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Goodbye Colophon, Hello iBenedictines

This will be the last entry in Colophon. For a long time we have been concerned about the unwieldiness of our web site, much of which is attributable to the blog, which has grown like Topsey and caused no end of problems. At some stage the RSS feed became corrupted (easily done), and while it works in Webkit browsers like Safari, it is useless elsewhere. We've also been wanting to introduce new material and drop some which seemed to us rather tired, as well as developing a site which looks good on mobile devices.

It is difficult to devote time to one's own site when clients are clamouring for attention to theirs; so the makeover has taken much longer than we had hoped. From tomorrow, however, there will be a new blog on the block: iBenedictines, which you will find at (British users may find themselves adding a .uk to the domain name, but don't worry, that will get you there as well.)

won't die because we've come to feel an affection for this unruly child of our monastic brainpans. It has been incorporated as an archive into the revamped web site which, D. V., we shall be launching at the week-end. It will take a while to check that all the interior links to images and audio files are working as they should, but the permalinks and structure will be unchanged, so anything you've bookmarked should still be "findable". That's the theory, anyway.

iBenedictines will also be available on this site as well as at its standalone address.

This is not the recommended way to relaunch a web site but the sealing wax and string approach does have its advantages, though you might find it difficult to convince Digitalnun of that at the moment. If a thing is worth doing, it's worth doing as one can, not as one can't. And if that sounds remarkably like Dom John Chapman's advice on prayer, the coincidence is entirely intentional.

The Silence of Snow

The mantle of snow lying over much of Britain this morning will not be welcomed by all but it is the perfect gift for the beginning of Advent. Snow is mysterious, beautiful, silent. It both conceals and reveals. It draws us away from the ordinariness of life to its extraordinariness, and it does so softly, silently, almost stealthily, just like Advent.

At Vespers this evening we shall sing the first of those haunting Advent chants, full of Israel's longing for the coming of the Messiah. Then we shall enter into the special silence of this season: the silence of waiting while the mystery gradually unfolds, like a winter rose on Jesse's ancient stem.

Pity the Pope

Colophon has watched with fascination the way in which the media and blogosphere have picked over a few sentences in the latest papal interview (which is, apparently, of book-length. Gone are the days when a few lapidary sentences could express the deepest truths of Christianity). It has been reminiscent of doing "gobbets", little chunks of medieval Latin containing highly controversial words and phrases, hotly argued over at the time they were written and still capable of raising the temperature of interested students.The trouble with gobbets is that they lack context, and unless one is prepared to do the proper amount of background reading, one can go seriously astray. The pope is a learned man who thinks in footnotes, so to say. Perhaps we should wait for the full text before deciding what he means. In the meantime, pity the pope. It seems everyone is prepared to argue with him, about him, over him; but listen to him, that depends.

Advent is Coming

We have been trying to work out how we can hold our usual Advent series of talks without clashing with anything else going on locally. This year, for the first time, we have concluded that we can't. That is really good news, because it means that there are so many talks and other "initiatives" that everyone has plenty of scope for deepening faith during Advent. We have therefore decided that we shall do our talks as podcasts, so anyone can listen at any time rather than having to shiver with us in the monastery. Digitalnun has been told to get the podcasts on to iTunes so she is busy working out how to do that.

This week's podcast is longer than usual because we decided to record Saturday's talk to the CWL on the five "S"s of the spiritual life: solitude, silence, simplicity, service and serenity. It is a live recording so lacks the polish that we would like to give it, but you can listen here.

Finally, we hope to finish archiving our existing blog, Colophon, by the end of this week (it will still be available as it contains nearly 800 entries). Any suggestions for names for its successor? It may not appear at the end of the web site, so Colophon may not be so appropriate. Over to you!

The Ordinariate Again

Digitalnun has not had a good week. Perhaps it's because she is still a bit groggy, or perhaps it's because her voice is too hoarse to manage a querelous tone, but she is slightly moithered by the latest pronouncements about the Ordinariate. Archbishop Rowan has reacted with his customary courtesy and good nature, seeing in the Ordinariate a hope of a revaluing of Anglican patrimony, but the Catholic Bishops of England and Wales have had to tackle the nuts and bolts of setting up the Ordinariate and have come up with some surprising (to Digitalnun) statements.

£250,000 to fund the Ordinariate was the first surprise: that seems very little indeed, scarcely enough to do more than pay for a small office and its telephone bills. Perhaps the bishops are not expecting many to take the Ordinariate route. That would seem to be the case. Then the timetable for ordination seems amazingly short: former Anglican bishops to be ordained to the Catholic priesthood by Easter, other Anglican clergy around Pentecost. The idea presumably being that ordination will precede further study and formation. So much for long and mature discernment! I can't help wondering whether it will allow Anglicans wishing to join the Catholic Church through the medium of the Ordinariate enough time to discover what the Church is like from the inside, and what they would be taking on by ordination. Finally, Archbishop Vincent has made it perfectly plain that the Catholic Church in this country is not expecting any buildings to accompany migrating clergy and parishioners. I never thought there would be, but it is good to have it properly acknowledged.

All in all, enough to make Digitalnun wrap a wet towel round her head while she gets down to the business of prayer because, joking apart, these are serious matters affecting the life and happiness of many. When the Bishops' Conference issues statements one doesn't quite understand, it is always wise to go straight to the top. God, after all, is in charge -- no matter how much we, his servants, think we are.