O how good and pleasant it is, when brethren live together in unity! (Ps 133:1)
We live together as brothers in Christ, rooted in the Anglican tradition and formed in a Benedictine round of prayer, ministry and hospitality. From its beginnings the Community has been involved in building up the Body of Christ through pastoral and educational works.
Our ministry of spiritual guidance, teaching and support is complemented by all that is offered on our site.
Many people ask about our life together in the monastery; this section hopefully answers some of those questions!
Worship and Prayer
In the monastery we live out the primary vocation of the Church: prayer. Our life is punctuated by the ringing of bells that calls us away from our daily tasks, back to the place where we are to be found first – in church singing the praises of God. In the monastery, the Precentor is responsible for all that is said and sung during worship, and the Sacristan is responsible for the care and good ordering of the worship and the building.
For more, see Worship
Refectory and Service
Just as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many. (Matt 20.28)
Every day we gather around the Altar of God to celebrate the Eucharist together, and every day we gather around the common table to share in our meals. Our life in centred on God and the call to love and serve each other. Our meals are like a liturgy, echoing the offerings that we have made in church. We begin and end in prayer, and whilst eating together Brethren are attentive to the needs of each other and serve each other at table. While we eat in silence, we listen to a reading by one of the Brothers. We take it in turns to serve one another, and Brethren clear the tables and do the washing up. The Refectory Brother is responsible for planning our menu and keeping the Community and guests fed and watered; he is assisted by a team of cooks and kitchen assistants.
Chapter and Work
So you also, when you have done all that you were ordered to do, say, “We are worthless slaves; we have done only what we ought to have done!” (Luke 17.10)
When the Community gathers together to make a decision we call this a gathering of Chapter, and in Chapter we hear a reading from a chapter of our Rule or Constitutions – hence Chapter.
Once a week we gather for House Chapter, during which we make a Chapter confession. This is where we admit to ways in which we have broken the rule of our Common Life together. We also talk through any ideas and projects that we have.
In all that we do and whatever our work, we aim to do it as a labour of love, where love is content to give only its best.
Care for the sick
Before all things and above all things, care must be taken of the sick, so that they will be served as if they were Christ in person; for He Himself said, “I was sick, and you visited Me” (Matt 25.36), and, “What you did for one of these least ones, you did for Me” (Matt 25:40).
The Brother who cares for sick Brethren is called the infirmarian, and the designated area of the Monastery where the infirm can live is called the infirmary. The monastery is our home, and we do our best to care for each other until death do us part. We receive help to care for the elderly from our nursing staff, but the taking of meals and responding to night calls is carried out by the Brethren.
A brother came to see a certain hermit and, as he was leaving, he said,
“Forgive me abba for preventing you from keeping your rule.” The hermit
replied, “My rule is to welcome you with hospitality and to send you away in peace.”
The reception of and care for Guests is a central part of our life. It is very important that those who come here are received with due care. The Guest Brother has the care of all the guests that enter the monastery; he is assisted in this task by an administrator. We do our best to welcome as many as possible of those who wish to come, but it is very important that we live our life well so that others can benefit. We close the Guest House over Christmas, when we have a retreat, and also for our July Chapter.
Caring for our home
The monastery is not a prison, a wall, a grille, but a deep well out of the very rock, which offers us the greatest of all gifts. A deep well, whence springs the living water that is Christ, the Lord.
The monastery is our home and we do our best to care for our grounds and buildings. Every Friday afternoon you will find the Brethren doing their church cleaning. We also have a gardening morning together once a month, and Brethren – especially the novitiate – care for an area of the garden. The Brother responsible for the grounds is called the Custos.
We are expected to care for our rooms; our CR Rule says that they must be tidied by 10am! The House Steward is the Brother with responsibility for the care of the inside of our buildings, and he is assisted by the Housekeeping staff whom you will meet vacuuming carpets and mopping floors.
Rule of Life
What is a monk? A monk is someone who every day asks:“What is a monk?” — Cistercian monk Dom Andre Louf
We live by a Rule of Life, which we promise to follow at our Profession. This is not a rule that makes heavy unachievable demands upon us, but if we are called to this way of life the rule ensures that we will flourish and grow in response to the call of Christ in our life and that of the Community. There are four important documents that we consult in relation to our life in CR: The Rule of St Benedict, the CR Rule, the constitutions and the customary. Handed over from generation to generation, and combined together, these documents speak to us from a deep well of wisdom in the monastic tradition, and also contain that unique character for the life that is lived here at Mirfield by the Brethren CR!
Solitude, Silence and the Cell
In Scetis, a brother went to see Abba Moses and begged him for a word. The old man said, “Go and sit in your cell and your cell will teach you everything.” – Saying From the Desert Fathers
We spend a lot of our time alone and in silence. But this isn’t a bad thing. The ‘Brother’s room’ or the ‘monastic cell’ is the place of encounter with the living God. We have small rooms, with a bed, a desk, a bookshelf and an easy chair. We are allowed to have a picture or two on the wall, and a crucifix. Silence is the normal way of things in the monastery, talking is not. We are to be mindful of what we say, so that we build each other up and support each other. Solitude is not the environmental state of those who need to withdraw to recharge their batteries, but the moment of awareness where we place ourselves to be healed and nurtured, renewed and refreshed by our Lord and God.