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flattop BS: Okay, I'll do it Little Hawk... (30) RE: BS: Okay, I'll do it Little Hawk... 09 Sep 01

Ralph Glaber, a monk from Burgundy, who wrote a five-volume history of his times, wrote his history with these questions in mind. He entered his first monastery in 997, scarcely twelve years old, and he seems to have been a character, which set him aside from his fellow monks. In the course of fifty years he was shown the door of six monasteries. On the other hand, not being confined entirely to a monastic life, his wanderings provided him with a wonderful patchwork of perspectives.

In the lead-up to the year one thousand, Glaber gathered reports of a terrifying comet that had crossed the sky:

"It appeared in the month of September, not long after nightfall and remained visible for nearly three months.

"Whether it is a new star, or an increase in the brightness of another star as decided by God no one can tell, but what was established with the greatest degree of certainty is that this phenomenon in the sky never appears to men without being the sure sign of some mysterious and terrible event."

Indeed very soon after, fire consumed the great church of St Michael the Archangel, off the coast of Brittany.

And Glabor continues,

" In the seventh year from the millennium almost all of the cities of Italy and Gaul were devastated by violent conflagrations and Rome itself was largely razed by fire.

The people, en mass, gave out a terrible scream and turned to rush to confess their sins to the Prince of the Apostles."

By the way, the portentous comet of 989 was Haley's comet.

Glaber, in his dreams had met the Devil who appeared at the end of his bed several times. The devil whispered seditious thoughts in an attempt to subvert the holy man.

"Why do monks bother with vigils, fasts and mortifications?

"One day, one hour of repentance, is all you need to earn eternal bliss so why bother to rise at the sound of the bell when you could go on sleeping?

These words were uttered 1000 years ago to a monk, but are they not familiar to us today? How often do we hear the words,

"I don't need to go to church.

"I don't need to be forever vigilant and on my best behaviour.

"I've repented of my sins, I've a clean slate."

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