Thursday, 22 May 2014

Odd goings-on at the monastery

Here's some vocabulary that may not be familiar to you.
  • 'the blessed sacrament'  - the consecrated elements of the Eucharist, particularly the bread or Host
  • 'tabernacle' - A case or box on a church altar containing the consecrated Host and wine of the Eucharist
  • 'monstrance' - (in the Roman Catholic Church) an open or transparent receptacle in which the consecrated Host is displayed for veneration. 
Strange things can happen when you spend six days in silence. By the third day of my retreat at St. Bueno's I had become used to the evening period of meditation in the chapel. Everyone sat in silent prayer. A consecrated wafer was displayed. Having overcome my Protestant objections I came to rather appreciate this symbol of the incarnation. In Christ God became as physically present in our world as this wafer. Forget the wafer; think of Jesus. Recognise his living presence. 

Later I spent time in another chapel where 'the exposition of the blessed sacrament' was continuous: Christ as the centre and fulfilment of all creation. I just happened to read from Matthew 12, about Jesus as Lord of the Sabbath, in which Jesus says, "Have you not read what David did when he was hungry, and those who were with him: how he entered the house of God and ate the bread of the Presence, which it was not lawful for him to eat, not for those with him, but only for the priests?"

Jesus:    "You know, if you were hungry it would be ok for you to eat that wafer."
Me:       "You must be joking, Lord. They'd throw me out of this place."
Jesus:    "Come on, Steve. You're getting too religious. I'm bigger than your religion. I'm at the centre of everything."

One evening, after a day of heavy showers and dark clouds, the sun suddenly broke through and, quite spontaneously, about 6 of us came outside and watched the sun set over the valley and the North Wales coast. We could not talk, but it was a beautiful shared experience. 

Sunset at St Bueno's

The silent bell brought us out of our rooms:
The dark chimney stacks shadowed on an emerald lawn
Like bars of a toddler's xylophone.
Processing up the central aisle of the terraced ground
We exchange the Peace
And stood before the tabernacled host
Descending from the clouds
To be displayed
Before the whole land. 

Gerard Manley Hopkins wrote his best poems at St Bueno's, seeing the world 'charged with the grandeur of God'. 

1 comment:

  1. Steve, great to be able to follow your progress. We will be praying for your Protestant soul!! :-D