New York! New York! or A Nun Travels the World

Well, not quite; but with Bishop Crispian’s blessing, Digitalnun is about to take part in a couple of conferences which will see her out of the cloister and plunged into a world far removed from the leafy lanes of Oxfordshire.

Church and Media Conference 2011
First, there is the Church and Media Conference 2011 at the Hayes Conference Centre, 13 and 14 June, which promises ‘a unique opportunity for media professionals and faith leaders to engage in lively and informed debate.’ Being neither a professional nor a leader, and with no particular claim to being either lively or informed, this presents Digitalnun with something of a challenge, especially as she will be giving the closing keynote. However, debate is good and she is quite excited about listening to some of the very knowledgeable people who will be attending. Many thanks to Andrew Graystone and the Conference organizers for inviting her. An unintended bonus is that Quietnun and Duncan will have some quiet time while she is away.

The Benedictine Development Symposium

At Pentecost, the Church was endowed with the gift of tongues in order to make known the Good News. The internet and social media are simply another ‘tongue’ we must all learn to speak with some degree of fluency. This will be one of the subjects addressed at the Benedictine Development Symposium in Schuyler, Nebraska, 5 to 9 July, where Digitalnun has been invited to share some of the insights the community has gained during the past few years. The great generosity of Mike Browne, the Symposium members and the Priory of Christ the King in funding her visit is a mark of the seriousness with which religious organizations are now tackling what is, to many, still rather strange and new.

New York! New York!
And finally, from 10 to 17 July, a few days in New York, where Digitalnun will be meeting with a number of people who are interested in what the monastery is doing and who, hopefully, might look favourably on the community’s desire to obtain permanent accommodation. There are still a few free slots in the timetable if anyone would like Digitalnun to ‘sing for her supper’, as it were. Again, we are enormously grateful to those who have made this part of the trip possible, especially the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians who, not for the first time, have come to the rescue of Benedictines abroad by offering accommodation, and the kind friends and well-wishers who have underwritten some of the other expenses and smoothed the way for the visit.

It wouldn’t be honest to pretend that this will be all hard work and no play. A day off has been arranged, and it is quite likely that it will be spent either in the Met or at The Cloisters. Digitalnun is still a lapsed but unrepentant medievalist.

A serious question
Of course, all this invites reflection on the contribution monasticism can make to the world today. It would be a mistake to think that any activity, however good, could ever replace the quiet, persevering search for God we make in prayer, work and study. The cloistered life always has been, always will be, one that comparatively few understand and even fewer actually live. But because it is at the heart of the life of the Church and part of its missionary impulse, monasticism is a necessary part of the Christian world order and therefore must speak and pray in the language of the internet as much as any other.

How that is worked out varies from community to community. We don’t have a physical cloister here at Hendred but we think of the internet as the fourth wall of our cloister of the heart, somewhere we seek God and, on occasion, find Him.

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15 thoughts on “New York! New York! or A Nun Travels the World”

  1. What wonderful news, S. Catherine! The conference, I’m sure, will be enriched by your enlightened contributions and unique experience and prayerful perspective as a cloistered Benedictine. I enjoy your good sense of humour in service of your humility. You have me chuckling yet again. đŸ˜€

    I believe the internet has great potential for good and it is heartening to see serious, informed people work to exploit that potential.

    Wishing you a Bon Voyage!

  2. Good wishes, prayers too and also for those who stay at home.
    ‘Quietnun and Duncan will have some quiet time’ – I hope this is not too over-optimistic.

  3. Enjoy your travels. I didn’t realize you (the collective “you”) did not have an actual cloister in which to be. (I just started following your blog.)
    I’m not Catholic, let alone Christian, but I hope you don’t mind if I offer up a prayer or two to help you find resources for your cloister. I have always felt that the work you, and your sisters and brethren, do in prayer are a real help and source of good in the world. I hope you find some folks with the resources to help you all in that endeavor.
    Peace

  4. Enjoy your travels. I didn’t realize you (the collective “you”) did not have an actual cloister in which to be. (I just started following your blog.)
    I’m not Catholic, let alone Christian, but I hope you don’t mind if I offer up a prayer or two to help you find resources for your cloister. I have always felt that the work you, and your sisters and brethren, do in prayer are a real help and source of good in the world. I hope you find some folks with the resources to help you all in that endeavor.
    Peace

  5. Dear Digitalnun,

    A free day in New York – what a pleasure!

    You mentioned that you might go to the Met or the Cloisters. In my opinion, if you have only one day to see the sights in NYC, see the Cloisters. The Met is simply too big to see in one day, or even one month, while the Cloisters, although a wonderful collection, can be seen and enjoyed in a single day. The setting, in Fort Tryon Park, is lovely this time of year. I recommend you take a cab, though: if you take the subway, you’ll have a long hike up the palisade to where the museum is located.

    Near Fort Tryon Park is the Church of the Incarnation, in New York’s Washington Heights neighborhood. When my wife was baptized there 59 years ago, the neighborhood was mostly Irish-American; today, most residents are immigrants from the Dominican Republic. There, you could have a taste of New York’s still vibrant immigrant community. Here’s the web site with the Mass schedule:

    http://incarnation-nyc.org/

    Best wishes, and Godspeed on your trip to the New World.

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