It’s going to be a different Holy Week this year to any that we have ever experienced here at the Community, but you can still join us ….. virtually anyway!
This has been the first week of what is commonly called ‘lockdown’; changes to a familiar way of living have not hit the Community in anything like the way that they have hit most people in this country, especially in places where people commute or work at their own businesses. The Community is very much aware in what a privileged position we are. Much of our life, our prayer and our worship has only been affected mildly so far.
Everyone knows of persons close to us who are in vulnerable situations or who are on their own or are stranded on distant places. These are in our thoughts and our prayers; never has the new communication technology seemed such a boon, though I have been using the telephone more. I imagine many of those reading this piece will recognise what I mean by ‘telephone’.
has been a great blessing to us to be able to broadcast on ‘Facebook’ our offices and we hope that this will be possible to continue as long as needed.
Everywhere is very quiet and it would seem to have encouraged birds to be more visible and audible: greenfinches have been seen on the cricket field, grey wagtails also and two pairs of buzzards were circling over the Retreat House, against a bright blue sky – quite exquisite. It is very pleasant being here! This has been a happy accompaniment to our reading at supper, ‘The Natural History of Selborne’ by Gilbert White, warmly recommended.
It is a recall in the same moment to those who are so much at risk, not least the world’s urban poor, many sharing constricted quarters, many with not even one bathroom, let alone the ‘designated’ bathrooms which health care professionals recommend to those needing to isolate. For them vaccine is needed as a priority.
Please keep such persons in your prayers as well as finding a sight of the unexpected blessings which may meet with you in this strange times.
Michael Cook is a Derbyshire based artist, and owner of The Manger Gallery, which specialises in contemporary British Romantic and Visionary work, and works of the imagination. Michael was CR’s Artist in Resident recently, Michael writes;
I had the idea of doing work around the raising of Lazarus a few weeks before coming to The Community of the Resurrection as Artist in Residence (August 27th – October 11th) having produced a couple of paintings on the theme some years ago. I also kept a journal during my time there, and some of the entries throw light on the often haphazard process of making images.
|(The Raising of Lazarus, unfinished) The painting has come on this morning, some new elements coming in. Jesus is holding a stem of wheat, and Lazarus’s wrappings will be leaves I think. I feel very free here to produce whatever comes, with no thoughts of whether the subject will be acceptable or whether a piece will be saleable or not. |
| Just put the Lazarus Raised drawing into the window space in the cloister and taken some photographs. Then painted Naples Yellow Deep washes onto two large pieces of Khadi paper, the intention being to have the figure of Christ where the join is. In the Orthodox liturgies which Thomas has loaned me Jesus is called ‘O Wheat of Life’ which has suggested a background of wheat, or bales, as in the photograph I took on my walk the other day. |
| Momentous things are happening in the world of politics but for now I am glad to be away from all that, and prefer the worlds’ troubles filtered through the psalms. The rain has stopped I think, I like to hear the trains. The nights are drawing in. I like this room. |
| Keep thinking about the idea of using the bound book of Khadi paper for a series of ‘Night Prayer’ paintings, mixing natural imagery (owls, foxes, trees) with figurative images and things drawn from the church and the liturgy. Perhaps I am done with Lazarus for now after the failure of the large painting. |
| (Mary and Martha weep for Lazarus and for one another). Have put Mary and Martha into one of the window spaces in the cloister, alongside the Lazarus piece, and now working on Lazarus raised, which is proving difficult – am ambivalent about this miracle. After lunch will go to the framers and see if they can sell me some mount board. |
|(Christ Weeps Over Lazarus). Today Mark helped me display the charcoal of the raising of Lazarus in the display cabinet in the Cloister. A new charcoal of Mary and Martha started yesterday is going well. Am intending that the two pieces will make one group for a painting.|
Reaching Towards, which will contain further journal entires and images of the artwork will be published by Mirfield publications in 2020.
As many of you will know, Tariro is doing excellent work in Zimbabwe. Around 50 young people are being supported as they go through the education system and out into a challenging world. However, we have recently discovered that there is a serious gap between our income and expenditure. We need to fill that gap as soon as possible.
If you already contribute to Tariro then please don’t feel pressurised. We are most grateful for your support. If you do not yet support us, or would like to do a bit more here is what you can do:
- Ask your church to give us a donation at Christmas. Many churches do give money away at Christmas and this would help us greatly;
- Ask your church to support us during Lent. Lent is not just a time of fasting and prayer; it is a time to show generosity to others. I have recently written a Lent course lightly based on Tariro which may encourage people to support us. Would you like to use this course? It is called “How to be a Missionary Today” and is available from firstname.lastname@example.org – £10.00 for a pack of ten.
- You could send us a one off donation. Our website www.tarirouk.com has details of how to donate. Basically a cheque made out to Tariro but sent to me is fine. Please include a gift aid declaration from the website (or ask me to send you one) if you pay UK tax.
- If you would like to make a Standing Order a form is available on the website or I can send you one.
- I can also send you some information about Tariro and the work we do if you would like to see it for yourself, my email is email@example.com
Please help us if you can. The young people we support in Zimbabwe are trying so hard to escape the poverty trap they are caught in and long for a better life. Please help us to make this possible. Many thanks. Nicolas Stebbing CR
The semi-professional ensemble, The Tallis Consort, are delighted to be making their return to the Community, following their debut here in April with the music of Tomas Luis de Victoria.
Join us on the 13th of December at 19:30, where you will be taken on a musical adventure across Western Europe. Allow yourself to be transported to the sixteenth century, where composers from England, France, Germany and Spain will display their finest music. We hope you’ll join us for what will be an immersive, yet relaxing experience, tickets are priced at £7, and £5 for concessions, students and U25s. Tickets are available on the door.
Most people think that title is a contradiction in terms. How can an ancient language be fun. Even clergy who learned Greek at College seem often to have found it really boring. That is sad. It shouldn’t be boring. Those who took part in this week’s Greek for Fun course here at Mirfield know that it’s not. Fr Nicolas expects no more than a knowledge of the Greek alphabet so no one need be embarrassed. Reading the Gospel in Greek takes one in a single step 2,000 years closer to Christ. We hear the actual words that people who knew him spoke.
Translating from Greek (Fr Nicolas does the work!) we notice all sorts of things about the story we wouldn’t see when we skim through it in English. It comes alive in an astonishing way. We also see the skill of the different evangelists. Each one, Mark, Matthew, Luke and John have their own ways of turning this story of Jesus into a story that people remember and think about. It’s only when you work closely with the text you see how clever they are.
And then there is the presence of the Holy Spirit. Jesus promised that when two or three are gathered together in His name, He would be there too. We find that. On our own, wading through a Greek text and a commentary can be pretty boring. Together it takes fire and we see all sorts of things we had never noticed before. Is not this the Holy Spirit making Christ present to us as we ponder his ways?
Come and try it. You get the retreat experience of a few days with CR and the intellectual satisfaction of discovering new things about the impact Jesus can make on our lives.
Book in for next year!
An Italian Trappist convent and us
In 2016 CR began a friendship with the sisters of the Trappist convent of Vitorchiano in Italy. There have now been several visits, and we have discovered in them a relationship with Anglican religious communities that goes back a long way, including with CR. Sister Gabriella writes here about the history of this relationship.
About 50 miles north of Rome, near the small mediaeval town of Vitorchiano, is the first Trappist convent in Italy, founded originally in 1875 in Turin, and transferred to Grottaferrata near Rome in 1898, moving to the present site in 1957.
The Abbey, surrounded by about 75 acres of land, is self-supporting, producing wine and oil, jam and greetings cards, and produce of the vegetable garden and orchards. There are at this moment 80 sisters, ranging in age from 24 to 85. Love of the young and respect for the old, prescribed by St Benedict in his Rule, is something we live out with care. All the Community, in one way or another, is involved both in formation of the young sisters and care of the old, and we lay great store by dialogue together, as well as in generation-groups.
The sisters follow the Rule of St Benedict, according to the Cistercian and Trappist tradition: two reforms that over the centuries have renewed the Benedictine charism, emphasising contemplation and separation from the world, liturgical prayer, life together and manual work.
At the heart of the Cistercian vocation is a life of conversion to the Lord, in daily experience, prayer, work, and human relationships, and in the effort to live according to the gospel. It is about learning to listen to the Word of the Lord and of the Church in liturgical and personal prayer, in lectio, in silence, in dialogue. It involves personal openness and a common life in obedience to the authority of the Abbot, in reciprocity amongst the sisters / brothers, and in stability in the monastery.
The Second Vatican Council, was received and deeply embraced, thanks to the wisdom of the then Abbess, Mother Cristiana Piccardo, prompting new thinking on the ecclesial identity of our Community. We did a lot of work on the liturgy, both staying faithful to the tradition and in enriching it by singing the Psalms in the vernacular, and with new hymns, and encouraging greater participation and unity in prayer. Following what has been called an ecclesiology of Communion, we have discovered a greater simplicity of life together and of relationships. By putting an emphasis on personal responsibility, we have found greater commitment to the work that supports our life, which in turn builds up collaboration.
We have an abundant flow of vocations, leading to many new foundations: the first one in 1968 at Valserena near Pisa, and then in Argentina (1973), Chile (1981), Venezuela (1982), Indonesia (1987), the Philippines (1995), the Czech Republic (2007) and soon a new house in Portugal. These in turn have made their own foundations in Syria, Angola, Nicaragua, Brazil, and Macao.
One grace we have received is an ecumenical vocation that goes back in time to the witness of our sister Blessed Maria Gabriella Sagheddu (1914–1939), who gave her life for Christian unity. The ecumenical ideal already animated the Community when it was at Grottaferrata, under abbess Pia Gullini. In 1933, a young French woman, Henriette Ferrary, visited the Community and told Mother Pia of her commitment to conversion and prayer for Christian Unity, following the work begun in Lyon by Abbé Paul Couturier. Mother Pia took this up and shared it with the Sisters. There then began an exchange of letters between Couturier and ourselves, and in 1937 we made a commitment to prayer for unity, especially during the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. An elderly sister, Maria dell’Immacolata, offered her life in prayer for unity, and Couturier would later remember her in his “list of martyrs for unity”, together with the Blessed Maria Gabriella we have already mentioned, and a Japanese Trappist brother. Sister Maria Gabriella, in unity week 1938, asked to offer her life too as a prayer for unity, and the Lord accepted it. Then, only 18 months later, in April 1939, on Good Shepherd Sunday, she died of tuberculosis.
In 1938-39 a correspondence began with Nashdom Abbey, via Père Couturier, who had had a close relationship with Nashdom since 1935, when the then Abbot Martin Collett, the novice Guardian Benedict Ley, and Fr Gregory Dix, had taken part in the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity in Lyon.
The first letter from Nashdom arrived at Grottaferrata (our then home) on 15 July 1938, on the occasion of the death of the aged sister Maria dell’Immacolata, who had offered her life for the cause of unity. There followed a long correspondence between the two communities, one letter thanking Sister Gabriella herself for her offering for the cause of unity. So there grew up a collaboration between the two abbeys, Anglican and Roman Catholic, with the desire to make known among Anglican communities the life and offering of the Blessed Gabriella.
The Second World War saw the Nashdom monks transferred temporarily to Middlesex, turning their home over to Benedictine sisters from London who cared for the handicapped. This did not get in the way of the relationship which bound the two communities more and more together in the cause of unity, showing how monastic life and Christianity can triumph over separation caused by conflicts of nations.
On 16 March 1947 Fr Ley announced he was coming to Italy to make the personal acquaintance of mother Pia, to visit Rome, and possibly meet the Holy Father. Accompanied by an oblate, Brother Francis de Sales, he arrived in Rome on 18th September 1947. On the 22nd he met Mgr Giovanni Battista Montini, under-Secretary of the Vatican Secretariat, departing with a promise of a report on the Anglican Church to contribute to mutual acquaintance. On 25 September they met Pope Pius XII.
On returning to England, Fr. Benedict continued promoting contacts between women’s communities in the Church of England and our own convent, and he never ceased from referring on every occasion, public and private, to the meetings in Rome and the convent, and between 1948 and 1951 more than 50 Anglican Religious came to visit us.
Père Couturier was glad of the relationship between Nashdom and Grottaferrata and he invited other communities too, including those less open to the Church of Rome, to have conversations with the Holy See in order to carry forward the dialogue that had been begun. Maurice Villain, Couturier’s biographer, says the first to respond was a theologian from the Community of the Resurrection, Fr Geoffrey Curtis, who was a cousin of Fr Benedict Ley. Fr Curtis brought an important and practical energy to the relations between the Anglican world and the Holy See, supported by Mgr Montini, who had now become Pope Paul VI.
When Mother Pia stood down and transferred to an Abbey in Switzerland, the correspondence with Fr Benedict Ley and Nashdom was continued by Sister Fara, who had been involved with the Anglican brothers from the beginning. Fr Benedict died in 1964, but there were other important meetings, with Dom Augustine Morris and Abbot Wilfrid Weston. The latter was present in Rome when Blessed Gabriella’s self-sacrifice was recognised, and, after a visit to Vitorchiano in 1981, took part in her Beatification in St Paul-outside-the-walls in 1983.
The last visit of a Nashdom Abbot, Dom Basil Matthews, was in 1988, but we keep up correspondence and communion in prayer.
Now our communion with the Anglican Benedictine world lives above all in the friendship with the Community of the Resurrection Mirfield, born out of meetings with Fr George and Fr Oswin, and other brothers who have come here, and we now have an agreement to be united each month in our offering of the Eucharist for Christian Unity, coordinating dates so that we celebrate together on the same day.
Sr Gabriella Masturzo OCSO
For the remainder of 2019 unity masses celebrated at Mirfield and Vitorchiano will be on the following dates:
- June 25
- July 17
- August 16
- September 24
- October 25
- November 27
Saturday 23 March 2019, 10.30am – 4.00pm
Christ is calling you!
From our place in Monastic life, we offer to the Church ‘Stations of Vocation’ that help us to respond to Christ and live our primary vocation together as Church: the praise and worship of God.
Join brothers of the Community of the Resurrection and their friends for this day of reflection, praying together and pondering the One whom we are to love and serve – Christ our Call.
To book for the day, please follow this link…
The outline timetable for the day is:
10.00am Arrival & Coffee
10.45am ‘Stations of Vocation’
12.00pm Mid Day Office
1.00pm Pointers on Silence
1.15pm Period of Silence
1.45pm Discussion & Questions
3.20pm Gather around the font
For more information, please contact 01924 494318 or email using this link.