Friday 24 November 2017

Inside Mount Melleray: 'The world as you know it is passing away'

John Waters gave a retreat to the monks of Mount Melleray in Waterford and observed the dying breaths of pure Irish Christianity

Contemplative: The monks are at the opposite point of human possibility to everything we take for granted as true and real. They bear witness to the strangeness of being.
Contemplative: The monks are at the opposite point of human possibility to everything we take for granted as true and real. They bear witness to the strangeness of being.
John Waters

John Waters

I can't seem to get the rhythm right. Counting doesn't quite do it. Instinct might be better, but it's a little risky. Maybe it's the earliness of the hour, but even some of the monks seem to be having similar trouble. One of them always hits the second line of the psalm responses too early, or a little late, as if unsure when or whether to commit himself.

"Will the evil doers not understand?" I count:… Chuka-chucka-chiii… "They eat up my people?" The line comes in raggedly again. It seems not to be a counting thing. I miss the beat by a millisecond, but luckily on the late side.

You would think that after five or six decades singing the same liturgy, the monks would have it down to pacemaker precision. It's like each of them is lost in his own rhythm, and joins with the others as though as an afterthought. "See how they tremble with fear"… Chuka-chucka-chiii... "Without cause for fear." I hit the line at the same instant as the abbot. Progress.

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