Parish of St Benedict Ealing Abbey

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From the Rule of St Benedict

The Monastery > Duties

Benedict said that the management of the monastery should be in the Abbot's hands but he did envisage that certain officers of the community would assist him: the Prior, the Cellarer, the Novice Master, the Guest Master and Deans, if the community were large. The Prior ranks second in the monastery and deputises for the Abbot if he is absent; there is also a Subprior. The Cellarer, or Bursar, has responsibility for all the material side of the monastery, from food to finance, from furnishings to the fabric of the buildings. Benedict allowed for the brethren to be consulted on all matters of importance and there is a Council to assist the Abbot; half of its members are appointed by him and half are elected by the community. On all major matters, such as admitting novices to profession or expenditure on new buildings, the consent of the majority of the community is required and the Chapter will meet to consider and vote on the proposals.

The vocations of monk and priest are quite separate - it is not essential for monks to be priests - but because of the nature of their work Ealing monks have also been priests, though there is no reason why this should not change. Monks who are to be ordained priests have to undergo several years of philosphy and theologyl studies to prepare them for this ministry in the Church. At Ealing specific monks act as parish clergy, on the staff of Saint Benedict's School,, Choir Master, Master of Ceremonies and Sacristan.

Growth in the Community

When a newcomer is clothed as a novice he is placed in the care of the Novice Master, a senior monk who will try to help him grow in the Benedictine calling - a lifelong pursuit. With the other novices he will study the Rule and its basis in Scripture and will find that it still speaks eloquently of what is meant by seeking God more completely in the monastic life. Moderation is the keynote of the Rule: Benedict cut out the harsh extremes of penance and solitude which had been prescribed by the Desert Fathers before him. The novice learns that the head of the monastery, the Abbot, is "to hold the place of Christ" among them and is charged to care for those entrusted to him, leading them by example and not just by words. The monks, for their part, arc to accept the Abbot's decisions with loving obedience but have also a share in advising him - and indeed are responsible for choosing him in the first place. The novices meet regularly with the Abbot, but under him the Novice Master has responsibility for them and meets them each day to study the Rule. Others may give classes in church history, scripture, spirituality, liturgy and music, and in a wider sense all members of the cornmunity share in this work, exercising their joint responsibility for admitting novices to profession. Although there is a certain amount of seclusion, the novices have daily contact with the rest of the community and they may undertake tasks (such as working with disabled people) which will help them develop their talents and give them experience of the like and work of the community that in due course will be theirs.

The monk will go on growing into the monastic life all his days, but the purpose of the year's novitiate is to decide whether or not the novice is indeed called to be a member of this particular monastery. If the answer is yes, the Abbot and community will be the living, loving environment through which the Spirit will work in him to fashion him in "the likeness of Christ".






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The Trust of St Benedict’s Abbey, Ealing’ is a registered charity no 242715