03 Oct September 2023 Digest
Autumnal greetings from Mucknell Abbey; despite some high temperatures earlier in the month, we’ve all noticed a ‘turn’ these last couple of weeks. As ever, there’s been much to keep us busy this month, a lot of it relating to picking and processing fruit and veg. We’ve been very grateful for the help of several of our guests on this front, and have been enjoying our own apples and pears for a few weeks now. Read on to see what’s been going in when we’re not harvesting!
Study and Learning
Reading and study occupy an important place in the Rule of Benedict. We all try to make time for personal reading and study, but in recent years we have also invited a range of people to come and “do” a study day for us. This month we had the pleasure of welcoming two such guests. On the 1st September, we hosted Rev’d Canon Professor Susan Gillingham, a long time friend of the community, She spoke to us on “Praying the Psalms with our Lord Jesus Christ”, discussing how we might read and pray the psalms as variously prophecies about Jesus, prayers of Jesus and prayers to Jesus. As ever with Sue’s days with us, both the lecture and the Q and A were fast moving and thought provoking.
On 5th September, we heard from Rev’d Tina Beardsley and her husband Rob, who spoke to us about the place of transgender people within the Church and in wider society. She gave us a wide-ranging overview, from the history of gender diversity to various theological considerations and voices, and we were grateful to her for giving us much to reflect on and continue to discuss.
Out and About
On 2nd September, Brothers Ian and Adrian ventured into Wales for the annual Father Ignatius Memorial Trust Pilgrimage in the Ewyas Valley. After moving between various sites in England, Fr. Ignatius bought his small Benedictine community to a new monastery at Capel-y-ffin, at the top of the valley, in 1870. He had originally hoped to reoccupy the ruined monastery at Llanthony, but when this proved impossible, built New Llanthony Abbey instead. Never large, the community was unable to continue after its founder’s death in 1908, and many of the monks joined Aelred Carlyle and his community on Caldey Island. Fr. Ignatius’ grave can still be seen in the ruins of his church, and the annual pilgrimage usually visits this site. Owing to roadworks this was not possible this year, so the entire event took place at Llanthony.
From 25th to 28th, I travelled rather further afield to attend the First Professed Conference at Alnmouth Friary in Northumberland. Open to all members of Anglican communities in First Vows, this year 5 of us gathered for a few days of discussion, fellowship and prayer. We enjoyed a lovely walk out to Dunstanburgh Castle, and spent some time talking about how we might share the riches of the Religious Life with the wider Church and society. Those of us who live further inland also enjoyed having the beach so close by.
On 8th September, the feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, we had great delight in professing two new oblates, Kim Brown and Paul Edmondson. Over the last couple of years we have been working with a small group of folk to look at re-establishing oblation here at Mucknell. It was wonderful, then, to welcome and celebrate with Kim and Paul; although quite simple in format, the profession was a moving experience for all present.
Praying our Farewells
As many of you will know, Sr. Sally took a leave of absence from the Community last September, to spend more time with her growing family, and to discern her future. After much prayer and reflection, she has decided to leave Mucknell Abbey and the Community here. She has paid several visits recently, the last of these being on Tuesday 26th, when we prayed our farewells to her, and she to us. For the time being she will be staying with the Sisters of the Church, where she has spent her leave of absence. We are grateful for all that Sally has given to the Community during her time here, and we ask your prayers both for her and for the Community in this time of transition, knowing that all is held in the love and life of God.