New Term – what we plan!

As the Summer draws to a close, our minds turn to our Autumn activities.

Little footprints

We are excited that Little Footprints will return after its Summer break on Tuesday, September 6th. Do hope to see some new faces and lots of older ones.

Our craft and stories will start with a look at Harvest  and in the first Half term we will also look at angels and animals.

This Parent and Toddler Group meets each Tuesday in Term time from 10am – 11.30-am at Holy Trinity Hall, Baker Street.

 

Bereavement Group

The following day sees the first meeting of our new group for those who are bereaved.

Meeting weekly on Wednesday between 5.15pm – 7pm in the Priory Centre at St Mary’s Priory, Monk Street it is  a safe forum for people to meet others who are bereaved to make new friends and/or share experiences.

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Schools Days

On Thursdays in Term time we will again join the St Mary’s Priory Development Trust Learning Service Volunteers in hosting visits by local primary school children as they learn about the Tudors.

Spend a “Day in the Life of a monk” with us!

 

7 Corners /Hotspot

You will see us volunteering in the various 7 Corners / Hotspot activities to. To find out what they do click here.

New Community reflect on the Rule

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The Holywell Community and Bishop Dominic

Less than 48 hours after being commissioned and we were off on retreat to Llangasty. The retreat was led by Bishop Dominic Walker OGS and was based upon the Rule of Saint Benedict. There where seven addresses over a two day period, each focusing on a different area of the Rule. During each address we looked at how that Rule was applied when written and how it is still relevent today and how it can be applied now, three concepts seeped through the seven addresses, humility, hospitality and listening. Each one of these is interconnected as it is impossible to have one on its own – a Community needs all three. It is these three concepts that I find are some of the most central to Christian life as a whole not just within the Benedictine Rule.

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Bishop Dominic Walker OGS leads the addresses for the Community

Saint Benedict suggests that we need to be humble, but this is not just a case of having low expectations of oneself or offering self-sacrifice, but rather about knowing yourself inside and out, knowing who you are before God, all your strengths and all your weaknesses, and accepting these as they are – applying both to the building up of others around you. Through being humble we open ourselves up to being hospitable, as only when we know our strengths and weaknesses can we truly apply them to the care of others.

Within the rule of Saint Benedict, he writes ‘All who arrive are to be welcomed like Christ’ (Rule of Saint Benedict 53:1). He says this as a reflection on Holy Scripture where Christ says ‘I was a stranger and you welcomed me’ (Matt 25:35). It is from this verse Saint Benedict calls us to see everyone as Christ, Christ lives in us all and we in Him. Our human nature can make this a difficult task, as grievances and arguments occur with people who we perceive to have done us wrong, but Christ did not come so that he may gain the glory, but so He could take on all these wrong doings onto Himself, that we may be washed clean in His blood. He came to show us the Gospel, not to show us himself. He came for each and every one of us individually.  So, if God can love a person that much, surely we can. Once we begin to open our hearts in this way, we begin to hear the needs of each other within the silence of our hearts. Through this love of one another we should be able to recognise each others’ needs without having to be asked; this is why Saint Benedict states that the hospitality towards guest should not disrupt the life of the Monk, we should be aware of the guest’s needs so that they may be carried out without disruption. They are to be welcomed. but the must not be put in the way of our relationship with Christ. Silence is a big part of many Religious Communities, which can at first be overpowering, but once it has been explained it is the most refreshing ways of praying we can have.

The first word of the Rule of Saint Benedict is ‘listen’, but it goes much deeper than just listening. We need to take these things into ourselves – they must become part of our very being – we must truly hear the words behind them. This is apparent from the first sentence of the Rule, where Saint Benedict uses a quotation from scripture ‘Listen carefully, my child, to your master’s precepts and incline the ear of your heart.’ (Proverbs 4:20). We must listen with our hearts to the needs of others, this is how we are to be able to know and recognise the needs of our brothers and sisters without a word ever leaving either of our lips, but more importantly we are to listen to ‘our master’s precepts’ – we are to listen to God. We can do this through prayer, Prayer is not just a list of things we want God to know, or a list of things we would like God to help us accomplish, this is part of it, but a small part, Prayer is the way we strengthen our relationship with God, it is a conversation. But conversation doesn’t work if it is only one-sided, we must allow time for God to listen to us and also time for us to listen to God. For many, the silence is deafening, it screams of their true self, the one God created, so they try to hide from it and distract themselves with noise, the noise of the world with music and entertainment, and inner noise, of lists and thoughts of things which need to be done, things that have happened and of comments of who they are in society; but once we have inner silence, we become stripped bare before God, like Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden, this can be scary, here it is that God sees us fully, uncovered and unguarded, our defences are down. This is scary for it is here we are most vulnerable, we fear that our true self is not good enough and may be rejected. But God gazes upon us and loves us for who we are. It is here God sees past all our distraction and sees us more deeply. Here He sees into the desires of the heart, rather than the wants of the mind. He sees what is really needed and all to often it is just to spend time with him, the thing we are afraid of is the thing we need the most, as time goes by it becomes more comfortable in this way, as just like any relationship with friends and family: the more time you spend together the closer you become, each friendship grows with group conversations but it grows more intimate and we became bonded more through one on one conversations there is a need for both. As a true friendship it is the same with God, the importance of both silent prayer and communal prayer must not be underestimated. As our friendships with each other strengthen, it become natural to just be with each other without the need to do, this is the same for our relationship with God.

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The serene view in the early mornings

I found that the retreat house at Llangasty was a perfect place to be reflecting on the Rule as it was our first retreat together as this new community, so it gave us a place where we could just be together but also a place to just be with God, away from all distractions in the peaceful and serene setting that it has, here I was able to reflect on the beauty of the world that God had created for us and see the Love He had put into it for us.

Sister Jennii Shaw

NEW COMMUNITY COMMISSIONED

ON the Eve of the Feast of the Blessed Virgin Mary the new Community was Commissioned.

During the service our Episcopal Visitor, Bishop Richard of Monmouth took as his text: The Revelation to St John 12:1-2

After that there appeared a great sign in heaven: a woman robed with the sun, beneath her feet the moon, and on her head a crown of twelve stars. She was about to bear a child, and in the anguish of her labour she cried out to be delivered.

He said:

A woman robed with the sun. You may be excused for thinking – on this Patronal day – that this woman in Revelation is Mary. It isn’t. The writer, St. John draws on the figure of Ziôn, the new Jerusalem, the church.

And that is quite appropriate because when we think of Mary, the mother of our Lord, we should always be drawn into two directions. To Jesus. And to the church. In ultimate truth it is the same direction, in practice it is a journey that twists and turns as we come to lay our lives and our will to God’s plan of redemption.

So today, as a parish community we celebrate the journey of Mary, and recognise that this our journey as faithful disciples of Jesus.

What I want to reflect about – for a few moments – is the cost of Mary’s discipleship and the cost of our own.

This week I have been surrounded by martyrs. No, not the type who make a fuss about nothing. No I mean real martyrs. St Teresa Benedicta of the cross ( Edith Stein) and also Maximilian Kolbe. St Maximilian is remembered today and St Teresa Bendicticta last week.

They were twentieth century martyrs. Both were born in Poland, both died in Auschwitz. Edith Stein was brought up a Jew , became an atheist and then converted to Christianity. She became a Carmelite nun living in the Netherlands at the Order of our Lady of Peace. Discovered to be a convert, she was taken to Auschwitz camp and gassed the next day.

Maximilian was a remarkable Polish priest who was devoted to the ministry of Mary. He famously took the place of another prisoner and after weeks of starvation was killed by injection.

They are radical examples of discipleship and yet they shared the same intent. To give all to God and by so doing to give all to those he calls us to serve.

Now those examples of red martyrs as they are called (for they were killed for their faith) are extreme and not really for us. But their lives are worth reading. Edith, or St Teresa Benedicta as she was called, was also a great thinker and writer. But here is a simple quote, which for me sums up the profundity and simplicity of discipleship.

NEWTEAM

 

“Let go of your plans. The first hour of your morning belongs to God.”

It is a call for all of us to get our priorities right. Start with God, centre on him and the rest will flow. I know it’s true because it works! If I am overly cocky or independent I will inevitably fall on my face. There are unwritten laws of the spiritual life which operate and that is the simplest and yet the hardest. Give your self to God. Like Mary did when she said “let it be”. Like Edith Stein or Maximilian.

And to give us an example of this intent to centre on God we have the Holywell Community in our midst. They take St Teresa Benedicta’s words to heart. The first hour of your morning belongs to God. Of course in monastic terms the hour is part of the office. And each day the Holywell Community will be in the office, this church, praying the hour of Lauds, or morning prayer. They are not obvious saints. – Unless I have missed some thing! But they are models for us, and for themselves of a faithful community who tries to put God first. And it’s working. Now in its third year the community flourishes and is a place of growth, of acceptance and of vocation. It’s presence here is a blessing for the parish,the church and the wider community.

As I come to commission them for a further year I do so with hope and joy because I see God blessing their intent of putting him at the centre of their lives together. In the charism that they are given both as individuals and as a community may they live out the discipleship of Mary and others, and may they bless you as you bless them.

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Community Selfie

During the Service Sr Jennii was Commissioned and Brs MIchael and Adrain were re-commissioned by the Bishop. While the Prior admitted Founder Lay-members Sam and Amy as Associate Members.

ASSOC

The Community will shortly go on a  Retreat to Llangasty Retreat House led by Bishop Dominic OGS, before commencing duties back in Abergavenny.

Community to run Bereavement social group from September.

Starting in September the Holywell Community is to host  a group to enable those who have been bereaved to meet for mutual support and friendship. It will take place in the Priory Centre on Wednesdays. Drop in any time between 5.30pm and 7.15pm.

 

The Prior, Canon Mark Soady announcing the new group said,

We have been approached by a number of ladies who have asked if such  a forum exists – so we are responding to  a need in the Community, as the Benedictines have done in Abergavenny for nearly 1000 years. We will provide a space, tea and coffee for those who need to meet.

New Community to be Commsioned

Our Visitor Bishop Richard of Monmouth will Commission the new Community at a Festal Eucharist at 11am in the Priory Church on the Eve of the Feast of The Blessed Virgin Mary (August 14th).

We will welcome back Adrian Price and Michael Topple for their second year.

They will be joined by Liverpudlian Jennii Shaw, who comes to us following A Year for GOD at the Shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham.

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Left to right: Br Michael, Br Adrian, Jennii, Sam, Amy meeting the Prince

During the service Founder Lay Members Samuel Patterson and Amy Pope will be admitted as Associate Members of the Community.

Do join us, and pray for us as we begin our third year in God’s work.

Founder Monks Leave

Our founder members Br.Samuel Patterson and Sr.Amy Pope leave today.

They leave on a high having sat at the feet of former Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Rowan Williams the preacher at this morning’s Sung Eucharist. They later shared lunch with Bishop Rowan, who is also known as Lord Williams of Oystermouth.

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As he left the Community Sam made another commitment, he proposed to his now fiancé.

How does a New Monastic propose to his girlfriend?

On top of the Tower of his Priory Church.

The Prior, Fr Mark wished Sam and Amy well as they moved on, “We were very fortunate in our two founder lay members. Thank you both for helping develop this concept – and enabling it to grow from strength to strength”.

Monks meet Prince

The Community were heavily involved in preparations and arrangements for the latest visit of our Royal Patron, His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales.

We are grateful to Michael Woodward, who worships with us daily, for this photographic record of the day.

Hover for captions