I’ve long been an admirer of St Samthann of Clonbroney, a forceful Irish holy woman from
the eighth century. She lived at a time when Irish monks were wandering all over the place,
settling in remote spots from Iceland to the Swiss Alps in an attempt to come closer to God.
St Samthann was not impressed by all this fashionable gyrovaguing (a ‘gyrovague’, according
to St Benedict, is a rather dodgy wandering monk). “If I can’t find God here in Clonbroney,”
the no-nonsense Irish abbess remarked, “I certainly won’t find him anywhere else.”
Perhaps that’s one of the more unexpected lessons of lockdown. ‘Spiritual tourism’ has
become increasingly fashionable (and as financially necessary for maintaining cathedrals
and other sacred sites as it was in the Middle Ages). There are real benefits from occasional
pilgrimages. My own spiritual journey has been enriched by visits to St Davids, the Holy
Land, Iona and Holy Etchmiadzin in Armenia. Yet, as my first spiritual director told me:
“What you need, above all, is stability.” The result was that I stayed in Brechfa for almost
seventeen years, and have spent even longer in Christ Church/Dewi Sant.
It has shown me the value of being in one dear particular place where God is at home with
us and we are at home with him. The limitations of lockdown, despite their difficulties, have
revealed this even more clearly. “Stay in your cell,” one of the Desert Fathers counselled a
young questioner, “and your cell will teach you everything.” Morgan Llwyd, the seventeenth
century Welsh mystic, advised “Go into the secret room, which is God’s light within you”,
while American Shakers sang of “the gift to be simple, the gift to be free, the gift to come
down where you ought to be.” Jesus is, after all, Emmanuel – God with us here and now.
ZOOM SERVICES: Sunday 21 March (Passion Sunday) 9am HOLY EUCHARIST (p.88); 5pm
EVENING PRAYER; Wednesday 24 March (The Annunciation transferred) 10.30am HOLY
EUCHARIST (p.243); Thursday 25 March 7pm HOLY HABITS’ LENT COURSE; Sunday 28
March (Palm Sunday/Sul y Blodau) 9am PALM SUNDAY EUCHARIST (special readings);
11yb CYMUN SUL Y BLODAU (t.91); 5pm EVENING PRAYER; Wednesday in Holy Week 31
March 10.30am HOLY EUCHARIST; Maundy Thursday 1 April 6.30pm ZOOM AGAPE and
MAUNDY THURSDAY ADDRESS; Good Friday 2 April 10.30am VIDEO OF PASSION PLAY;
2pm THE LAST HOUR ON THE CROSS. We are hoping to hold an EASTER EUCHARIST in
CHRIST CHURCH at 9.15am on EASTER DAY (and services in Llangynnwr and Newchurch at
11am). There will be a Welsh Eucharist the following Sunday (Y PASG BYCHAN) at 11am.
Seats are very limited because of social distancing, so please contact ROSEMARY BOWEN
(English services) & MALCOLM JONES (gwasanaethau Cymraeg) asap.