Retrospective: Fourteen Years On

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Today is the fourteenth anniversary of our canonical foundation as an autonomous monastery of diocesan right. In other words, our Foundation Day — a day when we give thanks for all the blessings of the past, for our oblates and associates, our online community and friends, and all the benefactors who have helped us in many and various ways in sometimes dark and difficult days. Our survival until now is itself a miracle, given the forces ranged against us, and indeed any monastic community, at times. What the future holds is more problematic.

I see that back in 2016 I wondered whether small autonomous communities of monastic women would survive the changes hinted at in the Apostolic Constitution Vultum Dei Quaerere. I think Cor Orans gives us the answer, at least in the short term; but it would be a mistake to assume that Vatican documents, no matter how well-meaning or how large their scope, have the final say. The Rule of St Benedict was not an official Church text when it it was written in the sixth century, any more than the monastic way of life was, in origin, an official Church status. Monks and nuns are, by definition, led by the Holy Spirit to follow Christ in ways that may seem to others contradictory or strange. That is one of the reasons both civil and ecclesiastical authorities have always tried to pin us down, lock us up, even, in safe, controllable categories. But the Holy Spirit is never confined, never wholly predictable. That is the wonderful thing about seeking God in the monastery: he is always doing a new thing, overturning our certainties, drawing us along paths we never expected. What he asks of us is fidelity and perseverance, a readiness to respond to the promptings of grace, a willingness to begin again every day. What he makes of our small offering is his business — and we know he can be trusted.

Today, therefore, we give thanks. We look back on the past and some of the extraordinary things we have been enabled to do despite being few in number and of no importance, and we ask God’s grace for the present and future, that we may continue to serve God and others in ways pleasing to him. Please join us in that prayer, not forgetting the many other small communities of Benedictine nuns for whom we have been asked to pray.

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12 thoughts on “Retrospective: Fourteen Years On”

  1. Few in number, yes. Of no importance? Think of how widely you are followed. Catholics, non-Catholics, the honest doubters and the undecided all read your posts and profit therefrom.

  2. “Few in number and of no importance?” I think not. You are very important to me being the voice of calm and considered observation of our unfathomable world.

    Happy Anniversary and God bless you all.

  3. You and your community have our prayers, Sister. In these troubling times yours is a voice of reason and a call to personal holiness. Wishing you all a happy anniversary!

  4. Dear Sister Catherine, congratulations and gratitude to you and all the Sisters at the Priory for bringing God’s message of love, peace and grace to us miserable sinners. We are humbled by your sacrifice and discipline for a better world and greater understanding of the meaning of life.
    Since knowing you, my personal journey from being an angry and dissatisfied moaner through the trough of despair to becoming a peaceful and tolerant human bean owes much to your simple guidance. I am grateful to you for the immense opportunity you have presented to me and all your followers to follow His wishes – love Him and our neighbours. You have never let us down even though you are suffering physically. May He bless and care for you and bring you relief from the pain and torment you endure in your daily life. Peace and love be with you now and forever xx.

    • Thank you, Tim. You have had a hard road to travel since your beloved Barbara died but we are ALL blessed by your never-failing generosity and graciousness on Twitter, FB, etc. You bless us, thank you.

  5. I confess I rarely comment on blogs but yours is my favourite blog, the first blog I go to and it helps me enormously – I appreciate the Benedictine wisdom I find here much more than I can say. Your work is very important to me and I am clearly not alone. Thank you, God bless you, your community and all your friends.

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