March 2024 Digest - Mucknell Abbey
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March 2024 Digest

Alleluia! Christ is risen! Welcome back to another month here at Mucknell Abbey. It’s been a month of contrasts and movement, as we’ve travelled through Lent into Passiontide and Holy Week, remembering Jesus’ suffering and death, ending (or beginning!) with the joy of Easter Day and Jesus’ glorious resurrection. Throughout the month, it’s also been lovely to begin to see signs of Spring – of which more later!

Holy Week and Easter

We have followed our usual pattern of services over the past week. We have moved from the exaltation of Palm Sunday, through to Maundy Thursday and Good Friday, where we see a very different kind of king lifted high on the cross. The silence of these days then gives way to the exuberant joy of the resurrection on Easter morning. We keep an early morning Easter Vigil service on Easter Day, beginning this year in the dark at 5.20am with the lighting of a new fire outside the main doors. This light is then used to light the Paschal Candle, which is brought in to a dark Oratory, and then used in turn to light as many candles and oil lamps as we can find, along with handheld candles for each member of the congregration. As the day dawns, we hear the history of God’s people before coming to the long-awaited first alleluia of Easter, and the proclamation that “Christ is Risen”. We continue with a renewal of baptismal vows, and sharing together in Holy Communion. Below are a few photos from Holy Week and Easter. The photos of the rainbow over the Kitchen Garden were taken on Good Friday afternoon, and the icon of the Washing of the Feet is Br. Michaël’s most recently completed work. The other photos are from Easter morning.

Norton College

I wrote last year about my visit to Norton College, a local secondary school that makes specialist academic and vocational provision for students who for a whole variety of reasons have had a tough time with ‘mainstream’ education. Since then I’ve visited a few more times, spending a morning once or twice a term in the college, chatting to all and sundry about all manner of things. Some of the conversations have been about God, and faith; others about steam trains, or pigeons, or how terrible I am at any and all computer games. I wrote a couple of paragraphs for their recent newsletter, in which I said that as well as hopefully contributing something positive to the college, I have also been learning a lot about not judging books by their covers. It’s easy to dismiss “difficult” teenagers, but we do so to our detriment as well as theirs. The staff at the college have a consistent, insistent postive regard for their students, grounded in warmth, compassion and kindness, and it’s always a joy to spend time there.

Signs of Spring

As mentioned above, we have been enjoying the signs of Spring all around us. In the Kitchen Garden, the raspberry canes are putting out their leaves, and the cherry trees are showing their first bits of blossom.

Oblate Days

It was lovely to welcome a few of our Oblates at the start of the month for a few days of retreat, led by Br. Ian. During that time, we received Richard Frost as an Oblate; he has written about his time at Mucknell Abbey on his blog, Work. Rest. Pray: Make the most of it.

Rocky’s Report

Our new cat Rocky has also had a very varied month! It began with an infection in his leg, which resulted in several visits to the vet and a few days sporting the dreaded cone, which did not impress him one little bit. He has however soaked up all the TLC, and is gradually getting more adventurous. This has been particularly evident in the last week or so, when he has finally been allowed outside; he seems to be spending most of his days exploring the grounds at the moment, but still makes sure we know when he’s around and wanting feeding!

Following the intensity of Holy Week and Easter day, the community here now look forward to a few slightly more restful days, with chance to see family and friends, and catch up on sleep! If you’re planning to join us for the Office or Eucharist at any point in the coming week (i.e. up to Sunday 8th), it’s worth calling ahead as there are changes to the timetable in these days. Our phone number is 01905 345 900. Whatever Eastertide holds for us, may we all continue to walk in the joy of the risen Christ. Alleluia!