From the PastAs Benedictines, we are committed to searching for God through prayer, work and reading. The rhythm of each day flows from the celebration of the Divine Office, sung in English and Latin: Vigils, Lauds, Midday Prayer (incorporating the Little Hours), Vespers and Compline. To these Offices are added Mass, two periods of private, contemplative prayer and a period of lectio divina or prayerful reading and study. Working, welcoming guests, and looking after the house and grounds are all part of our daily routine. This is the tradition we have inherited from the past and wish to share with others.
As you read on, you will understand why sharing this inheritance from the past cannot be done on what we manage to earn from our work or obtain from occasional donations (much as we appreciate them). That is why we are asking for help.
Through the PresentMany of the things we do are an attempt to answer the question: how can we best live and share our vocation in the twenty-first century. The internet is a great way of making monastic life more accessible without destroying the peace and recollection of the cloister; so on this site you will find videos, podcasts, a virtual chapter and so on, all of which play a part in the creation of our online community. We know many people are time-poor, hence our development of online retreats to allow a little monastic space in the midst of daily activity. As the web goes mobile, we are exploring ways of taking the monastery there too. That is why we have had a version of this web site designed for use on mobile devices since 2008 (now in much need of updating!).
From the first we set ourselves to be a resource centre for others, offering talks, short courses and days of recollection here at the monastery. These are open to all, irrespective of religious affiliation. We are very clear about our Catholic identity so are happy to engage with many different traditions and faith perspectives. Our library began with just half a dozen books but is now a sub-library of the University of Oxford, with important collections of modern American Catholic theology and High Anglican devotional works. It is open to students and others by appointment. We are also keenly aware of the spiritual needs of the blind and visually impaired for whom our Veilaudio service provided a free audio book library loan system based here at the monastery, where we recorded and made the audio books on cassette and CD.
We are different from most other Benedictine communities in that we have no endowment (funds inherited from the past). As we said earlier, our monastic life, online engagement and charitable activities are financed entirely by our own work and the generosity of our donors. It would be a fragile basis for all our undertakings were it not that God is never outdone in generosity. We are hoping that those who appreciate the value of what we are trying to do will be moved to help us.
To the FutureWe are convinced that a contemplative Benedictine community such as ours has a contribution to make both to the Church and to society in general, but it does require resources we do not yet have. We bought our present house with the help of a large bank loan, so now have a permanent base from which to operate.
We have consulted widely about the next step: you can read about our plans in the Future section of the web site. We hope you would like to be associated with this project yourself and become part of the community's future.
The unseen core of our life is, and always will be, the quiet, persevering quest for God through a life lived in common according to the Rule of St Benedict. That is what gives meaning and purpose to what we are trying to do. It is our hope and prayer that many will share our vision and be drawn to serve in this schola dominici servitii, this 'school for the Lord's service'. (RB Prologue 45)