Carthusian Christmas and a good book

I was at Parkminster yesterday to give my fortnightly class on Sacramental Theology. There are two new men joining the community and so I will probably meet them when we start up again in the New Year. I did have it down in my diary to lecture on New Year's Day but the Novice Master felt that it would be merciful for all concerned if we were to cancel that one. Yesterday, going in for Vespers, it dawned on me that I would have the opportunity of singing the O Adonai antiphon in a monastic setting from the great Antiphonale that they use.

Christmas Day itself is observed with great solemnity at Parkminster of course. I am told that the Night Office is the most beautiful of the year. One time, Dom Cyril was urging me to come for it but I had to explain that I had Midnight Mass in the parish.

However, there is an extended recreation (between None and Vespers) on St Stephen's Day - the only day in the year when this happens. I have been invited to join them so I will drive down after my morning Mass for the Altar Servers. I think this has to count as quite an exclusive party!

The Procurator always gives me some goodies to take home. Yesterday, I had some apples from the orchard and a jar of honey, a beautiful Christmas Card with a specially composed poem on Christmas, and a book. This is "The Prayer of the Presence of God" by Dom Augustin Guillerand, a Carthusian who died in 1945. He joined the Carthusians in 1916 and was appointed Prior of Vedana in Italy in 1935. He had to leave Italy in 1940 and found refuge in the Grande Chartreuse where he was appointed co-adjutor to the Father General, a post he held until he died.

Dom Guillerand was like St Francis de Sales in one particular; he had a fiery temperament which he completely tamed through prayer and penance so that he was known as a calm and peaceful man. He destroyed most of his writings but left a few to his nephew which form the collection of thoughts in this book.

It is published by the Sophia Institute Press. Their website is well worth visiting for the excellent collection of titles, including Angel in the Waters, a lovely book for children about a baby growing in the womb - it can be read online.

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