Greek for Fun

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

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.

Blessed Gabriella

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.

The grape harvest

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.

Fr Oswin celebrating over Sr Gabriella’s tomb

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

 

Monasticism and Vocation: Christ our Call

Newcastle Cathedral

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

10.30am       Introduction

10.45am       ‘Stations of Vocation’

11.45am        Regroup

12.00pm       Mid Day Office

12.15pm        Lunch

1.00pm         Pointers on Silence

1.15pm          Period of Silence

1.45pm         Discussion & Questions

3.00pm        Tea

3.20pm        Gather around the font

4.00pm        Close

For more information, please contact 01924 494318 or email using this link.

A new chapter for A Theological College like no other…

Fr Peter Allan CR has announced his retirement as Principal of the College of the Resurrection at the end of the academic year. Fr Peter has been in post since 2011, having previously taught in the College alongside monks of the Community and other academic staff.

Fr Oswin Gartside CR, Superior of the Community and Chair of the College’s Trustees, said: ‘We are enormously grateful to our brother Peter for all that he has given to the College over the years. Formation and training of outstanding men and women as priests in God’s church is a central part of the Community’s work. The College of the Resurrection is the only Anglican theological college founded by – and still living and praying alongside – a religious community, and we look forward to building on Peter’s work in developing and growing A Theological College like no other.’.

Fr Oswin is working with the Chair of the College Council, Bishop David Walker, on an extensive consultation and recruitment process, with interviews expected to take place by early spring.

College of the Resurrection is Recruiting… in Admin!

The College of the Resurrection are recruiting a College Secretary / Executive Assistant to the Principal

They are looking for an experienced and skilled person to join the team in this unique institute of higher education within the environs of the monastic Community of the Resurrection. The Secretary is a pivotal person in the College, whose purpose is to prepare women and men for ordination in the Church of England.

Applications by 12 January 2018

Interviews in week beginning 22 January 2018

 

Please do contact the College if you would like to know more – and pass this opportunity on to anyone you think might be interested.

Details are available on the Fish4Jobs website or via email to principal@mirfield.org.uk

 

Br Roy France CR

Please pray for the repose of the soul of Br Roy France CR, who died yesterday (Monday 11 December) in the 66th year of his profession.

Alleluia – Christ is Risen.

We are recruiting!

The Community are recruiting for a Part Time Cook/Chef

This is a unique opportunity to be involved in the kitchen at the heart of our well-established site.  You will be expected to look after the smooth running of the kitchen, in charge of a team of catering assistants, cooking food for the brethren, college students, retreatants and other external customers. You will also be expected to ensure that the refectories are professionally presented, clean and tidy.

The hours are annualised including day, evening and weekend shifts, with a working pattern:

Term Time:

Minimum of 30 hours per week for 39 weeks (5 days over 7).
Shifts are usually 7am to 2.30pm or 2pm to 8pm.

Non Term Time:

Minimum of 21 hours per week for 13 weeks (3 or 4 days over 7).
Shifts are usually 7am to 2.30pm or 3pm to 8pm.

The post holder is entitled to 4 weeks holiday per year pro rata, plus bank holidays.

For further information and an application pack, please e-mail Ben Simmons.
Closing date for applications: Thursday 8th of June 2017

Unity Service

unityOn Sunday afternoon, 22nd January, the Community of the Resurrection hosted the Churches Together in Mirfield and District and their annual Unity Service.  This year’s liturgy was written by the churches of Germany, and its theme entitled “Crossing Barriers” reflected their experiences of life in a country that was divided by the Iron Curtain during the Cold War.

Nearly fifty people gathered in the Community Church for a service that involved participation from members who are Anglican, Baptist, Methodist, Moravian, Roman Catholic and Salvation Army.  During the course of the liturgy a wall of stones was erected, representing the barriers that humanity creates to separate ourselves one from another.  Later within the service that wall was torn down and rebuilt in the shape of a cross.

It was an inspiring occasion of ecumenical cooperation and the hospitality of CR continued after the service with refreshments in the New Refectory.

Vocations Conference

jp-vocationsOn 25 – 26 January I travelled with Fr Thomas, and my Parish Priest to a ‘Growing Vocations Conference’ organised by Ministry Division, held at King’s Park Conference Centre. The opportunity came through Dr Peta Dunstan talking with Ministry Division, and I was asked to speak about the Religious Life on a discussion panel ably chaired by Bishop Libby Lane. Also joining in the discussion were representatives of Readers and the Church Missionary Society (CMS).

As you will know, many people in the church know little about the Religious Life and other vocations – like CMS – and it was very good to be able to meet with DDOs and other vocations advisers to talk with them about discerning a vocation. You can see what I said on the Twitter using the hashtag #CofECalling*.

Vocation first and foremost is the call of Christ to a relationship of love with God and neighbour; this is lived in prayer, and prayer is the primary vocation of the Church. The heart will always want to respond to that call with good works: ‘Little children, let us love, not in word or speech, but in truth and action.’ (1John 3:18) – but we have to careful that we don’t end up doing good deeds simply because it is good to do good. Through our relationships we are the ones being done to: we are the ones called to be more compassionate, generous, caring, charitable – it is God at work in us!

The Christian life is the way of life that brings joy and hope to our hurting world. Much more of the conference was given over to thinking about vocation to the priesthood – those who are set apart amongst the whole of the baptised, who are equipped with the spiritual toolbox of the sacraments. Remember to encourage vocations to the Priesthood, Religious Life, CMS, Readers……. But all of us are called to that relationship of prayer, so be encouraged, and don’t give up!

*you might like to search for this on the Google

YMC Merges with St Barnabas

st-hildJanuary 14th 2017 saw the launch of St Hild College, formed by the merger of St Barnabas Theological Centre and the Yorkshire Ministry Course, which has been based at Mirfield since 2007. St Hild will train Anglican ordinands, Baptist ministers in training and independent students through teaching centres in Mirfield, Sheffield and York. The partnership with Mirfield will continue, with the St Hild College office continuing to be based at the site.

In the coming years, the new college will continue to develop full time contextual ordination training. This route combines residential, academic and contextual formation. Ordinands are based at a local parish for 2-3 years where they live and serve in context. Academic tuition is delivered via undergraduate and postgraduate teaching at at Sheffield, Mirfield or York. Six times each year they gather with other St Hild ordinands for residential weekends on the Mirfield site following the pattern established by YMC.

Fr George, delivering the address during the Service of Commissioning at Dewsbury Minster, spoke of the need for this new initiative to connect with divine energy. ‘This energy came from the resurrection of Christ from the dead, and that never dries up’. He concluded, ‘we pray for the prospering of St Hild College in all its diversity, bringing together people from many traditions, many localities, churchmanships, denominations and backgrounds…because there is a message to be proclaimed and a light to be shone’.

For more details, see sthild.org

Internovitiate Conference

mde

The community was glad to welcome a group of novices for a conference on the theme of ‘Office and Eucharist,’ expertly led by Fr. George CR. The gathering was part of a two-year rolling programme organised and facilitated jointly by the novice guardians of our various Anglican religious communities. It was extremely good that we were able to host this session, and to share something of CR’s life.

We enjoyed a varied programme, with a good balance of teaching, learning and recreation. Mornings involved a daily singing practice to get to grips with the plainchant, before a lecture-style session on a particular aspect of our topic. This enabled insightful discussion on life in our respective communities. We also enjoyed a walk, a social evening (not entirely teetotal!), and a wonderful excursion to Dewsbury Minster at the end of the week where we saw the beautiful chapel of St. Paulinus and were photographed in front of the fine wooden reredos in the narthex.

A good time of fellowship and learning had by all – we are now looking forward to being together for the next conference!

St Anselm Visit

st-anselmThe community has been fortunate of late to enjoy visits from other communities. The latest of these has been by the Archbishop’s Community of St. Anselm based at Lambeth Palace. Last week we hosted Miranda and Michael, Methodist North American citizens from Florida and Mississippi.

The Community was set up in September 2015, when the Archbishop  invited Christians aged twenty to thirty-five to join a religious order dedicated to prayer and service of the poor. The community follows a regular Benedictine rhythm of prayer, work and study which shapes its charism. Altogether, there are thirty-six members of St. Anselm comprising resident and non-resident members Applications are invited from across the world, giving an international feel to the group as a whole. The setup of this community speaks strongly of Archbishop Justin’s belief that the religious life continues to speak resoundingly to the church in our day.

The Prior was able to put together a varied programme for our visitors, who took part in everything from a site tour (with yours truly,) to gardening with the noviciate and church cleaning! We also heard their contributions to discussions on ‘The Life’ and ‘Following Christ today.’ At the end of the week, the novices were able to host a social for Miranda and Michael, during which we participated in a fun game of heads-up! (Don’t ask.)

This second visit of St. Anselm’s members was again mutually fruitful in terms both of our learning about the look of 21st century monastic life and sharing fellowship. It is my second experience of these visits, and I think it’s definitely something we brothers of CR are coming to value.

Anglican Social Theology

social-thougt-picThe Mirfield Centre hosted a fully-booked residential conference on Anglican Social Theology from 20th to 21st January. Participants came from across the country including Truro, London, Gloucester and Durham. The speakers told the story of this movement from its Nineteenth century roots in the thought and action of F.D Maurice and the Christian Socialists, through Brooke Foss Westcott and Mirfield’s own Charles Gore, to William Temple and his successors.

Jeremy Morris, Alison Milbank, Paul Avis, Fr Thomas Sevile and Stephen Spencer told this story and responded to each other’s papers, building up a sense of ongoing conversation through the conference. Malcolm Brown, Susan Lucas and Matthew Bullimore brought us into the present, paying attention to our neo-liberal context and drawing out the contribution of the movement’s ‘coalition communitarianism’ (Brown) to our increasingly atomistic society at local as well as national level.

Four of the lectures comprised the Scott Holland lectures, a triannual set of lectures going back to 1922 and founded in memory of Henry Scott Holland. Bill Jacob, the chair of the Scott Holland Trust, described how the lectures had been thoroughly engaging and fascinating. Stephen Spencer, vice principal of St Hild College based at Mirfield and conference convenor, will be turning the papers into a book to be published by SCM Press in the autumn.

Brethren visit Trier

trierAs part of a regular cycle of exchanges, George, Simon, Nicolas and Marc travelled to Trier, Germany in December, for a four-day visit to the monastery of St Matthias. Our communities have a very close relationship, and this visit was an especially good and happy one. We shared in their life, had discussions about the future of our relationship, and about Brexit and monastic life in the modern world. There was an outing to a former monastery which after Napoleon became the porcelain factory of the firm Villeroy & Boch. In the church nearby we saw an ancient altar going back to Roman times.

We always have simultaneous translation at our meetings, but the CR brothers thought afterwards that we need to make learning German a priority for all our new recruits, as it is the relating outside formal meetings that can be especially good for building friendships. In July, a group from Trier will be coming to the re-hallowing of our church on. The relationship with St Matthias began in 1968, so next year we will be marking 50 years of growing unity between us.

Welcome Fabian nCR

fabianPost All Saints’ Day is an apposite time to reflect on this latest important event in the life of CR, and of our newest brother Fabian (né Shaun-Michael) Trevithick. It is not insignificant that his clothing into the novitiate should have taken place during the first evensong for St Luke’s day (17th October). Luke, as a physician, was acutely aware of humanity’s need for wellness and restoration – for newness. He evangelised a Christ whose coming would make all things new – a Christ, who would re-envision and reshape God’s world. Surely, this is what the Kingdom of heaven is like. We hear it throughout the Gospels. To be clothed with Christ as allegorised in the grey scapular, is equally to be made new; to offer up oneself to holiness, to a dedicated separation for the things of God according to his loving purposes embodied in Jesus.

It is this ‘clothing’ that the brothers CR each freely decide to put on when we begin formal training in the life and work of the Community and in the religious life at large. So the brethren CR are pleased to welcome Fabian amongst us. How will the next two years of this formation pan out for him and for ‘we band of brothers’, as we get older, maybe crosser – possibly even wiser – as the time passes and God works out his plans for us individually and in life together? We do not and cannot know. But in choosing God by this way, so we may trust Him and the promised future hope He stores for us.

The Solemn Evensong which welcomed Br. Fabian as a novice was redolent with God’s joy, and shared in by Community, College and guests alike. This joy cannot be made or destroyed; it is a perfect mystery, and it is a mystery to which Fabian nCR has chosen by the help of God to commit himself with us for roughly the next two years. We all pray with him that he may find – and be found – blessing as he does so – asking that the commitment witnessed in Fabian’s decision may bring to birth the newness of Jesus’ risen life in us all. Welcome indeed, Fabian!

Marc nCR