Archive for February, 2018

Opening our series of Lenten Addresses on What the Rule of St Benedict has to offer all baptised Christians, The Prior of the Holywell Community, Canon Mark Soady quoted from the Constitution of the Community.

It is the calling of all Christians to be Christ-like, sharing with other Christians in the baptismal mystery of Christ’s death and resurrection – and making that known in the world. Religious Communities are like the early apostles in that they share a common life. “All who believed had all things in common.” (Acts 2).

He continued, “while all Christians are not called to share ” all things in Common” we are called to make sacrifices in love. As our Bishop says in his Lenten letter this year,” The Lenten journey reminds us of our own personal schooling as we follow our Heavenly father who expressed his love by sending his son to live amongst us”.  The Holy Father Benedict’s Rule helps us in that as, in the words of the Prologue to the Rule, it is “a school for the service of the Lord”.


Fr Mark preaching at Monte Cassino 2014

Key to Prayer is an ability to listen. As the prologue says one is invited to “listen with the ear of your heart”. If one is truly open to listening one needs to be able to set aside one’s own pre-occupations, one needs to sacrifice oneself in love to be open to hear. While all Christians may not be able to devote the time to set prayers that the Rule calls monks to do, they can set time aside in their lives to spend time in prayer. This will almost certainly call on one too sacrifice some pleasure to make room for this prayer time.

Dom Laurence McTaggart of Ampleforth  in response to the questions what is Holy? – points out that for many “the word work is synonymous with ‘toil’ (for) …work is often not seen as part of the spiritual life”. So often work is valued by how much it brings in; the focus is too much on what is done , rather than who is doing it. This was not God’s way, God humbled himself to take on human form.

As work is seen as a consequence of the Fall, it is seen as a burden or as a punishment, but long before the Fall God worked for six days to create the World. St Benedict speaks of prayer as the work of God, and set prayer times are know as ‘offices’. The Rule then shows us that God is there in our work – even if its mundane and boring – as well as in the moments of feeling great elation.


Obedience in some quarters is an outdated concept. The Holywell Constitution speaks of it in this way:

Obedience includes listening to God, and hearing what he has in mind for the Community. By the vow of obedience members commit themselves to each other and to the Community, so they may grow in union with Christ, who sought not his own will but the will of God who sent him.

In reminding us in his Rule that sometimes God can speak to us through  the newest member or through the youngest member, St Benedict is reminding us that we are all unlimitedly under God’s authority and he can speak to us in many and different ways. Such a teaching, I suggest, is as valuable  in the pew as it is in the monastic choir stall.

In saying that in welcoming every stranger like Christ, St Benedict is getting us closer to the mystery of the Incarnation, for it brings the possibility of encountering the divine in the very day things of life.  In most of the rule St Benedict leaves wiggle room, but not where offering hospitality its concerned – and rightly so, if in turning some one away, could result in us turning God himself away. The Holywell Community Constitution reminds us that hospitality is not just about offering  food or a roof to some one, but is also about our attitude to people; are we open to other points of view or to people who are in some way different to us?  As Christians we are all called to see God in every Human being. – That can be quiet a challenge some times!”

He concluded with this challenge :

I hope this Lent’s study of the Ruleof St Benedict  will help you all think about your own rule of life, as we rightly spend this holy season reflecting on what Christ is calling us to do.

The rest of the series


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The schedule of repair and restoration work in the Priory this year is estimated to cost about a third of a Million pounds and is funded by generous donations and gifts, as well as from two legacies left by faithful parishioners .


DWOyhJmWsAAZDb8.jpgAlun Griffiths Construction are working on lowering the North Walkway so as to reduce water seeping in to the Priory Church’s North wall. This scheme will also give better disabled access to the St Joseph Chapel.

Coe Stone  will build  a new retaining wall for the Garden of Remembrance, which will double up as a place for Memorial Tablets to be placed.



A faculty is to be applied for the removal of the front pew so as to enable better use of the space for both concerts and liturgical acts.




It is hoped that the new central Heating Boilers can be installed this Summer ready for next winter. These new boilers are small enough to enable us to re-open the North West Porch, this extra exit will enable us to increase our seating capacity and remain within fire regulations.


It is planned to redecorate the ringing chamber and make repairs to the North Staircase of the Tower during the year. Bellfry.jpg


A Faculty has been applied for to  replace the outdated lighting in the St Joseph Chapel, this will complete the Winston Memorial in that Chapel.

Commenting on these works the Vicar, Canon Mark Soady said:

We have a duty as stewards of the Priory to pass it on to the next generation both in a fit state, but also in a state that enables us to do the mission of the church in our day and age. I am grateful to all who have helped finance these projects, and encourage Parishioners to think about leaving a legacy to the PCC. Such a legacy will be spent on capital projects and not on running costs.

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Monday 7pm Stations of the Cross & Holy Eucharist St Mary’s Priory

Tuesday 7pm Stations of the Cross & Holy Eucharist Holy Trinity

Wednesday 7pm Stations of the Cross & Holy Eucharist Christchurch


7pm Mass of the Last Supper & Stripping of the Altar (St Mary’s  Priory), followed by the Procession to the Garden of Repose.

9pm – 12Midnight Watch of the Passion Holy Trinity


In the morning we will join the Ecumenical March of Witness through the Town

2pm The Last Hour

7pm Sacred Concert: St Mark Passion – Wood

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From June 29th  to July 3rd the Abergavenny Floral Arts Society will mount an exhibition  of flowers  in the Priory Church to mark this years various Anniversaries.


A display from a previous Flower Festival in 2013

Among the Anniversaries to be marked are:

  • Our Royal Patron the Prince of Wales’ 70th Birthday
  • The Centenary of the ending of Hostilities in World War 1 and the creation of the Royal Air Force
  • The Centenary of Women’s suffrage
  • The 65th Anniversary of HM The Queen’s Coronation and 70th Anniversary of HM’s wedding to The Duke of Edinburgh

and the local Anniversaries  included are:

  • 20th Anniversary of Abergavenny Food Festival
  • 30th and 50th Anniversaries respectively of the twinning with Beaupreau in France and Ostringen in Germany
  • 15th Anniversary of Diocesan Link between Monmouth and The Highveld

Welcoming the news  of the Festival the Vicar, Canon Mark Soady said:

The Priory Church down the centuries has been the place where the town comes to celebrate and to weep. I am very grateful to the Abergavenny Floral Art Society for helping us mark some of this year’s important anniversaries.

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