FR.DAVID JONES - A DOCUMENTARY
BY PHOTOGRAPHER STEPHEN MC ELLIGOTT
Fr.David was born in Wales and raised in the Baptist Church. In his mid teens he spent most of his life trying to convert Catholics until he happened to stumble into his local Catholic Church one day in the late 60's.
He was immediately blown away by the Latin chants, the billowing incense and the sense of the mystical that encompassed the entire liturgy.
Shortly after his conversion, although he was too young to enter the monastic life, they bent the rules in his favor.
With his parents blessing he went to be a Monk in France where he spent most of his life before moving around the monasteries of Europe, ending up in Italy and finally arriving in the village of Duleek, Ireland, where he now resides indefinitely.
Fr.David has given me the very rare invitation to document his daily life. Hermits don't normally allow this given the nature of their vocation to be in total silence. I am therefore grateful he allowed me in.
Fr.David Jones reads me some of his favorite Bible stories. I asked him to show me his favorite place to read. He said ''this chair would be where I sit and read my favorite book of all ''The Bible''.
I sat him in the chair and he read his book which he did so but silently at first. I captured this silence and asked him to read aloud if he wishes to do so.
Fr.David reads aloud the story of Lazarus raised from the dead found in the Gospel of John chapter 11.
Writing To Reach You
Fr.David writes a letter to a dear friend pondering his next line.
Icons of Jesus inspire Fr.David Jones in his writing.
The Divine Office
After Fr.David finished writing his important letters, it was time for the Divine office. I was mesmerized by the humility of kneeling on the uncomfortable floor for 20 minutes.
The Narrow Door
As I alternated between lenses in the kitchen, I spotted an opportunity here to convey the Gospel message that the door to heaven is narrow: "Make every effort to enter through the narrow door, because many, I tell you, will try to enter and will not be able to.'' Luke:13:24
Fr.David has two altars of which pictured here contains a relic of the true Cross of Christ.
A Refreshing Drink
All that prayer and worship does make one thirsty. After satisfying the thirst of Christ for Love, Fr.David now tends to his own thirst.
Fr.David Jones leads us through vespers. The soft kneeler's are available to him, but he prefers to kneel on the hard floor.
In the ascetic life discomfort is not just there to keep Monks humble but helps with their concentration on prayer.
Let There Be Light
A light illuminates his Divine office prayer book, enabling him to see in the dimly lit chapel where the true light comes to illuminate the darkness of our souls.
Crucified To The World
A closer look at the Crucifix that hangs above Fr.Davids Tabernacle, forever reminding him he must be crucified to the world on a daily basis for the rest of his days.
The Eternal Light
This light that burns beside the Blessed Sacrament must always be burning and never allowed to go out, just like the light within us should always be lit and never die out. (Matthew:25:1-13)
A Marian Altar
An altar dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary greets us prior to entering the chapel.
Whilst Fr.David finished his prayers I came out here to take a closer look.
A Host Awaits His Guest
Fr.David came out after prayer and calmly waited for me to finish so I took a photograph of him whilst doing so.
Towards The Light
As father David spoke with me he looked out the window and I take a photograph of him in the midst of this.
Awake O Sleeper Eph:5:14
I asked Father David to show me his sleeping quarters. Upon entering I asked him to show me the first thing he does when he awakens.
Arising from his bed he sits and reads a book ''The Real Presence Through The Ages'' by '' Michael L. Gaudoin-Parker '' on ''the adoration of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament on the Altar.''
Light And Darkness
In the midst of reading an excerpt from his book, I noticed a contrast between the light and darkness that encompassed Fr.David, as if to illustrate that fight between light and darkness within us all.
One Last Bible Story
Fr.David takes me back to his main Chapel where he reads one last story.
I invite him to look at the camera where he surprises me with a gentle smile, providing me with a rare glimpse of the radiant joy of Christ within him.
From my own perspective, I see a face that has been through so many battles in life.
From his initial conversion and struggle with the world inside, to the 10 year vow of silence and fight to quiet his old self, It's impossible not to be inspired.
Fr.Jones obviously found the treasure most of us seek. And instead of hiding it, points us all in the direction where we too can avail of such Graces.
In Recent months I took my son to see ''The Last Jedi'' Star Wars movie in which Jedi Master Luke Skywalker in a troubled galaxy, becomes the last Jedi in the rebellion against evil.
I realized how such fiction was actually a reflection of the truth, that I was in the presence of possibly the last spiritual master himself, ''The Last Hermit Of Ireland.''
Maybe I'm wrong and there are more of them out there. If there is, I must find them.
The Irish people need to know that Christianity is not yet dead and that a ''new rebellion'' will rise from the ashes once again.
When It came time for me to leave, it wasn't easy as Fr.David made quite the impression upon me.
People like Fr.David sometimes without saying anything at all, by their very life, remove us from the comfort zone we've developed for ourselves.
I would liked to have stayed much longer with Father David, but I realized that I have a wife and two children at home I must attend to.In my house (or domestic Church) we wage the same war just on a different part of the same battlefield.
I came to understand that this is a war in which our weapons may differ, the end goal being always the same. . . getting to heaven. It is very easy for us to see Father David as looking to become an escapist seeking only to run away from the world.
Countering this thought, we must admit that all of us are escapists who run from silence forever entertaining our our idle thoughts. We all run away from God to cower into the corner of comforting leisure's which serve only to exclude him.
Leisure's such as alcohol, drugs, the cinema, video games, facebook and social media, all of which we use as a means to run away from the real fight in front of us.The more I got to know Fr.David, I began to see him not as an escapist, but a brave man who has decided to confront the world within himself that most of us are unwilling to confront.
Like the monks of the past, he goes into the desert to confront the Devil for the sake of all our souls. He inspires us to take up the same fight in whatever position we find ourselves in, be it the religious life or one in which we struggle with an upside down world opposed to all that is Holy.
I hope you've enjoyed this documentary of Fr.David and I'm eager to see him again as he's left the door open for future visits.