February 2020

Feast of the Presentation (Candlemas) – Candlemas, in which we remember the presentation of the child Jesus in the Temple at Jerusalem, is a sort of hinge event. Liturgically, it completes the celebration of his birth. And in Mary’s redemption of her first-born we look forward to Lent and Easter; to his death and rising. We now enter so-called Ordinary Time, and some of the tension of what we might call the ‘ordinary time’ of life – between the promises of God and their final fulfilment – is another theme taken up in Sr Jessica’s sermon for today, which you can read here.

Have you read the new Support Us page?

One of things we can do here at Mucknell is fold a fitted sheet. Successfully navigating adulthood remains a challenge…

Tuesday 4th – Our Estate Week got off to a fine start yesterday. Sawing, chopping, raking, burning: that pretty much covers it. I remembered how all-absorbing it is to watch a fire burn. And then there’s the joy of smelling of smoke afterwards. Mind you, I think that’s niche.

I’ll try and remember to take some photographs. There were some very Instagrammable subjects yesterday, but alas no one was armed with a phone.

Sunday 9th – Estate Week is over and everyone is feeling their lack of physical fitness. However we accomplished more than we thought we would, and the weather was very kind. Personally I would be very happy to spend the rest of my days starting and tending fires. However Estate Week doesn’t leave much time for anything else, and now that it’s over – and before we’re swept up into the land of Oz – here is a quick update on some other things that have been happening:

On Wednesday evening Sr Karin, the recently elected Prioress of Alsike kloster, a small Lutheran community in Sweden, shared with us something of their current life and work. The community has been working with refugees for 40 years, but in recent years their involvement has intensified considerably. They now host 65 refugees or asylum seekers – many of them from the Balkan states, Angola, the Congo and Afghanistan – in a building designed for 20. They are helped by many volunteers, and have recently welcomed a new novice from Kenya.

There’s more to say but there goes the bell, and I have to put a joint of beef in the oven….

…Ok, so from Tuesday to Friday Sr Jessica attended the inter-novitiate study conference held at Gerrard’s Cross, where the Sisters of the Church have their new home. The speaker was Dr Santha Bhattacharji, who discussed the history of Christian monasticism from its beginnings in the Egyptian desert through to the development of the medieval mendicant orders.

From left to right: Manna (Postulant; CSMV, Wantage), Br Ethan nSSF, Lizzie (Postulant; CMSV, Wantage), Sr Joanna nSSC, Sr Julie nSSB, Sr Jessica nOSB, Br Tobias nSSF

Friday 14th – Good news for those hoping to visit us in the future: a press release was issued a couple of days ago announcing that the new Worcestershire Parkway Station will be open to passengers on the 23rd of this month. Hurrah! As you can see from the map below, the new station is almost opposite the ever-perilous turning into Mucknell Farm Lane. More information will be made available on the website when we have seen it with our own eyes, and touched it with our hands.

Saturday 15th – Br Philip recently returned from General Synod in London and has very kindly written a short reflection on the experience (after much prodding…):

https://www.churchofengland.org/sites/default/files/2020-02/OP%20VI%20-%20Feb%202020.pdf – this link should take you to the General Synod pages on the Church of England’s website. It is a wonderful example of some of the reading I now have to help me sleep inform me of the mechanics of the legislation that helps the Church of England function as an institution…

When Abbot Thomas resigned from Synod on being elected Abbot in 2018, there was a by-election which resulted in my becoming one of the four representatives on Synod from Religious Communities. I attended my first group of sessions last July, when it was held at York. I have just returned from the latest group of sessions at Church House, London. I was fortunate in having St Matthew’s Westminster as my accommodation – literally a 2 minute walk from Church House.

Synod sat from Monday 10th until Thursday 13th and the days were full of business items and fringe meetings, and much chatting over coffee and lunch. The proceedings are very much like that of the Houses of Commons and House of Lords (only without the rowdy shouting), and measures are proposed and scrutinised for final Parliamentary enactment, having the equivalent status of an Act of Parliament or an Order in Council. There are also many small working groups doing the hard graft in-between sessions.

The chairs and speakers bring a high level of expertise, and where appropriate, good humour to the proceedings. I was reminded just how “official” Synod on seeing a bewigged lawyer sitting next to the Chair at all times. There were times, too, of deep, heart-rending listening, as when we heard of the work of Living in Love and Faith and the Pastoral Advisory Group, as well as details from the Safeguarding: Response to Recommendations in IICSA May 2019 Investigation Report.

On Wednesday there was a small group of hardy folk (there was a biting wind) holding a vigil protest in support of urgent action on the climate crisis. I met Franklin, a member of the Community of St Anselm who had recently stayed with us here at Mucknell. He is part of the praying presence in the chamber, and it was good to see their white habits in the gallery supporting us. In just three days there is a lot to process, and that continues through to the next group of sessions which will be back at York in July. Please keep in your prayers all those who work behind the scenes both during the sessions and for the time in-between. Br Philip

Sunday 16th – The Community begins its week-long pre-Lent retreat this evening after Compline.

Have you seen our appeal for Hassan?