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Monday, February 05, 2007

How could I forget to mention...

... this? Actually, the truth is that I assumed I had, and then looked back at the Juve blog to discover, to my shock, that I completely and utterly forgot to tell you all...

The weekend before last, I was in Stone (Staffordshire, UK) for a study weekend on the theme of 'Goodness', based, obviously, on St. Thomas's Summa Theologica. For those who don't see the link, suffice to say that Stone is the mother house of one of the female Dominican congregations in England. The group was nice and big (but not too big) and comprised of mainly students, with a couple of people like me (grown-up but think we're still students), a local priest, the OPs running the sessions and a random Benedictine monk from Ealing (which is why Perpetua's post reminded me of this). Sessions were on goodness in general, God's goodness (actually, we cheated and did perfection because it was easier) and the problem of evil. There was a mixture of talks (lecture-style) and more interactive work beginning with the objections and not being allowed to read St. Thomas's corpus until afterwards. I was already able to see the advantage that a really brief forray earlier this year into introductory scholastic theology has brought about!

If anyone gets the chance to do this, or something similar, I heartily recommend it. In fact, there used to be a group in our London chaplaincy which did approximately the same thing, though far less intensively. Even getting a group of mates around and, starting with the questions, seeing what you come up with can be a good way to go about it. It's much more like what Aquinas intended and I suspect that a lot his writing came out of debates with students.

Of course, there were added benefits. For all the lack of the traditional Mass (in fact, we were treated to the once-a-month folk Mass of the parish!) I was accorded some wonderful opportunities. Stone has certain historical links with Bl. Dominic Barbieri and Ven. John Henry Cdnl. Newman, amongst others. And a fine collection of relics, all duly venerated including a first class of St. Catherine; a large chunk of St. Thomas More's hair shirt; some of St. Francis de Sales' writing; and, not least, the desk of St. Pius X!

On a rather more random note, our Benedictine kindly gave me a lift back to London with one of the Dominican sisters and our stop-off for afternoon tea in Warwick produced some wonderful reactions from passers-by. We spent the rest of the way playing 'The Vicar's Cat'.

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