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Welcome Back!

Few Mirfield students think their time here quite complete until they have returned for Deacons’ Week. It was our privilege, last month, to welcome back seven deacons who left the College in 2019. Their visit allowed us to trial our social distancing measures for the new term and so it was with some confidence that The College of The Resurrection reassembled on St Matthew’s Day. We hope to deliver the curriculum “face to face” both to those completing their BA at Sheffield and to those who will begin working towards one of the Durham University Common Awards.


Book Review – Ad Infinitum: A Biography of Latin and the World it Created.

By Nicholas Ostler

Latin is a language dead as dead could be;
first it killed the Romans and now it’s killing me.

So we used to chant as schoolboys, though actually I loved Latin even then. What people do not realise is that Latin was not confined to the Ancient Romans but remained, in many different ways, a living language up until modern times. Even today, though its use has greatly declined, it is still learned, enjoyed and seems to have a place in the formation of the human mind.

Ostler, in this fascinating book, shows us some of the roots of Latin not only in Greek but in Etruscan and some the other languages of the people of Italy. Greek, of course, was hugely influential on Latin in helping Latin to develop literary and poetic forms. Ostler gives some attention to the classical period of Latin but then traces the different trajectories as Latin morphed into the Romance languages: French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese and Romanian over the next thousand years. At the same time, Latin remained the language of the Church throughout Europe and, of course, of all educated men. The Latin changed, simplified but remained still Latin. With the Renaissance and the rise of the humanists a great effort was made to recover classical Latin and to write it in the mode of Cicero and Livy. This continued for three centuries until the new languages of Europe were developed enough to talk about modern things. Curiously, the last people to write regularly in Latin seem to have been the scientists who used this common tongue to gain a hearing and participate in a dialogue across Europe. Isaac Newton, for instance, wrote all his major works in Latin.

Yet Latin was tied to the Roman Empire. The German tribes were never colonised by Rome and retained their own language. England was colonised but it would seem that most Romans and Latin speakers lived in the West of England which suffered a great plague about the time the Romans left in the fifth century. Thus England was left with the largely Germanic language of Anglo-Saxon.

My one regret about this book is that it doesn’t have a chapter on Latin today. Perhaps that will come in the form of a new book. Although Latin and Greek are much less studied at University level now there is much very high quality work done on classical subjects in the universities. Latin has also been popularised by some inspired writers and people who were deprived of learning Latin at school show interest in the language and literature later on. Part of the magic of Harry Potter is the corrupted Latin of the spells!

Book Review – Morality: Restoring the Common Good in Divided Times

By Jonathan Sacks

Jonathan Sacks is the former Chief Rabbi of Great Britain and a well-known writer and speaker. In this fascinating book he deals with a problem which has arisen in the Western world over the past century, but especially since the Sixties: is there a moral law we can all sign up to? The main reason for this problem, he believes, is that western civilization is no longer about ‘us’ but about ‘me’.  People are only concerned for society, the nation, humankind in so far as it affects themselves. It is ‘I’ who matters most. Morality can then be summed up as “I can do what I like so long as it doesn’t hurt anyone else.” That is generally enough for modern society. It is not enough, says Sacks, for humankind.

His arguments are well backed up by all kinds of literature, philosophy and sociological research. One typical example speaks for all: the rise in suicides of young to middle aged people. These are people who are able, well educated, successful but commit suicide because they can see no meaning in their lives. The search for ever more exciting experience leads them to the conclusion that there are no more. So why go on living? Research shows that people who concentrate on increasing their own happiness do not in fact become happier. They become more frustrated and depressed as each new experience turns out to be empty. However, people who try to help others find their own happiness increases. They are fulfilled and their lives have meaning. This is not new knowledge; nor is it rocket science. It has been around for centuries, if not millennia. Our modern and post-modern attempt to prove it wrong has clearly failed.

Those of us who believe in God can root our morality in God and in the biblical revelation. Those who do not wish to root their morality in God must still look outside themselves to the people they live with if they are going to be happy.

Clearly this is vastly oversimplified description of a complex but very well written book. It really is a ‘must read’ for our troubled generation.

CR Miles for Masvingo

CR are raising money to support a schools gardening project in the Masvingo diocese in Zimbabwe. This is a very dry and poor area, the rural people of Zimbabwe live constantly with the fear of crop failure. When this happens there is simply no food, except what Aid organisations can bring in.

The project will create vegetable gardens at four schools, enabling them to grow their own produce. Children especially need good food so that they can grow up healthy. They need regular food so that they can walk long distances to school and have the energy to pay attention in class. Education is their one hope of escaping the poverty trap.

Brethren, students and friends of CR will be undertaking various challenges to raise money for this project.

Fr Antony has completed his 20 mile walk!

As part of the challenge Fr Antony walked 20 miles over 24 days!

Chris Townsend who is currently a long term guest at CR has also taken up the challenge. Congratulations to Chris for running 200km over the last few weeks to raise money for this project.

We are pleased to announce that the student body of the College of the Resurrection are preparing to join the challenge, ‘Missional Miles for Masvingo’, will see students attempt to walk in excess of 100 miles over the course of their long weekend (19-22 Nov.) – in relay with one another.

The route will take students around the grounds of the college, down to and along the canal, round the edge of town and back up to the college.  

If you would like to sponsor any of the challenges please click here.

For more information please email

Book Review – Austin Farrer: Oxford Warden, Scholar, Preacher

Edited by Professor Marcus Bockmuehl and Bishop Stephen Platten with Nevsky Everett

I am currently reading with much enjoyment a book, recently acquired by our library, Austin Farrer: Oxford Warden,Scholar, Preacher, edited by Professor Marcus Bockmuehl and Bishop Stephen Platten with Nevsky Everett. SCM Press 2020. I was privileged to be tutored by Farrer for Philosophy of Religion in 1961. 

The first part of the book is a collection of essays about Farrer’s work in Philosophy, Biblical studies and Christian Theology, his remarkable preaching, his friendship with C.S.Lewis, and his contribution when Warden of Keble College. The second part of this book contains Farrer’s previously unpublished lectures delivered in America in 1966. Farrer’s writing is thoughtful, witty and beautifully expressed. A former archbishop of Canterbury described him as the twentieth century’s ‘subtlest and most eloquent Anglican thinker’.

Book Review – Saint Augustine on the Resurrection of Christ: Teaching, Rhetoric, and Reception

By Gerald O’Collins, SJ

This is a curious little book, and that for at least two, somewhat contradictory, reasons. St Augustine of Hippo is such a towering figure in the history of Christianity, about whom such a wealth of material has been written, that it would be easy to mistake this slender volume for one of those slightly whimsical exercises in scholarly barrel-scraping that accompany all such figures. It is rather a shock therefore for those who have already prepared a place in their downstairs bathrooms for St Augustine on the Seabirds of North Africa or St Augustine on Late Antique Bear-baiting, to discover that the subject of the book is in fact St Augustine on the central mystery of the Christian faith: the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. What? Are there not already great shelves groaning with the weight of tomes devoted to this very subject? Apparently not. And herein lies the source of the book’s initial curiosity: that it does not exist already. As O’Collins puts it “very little attention has been directed to what Augustine preached and wrote about the rising of Christ himself and the questions it raises”. This is curious indeed. And yet to concede this point is immediately to draw attention to a second, rather more unfortunate, curiosity of this book. For if, as its preface claims, the purpose of the book is nothing less than to “fill that important gap” in Augustinian scholarship which O’Collins has just identified, we cannot help but register our surprise, not to say disappointment, that this much-vaunted “gap” turns out to be a mere 128 pages wide. Indeed, we begin to wonder whether the book’s curious lack of predecessors really is that curious after all.

Alas, for those who do venture inside the book’s rather diminutive spine, its contents prove to be something of a barrel-scraping exercise after all. This its author all but concedes in its opening sentences:

            Augustine never wrote a treatise on the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Hence this chapter [for which read this book] has no principal source but must draw on various works: Answer to Faustus a Manichean, The City of God, Expositions on the Psalms, Homilies on the Gospel of John,                                                 Letters, Sermons, and The Trinity.

The remaining 127 pages are given over to O’Collins gathering up these fragments in the workmanlike manner that will be familiar to readers of his other books. It does not bode well for the interest of this material, however, that a rather earnest excursus on Philip Pullman’s The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ is required to reach the lordly sum of 128 pages. Nor would you think it possible that a book of such proportions would repeat itself, and yet on at least three separate occasions O’Collins takes the Bishop of Hippo to task for suggesting that the disciples touched the body of the risen Jesus when in fact the emphasis of the resurrection appearances is on sight, an observation that is not without interest but hardly worth repeating twice over.

In the end perhaps the greatest curiosity of this book is the somewhat heretical thought it leaves in its readers’ minds — that just possibly the great St Augustine of Hippo did not have that much of interest to say about the Resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Book Review – How to Read a Latin Poem: If you Can’t Read Latin yet.

By William Fitzgerald

Latin is a beautiful language but very different from English. One really important difference is the case system. The meaning of words in a sentence does not depend on their position but on their case, so words can be positioned anywhere without losing their meaning. This can mean that reading Latin, especially Latin poetry, is a bit like doing a jigsaw, piecing the words together into a coherent English meaning. That can be very frustrating but in this marvellous book Fitzgerald (Professor of Latin at Kings College, London) shows how this freedom to position words wherever they are most effective actually enriches the poem allowing a far greater interplay between the words in a stanza and a more subtle and richer development of meaning than we can achieve in English.

At the same time he brings out the differences in personality between the different poets: the well known Catullus, Horace, Virgil and Ovid are there but also the lesser read but equally good Lucretius, Propertius and Lucan. Their poetry is affected by the changing politics of their time; Horace and Virgil experienced the Civil War as young men and their poetry expresses relief that the war is over. Ovid offended Augustus and ended his life in exile while Lucan, after a glorious flowering, was forced by Nero to commit suicide at twenty five. There are surprises. Catullus’ poetry can be stunningly beautiful, deeply sensitive about love and feelings; or it can be mocking, sarcastic and on some occasions positively obscene.

As the title tells us the book is intended for those with little or no Latin. All poems are given in the original but with excellent translations. It is actually such a good book that even those with reasonably good Latin will enjoy it. It is clearly written, always entertaining, deeply informative and makes one want to get back to reading Latin again. How I wish Professor Fitzgerald would write on How to Read Latin Prose to open up some of the wonderful prose writers of the Latin world, too.

A welcome word from Fr Charlie

After many months of lockdown it was a great joy to be able to begin the process of reopening the retreat house to guests last week. After much planning and consultation the Community welcomed a small number of individually-guided retreatants for a retreat conducted by Oswin and Nicolas, as well as a few individuals who have been enquiring about life in the Community.

One consequence of the great variations of heat and rain we have been experiencing in recent months is a glut of fruit that has been emerging all over the grounds, out of which have appeared gooseberries, blackberries, blackcurrants, raspberries, mulberries, figs and, of course, apples. A good number of lockdown afternoons have been given over to an effort to gather in this great abundance, and through the good offices of Fr Thomas some of it has already begun to appear in the refectory in the form of jam. Added to this, after a flying visit to Stanbrook Abbey in North Yorkshire yesterday, Nicolas, Thomas and Charlie were finally able to collect the juice from last year’s apple harvest, pressed and bottled and ready for sale.

Fr Charlie nCR

Auction Update from Fr John

Although we had to postpone this year’s auction due to Covid, the good news is that we now have a date in mind for next year. It is some time off so we have around a year to prepare. We have some marvellous stuff and there is something for everyone. There are stamps, coins, rare books, some fabulous clocks, antiques, paintings, comics, cinema, sport and royal interest, rare propelling pencils – you want it and we’ve got it.

Of course I’m never satisfied. We have the material for a very good auction but I’m looking forward to a really great one.  When the next one comes I will be nearer 78 than 77 and no-one is going to take me seriously after that. Our highest total so far has been £60,000+. Let’s try for 70. I enjoy it all so much that sometimes I forget the serious side. The Community like everyone else will suffer great loss of income because of lost revenue in every department. In terms of our own needs this is not really important – but the works that we do for the Church and for the world do depend on our maintenance of the institutions that operate at or from Mirfield (teaching, retreats, spiritual direction and support to overseas missions). The auction is a great effort on the part of many people and it will go quite a way to helping CR in its work for the Kingdom.

So please help in any way that you can. At the moment there are a lot of things being offered to me from all over the country so one way in which some could help would be to collect and transport. Please keep the auction in your prayers and please tell others about it.

Fr John CR

News from the Library

The Community has recently received an amazing addition to the Library collection. A generous donation has been revealed to be an extraordinarily beautiful book, full of fascinating illustrations from a collection belonging to the museum – Pinacoteca Vaticana. The book is a showcase for the ‘Light for Art’ project, where a new system of lighting art (created by ENEI) was installed at the museum. The technology of the lighting is to help safeguard Rome’s artistic heritage.

Title: Pinacoteca Vaticana; Papal Monuments Museums Galleries; In the Painting the Expression of the Divine Message In the Light the Root of the Pictorial Creation.

Authors: Baldini, Umberto et al. Published by Milano, Fabbri / Rizzoli., 1992

Visitor & Guest Update Regarding Covid-19

Latest Lockdown Update – November 2020

It is with regret, that after the hard re-opening work of all who are part of the Community of the Resurrection, we have taken the difficult decision to once more close our doors to guests and visitors until January 2021.  The new national lockdown with restrictions on travel and visits has meant we are unable to stay open.  We have been blessed and heartened by each retreatant and visitor since we re-opened in August, it was such a pleasure to welcome each and every one. 

During the national lockdown, the Brethren will be living as a household and will be unable to receive guests to our services, however please join us online and we can be together in spirit.  We are learning to live in a strange new way, but our love and assurance that God is with us will never fail.  The Holy Spirit is with us all during this time and rest assured of our prayer for all who have come through our doors past, present and future.  Once restrictions have lifted we look forward to welcoming you once again and be assured that we will remain Covid secure and continue to review our practices and procedures in line with government advice.  Please keep all who live and work here in your thoughts and prayers over the coming weeks.

Our anticipated date to reopen is Wednesday 13 January 2021

For more information please call 01924 483346 or email



We invite your prayers for all those about to be ordained, and particularly for the 19 students of the College: 7 to be ordained to the Diaconate, and 12 to be ordained Priest.

It is to a very uncertain world, confronting Covid19, that we send out our students. We commend them and those to be made priest to your prayers along with the parishes in which they will serve. 

+Mark Sowerby

To The Diaconate

Annie Bolger
(Pro-Cathedral of the Holy Trinity, Brussels, Belgium)

Marianne Hayward
(Minister in Secular Employment at St Nicholas, Elm Park, NHS Consultant Psychiatrist)

Benjamin Tyler 
(SS Peter & Paul, Wantage)

Mitzi James
(St Mary with St George, Hornsey)

Daniel Wyman
(Holy Trinity, Eltham)     

Shavaun Shodeinde
(St Mary Magdalene, Wandsworth Common)

The information above is based on information so far received.

To The Priesthood

Benjamin Jarvis
(St Mary, Monkseaton)

Kathryn Goldsmith
(St James the Great, Chapelthorpe and St Peter, Woolley with West Bretton)

Paul Wheeler  
(St Mary’s, Nantwich)

Caroline Rink
(The Benefice of St Mary’s with All Souls, Kilburn and St James’ West Hampstead) Edmonton  

Lois Ward  
(Benefice of Poulton, Carleton & Singleton)


Carol Schofield   
(Wythenshawe Benefice St Luke, St Martin, St Richard of Chichester William Temple Church)

Paul Fitzpatrick   
(St Michael and All Angels, South Bennington with St Paul, Roundshaw)


CR Festival Day – 11 July 2020

Due to the current situation we sadly cannot welcome guests, visitors or friends to share our Festival weekend with us this year. We do still intend to hold the Festival, to thank God for all that he has given us and to thank him for our wider family. We would also like to thank everyone who supports the life and work of CR here at Mirfield and further afield, and so we would like to welcome you to join with us virtually. We intend to stream our services, and hope that you can join us if not for all, then for some of the weekend.  Please see below for our proposed timetable, the final version will be published in the June Quarterly, and will be available on our Website and Facebook so please check for updates.

Virtual Festival Day Timetable

Friday 10 July:

4.00pmSilent Prayer in the Community Church (Live Stream)
5.00pmMeditation – Fr John (Pre-recorded)
6.00pmSolemn Evensong (Live Stream)
9.15pmCompline – Greater silence begins (Live Stream)

Saturday 11 July:

7.30amMattins (Live Stream)
10.30amTalk from the Superior (Live)
11.15amTalk on Benedictine life – Fr Nicolas (Pre-recorded)
12.00pmSolemn Mass with Sermon (Live Stream)
2.30pmStations – Various talks and a virtual garden tour (Live)
4.00pmExposition and Benediction (Live Stream)
5.00pmSolemn Evensong (Live Stream)
9.15pmResurrection Vigil – Greater silence begins (Live Stream)

During Festival Eucharists it is customary for our Companions to renew their Commitments. This year Commitment cards will be put on the altar at the offertory and Fr John will say a prayer on behalf of the Companions, we hope that Companions will affirm their commitment at home either at that moment or at some time during the day.

CR Auction Announcement

After a lot of consultation and a great deal of calculation we have decided to postpone the auction scheduled for 5 September 2020 until a date to be decided in 2021.

Given the imponderables created by the pandemic this seems to be a wise decision. Mirfield auctions are popular not just because they raise money, they are great social events bringing together a lot of people and I have made a lot of friends because of them. So it seems right to wait for a more congenial atmosphere rather than try to dispose of the items already collected or promised.

I confess to feeling a little disappointed. However as Desperate Dan would say Nil Desperandum! Let’s look on this as an opportunity. About a decade ago I suggested that we have a one-off auction in which I believed that I could make £10,000. The first two auctions raised over £60,000 each and in total we have raised about £200,000. I hoped that this year’s would raise £10,000 and that this would be a good time to retire. Actually with pre-auction sales, what I already have in store and what has been promised we are quite near achieving that. So with a whole year ahead of us let’s be bold. £50,000 is not beyond our possibilities and that would make a grand total of a quarter of a million. Let’s do it!

The Community of the Resurrection and its various operations mean a lot to many people, the financial cost of the virus will be very, very heavy but with God’s help we can move mountains. Please pray for us, please support us.

Fr John CR