In Praise of Books

Howton Grove Priory: unpacking the library
Howton Grove Priory: unpacking the library

After the oratory or place set aside for prayer and worship, the library is probably the most important part of any Benedictine monastery. Ours began with just a handful of books but has grown over the years, so that it now fills (or rather will fill) the calefactory (photo above), several other parts of the house and the garage. Thanks to a kind benefactor and some diligent saving on our part, we have been able to install some purpose-built bookshelves in the calefactory to house our most important theological works; so now the work of unpacking the library boxes can begin.

There is something very comforting about the presence of books. As we unpack each one, it is greeted like an old friend and welcomed onto its destined shelf. Books have personalities which go beyond their contents. The binding, the paper, the typeface, all convey so much, to say nothing of the pencilled marginalia which recall the efforts to understand, engage with or dispute the arguments of the author. It will be some while before the library at Howton Grove Priory is shelved and catalogued as it should be, but in the meantime, how good it is to have our books back among us!

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Foundation Day 2012

Not so much a blog post, more a brief update on Howton Grove Priory. Today, the eighth anniversary of our canonical foundation, sees the blessing of the new monastery and the celebration of the first Mass in our oratory. I hope to get out a newsletter and some photos before the end of the week (tempting fate by saying that, I’m sure), as well as some overdue thank you letters and emails. Bro Duncan’s guest house has gone to a new home (much rejoicing in the monastic dovecote) and the bookcases in the calefactory are nearing completion so we’ll be able to unpack some of our books at last (even more rejoicing). The wasp nest under the eaves has been dealt with and some of the most rampant conifers will be removed from the garden during the next couple of weeks. There is some redecorating to be done inside the house where we have had some plasterwork renewed, but, by and large, we can say that the main work of moving in is now complete. All great blessings for which we give thanks; as we give thanks for our Oblates and Associates, and all our friends, living and dead, who have helped us over the years, often at considerable sacrifice to themselves. Please keep them in your prayers, and those who wish to join the community. The novitiate is formally opened today, and our first prospective postulant needs prayers as we try to resolve the remaining visa issues. After that, what is there to say except Deo Gratias.

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