Thinking Faith 2012The eighth Thinking Faith week took place at Boarbank Hall from 21st to 27th July 2012. The overall theme we took this year was ‘Faith and Hope’. As usual, the days were structured around Mass, led by our chaplain, Fr Martin Ganeri OP, and the Divine Office, joining the Augustinian Sisters of the Boarbank Community most evenings for Evening and sometimes Night Prayer, and sharing Morning Prayer with the group (though on one morning several of the more energetic members of the group joined the Community at 7 am for Mass and Morning Prayer).
Very many thanks to Fr Martin for his sermons and to Gavin for leading the music.
We had a couple of days out as a group during the week. On Sunday we took packed lunches to Furness Abbey, where we explored the fine remains of the medieval Cistercian buildings, which give a very good idea of the life of the monks and the way in which they interrelated with the local environment and communities. On the Wednesday we went to the Lakes. About half the group went up Far Easedale, eventually completing a rather more demanding walk than intended, losing the track and having to cross some pretty exhausting bog, made more so by the weather of the last few weeks. But we all got back safely and will be dining out on the tale for some time! The rest of the group joined Fr Dixie for what has become his classic literary tour of Grasmere - the beautiful lake, Wordsworth, Yeats, Newman, the cultural and historical background and the odd pub. We ended the day with a very nice meal at Uplands, near Cartmel - who looked after us superbly despite the late arrival due to problems on the walk!
Other outdoor activities included tennis for some, and local walks, including a visit to Cartmel to see the village and twelfth century Augustinian priory. Many thanks to Mary Ann for guiding the group around the church - an unexpected bonus - and to Liza for organising this.
On the Sunday evening we entered into the Olympic spirit by watching Chariots of Fire, and the nex day Chris Harrison gave us a very thought-provoking and lively presentation on the question of how to achieve excellence, drawing on research he is currently doing at the universities of Keele and Maastrict, and spiced with his own distinctive brand of humour.
Rebecca Rist, who teaches Medieval History at the University of Reading, followed with a completely different topic, telling the story of relations between the popes and the Jews in the Middle Ages.
Tuesday was devoted to trying to understand economics - is there any hope in the in our current ways of organising finance? Paul McGinnie visited us from London to share with us his experience of the world of banking and explain the basic way in which money works (an eye-opener to many of us). Julian Coman provided powerful hope on a small scale, telling the story of the creation of F.C. United of Manchester as socially engaged alternative to football corrupted by big business and money-making. Paul answered questions for us in the afternoon, before heading back for London, and in the evening Ken Cholerton, drew on his own expertise in economics and finance, as well as his extensive involvement in charitable activities in poorer countries, to lecture on ‘Economics with a Human Face’.
On Thursday we took Benedict XVI’s encyclical Spe Salvi as our focus. Fr Dixie gave a talk setting the text in the context of Vatican II and the years that followed, then we separated into smaller groups, led by Fr Dixie, Sr Margaret and Fr Martin, which allowed for a variety of interesting conversations on hope to take place. We ended the day with a buffet, joined by some of the Sisters, and an hour of prayer before the Blessed Sacrament for those who wished. The conversations afterwards continued for some time, I am reliably informed!
Finally, on the Friday morning, Sr Margaret talked about despair and hope in the poems of Gerard Manley Hopkins, reading some of the poems and illustrating them with the help of some finely filmed Youtube clips of a kestrel, a kingfisher and a song thrush. After lunch, we said our fond farewells, though a good number of the group stayed on an extra night and watched the opening of the Olympics together over a glass of wine.
Next year’s Thinking Faith will take place from 20th-26th July, on the theme of ‘Faith and truth’. Book early to avoid disappointment!
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