Friday, 22 November 2013

Does the Bishop know?

The blogger who operates the Paddling Upstream blog (Mummymayhem) has a post that jogged my mind.

It touched a raw nerve, something that had been niggling my subconscious for a few weeks (or years, time flies here in Western Menevia).

Where once St David stood, you may now take a course
in praying mantras
You see I have a thing about Buddhists and Yoga....I think the two fit quite neatly
 into the same sentence, don't you?

My hang up, if I may call it that, is that the whole shebang is sham, pseudo, false, shallow.

Of course, yoga is fine as a form of physical exercise but it comes, all to often, with an agenda that is as far from Catholic doctrine as it is possible to be.

And then it merges into Buddhist philosophy.

Buddhism masquerades under several false guises; 'love,' 'natural harmony,'  'at one with nature'.

All of the Buddhists I have met appear to be pretty humourless, rather entwined with their own regard for what they see as the 'truth'.

A few pints of Reverend James and a large, rare ribeye steak would do most followers of the Buddha a power of good I feel.

And so, when I see Catholic Retreat Centres advertising Yoga Training Sessions I begin to feel a little queasy. And when I enter the websites of those Yoga organisations who are booked in at St Non's I feel that surely the Bishop (His Lordship, Thomas Burns) cannot know that one of his centres is being used for such purposes. You may visit their website HERE.

If nothing else, the association of Buddhism/Yoga with a Catholic retreat centre sends all the wrong signals - to Catholics and non Catholics alike.

I know St Non's; it has a beautiful repro chapel in its grounds and a holy well that once was on the pilgrim route for those visiting nearby St David's Cathedral.

And the remains of the original chapel are still there on the clifftop looking out towards Ireland where so many of the monks came from in the 8th and 9th centuries.

It is a holy place; there are echoes of the Faith at every turn.

But now, when they mention "Chanting" as part of the events programme, they don't mean Plainchant but Buddhist chants and that is plain wrong.

It would be shameful to lose that Catholic aura to the philosophies of Ying and Yang.

The St Non's website is tarnished with this sort of faux spirituality.

"Celtic Nature Spirituality" are the words used to describe the essence of St Non's.

I would perhaps have chosen:

"Catholic Sacred Holy"

I puzzle at the use of the word "Celtic". Many local people believe, quite sincerely, that St David did not belong to the Catholic Church but to the Celtic one.

In fact, there was no such thing as a 'Celtic Church' - the only form of Christianity in Wales, up until the 16th century, was Catholic. Full stop. End of argument.

Now, I am quite certain that Bishop Burns does not read this blog (and I don't blame him for that).

But, he should vet all religious websites within his own Diocese.

And he should take steps to ensure that they all conform to Catholic principles.

"Ah", the cry will go up from the nuns who run the retreat centre (whatever you do, don't look at their photographs, nuns not wearing habits is one thing I told you not to look, there's a health warning with this post!
"Ah", the nuns will say: "But we need the money to keep St Non's going"

In which case I would say to all orthodox Catholics looking for a spiritual base surrounded by natural beauty as well as the beauty of the Catholic Faith in Wales, book your pilgrimage/retreat group into St Non's, it will improve your Karma no end.


  1. Unfortunately, it happens all over the place. I saw courses on yoga and enneagrams advertised at Ampleforth Abbey recently. I guess they want to "get people in" using some appealing hook. Just because we win some people over to new age practises doesn't save their souls, even if it happens on Catholic premises. There is a group of retreat centres operating in this way who are only really appealing to a slightly hippy older demographic. Unfortunately there is such a crisis of obedience that it's hard to put a stop to. Slowly we will see a smaller, more faithful Church, opt for orthodox options.

  2. Slightly tangential, but the above gives me an excuse to plug one of my favourite conversion stories: of the Buddhist scholar, Paul Williams, who became a Catholic


    Oh, to be Buddhist
    Sought after most wooedist
    By men who excuse
    Much that’s lewd.

    I’ve only a broodist
    Ten souls who aren’t Buddhist
    Once again, booed, screwed
    And tattooed!!