I have so far resisting commenting on the WordPress’ rather odd idea that I may want to put snow on my blog. But after walking up the hill today in a heatwave with temperatures anywhere between 38 and 45 degrees celsius (the figures given vary but I am inclined to believe that it was closer to the latter), I can resist no longer. Why on earth does WordPress think that I would want to put snow on my blog? It’s enough to make anyone think that Julius Malema may not be entirely wrong about imperialism, or perhaps I’ve just become delirious in the heat…

I suspect that I probably have readers who are both less linguistically challenged and less technically challenged than I am. Could one of them please tell me how to include Greek words in WordPress? I finally left out the Greek terms in brackets in Father Gabriel’s quotes in the last post. I’ve generally copied them from a Greek font in Word, and that seems to have sometimes worked in WordPress, but it’s been rather a hit and miss affair, and this time it was definitely miss. I’ve long thought that there must be a proper way to do this, and it’s probably about time to find out how!

An interesting snippet of information from a email from Jim Forest: During Thomas Merton’s famous trip to Asia in 1968 on which he died, he carried with him relics of the following saints:

  • St. Bede
  • St. Thomas of Canterbury
  • St. Teresa of Jesus
  • St. Peter Damian
  • St. Bruno
  • St. Romuald
  • St. Nicholas of Flue
  • St. Charbel

    So much for Merton ending his days as a relativistic, synchetistic, New Age, quasi-Buddhist who’d lost his faith, which both the “left” and the “right” would somehow seem to have us believe. The truth, of course, is far more complex.

No, I probably won’t indulge in the temptation to turn this into a photo blog, but it is tempting…

I really have been quite strict about waiting until I actually earn some money before buying books – and I am going to have to invest in some basic texts when I am able to do so. But I have recently discovered the second hand bookshop at the Anglican Cathedral and, while I restrained myself from many things, decided that I would later regret letting these books get away. Quite apart from their contents, some of them will be fun to restore. (The totally anonymous one is Select Sermons of S. Leo the Great on the Incarnation).

But it was only when I got home that I noticed the following inscription in Father Lev Gillet’s Jesus. A Dialogue with the Saviour (published under his pseudonym of “a Monk of the Eastern Church”):

The prior of Chevetogne at the time was Father Thomas Becquet (I had to look that up) and the Archbishop of Canterbury at the time was Michael Ramsey. I’ve no idea how it got to Cape Town, but it obviously did.

By Frumentius the frog

Anybody who knows anything about the Desert Fathers – and I presume that that includes most readers of this blog – knows that their holiness had brought them to such harmony with the created world that they lived in great friendship with wild animals. There is Saint Gerasimos who tamed a lion, Saint Pachomius who rode a crocodile, Saint Paul who was fed by a raven and had lions dig his grave, and many others. However, if the Resident Alien had had any illusions that living in a tent and making prayer ropes was enough to make her holy and return her to the state of paradise experienced by those early desert dwellers, she has been rudely disabused of this naive belief. She thinks that we are afraid of her.

Of course, it cannot be denied that Thekla, like any well-bred field mouse, is somewhat on the shy side. She is “bescheiden” as the Dutch would say. And it is true that I have certainly tried – unsuccessfully on a couple of occasions – to avoid being caught and put outside. Why did she think that I had come inside in the first place, if not to get out of the rain? And the space between the inner and the outer tents does present a good hideout which the Resident Alien cannot reach without threatening to overbalance and bring the entire tent down with her. But what self-respecting frog would be afraid of a human, especially one who had moved into our territory?

But that is all beside the point. When we heard that one of the blogs that the Resident Alien reads was written by a cat, we demanded a share in her blog. (Thekla, in particular, was most put-out by being outdone by a cat). For some reason she wasn’t so enthusiastic, and mumbled something about people expecting her to write serious posts about respected theologians (with names I have yet to learn how to pronounce) and that her stats would go down if she were to let us write the sort of frivolous nonsense we would write about. How, I ask you, does she know we would write “frivolous nonsense”? And what would the Desert Fathers say about an ego that is so concerned with blog stats?  Anyway, to make a long story short, after threatening to take over her bedroom (she’s more or less resigned to us being in the chapel-kitchen-study-living “room”, but terrified that she’ll find us in her bed) we settled on a compromise. We get to start our own blog, and she will provide a link to it.  That way, readers who don’t appreciate our wisdom don’t have to read it.

Of course the Resident Alien did point out that this arrangement can’t go on forever as she doesn’t intend spending the Dutch winter in a tent – but we’ll cross that bridge when we get to it.

P.S. I don’t know how often we’ll be able to post – she did mutter something about needing the computer for more important things and this simply being a temporary means of finding light relief from the pressures of being a homeless gyrovague. (I looked up “gyrovague” in the dictionary but couldn’t find it; Thekla says that it means a wandering and/or dislocated monk). But if we threaten enough we may be able to persuade her to put a RSS link to our latest posts in her sidebar.

 Well, perhaps not exactly trivia (at least not the first) but a couple of points that I’ve picked up about Father de Vogüé’s approach to the Rule elsewhere:

There has been a vigorous controversy between the Benedictine scholars Jean Griboment and Adalbert de Vogüé on Benedict’s attitude to the solitary life, and, indeed on the whole question of Basil’s influence on Benedict. De Vogüé lists the traditional witnesses to this movement from the cenobitic to the eremitic life and implies that Basil was out of step with Tradition. Gribomont, on the other hand, says that the Rule of Saint Benedict has a very strong bias to the cenobitic life, and that de Vogüé’s emphasis on Cassian in interpreting Benedict effectively eliminates Pachomius, Basil, Augustine and Eugippius from Benedict’s ‘Great Tradition’. The two also come to blows over the weight to be given to Benedict’s words ‘our holy father Basil’ in the final chapter of his Rule, with de Vogüé tending to minimise their importance. (145)

  • While glancing through an old copy of the bulletin of the Alliance for International Monasticism (it’s amazing what one comes across when moving house), I found a book list for monastic formators compiled by an abbot of the Congregation of St. Ottilien. While Father de Vogüé’s books were described as useful for providing additional background for formators, they were “not recommended for general reading by novices, especially since the author’s concept of Benedictine monasticism is quite different from the tradition of the Congregation of St. Ottilien.” (A.I.M. bulletin, 2005, No. 83, p. 72) Given that the St. Ottilien Benedictines are missionary monks, I can just imagine that they wouldn’t want their novices getting eremitical aspirations! However, the author does mention another much simpler book by de Vogüé that I wasn’t aware of: Reading Saint Benedict: Reflection on the Rule (Cistercian Publications, 1994). Does anyone know it?


I really don’t intend posting things like this often (not that I have much of a chance anyway), but given that I’ve been posting on the Rule, and given that I’ve just allowed myself to be creative in rebinding a copy of the Rule (which may explain in part why I haven’t been writing more) I thought that I’d engage in a little showing off.

… or at least that’s what two of my favourite bloggers think. Father Gregory Jensen of Koinonia and Wei Hsien of Torn Notebook have both awarded me a Superior Scribbler Award. I am of course most honoured and I must in turn pick five bloggers whom I consider to be superior scribblers.

These most now abide by the following rules:

  • Each Superior Scribbler must in turn pass the award on to 5 most-deserving Bloggy Friends.
  • Each Superior Scribbler must link to the author and the name of the blog from whom he/she has received the Award.
  • Each Superior Scribbler must display the award on his/her blog, and link to this post, which explains the award.
  • Each Blogger who wins the Superior Scribbler Award must visit this post and add his/her name to the Mr. Linky List (scroll down). That way, we’ll be able to keep up-to-date on everyone who receives this prestigious honor!
  • Each Superior Scribbler must post these rules on his/her blog.

This is the first time that I’ve done something like this, and I am presumably not allowed to give it back to Father Gregory or Wei Hsien, but it might be good to draw attention to the following blogs, some of which I’ve only recently started reading:

  • Words, words, words by Andrea Elizabeth. Apart from anything else, and there are other reasons, it’s nice to have another woman around.
  • Khanya by Steve Hayes. He’s South African and it’s also rather a relief to discover that someone I sympathise with theologically is also politically sound. (His Notes from Underground blog is also worth reading, but one award is enough).
  • Thicket and Thorp by Jonathan. He doesn’t write much but what he writes is good, some of it very good. Ditto what I said above about theology and politics.
  • On First Principles by Father Gregory Wassen. He doesn’t write that much either but he deals with some interesting stuff. It would be really nice if he re-activated his Praktikos blog, but I’m probably hoping in vain.
  • Logismoi by Aaron Taylor. Apart from anything else he’s making me feel rather silly for not having read more of Adalbert de Vogüé, even if the calendar differences are disorientating, e.g. he had a wonderful series on the O Antiphons, but what’s the point of reading about the O Antiphons after Christmas?!

This post has been driving me to distraction. There was originally a rather nice graphic in it, and a link to the superior scribbler site. But when I noticed a spelling mistake after publishing it and tried to update it I lost all my links. I really can’t waste any more time on it!

This is probably of limited interest due to the language factor (it’s in Dutch), but seeing that I recently posted reports on two talks by Dom André Louf, some readers may be interested in this interview with him in his (rather cluttered!) hermitage, recently shown onthe Dutch Catholic TV programme Kruispunt.