The funeral of Dom Magnus Wilson will be at the Abbey Church on Wednesday November 28th at 2pm, followed by burial in the monastery cemetery. An obituary will follow on this site.
Earlier this summer there was a meeting of the Provincial Council of the English Province of the Benedictine Congregation of Subiaco in our monastery. Farnborough was a good choice, because we are near to the London airports and brethren were coming from Scotland and Chicago for this gathering. The Benedictine Order is not an order in the way that others are. It is a confederation of various Benedictine congregations, and these congregations are themselves groupings of monasteries which, in our tradition, are independent and autonomous. The Congregation of Subiaco is very large, with monasteries in five continents. It is broken into provinces, of which the English Province is one.
The province’s governing body meets every four years at the provincial chapter, and in between chapters the province is governed by an abbot visitor, assisted by his council. Our Visitor is the Abbot of Pluscarden, Abbot Anselm Atkinson. His council is elected and our abbot is one of the two abbots elected to the council.
The term ‘English’ in English Province is misleading. The English Province includes monasteries in Scotland, England, Germany, Ghana, the USA and Mexico! Our Visitor therefore has delegated some of his duties to our Abbot Cuthbert, who will care for the monastery of Christ in the Desert in the US, and its houses in the US and Mexico. This nomination of our abbot as ‘Vicar’ has been approved by the Provincial Council and by our Roman authorities. It means that our abbot will be responsible for carrying out or arranging the canonical visitations and for encouraging monastic life in the houses of this ‘vicariate’.
A little groups of us took some young visiting religious to Waverley Abbey, an old Cistercian ruin, not far from our abbey. We walked there and gathered within the walls of the ancient abbey church and sang the Salve Regina and prayed for the souls of all the monks who had lived and died there in centuries past.
Today we celebrate the Feast of title and a wonderful solemnity for us. Usually our Conventual Mass is at 6.30am, but this morning we celebrated at the decadent hour of 8am! Our feast day is an opportunity to greet all our friends, and also to bring you up to date with our news of the summer, which we will do in the next days.
Our Abbot Cuthbert and Brother Michael visited Brother Michael’s family in Slovakia. They went to the cathedral at Nitra to visit the places associated with the ancient Benedictine saints Andrew Svorad and Benedict the martyr. The bishop invited them to lunch and presented them with the gift of relics of these saints in his private chapel in a gallery looking down into the cathedral. We were delighted to welcome these saints to our monastery, and the abbot was delighted to meet some of the clergy of Nitra, who afforded him a very warm welcome.
During the same visit they were pleased to encounter the Benedictine nuns of Trstín. They are living in a little village together in order to prepare for the move to their new huge monastery, to which they took Fr Abbot and Brother Michael for a visit. The advance party consists of two Germans and a Slovak. The nuns were very pleased indeed to have some Benedictine company for the day, especially when they are so far from their own mother-house in Italy.
We are often described by local people as an ‘oasis’ in Farnborough. As the town has grown around us, we remain a very green area. Geographically speaking we are at the heart of the town, though we probably fulfil the role of its lung more than anything else! We are blessed with a number of helpers and volunteers. Recently the ‘Blooming Marvellous’ group from Rushmoor Volunteer Services returned to do more clearing and tidying of our woodland. They were joined by staff from ‘Enterprise’ car hire, who came to help as part of their company’s interest and investment in the local community. A day of hard, solid, work brought good results. Fr Abbot gave our visitors a tour of the church and crypt at the end of the afternoon.
We were pleased to welcome another group of young people from the Slovak Mission in London for a weekend of prayer. Young Catholics from the parish there have made us a ‘second home’ in the last couple of years.
Four of us attended the Mass and the reception which followed. Bishop Arnold was the celebrant, with a good number of priest friends of the community supporting him.
Fr Abbot has just returned from St Cecilia’s Abbey, Ryde, http://www.stceciliasabbey.org.uk where he preached the annual retreat. His theme was the Christian Altar, using the rites of dedication as a peg on which to hang various themes of monastic spirituality and practice.
A visiting priest recently asked if we were ‘twinned’ in some way with Ryde!
We are not ‘twinned’, but we do enjoy a strong friendship with the community there. Our abbot has received the last two Solemn Professions, we have collaborated on several publications, and support each other with prayer and such mutual help as we are able to give.
Fr Abbot and Dom Michael attended the four hour Mass of Dedication of the Abbey Church of Saint Michel de Kergonan in Brittany. Farnborough and Kergonan have many historic links as well as modern bonds of friendship. Five years ago the Abbey Church of the nuns burnt to the ground and had to be completely rebuilt. The liturgy was a model of what one might call the new Liturgical Movement. It was utterly monastic. Four hours of chant, of lavish ceremonies, processions and profound symbolism. The bishop was clearly at one with all that was happening, and carefully drew on the richness of symbolic fare in his homily.
It was interesting to see that some ceremonies absent from the modern rites were included. For example, the Bishop traced Greek and Latin alphabet in sand (Kergonan is by the sea!) on the pavement before the sanctuary.
There were abbots galore and nuns from everywhere! Monks and nuns alternated the chant. Our abbot was pleased to see so many old friends from the Congregation of Solesmes, as well as abbots of other orders and Benedictine congregations. We are looking forward to seeing the DVD which was filmed on the day. We know that some of our friends will be amused to see the concelebrants’ vestments , prepared for some of the abbots.
Le Barroux – Farnborough – Fontgombault. Les Francais!
Three of the brethren attended the ordination to the sacred priesthood of Frs James Bradley and Daniel Lloyd of the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham in St Patrick’s, Soho Square. Bishops Hopes, an auxiliary bishop in Westminster, presided and Mgr Newton preached.
Brothers Michael and Anselm had the honour of being in the sanctuary serving. Our community has done its best to welcome and support those Anglicans who have taken up the Holy Father’s generous initiative.