Lenten Almsgiving: an Option

THE THREE ANCIENT mainstays of Lenten observance are prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. Needless to say there is a dizzying array of worthy objects of your almsgiving attention. Some are more obvious than others; some suffer for their lack of, for want of a better phrase, instant gratification.

One of the less obvious objects for almsgiving is a religious house or order. It used not to be so. Monasteries and convents used to be a standard target for benefactions, often to support a liturgical devotion for which monasteries were particularly well suited. The Reformation struck a grievous blow to that wholesome, if occasionally abused, tradition. Secularisation of western society has landed a second blow. Benefactions, legacies and donations are just not as common as they used to be.

In the midst of the gloom the monastic life is giving off small and tender new shoots. New foundations are springing up that seek to reinvigorate the monastic vine. The Benedictine life is far from dead. Some will fail; this is an historical reality. Some others will prosper: taking the right approach at the right time in the right place. Continue reading “Lenten Almsgiving: an Option”

The Holy Grail of Holy Medals

Some time earlier this year I was on the hunt for a medal of St Benedict. Not one of the vin ordinaire cheapies (though they are not unworthy) and certainly not the mass-produced Chinese ones (I kid you not) that do not bear close inspection. A few decades ago there were some natty ones made in France (I think it was) that had one charming if un-traditional image of Our Holy Father St Benedict. They can be found you look hard enough, but second-hand and over-priced.

You might protest that since I wear the habit of a consecrated Benedictine the medal is a little outré, or at least superfluous, for a monk. Well, monks too like sacramentals: their imagery, their feel, their blessing, and (in this case), their text. I would also like to give some to friends. Continue reading “The Holy Grail of Holy Medals”