Daily Message


January's Daily Message

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1 January 2022The Rectors "Daily reflections" are taking a well-earned break!
2 January 2022The Rectors "Daily reflections" are taking a well-earned break!
3 January 2022The Rectors "Daily reflections" are taking a well-earned break!
4 January 2022Rector's Daily Reflections Tuesday 4th January 2021

Thought for Today

They’re back! I do hope you had a pleasant Christmas. I thought I would start my reflections for the New Year with some thoughts on Paul’s 1st Letter to the Thessalonians.

Why have I chosen this book of the bible? In part, because it’s a short letter, full of practical advice and helpful summaries of the Christian faith. The overall tone is gentle and optimistic, and much of its contents are of perennial relevance. The letter itself also happens to be the earliest book in the New Testament : it was written by Paul to Christians in the city of Thessalonica, in or about 51 AD. In other words, it was written about 20 years after Jesus’ Resurrection, and gives a valuable insight into what early Christians believed.

It was Paul’s custom to start his letters with thanksgiving. So what does Paul give thanks for when he is writing to the Thessalonians? Let me quote verse 2 of chapter 1 : “We always give thanks to God for all of you and mention you in our prayers, constantly remembering before our God and Father your work of faith and labour of love and steadfastness of hope in Jesus Christ”. In other words, Paul gives thanks that the Thessalonian Christians are full of faith, love and hope. You may recall that Paul refers to this triad in one his letters to Christians in another Greek city, Corinth: “now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love” (1 Corinthians 13, verse 13).

For Paul, these three virtues could be considered the essence of our human response to the preaching of the gospel. What is the gospel? It is the good news of the love of God in Jesus Christ, made freely available to us all. When we hear the gospel, we should feel called to respond with faith, hope and love. I wonder if any of these three words would describe our own response to the gospel? Perhaps we struggle with faith, and find it hard to trust God. Perhaps we are anxious and fearful about the future, and find it hard to have a sense of hope. Or perhaps we are too hurt, or too tired, to love.

I think one of the joys of being a Christian is that there is always room to grow: room to learn more about the love of God , and to understand more fully what it might mean for us to faithful followers of Jesus, in the unique circumstances of our own particular lives. How are we being called to grow today?
[no separate prayer today]
5 January 2022Rectors Reflections
Wednesday 5th January 2021

Thought for Today

This week I am sharing some reflections based on Pauls First Letter to the Thessalonians. Yesterday we looked at how Paul gave thanks for the faith, hope and love which he found among the Thessalonian Christians. Today, I wish to share some reflections not on what Paul saw in the Thessalonians, but on what the Thessalonians saw in Paul and his companions.

Have you ever found yourself in a situation where there seems to be fundamental disconnect between what someone is telling you to do, and how that person is actually living their lives? They are telling you to do one thing, but they themselves are doing the complete opposite! In such a situation, it is hard to take their message seriously- even if their message is a good one.

So much depends on how we assess someones character. If we think someone is a good person, who has our interests at heart, we are likely to overlook their failings and to listen to them even if we dont like them. But if we think someone is basically selfish and only interested in furthering their own agenda, were unlikely to pay much attention to them . Such a person can wield power over an institution or a community for a short while, buying loyalty through the exercise of patronage and creating a culture of fear. But their reign , and their achievements, will be short-lived, and they will be soon forgotten.

Now Paul was someone of strong opinions, and not everyone liked him. But like him or not, it would be hard to deny that he was a person of sincerity and integrity. He was someone who was completely committed to seeking the well-being of others. And so, in verse 5 of the 1st chapter of his First letter to the Thessalonians, Paul could write as follows: you know what kind of persons we proved to be among you for your sake. Paul had spent time among the Thessalonians, and they could vouch for the fact that he was a man of integrity, genuinely committed to their well-being.

I wonder: if we were to ask our friends or family what kind of person we were, what answer would they give? And in our heart of hearts, what kind of person would we wish to be? Might there be some changes we could make that would help us to become more like the kind of person we would want to be?

[no separate prayer today]
6 January 2022Rectors Daily Reflections
Thursday 6th January 2022

Thought for Today

This week were looking at Pauls First Letter to the Thessalonians. Todays reflections are based on some of Pauls words at the end of Chapter 1, where he describes what it has meant for the Thessalonians to have put aside their former beliefs. Paul writes that the Thessalonians have turned to God from idols, to serve a living and true God. Why does Paul write these words?

We tend to live a world where it is hard to talk about religious beliefs in terms of right and wrong. I think most of us would refrain from saying that someone who belonged to another religion worshipped a false God. This might be because we value religious tolerance, and tolerance is -usually- a good thing. It might be because we believe that when it comes down to it, all religions actually worship the same God , and what different religions have in common is far more important than any beliefs and practices which might be unique to any particular faith. It might also be that we have adopted a relativistic attitude to truth, feeling that truth is basically a matter of opinion, and theres no such thing as objective truth, especially in matters relating to religion and philosophy.

So in todays culture, it is rare that we would describe someone from another religion as worshipping a false God, in other words , that they were worshipping an idol. Pauls culture was very different. Paul was a faithful Jew, steeped in what we would call the Old Testament. The Old Testament tells how the Jewish people had come to realise that there was only one true God, and that any other God was merely an idol. So Paul congratulates the Thessalonians that they had turned to God for idols, to serve a living and true God.It is easy to think that Pauls reference to idols is of no relevance to us today. But can we dismiss it so easily? Our society is full of idol worship : we bow down before the idols of money or sex or status, to name just a few. It is so hard for us to give up on our idol worship, even if we have become committed Christians. The business of turning from idols to God is the work of a lifetime, for us as individuals and as church communities.

I wonder if there is an idol which exercises a particular attraction for us in our own lives? How might we need to do to turn from serving that idol to serving the living and true God?

[no separate prayer today]
7 January 2022Rectors Reflections
Friday 7th January 2021

Thought for Today

I always think that there is a lot to be said for trying to live a balanced life setting aside time for work, time for exercise, time for rest, time for friends and family, time for God, and so on. Of course there will always be those times when the needs of the moment mean that one particular aspect of our lives tends to crowd out everything else- perhaps a family emergency, or a particularly demanding time at work. But I think the ideal is that we give due emphasis to the different aspects of our existence, so that we try to live a balanced life.

I would also support this idea of balance when it comes to religious belief and practice. For example, as human beings, we engage with the passing of time in three ways: there is our memory of time past; there is our experience of time in the present; and there is our engagement with the future- the time that is yet to be. I think a balanced religion needs to allow us to engage with all three aspects of time- the past, the present and the future. This is easier said than done! We often find the past difficult, because it brings back memories of hurt and failure. And we often find dealing with the future difficult too, either because we happen to have a pessimistic nature, or because were worried about all the bad things which could happen to ourselves and or our world.

I think the strength of the Christian faith is that it engages with all 3 aspects of our existence. The concept of forgiveness helps us to live with our past; and the sense of Gods love and care helps us to cope with the present. And what about dealing with our worries about the future? Traditionally, Christians have been encouraged to see the future in terms of a real and transforming encounter with Jesus Christ. And so Paul, when writing to the Thessalonians, encourages them to wait for [Gods] Son from heaven whom he raised from the dead. At some unspecified point in the future, Gods Son will come and rescue us. In the meantime, we are try our best to lead lives of love and care for others, knowing that the future can be left safely in Gods hands.

I wonder what you think of this traditional teaching? It has brought reassurance to many Christians down the ages, but some would dismiss it as no more than a piece of wishful thinking. Is Jesus really coming back to us at some point in the future? What do you think?

[no separate prayer today]
8 January 2022Rectors Reflections
Friday 7th January 2021

Thought for Today

I always think that there is a lot to be said for trying to live a balanced life setting aside time for work, time for exercise, time for rest, time for friends and family, time for God, and so on. Of course there will always be those times when the needs of the moment mean that one particular aspect of our lives tends to crowd out everything else- perhaps a family emergency, or a particularly demanding time at work. But I think the ideal is that we give due emphasis to the different aspects of our existence, so that we try to live a balanced life.

I would also support this idea of balance when it comes to religious belief and practice. For example, as human beings, we engage with the passing of time in three ways: there is our memory of time past; there is our experience of time in the present; and there is our engagement with the future- the time that is yet to be. I think a balanced religion needs to allow us to engage with all three aspects of time- the past, the present and the future. This is easier said than done! We often find the past difficult, because it brings back memories of hurt and failure. And we often find dealing with the future difficult too, either because we happen to have a pessimistic nature, or because were worried about all the bad things which could happen to ourselves and or our world.

I think the strength of the Christian faith is that it engages with all 3 aspects of our existence. The concept of forgiveness helps us to live with our past; and the sense of Gods love and care helps us to cope with the present. And what about dealing with our worries about the future? Traditionally, Christians have been encouraged to see the future in terms of a real and transforming encounter with Jesus Christ. And so Paul, when writing to the Thessalonians, encourages them to wait for [Gods] Son from heaven whom he raised from the dead. At some unspecified point in the future, Gods Son will come and rescue us. In the meantime, we are try our best to lead lives of love and care for others, knowing that the future can be left safely in Gods hands.

I wonder what you think of this traditional teaching? It has brought reassurance to many Christians down the ages, but some would dismiss it as no more than a piece of wishful thinking. Is Jesus really coming back to us at some point in the future? What do you think?

[no separate prayer today]
9 January 2022Rectors Reflections
Friday 7th January 2021

Thought for Today

I always think that there is a lot to be said for trying to live a balanced life setting aside time for work, time for exercise, time for rest, time for friends and family, time for God, and so on. Of course there will always be those times when the needs of the moment mean that one particular aspect of our lives tends to crowd out everything else- perhaps a family emergency, or a particularly demanding time at work. But I think the ideal is that we give due emphasis to the different aspects of our existence, so that we try to live a balanced life.

I would also support this idea of balance when it comes to religious belief and practice. For example, as human beings, we engage with the passing of time in three ways: there is our memory of time past; there is our experience of time in the present; and there is our engagement with the future- the time that is yet to be. I think a balanced religion needs to allow us to engage with all three aspects of time- the past, the present and the future. This is easier said than done! We often find the past difficult, because it brings back memories of hurt and failure. And we often find dealing with the future difficult too, either because we happen to have a pessimistic nature, or because were worried about all the bad things which could happen to ourselves and or our world.

I think the strength of the Christian faith is that it engages with all 3 aspects of our existence. The concept of forgiveness helps us to live with our past; and the sense of Gods love and care helps us to cope with the present. And what about dealing with our worries about the future? Traditionally, Christians have been encouraged to see the future in terms of a real and transforming encounter with Jesus Christ. And so Paul, when writing to the Thessalonians, encourages them to wait for [Gods] Son from heaven whom he raised from the dead. At some unspecified point in the future, Gods Son will come and rescue us. In the meantime, we are try our best to lead lives of love and care for others, knowing that the future can be left safely in Gods hands.

I wonder what you think of this traditional teaching? It has brought reassurance to many Christians down the ages, but some would dismiss it as no more than a piece of wishful thinking. Is Jesus really coming back to us at some point in the future? What do you think?

[no separate prayer today]
10 January 2022Rectors Daily Reflections
Monday 10th January 2021

Thought for Today

Last week I shared some reflections on Pauls First Letter to the Thessalonians. This week, Im going to look at something quite different.

I thought it might be helpful to share some thoughts on how we might use the weeks and months that lie ahead to grow in our relationship with God. This is a huge topic, so I thought I would focus on sharing some of the insights from the Benedictine tradition. The Benedictine tradition has meant a lot to me in my own spiritual life, and I think it has much to teach us.

What do I mean by the Benedictine tradition? This is shorthand for the wisdom and experience of countless thousands of men and women who have tried to follow the teachings of St Benedict of Nursia, an Italian saint who lived back in 6th Century. Benedict wrote a guide to Christian living, called The Rule of St Benedict, and this document has inspired men and women to form monasteries based on its provisions; these monasteries are often called Benedictine monasteries, because they derive their inspiration from the teaching of St Benedict. But you dont have to be a monk or a nun to follow Benedicts teaching his teaching is for everyone. Nowadays, most Benedictine monasteries tend to be Roman Catholic, but you dont have to be a Roman Catholic to be a Benedictine. Benedictines have a tradition of welcoming everyone! There are Benedictine monasteries all over the world, and we are fortunate to have one nearby, called Douai Abbey, which is located near Thatcham.

I should add that there are many people, both Catholic and Protestant, who form a spiritual relationship with a particular Benedictine monastery. This is called becoming an Oblate. An Oblate tries to live out the principles of the Benedictine rule in the circumstances of their own life, visiting their monastery from time to time, perhaps for a period of retreat or for some spiritual guidance. Or simply to say hello to the monks or the nuns!

All this is by way of background. Tomorrow, I will begin to look at some of the particular insights from the Benedictine tradition, which we might find useful as we seek to grow deeper in our relationship with God during the weeks and months ahead.

[no separate prayer today]
11 January 2022Rectors Daily Reflections Tuesday 11th January 2021
Thought for Today
This week Im sharing some reflections about how Benedictine Spirituality might help us grow deeper in our relationship with God. There are many strands to Benedictine Spirituality, and it is hard to know where to begin, but the Benedictine concept of community is as good a place to start as any.
Community lies at the heart of Benedictine Spirituality. Benedict was convinced that Christianity is a call to community living : we are to live our lives in ways which recognise our responsibilities to other human beings. This means that our freedoms as individuals are necessarily limited by our responsibilities to one another. We cant spend our money and our time as if other people did nt exist : we need to think about the needs of others.
What community life means in practice will depend on the circumstances. If we choose to live as part of a monastery, it will probably mean that resources of time and money are pooled for the good of the community as a whole. This idea probably sounds pretty scary, but in fact it is just a reflection of what often happens in normal family life, where it is usual for family members to use their resources to help each other out.
But the emphasis on community life is nt just about sharing resources. Its also about giving support and encouragement to one another, and being prepared to accept the support and encouragement which someone else might be offering. Often its harder to accept support than to give it, especially if we are in a position or power or responsibility.
For Christian community to flourish, we need to be prepared to listen to each other, to serve each other, and to forgive each other. Benedict knew this is not an easy task . I think in todays society, building Christian community is harder than ever : we like to think in terms of the rights we have as individuals, rather than our responsibilities towards others.
Benedict was well aware that Christian communities are not perfect, and sometimes they can go seriously wrong. But he still insists that if we are to flourish as individual Christians, we usually do so as members of flourishing Christian communities. I wonder what you and I are doing to promote the flourishing of our own Christian communities ?
[no separate prayer today]
12 January 2022Rectors Daily Reflections Wednesday 12th January 2022
Thought for Today
Yesterday, we looked at the importance of Community in Benedictine Spirituality. Benedict was convinced that it is usually the case that we can only flourish as Christians if we are part of flourishing Christian communities and that it is our responsibility to do what we can to ensure that the communities of which we are part do indeed flourish. This is, above all, about caring for each other and about forgiving one another for our many failings.
But Benedictines are aware that communities can become inward looking and stuck in their ways. So Benedictines balance the value of community with another value : that of hospitality. Benedict would encourage us to welcome guests and strangers into our midst. Indeed, Benedict suggests that we should receive a guest as if we were receiving Jesus Christ himself. By welcoming visitors, Benedictine communities ensure that they are always open to the wider world, for every visitor comes with their own views and experiences.
What does this mean hospitality mean in practice? Traditionally, Benedictine monasteries have practiced hospitality in a very literal sense : people come to visit and perhaps to stay , for a few hours may be, or for a few days. People in need can always knock on a monastery door and they should expect to receive some food and perhaps a bed for the night. Such radical hospitality is a wonderful way of demonstrating love for our neighbour, but it is not without its challenges. Monasteries are aware that it can be abused, and monasteries usually appoint an experienced monk or nun as a Guest Master, who manages the monasterys practice of hospitality with a mix of love and practical wisdom. In case you wonder, there is typically no charge for monastic hospitality, but recipients are invited to make a contribution towards the cost, if they are able to do so. This might seem rather nave from a business point of view, but I think most monasteries would normally cover their costs, the wealthier visitors subsidizing the poorer ones.
Not every Christian is in a position to offer such hospitality ; and there might well be circumstances where it not be wise to do so. But I think there is much to be said for adopting at least a spirit of hospitality towards others , especially towards the stranger. Its about valuing other people, and being open to the new ideas and fresh perspectives which they bring.
[no separate prayer today]
13 January 2022Rectors Daily Reflections Thursday 13th January 2022
Thought for Today
This week Ive been sharing some reflections on Benedictine Spirituality. So far, weve looked at two values which lie at the heart of the Benedictine life : community and hospitality.
Todays value is a value which lies behind both community and hospitality: it is the value of humility. Both community and hospitality are all about valuing other people, and being open to what they can contribute to our own well-being. If we think we are perfect and always right, were going to find community life difficult. If we know all the answers anyway, why should we bother listening to anyone else? If we are always right, why should we apologise if we upset someone else? If we are completely confident in our own strength and resources, why should we need anyone else?
This is why Benedictine spirituality places an emphasis on personal humility, because without personal humility, were not going to be able to build or maintain Christian community or exercise a true ministry of hospitality.
Now Benedictine humility is nt about being a doormat, or abandoning a due sense of our own achievements and self-worth. Benedictine humility is all about honesty. Its about the courage to look at ourselves as we truly are, and to be honest with one another about our strengths and our weaknesses. Its about the courage to be honest about our mistakes and failures, while also having the confidence to be honest about our gifts and successes, too, when these are relevant to the matter in hand. Theres nothing humble about false modesty.
In a nutshell, Benedictine humility is about a willingness to learn, especially from others. In the Rule, Benedict describes a monastery as a school , where we can learn to serve the Lord better. Everyone in the monastery has something to learn, even those monks or nuns with a reputation for great holiness and wisdom.
I wonder if we have the humility to continue learning about our Christian faith? I wonder where we might feel we need to learn more? I wonder how we might go about this?
[no separate prayer today]

14 January 2022Rectors Reflections Friday 14th January 2022
Thought for Today
This week weve been looking at some of the themes in Benedictine Spirituality: community; hospitality ; and humility. Today, were going to look a further theme in Benedictine Spirituality, which links these themes together.
The theme which links these together is corporate worship. Corporate worship means coming together as a community in order to worship God as a body of Christians. Coming together as a community to worship God is a key feature of the Benedictine life. Before the reforms of the 1960s, it would be common for monks or nuns to come together to worship God on as many as 7 occasions during the day, and once in the middle of the night. Since the 1960s, the number of these services has been reduced, and the services themselves have become simpler in form, but a Benedictine community will still usually meet together in worship at least 3 or 4 times a day.
Why is this corporate worship so important in Benedictine Spirituality? In part, it is because it both expresses and forms community life. But it is also about hospitality. Why hospitality? Because in the Benedictine tradition, worship is centred on listening to Gods word to us through the Bible. Benedictine worship is about being hospitable to Gods word, welcoming it into our hearts, our minds and our lives. Its also about humility. It takes humility to spend time listening to God. We like to set our own agenda when it comes to how we spend our time. If it were up to us, many of us would probably take the view that spending so much time together in prayer and worship was a luxury , or even a waste of time. How can we justify lots of time in worship and prayer when were so busy, and there are only 12 hours in a day! If we have to worship, lets limit it to 15 minutes and then get on with the important business of the day! To which a Benedictine might reply : But coming together to worship God is the important business of the day!.
Coming together to worship God is, of course, much easier if you are living together as a part of a monastery. But its something we can all do, regardless of our circumstances. We can pray together as a family (easier said than done!), or we can consciously remember others when we offer up our prayers when we are on our own. Perhaps we could start our prayers by remembering all our loved ones, and asking Gods blessing upon them.
[no separate prayer today]
15 January 2022Rectors Reflections Friday 14th January 2022
Thought for Today
This week weve been looking at some of the themes in Benedictine Spirituality: community; hospitality ; and humility. Today, were going to look a further theme in Benedictine Spirituality, which links these themes together.
The theme which links these together is corporate worship. Corporate worship means coming together as a community in order to worship God as a body of Christians. Coming together as a community to worship God is a key feature of the Benedictine life. Before the reforms of the 1960s, it would be common for monks or nuns to come together to worship God on as many as 7 occasions during the day, and once in the middle of the night. Since the 1960s, the number of these services has been reduced, and the services themselves have become simpler in form, but a Benedictine community will still usually meet together in worship at least 3 or 4 times a day.
Why is this corporate worship so important in Benedictine Spirituality? In part, it is because it both expresses and forms community life. But it is also about hospitality. Why hospitality? Because in the Benedictine tradition, worship is centred on listening to Gods word to us through the Bible. Benedictine worship is about being hospitable to Gods word, welcoming it into our hearts, our minds and our lives. Its also about humility. It takes humility to spend time listening to God. We like to set our own agenda when it comes to how we spend our time. If it were up to us, many of us would probably take the view that spending so much time together in prayer and worship was a luxury , or even a waste of time. How can we justify lots of time in worship and prayer when were so busy, and there are only 12 hours in a day! If we have to worship, lets limit it to 15 minutes and then get on with the important business of the day! To which a Benedictine might reply : But coming together to worship God is the important business of the day!.
Coming together to worship God is, of course, much easier if you are living together as a part of a monastery. But its something we can all do, regardless of our circumstances. We can pray together as a family (easier said than done!), or we can consciously remember others when we offer up our prayers when we are on our own. Perhaps we could start our prayers by remembering all our loved ones, and asking Gods blessing upon them.
[no separate prayer today]
16 January 2022Rectors Reflections Friday 14th January 2022
Thought for Today
This week weve been looking at some of the themes in Benedictine Spirituality: community; hospitality ; and humility. Today, were going to look a further theme in Benedictine Spirituality, which links these themes together.
The theme which links these together is corporate worship. Corporate worship means coming together as a community in order to worship God as a body of Christians. Coming together as a community to worship God is a key feature of the Benedictine life. Before the reforms of the 1960s, it would be common for monks or nuns to come together to worship God on as many as 7 occasions during the day, and once in the middle of the night. Since the 1960s, the number of these services has been reduced, and the services themselves have become simpler in form, but a Benedictine community will still usually meet together in worship at least 3 or 4 times a day.
Why is this corporate worship so important in Benedictine Spirituality? In part, it is because it both expresses and forms community life. But it is also about hospitality. Why hospitality? Because in the Benedictine tradition, worship is centred on listening to Gods word to us through the Bible. Benedictine worship is about being hospitable to Gods word, welcoming it into our hearts, our minds and our lives. Its also about humility. It takes humility to spend time listening to God. We like to set our own agenda when it comes to how we spend our time. If it were up to us, many of us would probably take the view that spending so much time together in prayer and worship was a luxury , or even a waste of time. How can we justify lots of time in worship and prayer when were so busy, and there are only 12 hours in a day! If we have to worship, lets limit it to 15 minutes and then get on with the important business of the day! To which a Benedictine might reply : But coming together to worship God is the important business of the day!.
Coming together to worship God is, of course, much easier if you are living together as a part of a monastery. But its something we can all do, regardless of our circumstances. We can pray together as a family (easier said than done!), or we can consciously remember others when we offer up our prayers when we are on our own. Perhaps we could start our prayers by remembering all our loved ones, and asking Gods blessing upon them.
[no separate prayer today]
17 January 2022Rectors Daily Reflections Monday 17th January 2022
Thought for Today
Last week I shared some reflections on aspects of Benedictine Spirituality. We looked at the importance of community in Benedictine life, and the associated virtues of hospitality and humility. We also looked at the important role of corporate worship. This week, I thought I would add some further reflections on Benedictine Spirituality , and today Im going to write about a difficult and potentially controversial aspect of the Benedictine life.
The topic Im going to write about is monastic obedience. Basically, Benedictines take the view that communities wont function unless there is one person in charge. In a monastery, this person is usually called the abbot, and in a nunnery, they are usually called the abbess. Members of the community are expected to do what the abbot or abbess tells them to do. The abbot or abbess will seek advice from others, and will in practice operate a sort of senior leadership team, but at the end of the day, if the abbot or abbess says jump, you jump! What if you disagree with what you are told to do? Tough. What if you think that what you are being told to do is profoundly counter-productive, perhaps even unwise? Tough. The abbot or abbess has the last word, and if you dont like it, you need to leave the community.
This model of leadership is a demanding one. It puts a heavy weight of responsibility on to the shoulders of the abbot or abbess: they are responsible, under God, for the material and spiritual well-being of the whole community, and they cannot blame anyone else if things go wrong. It requires each member of the community to surrender their own self-will and independence of judgment, and learn to trust and obey the abbot or abbess. Furthermore, the abbot or abbess needs to learn to exercise their authority without becoming tyrants; and the members of the community need to learn what it means to live out obedience without sacrificing their personal integrity.
The Benedictine model of leadership is not without its problems or its critics, but in general it has proved an effective way to manage Christian communities. It depends on every member of the community promising to obey the abbot or abbess, and taking this promise of obedience very seriously indeed.
Do you think it is a good model of leadership? Or is it too autocratic?
[no separate prayers this week]
18 January 2022Rectors Daily Reflections Tuesday 18th January 2022
Thought for Today
As I have been exploring some of the features of Benedictine spirituality, I wonder whether you have been thinking to yourself : how does it all fit together? Yes, theres community, and hospitality, and humility; and theres corporate worship, and obedience to the abbot or abbess. But how does it all come together? What happens if there is a tension or conflict between the different Benedictine values? Does one particular value outrank all the others?
The answer to these questions lies in the Benedictine principle of balance. In short, a Benedictine life is a balanced life. The aim is to recognise all the legitimate claims on our lives, so there is some time in the day spent on prayer and worship, some time spent on our own well-being and some time spent caring for others. A Benedictine life tries to balance all the different values of Benedictine spirituality, as they are all of equal importance.
Another way of looking at this is to say that Benedictines have embraced the spirituality of compromise. The Benedictine ideal of a balanced life is a way of coping with the fact that all of us face multiple demands on our time and our energy. We simply cant do everything that we feel we should do. So Benedictines take the view that we should be realistic, and gentle on ourselves. We should nt try to do the impossible : if we try to do so , we will burn ourselves out, and get nowhere. Well also probably be very difficult to live with! Much better to take a gentler approach to life, allocating time to doing a bit of this and a bit of that.
You might well say to yourself that this is a rather boring, almost middle-aged, approach to the spiritual life. Wheres the heroism? Wheres the adventure? Is nt it all a bit too quiet, a bit too sensible? Well, the answer to this will probably depend quite a bit on our own personality, and on our own stage in life. It also depends on whether we feel we need to prove ourselves, whether to others, to our selves, or to God. The Benedictine life is basically a life for people who no longer feel the need to prove or justify themselves to others. Benedictines are well aware of their own failings, but nonetheless try to live meaningful lives in community with others. To an outsider, the Benedictine life is probably a bit boring; but a Benedictine might reply that theyre not too bothered about that. Life is nt about excitement, its about fulfilment; and fulfilment is about a real relationship with God.
19 January 2022Rectors Daily Reflections Wednesday 19th January 2022
Thought for Today
Yesterday, I shared some reflections about how Benedictine Spirituality values the importance of living a balanced life, in which we allocate time for the different activities which make us fully human. A Benedictine life tries to ensure that we have time for God, time for each other, and time for ourselves.
When it comes to time for ourselves, Benedictines would expect that we spend some of the day working, which may or may not be paid work. For Benedictines, idleness is not good for the soul. God has given us gifts and opportunities, and we should put our gifts to good use. What this means in practice will vary enormously, reflecting the wide variety of our gifts and the different contexts in which we live, and also our own state of health.
For Benedictines, the work we do is an important part of who we are, and it is one of the ways in which we live out our Christian faith. So for the Benedictine, work is a spiritual matter. Indeed, theres a Benedictine phrase : to work is to pray. So whatever the nature of the work in question, it should be seen as an offering of our time and skills to God.
I think the Benedictine spirituality of work has much to teach our own society. To start with, Benedictines emphasise that our work is a spiritual matter : it is an opportunity to develop as a human being, and to grow in our relationship with God. We tend to focus on other issues- such as whether our work is adequately remunerated or valued by others, and whether were on a clear career path. Benedictines would tell us that such questions are secondary; the primary question is a spiritual one how is our work expressing our relationship with God? Can our work be regarded as a form of prayer?
But while Benedictines recognise the importance of work, they do not suggest that it is the only thing that matters. Here we are brought back to the importance of balance : yes, time for work; but we need to ensure that we also have time for others, and time for God. This emphasis on living a balanced life means that work is kept within its place. This is important, because there is so much pressure in the modern world to make work, especially paid work, the be all and end all of everything.
I wonder if we are in danger of overvaluing the work we do? Or are we, perhaps, at greater risk of undervaluing it?
20 January 2022Rectors Daily Reflections Thursday 20th January 2022

Thought for Today

Today, I am continuing some reflections on the Benedictine approach to work. We have seen that Benedictine spirituality recognises and affirms the spiritual importance of the work we do, whether that work is paid or unpaid, but at the same time it reminds us that the work we do is only a part of who we are. Yes, work is important, but we must nt make it the be all and end all of our lives.

Benedictines have developed a handy way of ensuring that we dont become overly focussed on the particular job we happen to be doing at a particular moment in our lives. In a typical monastery, most monks or nuns will do a variety of different jobs over the years, as directed by the abbot or abbess. A wise abbot or abbess will doubtless take into account our particular interests and skills, but they might decide to send us to learn to do a job which weve never done before. For example, if one of the monks or nuns is an accountant by background, this does nt mean that they will automatically be assigned to manage the monasterys finances. They might be directed to become the monastery chef or look after the monasterys gardens. If the account in our example said to the abbot or abbess, Help, Ive never so much as boiled an egg! , the abbot or abbess would probably reply, well, this is a good opportunity to learn! Brother John or Sister Mary will teach you.

Of course such an approach has its disadvantages, and Benedictines recognise there will always be some tasks which can only be performed by someone with the relevant professional qualification or technical expertise. But I think there is much to be said for the general Benedictine approach. It prevents individuals being pigeon-holed for life by the job or jobs theyve done before : in other words, it provides the opportunity for an accountant to learn what it is like to be a chef. It helps to prevent any sense of snobbery : you will be less likely to look down on some one else because of the job they happen to do, if you might well end up doing that job yourself in a couple of years time! And finally, it provides a wonderful opportunity to learn new skills.

Of course, it might mean that a task is not performed to as high standard as you might like. But a Benedictine would ask : does this really matter, so long as the task got done? Is nt it more important that the person was given the opportunity to do the task in question? And what gives you the right to demand such high standards from others? Do you think you are perfect?
21 January 2022Rectors Daily Reflections Thursday 20th January 2022

Thought for Today

Today, I am continuing some reflections on the Benedictine approach to work. We have seen that Benedictine spirituality recognises and affirms the spiritual importance of the work we do, whether that work is paid or unpaid, but at the same time it reminds us that the work we do is only a part of who we are. Yes, work is important, but we must nt make it the be all and end all of our lives.

Benedictines have developed a handy way of ensuring that we dont become overly focussed on the particular job we happen to be doing at a particular moment in our lives. In a typical monastery, most monks or nuns will do a variety of different jobs over the years, as directed by the abbot or abbess. A wise abbot or abbess will doubtless take into account our particular interests and skills, but they might decide to send us to learn to do a job which weve never done before. For example, if one of the monks or nuns is an accountant by background, this does nt mean that they will automatically be assigned to manage the monasterys finances. They might be directed to become the monastery chef or look after the monasterys gardens. If the account in our example said to the abbot or abbess, Help, Ive never so much as boiled an egg! , the abbot or abbess would probably reply, well, this is a good opportunity to learn! Brother John or Sister Mary will teach you.

Of course such an approach has its disadvantages, and Benedictines recognise there will always be some tasks which can only be performed by someone with the relevant professional qualification or technical expertise. But I think there is much to be said for the general Benedictine approach. It prevents individuals being pigeon-holed for life by the job or jobs theyve done before : in other words, it provides the opportunity for an accountant to learn what it is like to be a chef. It helps to prevent any sense of snobbery : you will be less likely to look down on some one else because of the job they happen to do, if you might well end up doing that job yourself in a couple of years time! And finally, it provides a wonderful opportunity to learn new skills.

Of course, it might mean that a task is not performed to as high standard as you might like. But a Benedictine would ask : does this really matter, so long as the task got done? Is nt it more important that the person was given the opportunity to do the task in question? And what gives you the right to demand such high standards from others? Do you think you are perfect?
22 January 2022Rectors Daily Reflections Thursday 20th January 2022

Thought for Today

Today, I am continuing some reflections on the Benedictine approach to work. We have seen that Benedictine spirituality recognises and affirms the spiritual importance of the work we do, whether that work is paid or unpaid, but at the same time it reminds us that the work we do is only a part of who we are. Yes, work is important, but we must nt make it the be all and end all of our lives.

Benedictines have developed a handy way of ensuring that we dont become overly focussed on the particular job we happen to be doing at a particular moment in our lives. In a typical monastery, most monks or nuns will do a variety of different jobs over the years, as directed by the abbot or abbess. A wise abbot or abbess will doubtless take into account our particular interests and skills, but they might decide to send us to learn to do a job which weve never done before. For example, if one of the monks or nuns is an accountant by background, this does nt mean that they will automatically be assigned to manage the monasterys finances. They might be directed to become the monastery chef or look after the monasterys gardens. If the account in our example said to the abbot or abbess, Help, Ive never so much as boiled an egg! , the abbot or abbess would probably reply, well, this is a good opportunity to learn! Brother John or Sister Mary will teach you.

Of course such an approach has its disadvantages, and Benedictines recognise there will always be some tasks which can only be performed by someone with the relevant professional qualification or technical expertise. But I think there is much to be said for the general Benedictine approach. It prevents individuals being pigeon-holed for life by the job or jobs theyve done before : in other words, it provides the opportunity for an accountant to learn what it is like to be a chef. It helps to prevent any sense of snobbery : you will be less likely to look down on some one else because of the job they happen to do, if you might well end up doing that job yourself in a couple of years time! And finally, it provides a wonderful opportunity to learn new skills.

Of course, it might mean that a task is not performed to as high standard as you might like. But a Benedictine would ask : does this really matter, so long as the task got done? Is nt it more important that the person was given the opportunity to do the task in question? And what gives you the right to demand such high standards from others? Do you think you are perfect?
23 January 2022Rectors Daily Reflections Thursday 20th January 2022

Thought for Today

Today, I am continuing some reflections on the Benedictine approach to work. We have seen that Benedictine spirituality recognises and affirms the spiritual importance of the work we do, whether that work is paid or unpaid, but at the same time it reminds us that the work we do is only a part of who we are. Yes, work is important, but we must nt make it the be all and end all of our lives.

Benedictines have developed a handy way of ensuring that we dont become overly focussed on the particular job we happen to be doing at a particular moment in our lives. In a typical monastery, most monks or nuns will do a variety of different jobs over the years, as directed by the abbot or abbess. A wise abbot or abbess will doubtless take into account our particular interests and skills, but they might decide to send us to learn to do a job which weve never done before. For example, if one of the monks or nuns is an accountant by background, this does nt mean that they will automatically be assigned to manage the monasterys finances. They might be directed to become the monastery chef or look after the monasterys gardens. If the account in our example said to the abbot or abbess, Help, Ive never so much as boiled an egg! , the abbot or abbess would probably reply, well, this is a good opportunity to learn! Brother John or Sister Mary will teach you.

Of course such an approach has its disadvantages, and Benedictines recognise there will always be some tasks which can only be performed by someone with the relevant professional qualification or technical expertise. But I think there is much to be said for the general Benedictine approach. It prevents individuals being pigeon-holed for life by the job or jobs theyve done before : in other words, it provides the opportunity for an accountant to learn what it is like to be a chef. It helps to prevent any sense of snobbery : you will be less likely to look down on some one else because of the job they happen to do, if you might well end up doing that job yourself in a couple of years time! And finally, it provides a wonderful opportunity to learn new skills.

Of course, it might mean that a task is not performed to as high standard as you might like. But a Benedictine would ask : does this really matter, so long as the task got done? Is nt it more important that the person was given the opportunity to do the task in question? And what gives you the right to demand such high standards from others? Do you think you are perfect?
24 January 2022Rectors Daily Reflections Thursday 20th January 2022

Thought for Today

Today, I am continuing some reflections on the Benedictine approach to work. We have seen that Benedictine spirituality recognises and affirms the spiritual importance of the work we do, whether that work is paid or unpaid, but at the same time it reminds us that the work we do is only a part of who we are. Yes, work is important, but we must nt make it the be all and end all of our lives.

Benedictines have developed a handy way of ensuring that we dont become overly focussed on the particular job we happen to be doing at a particular moment in our lives. In a typical monastery, most monks or nuns will do a variety of different jobs over the years, as directed by the abbot or abbess. A wise abbot or abbess will doubtless take into account our particular interests and skills, but they might decide to send us to learn to do a job which weve never done before. For example, if one of the monks or nuns is an accountant by background, this does nt mean that they will automatically be assigned to manage the monasterys finances. They might be directed to become the monastery chef or look after the monasterys gardens. If the account in our example said to the abbot or abbess, Help, Ive never so much as boiled an egg! , the abbot or abbess would probably reply, well, this is a good opportunity to learn! Brother John or Sister Mary will teach you.

Of course such an approach has its disadvantages, and Benedictines recognise there will always be some tasks which can only be performed by someone with the relevant professional qualification or technical expertise. But I think there is much to be said for the general Benedictine approach. It prevents individuals being pigeon-holed for life by the job or jobs theyve done before : in other words, it provides the opportunity for an accountant to learn what it is like to be a chef. It helps to prevent any sense of snobbery : you will be less likely to look down on some one else because of the job they happen to do, if you might well end up doing that job yourself in a couple of years time! And finally, it provides a wonderful opportunity to learn new skills.

Of course, it might mean that a task is not performed to as high standard as you might like. But a Benedictine would ask : does this really matter, so long as the task got done? Is nt it more important that the person was given the opportunity to do the task in question? And what gives you the right to demand such high standards from others? Do you think you are perfect?
25 January 2022Rectors Daily Reflections Thursday 20th January 2022

Thought for Today

Today, I am continuing some reflections on the Benedictine approach to work. We have seen that Benedictine spirituality recognises and affirms the spiritual importance of the work we do, whether that work is paid or unpaid, but at the same time it reminds us that the work we do is only a part of who we are. Yes, work is important, but we must nt make it the be all and end all of our lives.

Benedictines have developed a handy way of ensuring that we dont become overly focussed on the particular job we happen to be doing at a particular moment in our lives. In a typical monastery, most monks or nuns will do a variety of different jobs over the years, as directed by the abbot or abbess. A wise abbot or abbess will doubtless take into account our particular interests and skills, but they might decide to send us to learn to do a job which weve never done before. For example, if one of the monks or nuns is an accountant by background, this does nt mean that they will automatically be assigned to manage the monasterys finances. They might be directed to become the monastery chef or look after the monasterys gardens. If the account in our example said to the abbot or abbess, Help, Ive never so much as boiled an egg! , the abbot or abbess would probably reply, well, this is a good opportunity to learn! Brother John or Sister Mary will teach you.

Of course such an approach has its disadvantages, and Benedictines recognise there will always be some tasks which can only be performed by someone with the relevant professional qualification or technical expertise. But I think there is much to be said for the general Benedictine approach. It prevents individuals being pigeon-holed for life by the job or jobs theyve done before : in other words, it provides the opportunity for an accountant to learn what it is like to be a chef. It helps to prevent any sense of snobbery : you will be less likely to look down on some one else because of the job they happen to do, if you might well end up doing that job yourself in a couple of years time! And finally, it provides a wonderful opportunity to learn new skills.

Of course, it might mean that a task is not performed to as high standard as you might like. But a Benedictine would ask : does this really matter, so long as the task got done? Is nt it more important that the person was given the opportunity to do the task in question? And what gives you the right to demand such high standards from others? Do you think you are perfect?
26 January 2022Rectors Daily Reflections Thursday 20th January 2022

Thought for Today

Today, I am continuing some reflections on the Benedictine approach to work. We have seen that Benedictine spirituality recognises and affirms the spiritual importance of the work we do, whether that work is paid or unpaid, but at the same time it reminds us that the work we do is only a part of who we are. Yes, work is important, but we must nt make it the be all and end all of our lives.
Benedictines have developed a handy way of ensuring that we dont become overly focussed on the particular job we happen to be doing at a particular moment in our lives. In a typical monastery, most monks or nuns will do a variety of different jobs over the years, as directed by the abbot or abbess. A wise abbot or abbess will doubtless take into account our particular interests and skills, but they might decide to send us to learn to do a job which weve never done before. For example, if one of the monks or nuns is an accountant by background, this does nt mean that they will automatically be assigned to manage the monasterys finances. They might be directed to become the monastery chef or look after the monasterys gardens. If the account in our example said to the abbot or abbess, Help, Ive never so much as boiled an egg! , the abbot or abbess would probably reply, well, this is a good opportunity to learn! Brother John or Sister Mary will teach you.
Of course such an approach has its disadvantages, and Benedictines recognise there will always be some tasks which can only be performed by someone with the relevant professional qualification or technical expertise. But I think there is much to be said for the general Benedictine approach. It prevents individuals being pigeon-holed for life by the job or jobs theyve done before : in other words, it provides the opportunity for an accountant to learn what it is like to be a chef. It helps to prevent any sense of snobbery : you will be less likely to look down on some one else because of the job they happen to do, if you might well end up doing that job yourself in a couple of years time! And finally, it provides a wonderful opportunity to learn new skills.
Of course, it might mean that a task is not performed to as high standard as you might like. But a Benedictine would ask : does this really matter, so long as the task got done? Is nt it more important that the person was given the opportunity to do the task in question? And what gives you the right to demand such high standards from others? Do you think you are perfect?
27 January 2022Rectors Daily Reflections Thursday 20th January 2022

Thought for Today

Today, I am continuing some reflections on the Benedictine approach to work. We have seen that Benedictine spirituality recognises and affirms the spiritual importance of the work we do, whether that work is paid or unpaid, but at the same time it reminds us that the work we do is only a part of who we are. Yes, work is important, but we must nt make it the be all and end all of our lives.
Benedictines have developed a handy way of ensuring that we dont become overly focussed on the particular job we happen to be doing at a particular moment in our lives. In a typical monastery, most monks or nuns will do a variety of different jobs over the years, as directed by the abbot or abbess. A wise abbot or abbess will doubtless take into account our particular interests and skills, but they might decide to send us to learn to do a job which weve never done before. For example, if one of the monks or nuns is an accountant by background, this does nt mean that they will automatically be assigned to manage the monasterys finances. They might be directed to become the monastery chef or look after the monasterys gardens. If the account in our example said to the abbot or abbess, Help, Ive never so much as boiled an egg! , the abbot or abbess would probably reply, well, this is a good opportunity to learn! Brother John or Sister Mary will teach you.
Of course such an approach has its disadvantages, and Benedictines recognise there will always be some tasks which can only be performed by someone with the relevant professional qualification or technical expertise. But I think there is much to be said for the general Benedictine approach. It prevents individuals being pigeon-holed for life by the job or jobs theyve done before : in other words, it provides the opportunity for an accountant to learn what it is like to be a chef. It helps to prevent any sense of snobbery : you will be less likely to look down on some one else because of the job they happen to do, if you might well end up doing that job yourself in a couple of years time! And finally, it provides a wonderful opportunity to learn new skills.
Of course, it might mean that a task is not performed to as high standard as you might like. But a Benedictine would ask : does this really matter, so long as the task got done? Is nt it more important that the person was given the opportunity to do the task in question? And what gives you the right to demand such high standards from others? Do you think you are perfect?
28 January 2022
29 January 2022
30 January 2022
31 January 2022