Thought for the Week – Focus and perspective

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Saint Benedict recommends that monks keep death daily before their eyes. Focused on the end encourages us not to waste time and to pay attention to each moment of life that we are granted. Oliver Sachs knew he was dying and wrote:

Over the last few days I have been able to see my life as from a great altitude, as a sort of landscape and with a deepening sense of the connection of all its parts. This does not mean I am finished with life. On the contrary I feel intensely alive and I want and hope in the time that remains to deepen my friendships, to say farewell to those I love, to write more, to travel if I have the strength, to achieve new levels of understanding and insight.

This will involve audacity, clarity and plain speaking trying to straighten my accounts with the world  But there will be time, too for some fun and even a little silliness as well.

I feel clear focus and perspective . There is no time for anything inessential. I must focus on myself, my work and my friends. I shall no longer look at the news every night.

SimonThought for the Week – Focus and perspective
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Thought for the Week – St Benedict, Patron of Europe

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The 11th July, 2016, was the feast day of St Benedict, Patron of Europe. This feast was inaugurated by Pope Paul VI in 1964 and made official by Pope Saint John Paul II in 1999. This is an extract from a homily given by Abbot Patrick last week on the Feast of St.Benedict.

We do well, at this time of anxiety in the European community, to ponder the meaning of his privileged patronage. Shortly after the establishment of the European Community, Jacques Delors, one of its principal architects, met with some of the Benedictine abbots of Europe. He asked them, as descendants of some of the first pioneers of  European identity, to help inject a socio-spiritual dimension into a reality based on economic principles, mostly concerning the coal and steel industries in Belgium, France and Germany.

Monks, from the fall of the Roman Empire, were participators in the creation of the first European community.

Montalembert, the nineteenth-century historian, suggests that monks were the technical advisers to Europe after the invasion of the barbarians, which made it effectively the third world of that time.

Benedictine monasteries acted as agricultural colleges for the regions in which they were located. Through their efforts, modern day Germany, for instance, was transformed from wilderness to prosperity. Monks stored water from springs, taught whole regions the art of irrigation. They introduced crops, industries, production methods: in Sweden the corn trade; in Parma cheese making; here in Ireland, salmon fisheries — all over Europe, vineyards. ‘The night they invented champagne’ has been traced to Dom Perignon, bursar of St. Peter’s Abbey, Hautvilliers-sur-Marne, in 1688. His ingenuity still governs the production of champagne today.  Most of the renowned cuisine of la Bourgogne derived from menus devised at the Abbey of Cluny, a centre of European culture and civilisation for over 1,000 years, from 945 to the French Revolution.

So, just as St. Benedict and his monks rescued Europe during a time of general collapse after the fall of the Roman Empire, so too might Benedict have some interesting advice for the European Union at this time of  upheaval.

SimonThought for the Week – St Benedict, Patron of Europe
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Thought for the Week – Paying Honour

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There is nothing like the buzz one gets from recognition and acknowledgement. And we know that people who feel appreciated and honoured are more effective in community and feel better about themselves. They are not afraid to use their talents.
An article in the Economist in 2007 reported research that suggests – that barring physical accidents or the sudden onset of fatal illness – Nobel Prize winners and top executives live longer and healthier than their less honoured peers. It seems to be more stressful at the bottom than at the top! People who don’t get the affirmation that comes with honour often live in a “state of chronic vulnerability especially when the withholding of due recognition is spiteful or envious.”
Let us commit to paying honour to someone we meet today!
SimonThought for the Week – Paying Honour
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