First Vespers of OHF Augustine and Clothing of Br Gildas

Tonight we celebrated First Vespers of Our Holy Father Augustine and also clothed our new novice, Dylan Parry, who shall henceforth be known as Br Gildas.

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Please keep Br Gildas, and the community, in your prayers as we celebrate this great solemnity.

For more pictures please visit our Facebook page: http://bit.ly/2btqymY

 

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Retreat on Prayer

This week, the priory enjoyed a retreat given by Father Paul Rowse O.P., of the Australian Province of the Order of Preachers. His subject, at our request, was prayer.

We thank Father Paul for his wonderful and insightful retreat, for his kindness in and to the community, an his Order for allowing him to come and spend time with us.

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Father Paul with some of the community after the final blessing

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Visit to Mondaye

After a whirlwind tour of Csorna last weekend, Brother Gregory enjoyed a slightly longer visit to the Abbey of St Martin at Mondaye in Normandy.

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The abbey was founded in 1210, and has seen its fair share of history. Repeatedly ravaged (by the English) during the Hundred Years’ War, it was once more burned during the Reformation, its abbot, Julien, martyred by Protestant fanatics. In the seventeenth-century, the abbey became part of the primitive observance branch of our Order (which was arranged by national provinces, rather than as independent abbeys). During this period, in the eighteenth-century, the abbey was completely re-built, and largely decorated by one man, the Prior, Eustace Restout. At the revolution, there were 17 confreres, one of which signed the civil constitution, although he later recanted.

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Spending some years as a secular college, and then a Trappist convent, the building was restored to the Order in 1859 when a foundation was made from Grimbergen. This, however, would not last long; the abbot was exiled in 1880, and the entire community were forced to leave for Belgium in 1902. The house has been continuously occupied, however since 1921, when the community returned after the Great War. The church itself was heavily damaged by Allied bombing in the second War, the scars of which can still be seen in the chancel.

Today, the community is thriving.

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Courgettes in the mist

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The local war memorial

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The final resting place of the last abbot of Premontre, Jean Baptise L’Ecuy

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I am very grateful for the hospitality of the brothers at Mondaye. While I was there, Brother Norbert (at the same time as whom I entered the Order in 2012, and who looked after me on my visit this year) took me on pilgrimage to see the relics of St Therese at Lisieux; we also saw the cathedral in Bayeux, as well as the Tapestry, which I found particularly exciting, and the British war cemetery. We visited a nearby manor house, next to which live the Sisters of the Lovers of the Holy Cross, which is a Vietnamese Congregation, three of whom live and work near Mondaye.

With Brother Julien, who visited Chelmsford when he was a junior, we travelled to see Omaha Beach and the American cemetery, and enjoyed crepes and iced tea on the sea front.

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Omaha Beach

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Visit to Csorna

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This weekend, Brother Gregory made a whirlwind tour of Hungary for the Solemn Profession of Brother Janos in the Abbey of St Michael in Csorna.

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The community of Csorna. Our Norbertine brothers in the Hungarian circary wear blue sashes and buttons on their habits, a privilege given them by the Queen of Hungary.

 

Csorna is in the north-west of Hungary, not too far from the border with Austria and Slovakia, and was founded in 1180. Over the centuries, it has been invaded by Turks and communists, the latter of which tried very hard to extinguish the sons of St Norbert, but they happily returned to this ancient house in 1990. On my visit this weekend, I was privileged to be able to talk to the Abbot Emeritus, who was a novice in the abbey before it was closed by the communists. In those days, the noviciate dormitory was what is now the refectory.

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The singing of the Suscipe

 

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Prostration during the litany

 

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And most importantly…

 

I am very grateful for their hospitality (and for speaking English!), but especially for being given the room of Cardinal Mindszenty: I must say, I slept very well in his former bed!

May the Lord look kindly upon our Hungarian brothers, and Brother Janos, that he may persevere as a faithful son of St Norbert.

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Mass for Fr Jacques Hamel

Following on from the martyrdom of Fr Jacques Hamel at the hands of Islamic extremists on 26th July we will be offering Mass for the repose of his soul, and for the persecuted Church, at 12 p.m. on Saturday 30th July in Our Lady Immaculate Church, Chelmsford; this will be preceded by Holy Hour and confessions from 11 a.m.

Rev 6:9 “I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God”.

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Corpus Christi Procession 2016

Yesterday we held our annual Corpus Christi procession around the streets of Chelmsford. It was a truly wonderful day, the rain held off, and the parishioners came out in force to worship and adore the Most Blessed Sacrament of the Altar.

For more photographs please check our flickrstream.

Praised be the Blessed Sacrament of the Altar and the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary!

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More of Brother Gregory’s holiday pictures

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It was disappointing not to see a tiger (or perhaps not), but: Elephants!

 

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Eagles on the high street in Bangalore: a little bit bigger than a blue tit.

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In our visits to schools, we were regularly serenaded with song, and often dance.

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Norbertines like the motto: ‘be prepared for every good work.’ In Bangalore, Norbertines run a prison for child convicts, and set them on the straight and narrow. The inmates had prepared a lavish evening for us, with dinner and dancing by moonlight.

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There were lots of felicitations

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It was wonderful to meet confreres from other Norbertine houses: here are representatives from the USA, France and Hungary.

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Brother Gregory poses with Brother Stephen and Brother John from the Abbey of Csorna in Hungary, which is of a similar size and style as Chelmsford. Hungarian Norbertines wear a blue sash, with blue buttons, like Our Lady behind, as a gift from the Empress. I was pleased to see that the stitching on the habit was also sky blue.

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May St Norbert our Father look kindly upon all his sons, that we may lift high the Blessed Sacrament above all the errors and miseries of the world

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