Our Clergy



Increasingly we have many distractions in life, not least when it comes to modern technology. Typically I might be sat on the sofa and think, shall I go on my I Pad to look something up or check emails, check my phone for texts or Facebook, or maybe switch on the telly? All whilst I’m eating my lunch!
I’m not one to criticise too much the marvels of modern technology and the benefits they bring. Standing outside the phone box as a youngster because we didn’t have a house phone, seems a world away now. All those long queues and getting irritated because someone was spending too long in there, and you’d already been waiting twenty minutes! I remember once when I was a lad of about sixteen, I was intending to ring a girl and ask her out, but the queue outside the telephone box was so long and I waited so long, it gave me too long to think and dwell on it. So much so that by the time I got to the front of the queue, I’d lost my nerve and gave up and went home!
Now all those phone boxes, whether the old red ones which I particularly identify with or the more ‘modern’ ones that came after that, look very sad and neglected, with not one person in them, never mind a queue. So yes, means of communication etc. have massively developed in recent decades and there is much to be said for it. Look how easily we can educate ourselves at a click or a touch, of a phone, I Pad or computer.
However with all this great progress of instant access, comes greater distraction and the temptation to pick up your phone even when you think you’re quite absorbed watching something good on the telly, is always there. Thank goodness for SKY Plus when you can press pause!
So as with many things there is an upside and a down side. One thing is certain; too many distractions are not great for us. I was just looking at a video on You Tube and it featured a community of Benedictine Monks called the Monastery in the Desert. Possibly one of the most isolated monasteries in the western world, it was out in the wilderness of New Mexico. The stillness within the monastery and outside of it and that sense of untamed landscape and natural environment came across strongly. The monks as is typical within their order would theoretically live there all their lives and the discipline of work and worship and generally living by the Rule of St Benedict, gives them a greater chance of focus and less chance of distraction. And yet amidst all this, forms of modern media feature in some way within the monastery; albeit contained and restricted.
The video featured the monks engaging with the world through Sony Music, as they recorded Gregorian Chant, a feature of the daily offices when the monks gather in chapel and focus on God seven or eight times a day. Through this recording, which the monks had never expected to do, something of the Monastery in the Desert would be able to reach out into people’s lives. Often busy and hectic lives that are in need of stillness and some sense of spirituality. However, for all the listeners out there, if there isn’t some sense of focus; and if people succumb to too many distractions, the music of the Gregorian Chant is merely reduced to something vaguely pleasant in the background, which is okay in itself and has a place, but probably doesn’t take us too far in encountering God.
One of the monks said, ‘Listen with the ear of your heart.’
And then he said, ‘To listen you have to be quiet inside.’
The liturgical seasons of the church’s year help us to focus on our Christian faith. As we pass from Epiphany through Candlemas and into Lent, perhaps we might pray that God helps us to find him amidst our busy distracted lives. Find him in stillness, where we might find ourselves too and realise how much we need the peace that is God. May we at some point in our day, listen with the ear of our hearts to the God whom we so ignore, but who never ignores us.

Fr Carl Peters

     The Clergy House
     Sawmill Lane,
     DH7 8NS

     Tel: 0191 680 3875

Other Contact Telephone Numbers

Brandon, St. John's

Churchwarden - David 3789718
P.C.C. secretary - Denise 3781285

New Brancepeth, St. Catherine's

Reader – Liz – 3731554,
Churchwarden - Joe - 3739927







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