02 May April 2023 Digest
Alleluia! Christ is Risen!
Much of our energy this month has been taken up with Holy Week and Easter. Walking through the events of these days is an often tiring but finally deeply joyful experience, as we arrive at Easter morning to greet the Risen Christ with our Easter Vigil. This began this year at 5am, outside the front door of the monastery, with a glorious Easter fire created by Br. Stuart. We light the Paschal Candle, and enter the dark of the Oratory, hear the exultet – sung beautifully this year by Lindsay – and then journey through the story of God’s people in a series of Old Testament readings, as the dawn slowly breaks. Then comes the first Alleluia of Easter, the bell rings, the lights go on and we rejoice through the Gloria, New Testament readings, the renewal of our baptismal vows and the celebration of the Eucharist. Coming out of the Oratory to greet the rising sun is always a joy.
We’ve also been enjoying the signs of Spring all around – longer days, more sunlight, beautiful blossom.
We’ve also been spotting some of the usual wildlife, including ducklings, hares, deer and the first of the swallows arriving mid-month.
We enjoyed our usual Easter octave, taking time to rest and see friends and family. After that, though, it was back to work, with our library needing a thorough clean. This meant taking all the books off the shelves, dusting both shelves and books, riffling the pages of each book, then replacing them, making sure they were in order as we did so. We got through the whole library in 2 days, which was quite an achievement given that the library houses some 10,000 volumes. We found it very easy to get distracted by interesting looking books, and also by the various ephemera found between the pages, including letters, receipts, orders of service and much else besides.
We’ve also enjoyed the company of Bhanuka, from the Community of St. Anselm, and we look forward to welcoming Mary during May for a week. It’s always good to share with other communities, and to give particularly the young people who make up CoSA the chance to experience life in a traditional community. (Apologies for the finger that crept over the camera lens!)
As well as welcoming visitors to the monastery, I paid a visit to Norton College, a nearby secondary school. One of their students, with teacher in tow, had come up to the Abbey out of curiosity a month or so ago, and the contact made has developed into a plan to welcome a group of students to the monastery to visit particularly the Oratory as part of their R.E. curriculum. I went and spent a morning at the college, meeting some of the students and showing them some photos of the Oratory and the wider monastery too; we’re looking forward to arranging a visit here some time in May. The College offers a bespoke curriculum that enables their students to overcome barriers to learning, and with a guiding philosophy of kindness, warmth and compassion it is an inspirational place to be. I greatly enjoyed seeing the work the school was doing, and also meeting young men and women who would probably never usually engage with monastic life. Several of them, including the group below, were fascinated and asked lots of thoughtful questions.
Along with everything mentioned above, our monastic round continues on as we gather to celebrate the Office, work to serve one another in love, and welcome those who come to spend time in this place with us. As ever, be assured of our prayers and our presence.