In October 2016, a violent earthquake struck central Italy destroying the medieval basilica of St Benedict in Norcia, the town closest to the epicentre. This was the fourth time in three months earthquakes had hit central Italy. Norcia (formerly Nursia) was the home town of St Benedict, the 6th Century founder of Western monasticism. The cathedral was built in the 14th Century in his honour. Benedict is widely recognised as one of the founding fathers
In an earlier post, I introduced and commended the The Benedict Option by American author, Rod Dreher. The book was published in 2017 and quickly became a best seller – and the focus of much debate and controversy among Christians of all persuasions. A while after its publication, Christian Today ran an article setting out ‘five reasons to value The Benedict Option’, from a British perspective. These are summarised below. “The Benedict Option emphasises
In an earlier post, I described how Little Gidding, the home of the Ferrar family in the 17C, remains a powerful symbol and inspiration to those of us seeking to live a life of prayer, community and service in our own time. However, although scholars of English church history will be very familiar with the story of Nicholas Ferrar, it was the 20C poet, T S Eliot who really put Little Gidding on the map.
Fragile – not a word that appears in the Bible, nor one that we tend to think of as a desirable trait, yet I have heard two people use it recently to describe the Church in the countryside. I suppose they mean that rural congregations and groups tend to be small in number, with ministry gifts and responsibilities tending to be in the hands of just one or two individuals. They mean that many of
Earlier this month (4 December), the Church of England commemorated the life of Nicholas Ferrar (1592-1637) as a ‘minor festival’. Nicholas Ferrar was a scholar and businessman, briefly an MP, and a deacon in the Church of England. He was a close friend of the poet and hymn writer, George Herbert. In 1626, having lost much of the family fortune in the Virginia Company, he retreated with his family in 1626 to the manor of
When Paul wrote to the Corinthians, he was at pains to remind them that “I came to you in weakness with great fear and trembling. My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, so that your faith might not rest on human wisdom, but on God’s power” (1 Corinthians 2: 3-5). He opened his first letter to the Thessalonians in a similar way;
One of my favourite parables is found in Luke 18 where Jesus is teaching about how we should always pray and not give up. The story is a simple one of a widow who kept petitioning her local magistrate to give her justice over a certain issue. He refused to do so, being a man who wasn’t actually interested in justice, until he finally gave in, simply because he got fed up with her constant