fons, a position he held until his death. He was also responsible for the direction and control of several other monasteries of the Order. In 1903 he successfully pleaded the cause of the Trappists before the French senate and averted their threatened dissolution. His book, The Soul of the Apostolate, written in 1910 and filled with the fire of his ardent and energetic spirit, became immensely popular and had a great influence on many. In it he insisted on the necessity of a profound interior life for a fruitful ministry.

Among other great figures in Church history who had a special devotion to Our Lady of Laus were . . . Dom Jean Baptiste Chautard (1858-1935), Abbot of Sept-Fons, and author of the enormously successful classic, The Soul of the Apostolate. 

 Gerard de Beausart + 1529
Abbot of Aulne, Belgium, and Vicar-General of the Order in Belgium, he led his monks to reform by his own fidelity to the monastic life.

Benedict of Salamanca  15th century
Monk and priest of Moreruela in Spain, he declined his election as abbot of Melon so as not to be deprived of the joy and peace of obedience. Faithful to the common life, he was an inspiration to his confreres. Because his poor health prevented his offering daily Mass, he served the Masses of his brother-priests. It was while serving the prior's Mass that he died.

Contemplation: "infused contemplation" is a tautology..."acquired contemplation" is a contradiction

What is Mysticism?
David Knowles. pp. 30-32
  • In the field of prayer, its own proper field in the modern use of words, the term contemplation is equivocal. Leaving aside the use of the word for the final part of a set exercise of meditation, there is a long history of controversy, extending over more than three centuries, over the use of the adjectives "perfect", "infused" and "acquired" as applied to contemplation, and the permissibility of using, or restricting the use of, the single word contemplation in respect of each of these three expressions. We need not be detained by the discussion over "perfect" contemplation; it concerns the meaning of the term as used by several Spanish mystical writers, and in particular by St Teresa, and is not of general significance.
  • The other two expressions are of more practical interest. The first, "infused contemplation", needs no long treatment. It is, on the view adopted throughout this book, a tautology. Contemplation, in the context of personal prayer, is by definition freely infused knowledge and love. In the brief phrase of St John of the Cross, "contemplation is to receive".3 If this is so, it must follow that "acquired contemplation" is a contradiction in terms. It is, indeed, an unfortunate expression which arose at a time and in a region when the ambiguities of the word contemplation had not been fully explored. In recent years spiritual writers have preferred to use the terms "active" and "infused recollection". But apart from purely verbal discussions, there is a real point of importance at issue, which must be considered briefly.  

Sunday, 28 August 2011

Nunraw and "Fools For God", Richard North

Nunraw Abbey Aug 2011
Hi, William,
Thank you for the exchange regarding the  book almost out of print.
A Review at the time on the 1987 book "Fools for God" raises interesting comments.
The writing was published for the market as much for tourism as for the interest of monastic life.
The lay man's reading and interviewing monk's acquired a gentleman's knowledge of the heart of the monk in following Christ.
During the conversations, one monk said, "People have real roots in Christ, even if they don't suspect or appreciate it.  It gives people a dimension.
            'If I ask myself why I must be gentle, or live in a moral framework, I believe it is simply that we belong to Jesus Christ.  My love of Christ has deepened over the years: my own suffering, people's troubles, or brothers who've been sick - they've all shown me that we either open our hearts more and more or we close them little by little.  And I've learned from all sorts of people that the intellect by itself is a cold instrument.  To be a lover, the heart is needed.  For me at this moment, my problem is the question of getting the heart on fire in prayer.'

This monastic experience of Richard North remains a marker to an extended life of journalism searching and writing.

Maybe, if the book, "Fools For God", is a now rare edition, it's age may  live again in the digital eBook, Kindle books ....

Yours ..

The Catholic Herald - REVIEW by Br. Jonathan
"Fools for God" by Richard North (Collins, £10.95)
30th October 1987, Page 6 
THIS is an important book
East Lothian and Fife
Important because it will introduce monasticism to many well-disposed people and introduce them to it in a very pleasant manner. It is very well written and extensively covers the subject. Clearly it entailed the author in a great amount of reading, work and travel. The book list given at the end for further reading gives enormous scope for serious investigation. It is noticeable that the author's acquaintance with monks progresses as his work goes on.  
He has a fascination with monks at the beginning which steadily develops into a more assured knowledge. He listens to the Nunraw Cistercians singing "Keep us Lord as the Apple of your eye: Hide us in the shelter of your wings". I think by the end of the book Richard North may have realised that monks are favoured and protected by the Lord. And certainly his more recent series of articles in The Independent which are very fine show the favoured position of monks and also nuns — the latter are left out in the book.
The great lacuna in the book is that the author fails to deal with Christ. I think he fears to meet Christ in a way that he does not fear to meet monks, which is a pity because every monk he met would say that Christ was a kinder person than himself.
The result is that there is no examination of Christ's invitation to follow Him more closely. There is no examination of Christ's or St Paul's example of celibacy nor of their advice to accept the call if it can be managed. And this call was heeded by many of the early Christians. So monasticism, living alone for God, started long before Richard North takes up the story in Egypt. St Anthony, of course, like so many others took up the monastic calling at the Word of Christ, "If you would be perfect, go sell what you have, give to the poor and come follow Me".
After starting in Egypt the chapters of the book alternate history with travel to a presentday monastery illustrating the historical period being dealt with. , This results in the anachronism of attributing present-day Christians divisions to past ages.
There is no realisation of the undivided universal Christian church that existed for nearly a thousand years before Rome and Constantinople finally parted ways. Clement of Alexandria was in communion with the rest of the Church: he was not a Coptic non-conformist. St Basil was in communion with the universal Church as were the early monks of Athos. St Patrick and the Celtic monks too, though they wanted their Easter date, were in communion with the universal Church. Clement of Alexandria, St Basil and St Patrick, all were in communion with the Bishop of Rome. The divisions of today came later.
But the travel chapters are entertaining and give scope to the author's fine descriptive writing and to his acumen in perceiving at least the humanity of monks. His final chapters go further and deal perceptively with modern monastic problems. His appreciation of Vatican II is sound and his special chapter on Merton and Knowles is dis..._rning both in their influence and their personal limitations.
His final attempt to come to terms with "Prayer and Purpose" is sweet e and genuine. In all humility he admits that he feels that he does not pray (consciously?), nor believe in the existence of Him who might inspire him to do so; and so, several monks have told him that he would not understand monasticism and that he would have nothing useful to say on the subject. I think in fact he has said some useful things about both monasteries and monks.
He says for one thing that the Opus Dei (the work of God) means the business of praying, or fitting oneself for prayer.
Perhaps in all his travels and attendances at night vigils the author has been fitting himself for prayer. His two chapters on the Cistercians at Nunraw show that he has some kind friends.
His repetition of Pope John Paul's injunction to contemplatives that they should make themselves educate their guests and retreatants to the virtue of silence, and that monks should keep the rigorous observances of monastic enclosure, shows he was serious about his travels.
Monks often sing (it occurs twice in the Psalms) "The fool has said in his heart there is no God". I think Richard North has not said this in his own heart, and monks have the traditional title of being Fools for God because they dare to pray.
Br Jonathan Gell

----- Forwarded Message -----
 WILLIAM . . .
 Donald Nunraw
 Sunday, 28 August 2011, 11:31

 Re: [Blog] Br. Jonathan's review of "Fools for God"
Dear Father Donald,

Thank you for sending me the review of Richard North's book by Br. Jonathan Gell.

Very perceptive: for whilst the review is appreciative of the writer's delight in and familiarity, through experience and research, with the profession of monk, it is also a critique of the writer's failure to justify the profession, that is the monk's profession of faith.

At the law firm where I worked, I had a good understanding of the mind of the lawyer and his world, and much admiration of their profession, but I failed to enter into their fascination with the law. If I were to write about it, I don't suppose I would use much of its terminology.

To employ one of your tools: there are 95,136 words in Richard North's study of monasticism, yet only mentioning "Faith" 34 times, and "Belief" 7 times. The monk's religion is also seldom mentioned: in ascending order, "Jesus Christ" 8 times, "Jesus" 28 times, "Christ" 176 times; and finally, "God" 155 times.  

The review delights in Richard North's honesty and humility before the aura of the profession, and his "fear" to approach too near to the issue of faith. The words that give the overriding portrait of the writer of the book are those used to describe the last chapter of the book; "sweet and genuine". A delightful man!

Thank you for sharing this with me. It has been a real joy.

. . . in Our Lord,
 + + + +

From: Donald . . .
 William J . . .
 Saturday, 27 August 2011, 16:39

 Fw: [Blog] "Fools for God"
Dear William,
I am glad you have been browsing "Fools For God".
Further surfing,  the archive of The Catholic Herald has a Review, and I forward it to you.
The Reviewer is the loved  Br. Jonathan of Mount St Bernard (80+).
He writes quite incisively. Monasteries, monks and travel are fine, but he sees a significant lacuna regarding Christ. “The great lacuna in the book is that the author fails to deal with Christ.” 
I will be interested to see how you read it from this point of view.
Since then, copies of Fools For God have disappeared, leaving only 3, two at  £12.49, one at £30.43, both plus P&P. 
Yours . . .


For what is our cross other than Jesus himself? To accept this cross is to accept him.

SUNDAY 28th Aug. 2011

Taking Up Our Cross and Following Jesus 

When our hour has really arrived, God's grace will also be there, and very small things may suffice to help in our simple acceptance of and co-operation with grace.  What counts is the recognition of our real cross. Often it is much more difficult to recognise the cross Jesus intends for us personally than to accept it once we have recognised it. We are inclined to think, furthermore, that our crosses would not be so pain­ful if we could immediately see them. There lies the rub which usually disturbs those who have opted for a life of detachment. Their temptation consists in imagining that they already know beforehand what their cross or time of testing will be. Unfortunately, a cross one knows in advance, even if it is fairly heavy, is no longer the cross of Jesus. Our real cross is always to some degree unanticipated and always seems to far surpass our strength. As a rule, we would never have chosen it. Passionately to cling to a cross of our own choosing and perhaps unconsciously but equally pas­sionately to reject the cross that Jesus intends for us is perhaps the heaviest and most discouraging cross. It could keep us forever from taking up our real cross if Jesus did not at some time intervene.
For what is our cross other than Jesus himself? To accept this cross is to accept him. It is simultaneously "to take up our cross" and to follow him. Undoubtedly, if we could know God's gift, if we could see and recognise it, we would have an easier time of it.
FATHER ANDRE Louf. o.c.s.o. (+ 2010) served for thirty-five years as abbot of the Cistercian monastery of Mont-des-Cats. France, and was an esteemed spiritual guide and author.

Mt. 16:21-27 T wo sides to the Cross. On one side it is a cross of redemption and on the other side it is a cross of compassion

----- Forwarded Message ----
From: Raymond , , , Sun, 28 August, 2011 18:41:45

Matthew 16:21-27  "If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me (v 24)
Today’s Gospel opens with Jesus first moves to introduce the idea of his passion and his death to his disciples: “Jesus began to make it clear” it says “that he must suffer grievously and be put to death”. This statement so stunned the apostles that they didn’t even notice what he said about rising again on the third day. Peter, in his characteristic, impulsive way, drew him aside, and he began to remonstrate with him.  “Heaven preserve us!”  He said “this mustn’t happen to you”.  We can hardly blame poor Peter for his attitude and for his lack of understanding, but there is no such excuse for us. We have grown up with the whole truth of the mystery of Christ’s passion as our Christian inheritance.
However, although we are, in a way, familiar with the concept of the passion of Christ in God’s plan of redemption, still, there is a way in which we too fail to understand and we fail to accept the reality of the place of the passion and death of Christ in our own lives.  We can fail to realise that we ourselves are all the Body of Christ and we all must share in his passion and death.  Jesus brought this home to us very forcibly when he met the women on his way to Calvary as he was carrying his cross.  He said to them:  “Don’t weep for me.  Weep for yourselves and for your children.”
In effect, what Jesus meant by that statement:  “Don’t weep for me.  Weep for yourselves and for your children”, was that we should weep, not only For him, but also With him.  “This cross I am to be nailed to is not only my Cross, but it is also your cross.  The nails that are to pierce my hands and feet are not only to pierce my hands and feet but also to pierce the hands and feet of yourselves and the hands and feet of your children.  Indeed The Cross is yours before it is mine.  It was to share in yourcross that I came down from heaven.  There are two sides to the Cross.  On one side it is a cross of redemption and on the other side it is a cross of compassion and on both these sides of the cross I have my part to play and on both sides of the cross each one of you has also your own part to play. Compassion and Redemption are the defining characteristics of Christianity.

Saturday, 27 August 2011

Feast of St. Monica  Religious August 27

Mass Entrance Song
Honour the woman who fears the Lord. Her sons will bless her, and her husband praise her. (See Proverbs 31:21,28).
I left at the whole story in this Entrance Antiphon.
At second thought, St. Monica (Memorial), is unfairly overshadowed by Augustine.
At every count, Monica stands personally on the strength of her faith apart from husband and sons.
A comment about her character surpasses her son and her life independent of any other.
She was her ‘own woman’ – her woman of Christ.
 Monica became a leader of the devout women in Milan as she had been in Tagaste.
. . .