Irish Monastic Sites: Back To The Future

The Dark Ages, when continental Europe is torn apart by plague, famine and marauding barbarians. Until Irish monks establish foundations which bring about The Golden Age.

Dark November, when I fly to that greatest of monastics sites, Clonmacnoise, a monastic university which reconciled warring tribes and brought learning even to Oxford, England.

I learn that when Pope John Paul 11 came here he wept, because it was now just a monument. No longer will this be so. 'Reconnections', a process that links people in diverse lands who live near Irish sites with new monastic experiments, studies, and creative networks is launched. It's the first of a series of Clonmacnoise Summer Schools. Fred Carney illustrates the Legacy of the Monks, I speak on 'The Great Emergence' and groups brainstorm. On Saturday we have a guided tour, a new App that re-creates Clonmacnoise as a living village through the ages, an ecumenical service at St. Brendan's Clonfert Cathedral, food and private dialogues.

My address is available as a download 'The Great Emergence'. The front page of The Irish Times tells me that Pope Francis wants churches to be homes for everyone, not chapels for a selected few. I remind my listeners that is precisely what those early Irish monastery churches were. Sean Ascough, who has had hundreds of young Catholics in tents at Clonmacnoise, has a vision of an archipelago - small new groups of Christians, each with their own charism, each encouraging the others without a spirit of competition, will emerge around the great River Shannon at Clonmacnoise. I offer to lead study weeks for small groups in between summer schools. Someone suggests a House of Prayer that might accommodate us. Pray for this. Watch this space.

P.S. Something else I said in my talk: 'When Ryanair adopts monastic values the Kingdom of God will truly have arrived on earth.'!

Posted at 12:21pm on 8th November 2013
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