What was also remarkable about the Benedictines in Rostrevor was that, of the six members of the community, five are French and the sixth – the Abbot – is from Northern Ireland.  They came from the Abbey of Bec in Normandy – so they sang, read and prayed in the most delightful mixture of French/English and what they call over there Norn Irn.

In my time there, I found myself waiting for two things.  One was the very beginning of Lauds – still dark at 6.45 each morning – when Bro Thierry would sing quietly three times into the silence, ‘O Lord open our lips’.  And I found myself waiting to see Bro Eric reverence the altar.  Something about the way he did it which summed up a life consecrated .. couldn’t tell you what.

And I also spent some time with the Rule of St Benedict – pondering its applicability to diocesan management.  Of which more tomorrow.