An excerpt from a memoir of Dom John Chapman, Order of Saint Benedictine, Abbot of Downside Abbey, by Dom Roger Hudleston, O.S.B., in the paperback, “Spiritual Letters”, first published 1934, current pubs., 2003 and 2004 by Burns & Oates, London, New York:
“A good Director, he held, must be a nurse, no more. He should confine himself to the task of teaching his penitent how to walk alone and unaided. That done, he should be ready to retire into the background; only emerging on rare occasions when unusual circumstances or some particular crisis called for his attention. Directors of this kind would be of no danger to simplicity or humility, while an over dogmatic or too eager Director, giving unsuitable or unnecessary advice with relish and impressiveness, would harm both his penitent and himself.”
First published in 1935, the timeless spirituality of these letters are straightforward expressions of a committed truth seeker impatient of religious cant and “stupidity”, steeped in “omnivorous” scholastic reading and analysis.
As a notable Church establishment figure, Dom Chapman’s knowledge of and acceptance of mysticism is a surprising discovery.