Today is a day of quiet excitement in the monastery. Everything in the oratory will have been burnished to within an inch of its life. Choir books will have been marked for the Advent liturgy, and there will be a rush to try to answer all urgent letters and emails before Vespers. Once Vespers has been sung, a great silvery silence descends, spreading like moonlight into every corner of the house. We are entering into a wilderness time, when we try to keep distractions to a minimum and concentrate on the Old Testament prophecies fulfilled in Christ. There is a luminous simplicity about everything which is at odds with the commercialism that often takes over at this time of year. It is a great privilege to be able to spend these few weeks apart from the maelstrom, but it comes at a price. Unless our withdrawal is for the sake of the Kingdom, unless we are genuinely seeking God and prepared to accept whatever he may ask of us, it is merely a form of self-indulgence. The old monks and nuns used to speak of ‘the Advent demon’ — the tendency for things to go wrong, for little typhoons in teacups to upset our peace and overturn our purposes. Let us pray that none of us is deflected from our purpose this Advent and that you and we together come to the safe haven of Christmas.
In order to maintain a spirit of recollection during Advent, we try to keep correspondence/visitors to a minimum, so please don’t take it amiss if we fail to answer.