Monday, November 19, 2007

Similarities and Differences

I have just spent three days in each of two very different Benedictine communities in southeast England, Worth Abbey and Tyburn Convent. Worth Abbey is about 30 miles south of London right in the middle of the English countryside-- picturesque, contemporary and energetic. The 22 monks there sponsor a large school(400 boys, 300 of whom are borders) and busy 20-room retreat center. They are still very much in the public eye even three years after the popular BBC TV documentary that featured their life. worthabbey.org

In contrast, the Benedictine Sisters of Tyburn Convent live a quiet life in central London, right on a bordering street of Hyde Park. They have a small home for the 15 sisters there, little grounds, and live a life of total enclosure centered around 24/7 adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. They have eight other similar convents in eight countries around the world. tyburnconvent.org.uk

In both places the Benedictine charism of hospitality and the primacy of the Opus Dei dominate. Both community groups were very gracious and welcoming to us.

All Benedictines know that there is great diversity in Benedictine houses even though they are all living the same Rule. And it is so...and seems to work...and that's what counts. I hope if you only know one or two Benedictine places, you'll take the opportunity to visit others when you can. Go to the Geographic Data section of www.osb.org and search for those nearby.