24th July 2018

Companions Visit Monastic Houses – New and Old

On Friday 20th July a group of the Companions made a visit to the Monos Community and Mount St Bernard Abbey, near Coalville.

We had a great welcome to St Joseph’s Tea Rooms run by the Monos Community. Ant Grimley and his parents Ellen and Kevin shared with us their story of journeying into a new monastic way of life. We wrestled together with the question: ‘what is new monasticism?’. There are four elements that many expressions of new monasticism would own, a commitment to a daily rhythm of life, contemplative forms of prayer, radical community and missional loving service to the world. As we face the challenges of developing our own way of life and writing a Rule of Life, we were grateful to Ellen and Kevin for sharing so honestly about the lessons they have learned over many years of obedience in saying ‘yes’ to God’s call.

After lunch in the Tea Rooms we travelled the short distance to Mount St Bernard Abbey, home to 26 Catholic Cistercian monks. After sharing in the 2.15 Office of None sung by the monks, we were privileged to join Dom. Fr. Joseph for a conversation about monasticism new and old. The principle differences are that new monastic communities:

  • Take temporary vows, not lifelong vows
  • Include married people and families, rather than vowing celibacy
  • Do not share all their goods in common (but do move in  the direction of greater shared commitments)
  • Do not involve a withdrawal from the world

Fr. Joseph explained the purpose of their call to withdraw; it enables them to cut out the distractions and concentrate more fully upon God. Their mission is to stand apart from the world in order to pray on behalf of the world. The monks rise to pray in the early hours of the morning whilst the world sleeps, in the hours of darkness they are vigilant in prayer, like watchmen on the walls (Isaiah 62:6-7). We were inspired further in our own growing sense of a call to be a house of prayer in Leicester.

‘Work is precious,’ said Fr. Joseph and shared his understanding of the monastic rhythm keeping a balance of prayer, work, rest and study within each day. All food for thought as we begin to plan the daily, weekly and annual rhythms for our Community.

Quote of the day: ‘What is monasticism? It is a tree that bears fruit.’ A rather lovely encouragement for our newly planted Community of the Tree of Life.

Pictured above:

Anthony, Kevin and Ellen Grimley of Monos Community at St Joseph’s Tea Rooms

Mount St Bernard Abbey

English Trappist Ale – some members of the group felt the need to support the monks in their new brewery enterprise