The Ceremonies of Holy Week went very well this year. We were pleased to have larger attendances than usual. There were no fatalities, and the music was lovely. A number of people travelled great distances to join our little monastic family for its celebration of the Lord’s Passion and Resurrection. We are grateful to them for their support.
A number of articles have appeared on local history Facebook pages in the last weeks concerning the First World War, and local participation in it. Questions about the Abbey and the Great War have encouraged us to post the following article.
On August 1st 1914, the day after Germany had declared war on Russia, the French Government mobilised its armed forces. Two days later the German ambassador in Paris delivered a note to the French authorities indicating that a state of war existed between their countries. On 4th August, England declared war on Germany.
The monks of Farnborough found themselves in a strange situation. As a result of anti-clericalism in France, the Laws of Associations, and the separation of Church and State, the monks were living in England in exile. When it came to the War however the monks were bemused when their call-up papers arrived in the post. Abbot Cabrol quipped, ‘So we are not welcome to live in France, but they do not mind us dying for France!’
Fr Abbot Cuthbert celebrated his silver jubilee of profession on the weekend of Laetare Sunday. The original profession fell in the Octave of Easter, but the abbot decided to keep the anniversary in Lent by inviting friends to luncheon and to share the office and Mass of Laetare. At the Mass he sang the Suscipe and renewed his vows. There was a goodly number of friends from the Oxford Oratory and the bulk of the Norbertine community of Chelmsford as well as a contingent of French. All the English abbots of the Subiaco-Cassinese English province were present, and the Abbot of Pluscarden received the renewal of vows. Monks from Ealing and Douai were also present as guests.
The wedding was celebrated in the Abbey Church of Daniel Card and Annah Langan. Daniel grew up in the shadow of the Abbey and used to help from time to time in our vegetable garden. The Abbey church is so cold that a lady form the wedding party arrived early with beautifully ribbon-tied blankets for the pews. The abbot asked is she was from the Red Cross and had we been declared a disaster zone!
Fr Abbot went to Kingstanding, Birmingham, to give some days of conferences on monastic topics to the Ordinariate nuns. Since their reception into the Catholic Church last year the nuns have made clear their intention to live a Benedictine life. Indeed their Anglican convent at Wantage has a strong liturgical tradition which sits well within a Benedictine frame.
The Abbey Shop is an important part of the income for the Abbey. In addition to the ‘real’ shop near the Abbey entrance, there is also the much busier ‘virtual’ shop on the internet. In the last months this has been extensively updated, in order to offer more products and to make access to the site easier. Brother Michael turned his cell into a temporary photographic studio to give better images of the products we offer.
On January 9th, the anniversary of the death of the Emperor Napoleon III, three representatives of the Souvenir Napoleonien came from France to hear Mass and pay their respects at the tomb of the Emperor. After Mass, the monks chanted the Libera and customary prayers for the dead in the crypt.
The Christmas music and ceremonies went very well at the Abbey. Christmas is always ‘family time’ for the monks, a very quiet and peaceful time. This year we welcomed our friend Zac Povis (left) from the Pontifical North American College, Rome, to share our celebrations. Zac will be ordained deacon in the course of 2014.