On Retreat with Fr Martin Magill: Holy Cross Benedictine Monastery

holycrossThis week readers will have missed Fr Martin Magill’s regular post about his ecumenical tithing. That’s because he has been on retreat since Sunday evening at Holy Cross Benedictine Monastery in Rostrevor, Co. Down.

Many readers will be familiar with the story of the Rostrevor Benedictines, which is told in a book I’ve reviewed, and has been summarised by the monastery superior, Dom Mark-Ephrem Nolan, for Lion and Lamb.  

Holy Cross has an explicitly ecumenical and reconciliatory mission, and I’ve been nourished by my own visits there, as well as times of retreat with students who take our Master’s in Conflict Resolution and Reconciliation.

In recent times, the monastery has made their life of prayer even more accessible to those who are not present with them for services or on retreat by posting their Sunday homilies on their Facebook page and website, and making use of a live webcam in the chapel.

With the webcam, we can all join the monks – albeit virtually – for prayer, according to their daily schedule:

Office of Lauds: 6.45

Eucharist: 11.30

Office of None: 14.15 (Weekdays) / 14.30 (Sunday)

Office of Vespers: 17.30 (Weekdays) / 17.00 (Weekends)

Office of Vigil: 20.30

I also was encouraged by a message from Fr Magill assuring me of prayers for running the Marathon for Northern Ireland this Sunday in the Commonwealth Games. It’s something of a departure from my usual work of teaching and research but the training has been a huge part of my life over the past number of years.

During the week an Irish missionary, Br Colm O’Connell, featured prominently in, “100 Seconds to Beat the World,” a BBC 4 documentary about the Kenyan Olympic 800m champion David Rudisha, who he has coached since he was a teenager.

(You can watch the documentary on the i-player until 29 July.)

In one way Br O’Connell reminds me for Fr Charlie Burrows, the Irish priest in Indonesia who contributed a guest post to the blog this week. Both have found what might be thought unusual ways to live out their vocations.

Describing his work with Rudisha and other Kenyan athletes, Br O’Connell said:

When you see somebody running on a track, somewhere in the back of your mind, you see this person expressing a God-given talent – what has made them who they are. And this in a way is their way of expressing their … gratitude or their recognition of God in their life.

A prayer, it might be said.


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