Sunday, January 11, 2009

The Elderly, Bad Weather and Monks

It being a grey and grim day here in Dublin my thoughts took a similar line. After celebrating mass for the elderly in a local nursing home and mass for my parents (both effectively housebound) I was checking out the blogs I follow when I decided to check out Fr. John McGuckin whose book on St. Gregory Nazianzus I am reading and enjoying. This led me to his project with Norris Chumley a film called Sophia Secret Wisdom. Despite the New Age-sounding title it is actually a documentary that attempts to put people in touch with the wellsprings of Eastern Christian spirituality. I was very much impressed especially as I have visited Mt. Athos myself (just one of their destinations) and I have seen the third part of the BBC's series Extreme Pilgrim. In the third program Rev. Pete Owen-Jones, a Church of England minister, visits the mountain and monastery of St. Anthony in Egypt and spends a week there guided by a monk Fr. Lazarus who is living the same kind of life as St. Anthony today. These documentaries both nurture and respond to a growing need to encounter the Lord in a real and life-giving way. That way turns out to be the Church's ancient path of asceticism. What does that have to do with the elderly and the awful winter weather? Well I suppose I had fallen into the subconscious misconception that to be spiritual one needs to have a particular place or lifestyle. It turns out that God is present everywhere and what it is important is that one's heart and mind are united in their focus on the Lord. In a nursing home or on a mountain, in sunshine or rain, the Lord is ever present one need only be present in return.
Fr. McGuckin and Mr. Chumley seem to have another project that would bring young people from around the world and and from different religious traditions into dialogue but the web link leads to a disused address.

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