At the beginning of Holy Week we were delighted to welcome our Abbot General, Thomas Handgrätinger, to Chelmsford. On Monday the juniors we able to accompany Abbot Thomas on a tour of the principle sites of nearby London. Our local MP, Simon Burns, had kindly arranged a tour of Parliament. None of us will forget the splendid site of the Abbot General standing at the dispach box of the House of Commons! It was also a good opportunity to reflect on the Holy Father’s recent speech to both Houses and to remember the trial of St. Thomas More in the Palace of Westminster.
From the Palace of Westminster we proceeded to Westminster Abbey, the former Benedictine monastery which is known as the venue for many events in the history of this island. The Reverend Dr James Hawkey, Minor Canon of the Abbey, kindly gave us a personal tour of the principle monuments of the abbey. We were able to visit the shrine of St. Edward, King and Confessor and there we sang the Pater Noster. It was also of interest to see the preparations for the forthcoming wedding that is to take place in the abbey in a week or so.
After luncheon – and a pint of ‘Abbot Ale’ – we proceeded to Westminster Cathedral. Here we were able to show Abbot Thomas the great mother church of Catholics in England and Wales. It was especially interesting to visit the exhibiton of the Cathedral treasury and to see London from atop the Cathedral.
The following day Mr. Christopher Foyle welcomed us to Beeleigh Abbey. Certainly the first visit of an Abbot General to the abbey and an opportunity to learn more of Fr. Norbert Backmund’s visit to Beeleigh (Fr. Backmund was a canon of the Abbot General’s own abbey of Windberg and author of the well-known ‘Monasticon Praemonstratense‘). Mr. Foyle led us on a tour of the abbey; allowing us to see not only the grounds, but the chapter house, calefactory and dormitory. Later, Abbot Thomas was able to see something of Chelmsford itself and to spend time with the whole community. It is always a joy for us to welcome fellow Norbertines, and we were especially blessed to be able to welcome the Abbot General.
Please continue to pray for the Abbot General and all the superiors of our Order.
Ecce quam bonum et quam jucundum habitare fratres in unum
Behold how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity