For if that which is done away was glorious, much more that which remaineth is glorious

Wednesday, 31 January 2018

The Irish option

Some of the reviewers of Dreher's Benedict option idea have suggested that it is actually early Irish monasticism that presents us with a practical outworking of his ideas, rather than the Benedictines. In some of these communities in Ireland there were monks and nuns, along with those who were married, in a common cenobitic life. There was often a threefold purpose: firstly worship, then scholarly pursuit including teaching of the young, and missionary activity.

I'm prompted to write this on hearing news of a community in formation who have the following blog, and who are drawing on this tradition:

It looks like the sort of thing I would aspire to - a loosely based community of prayer, working out a rough and ready Benedictine rule adapted to suit its own circumstances.

Columbanus was a monk of a then-thriving abbey in my native Bangor in Ireland, an austere man who wore himself out in missionary work in what is now Northern France, Switzerland and who died in Northern Italy. I once made a pilgrimage of sorts to Bobbio where he ended his life - one can reach it by a long bus journey from Piacenza, up a winding valley where the rocky Trebbia runs down to the Po. I tried to get to see the famous Antiphonarium Benchorensis (Antiphonary of Bangor in Latin - a clue as to my blog's web name) at the Ambrosian Library in Milan, but they more or less laughed at me. It's never on public display.

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