March 23rd 2020

Dear Friends,

We are living through unpredictable and challenging times. I went to Rome for a meeting on March 4th, and on my return I went into two weeks of self-isolation within the monastery. I was able to follow the usual daily pattern of our life from a distance: times of communal and personal prayer, and of communal meals. It was a humbling and uplifting experience to be looked after so willingly and attentively by so many within the monastery. It was lovely that my isolation ended on March 20th, as we began in the evening to celebrate the Solemn Feast of St Benedict.

It was an extraordinary time to stay in touch with the amazing events unfolding at great speed in this country and others all around the world. There is a palpable sense of uncertainty and vulnerability. So much of what we have come to take for granted is no longer reliable. People are fearful for their lives and for their livelihoods, and vividly concerned for their families and neighbours. It seems that individually and collectively the response to the coronavirus crisis has overwhelmingly been to come together and look for the common good, even as we have had to draw apart physically from each other.

For the foreseeable future the members of the church will not be gathering together to celebrate the life of God in our midst. This is a great loss, and a step only taken to shield all of us from infection and to support particularly those working within our health services. As a monastic community we are very mindful of those who would normally join us for Sunday and weekday Mass, or come to our daily pattern of monastic prayer. We continue to pray with you and for you. Please pray for us, as we pray for you.

We know that our God is a God of tenderness and compassion, let us all turn to Him in our need.

May God bless us all,

Abbot Luke.