No one, not even the British Crown, can put on a show like the Catholic Church. A papal funeral or election or the World Youth Day here in Sydney becomes a global liturgy. Hostile press, complaining about costs and road closures, join the bandwagon and run headlines about the Pope working miracles with the weather and the euphoria of a city caught up in the youthful energy of God. The world stops and watches the ceremonies unfold (apparently) with religious perfection. More boats fill Sydney harbour for the pope than for the Australian centennial celebrations. The non-believer and cynics reluctantly feel moved by what they don’t believe in. Politicians declare that faith is real. It is a brave critic who voices dissent to such a populace. And there truly is grace at work in the numbers, hectic schedules and the over-stimulation of it all. Read more »
Many hearts must have sighed at the recent Tablet photo of the cardinal robed in his capa magna posing before a celebration the Tridentine rite, the long trail of scarlet silk like a beautiful serpent daimon out of Philip Pullman, held at the right distance by a devout altar boy. Similar looks of frozen solemnity appear in many similar sepia photos of the past, sacred tradition pressing down on weighty prelates, majestic memory enshrined in rituals and gorgeous vestments. They seem reminders of a real or imagined era when people knew where God wanted them to be in His hierarchy.
It is nice to know that ancient chants and fragrances of worship can be used again. The photo could also be read however as a very modern statement about the tradition of modernity. This is marked by a pluralism of styles (including nostalgia and restorationism). The modern church has learned to allow complementary rites to coexist simultaneously and non-competitively, Gregorian here, folk mass there, as different windows can be pulled up on a computer screen. Tradition has an odd way of updating itself. Read more »
The Pope's lecture was a mixed blessing for our annual Way of Peace event last weekend. “Prayer as Meeting” brought together Christians and Muslims to pray together and taste the riches of our contemplative traditions. As the meeting opened I was receiving emails from friends of the World Community anxious that the wildfire of rage would spoil the peace of our gathering. Perhaps it was the young people present or perhaps the older ones, in fact I think it was the prayer itself, but certainly while the bad news got worse, we seemed to grow closer, friendlier and to share at deeper levels of the spirit. Read more »
The river attracts both locals and visitors at the cool times of the day. But even in the leaden heat of noon you can find a villager washing himself or his compliant cow. The Cauvery is the sacred river of southern India. Like the northern Ganges it feeds, washes, refreshes and is an ever-present source of contemplation. It is vastly wide and majestic and at this time of the year largely dry.
Shantivanam, the Benedictine ashram that Fr Bede Griffiths made famous, where he welcomed pilgrims for forty years and where he died and is buried, rests on its banks. In the relaxed rhythms of the ashram that make the life of western monasteries seem driven, or in walking beside the river, time brakes, reality sharpens and, most surprisingly, what you desire begins to change. Read more »
In the new morning light the group of Aborigines was sitting still and silent, like meditators, in a circle on the dry river bed. Mick, the parish priest who was showing me the town slowed down and greeted them. His words and kind smile traveled slowly across the dust towards them; their response came back even more slowly through their alcoholic haze. Read more »
This is a comprehensive course intended to help you introduce meditation to beginners. All you need for this is available online here: including the updated edition of 'A Pearl of Great Price' by Laurence Freeman OSB and some audio files. This will make it easier for you to present this course with confidence. You will find additional materials to support this under 'Resources' - 'Materials' on the School of Meditation webpage.