Buckfast and St Benedict

English: Buckfast Abbey. Buckfast Abbey, Buckf...
Buckfast Abbey, Buckfast, Devon (Photo credit: Wikipedia
This weekend I will be at Buckfast Abbey in Devon for a Summer festival called Clear Voices, where the highlight for me is to hear Fr. Ron Rolheiser give three seminars on the theme "Searching For the Tone and Cadence of The Voice of The Good Shepherd."

Details of the full line up of 48 speakers and information on their talks is here.

The Abbey at Buckfast is home to Benedictine monks and as tomorrow is the feast of St Benedict I feel it is also a graced time to be visiting.

Image source 

Please have a look at this link to the delightful homepage of Buckfast Abbey.

You may be surprised to see the "hive of activity" that goes on there.

The Rule of St Benedict is essentially a simple and practical guide for daily living: a balance between physical work, intellectual study and corporate prayer.

Balance is what so many of us strive for these days and Benedict has much to teach me !!

Benedict is regarded as the founder of Western monasticism and he is the patron saint of Europe. 

Image source

English: Buckfast Abbey near the village of Bu...
Buckfast Abbey near the village of Buckfastleigh, South Devon / England (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I especially like the fact that the name of the abbey means a place where deer can feel safe !!

More on St Benedict from here.

This video gives you a glimpse of some of the beauty of the Abbey and its surrounds along with some moving chants from the monks.

and below are more detailed videos which give a better idea of the monastic daily life at Buckfast. Each video is about 8 mins duration.

Part 1

Part 2

This coming Sunday's gospel here contains the summons Jesus gave his disciples when embarking on a journey of mission.

"He instructed them to take nothing for the journey but a walking stick--
  no food, no sack, no money in their belts.
  They were, however, to wear sandals but not a second tunic."

No matter how many times I try to read the gospels in a non-literal way, invariably I am pulled up short by some of them and this one is one of those stopping points.
I'm thinking no toothbrush or hairbrush.

 I'm going by car to Buckfast and I have to pack several "tunics"for all seasons as the summer here is non-existent and this last week has been displaying the polymorphic perversity of autumn and winter in a matter of hours. 

Plus three days wearing just one item of attire would hardly be conducive to making new friends and most certainly losing existing ones.

I have to bring money for petrol, accommodation and to eat and maybe buy a few books from the bookshop at Buckfast Abbey. 

Surely no-one can visit Buckfast Abbey without buying a book ?

Anyone who knows me well, knows of my inability to "travel lite" and that any admonition to only bring "one tunic" is impossible for this wayward itinerant.

 Not doing so good eh ?

This lovely poem by Margaret Atwood is a delightful modern flipside to Sunday's gospel story. 

It  describes the perils associated with being unprepared for a journey and also pertinently and amusingly hints at how futile and ineffective our efforts to control events by advance preparation sometimes are.


What should we have taken with us ?
We never could decide on that; or what to wear,
or at what time of year we should make the journey
so here we are in thin raincoats
and rubber boots
on the disastrous ice, the wind rising
nothing in our pockets
but a pencil stub,two oranges
four Toronto streetcar tickets
and an elastic band holding a bundle
of small white filing cards
printed with important facts.

Maybe wearing sandals is the only thing from this gospel I can literally fulfil !

But although times have changed in many material ways, there are enduring and timeless messages in this gospel.

St Benedict's own prayer below allows me to be aware of the more important "provisions" I need to pack with me on all whatever journeys I make through this life. 

The prayer asks for some very specific gifts from God and many are desirable to navigate and make sense of life and our purpose in it.
Maybe all I can say is that I go to Buckfast with the same desires and needs as Benedict's wonderful prayer.

I will also be taking my laptop so maybe I will post a few missives at the end of each day.  If not, then it will be when I come home.

                                                                St Benedict by Fra Angelico

A Prayer of St Benedict (480-547)

Gracious and holy Father,
please give me:
intellect to understand you;
reason to discern you;
diligence to seek you;
wisdom to find you;
a spirit to know you;
a heart to meditate upon you;
ears to hear you;
eyes to see you;
a tongue to proclaim you;
a way of life pleasing to you;
patience to wait for you;
and perseverance to look for you.

Grant me:
a perfect end,
your holy presence.
A blessed resurrection,
And life everlasting.

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