Two Hairy Brothers: 1

Bro Dyfrig BFdeB asks advice
Bro Dyfrig BFdeB asks advice

Howton Grove Priory
Herefordshire
14 August 2016

Dear Cousin Dunc,

Here I am at the monastery, all shiny and new-looking. Thank you for your good advice and encouragement. I know you thought long and hard about my future and where I’d become my Truest and Happiest Self.

I spent a few days in the guest quarters, as required by the Rule, but on Sunday, the Solemnity of the Assumption, I was admitted to the novitiate and given the name Bro Dyfrig BFdeB. There was a nice little ceremony and a piece of chicken afterwards by way of celebration. I have a pleasant bunk on the ground floor. The bed is comfy, and the water-bowl is a Treasured Relic of yours which, I must say, is rather splendid. Life is austere, but not too bad for an adaptable fellow like me.

I thought at first they would welcome my leadership skills, but apparently not. Here I trot through doors last; and when I attempted to rest my weary limbs on the guest sofa, I was very quickly shown the error of my ways! Do be a kind chap, and give me a few pointers about how to survive and flourish in the cloister.

Love and licks,

Bro Dyfrig BFdeB

P.S. I haven’t been allowed into choir yet. Something about ‘wait and see how he gets on.’

The Heavenly Houndland
Beyond
15 August 2016

My dear Bro Dyfrig,

How nice to be able to call you that at last! I am delighted to know you are safely admitted to the novitiate. It took some organizing at HQ, I can tell you, what with St Thomas Aquinas in a huff about dogs going to heaven and St Jerome urging pet lions and St Francis wanting a whole menagerie of all kinds of beasts and birds. Thankfully, St Clare argued in favour of a single hound (you), then St Bernard helped out by recalling how he encouraged lots of his relatives to join Cîteaux and BigSis is rather a fan of his, while St Benedict just smiled a wise smile and had a quiet word with Our Lady. I think Our Lady has a soft spot for dogs. At any rate, after St Benedict spoke to her, there was a little bit of Private Conversation between her and her Son and, lo and behold, there you are!

The best advice I can give you is to follow what is written in the Rule regarding novices — eat, sleep and meditate. If you eat, They will know you are happy; if you sleep, They will know you have found the place you are meant to be; and if you meditate, you will have something to share with Them and Their followers. It’s easy-peasy really.

Of course, some things will be hard, especially at the beginning. I was always a gentleman, so allowing ladies first came naturally to me. You will just have to learn not to rush forward all the time — and choosing the highest, comfiest seat is a definite no-no. Human Beans worry and fret about silly things like status and want to demonstrate how grand they are by the things they possess or by being given a higher place at table or a ‘superior’ rank or title. You don’t have to worry about any of that. You’re a dog; your place in the Kingdom is assured. All you have to do is be the best dog you can, which means being yourself and giving glory to God just as you are.

As for the rest, you’ll find They talk a lot about perseverance in the novitiate, but I think it all boils down to sheer doggedness — and you have that in spades.

I shall be keeping an eye on you, young sprog. Don’t let me down.

Your affectionate old cousin,

Bro Duncan PBGV

P.S. Don’t worry about choir just yet. Concentrate on the basics, one for each paw — eat, sleep, meditate, and eat again, of course. That chicken is a good sign: make the most of it. It won’t happen often, believe me.

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17 thoughts on “Two Hairy Brothers: 1”

  1. Oh ,I am surprised and delighted that Brother Dyfrig has joined your community .I hope he will bring joy and settle into life at the monastery.

  2. So pleased to read that Bro Dyfrig has been accepted and moved in. Especially pleased that he has Bro Duncan’s blessing and hope he heeds Bro Duncan’s tips and wise words.
    Thank you for sharing this canine correspondence with us, Dame Catherine.

  3. Dear Brother Dyfrig,
    Just have patience about everything and if in doubt about anything look sorrowfully and longingly with your eyes. Obedience is expected at all times but is a natural trait for you. Brother Duncan’s advice will get you through the early days. You will soon be so well accepted that they will think you have been there forever.
    May the Lord bless you, guide you and keep you safe. Peace be with you, hairy friend.

  4. Wonderful post by the two Brothers. Good advice from Bro Duncan, now residing in The Heavenly Houndland, Beyond.
    No doubt Bro Dyfrig will make sure to listen carefully to his old and experienced cousin, and I’m sure that with time he is going to be a cherished member of your community.

    Really lovely to know there will again be the soft sound of paws on the monastery floors.

  5. Welcome Bro Dyfrig welcome. It is lovely to see you – what a handsome fellow you are! Play your cards right and you will soon have the whole Community wrapped round your little paw! Take the advice of your older cousin, Bro Duncan, look sad & longingly at them – and you are sure to get a good response! Do remember to give ‘them’ a doggy smile (waggie tail) and you and your slaves i.e. the humans in your life, will be very happy together.

  6. So pleased you have a doggy brother again, and thank you for sharing this warm and funny but wise exchange of letters which make us smile and thank God

  7. I’m sure St. Guinefort will bless your presence as a healing one. Merely listening in on your conversation has already proved so for this reader.

  8. Wonderful news. Alfie Spaniel, who has bumped into Bro Duncan up above, spent many years with an organist. He advises avoiding choir till your ears are properly acclimatised. Though he suspects that Bro Duncan will have trained your choir to produce a much more harmonious sound than his beloved human ever produced!

    So happy for all of you xx

  9. Dear Bro. Dyfrig – So delighted you have found monastic life to your liking. We are three golden retrievers who live with a Camaldolese oblate. A few words of advice: “learn to love the psalms.” Hearing them chanted can be a very peaceful experience. Pay especial attention to Psalm 22 (we think): A pack of wild dogs surround me, a band of vicious dogs devour me.” Apparently our presence in choir during this line seems to bring a bit of hilarity since we are usually practicing centering prayer during this time (or sleeping) around the choir. Do let us know how you get on. Hitchcock, Cooper and Zoey, Two Doms and a Dame

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