The Monastery... again


Worth Abbey community + the volunteers
Originally uploaded by bro_james.

"The Monastery": a highly successful BBC 2 3-part documentary following 5 contemporary men who volunteer to live 40 days at Worth Abbey. I know lots of people who've seen at least part of it, some of whom have a lukewarm attitude to organised religion at the best of times. They were all gobsmacked by it and many found it profoundly moving (as I did myself - especially the last part and Tony's religious experience). The reaction in the press has been amazing. One of the volunteers (Tony) has even been talking openly on TV chat shows about how he discovered faith in God during the experience. His story gives tremendous witness to what Christianity has to offer people in today's secularised societies, in part simply because of the type of person he was before doing the series and also through seeing how it has changed him. I know a lot of people are campaigning for the series to be realeased on dvd but the BBC have not announced any such plans as yet.

A friend of mine has managed to do a decent transfer from vhs to dvd for me and I'm giving copies out to people. I've used part of it already in school. It's a wonderful resource to have: insights into religious life - its difficulties, its riches, insights into Christianity in general, a very positive image of the Church and of the Benedictines involved - the Abbot, Novice Master, etc... some of whom give individual guidance to the volunteers and classes to the whole group. Each of the 5 volunteers came with "issues" that needed sorting out. Three of them were not practicing Christians, but they all thought that their time in the monastery would allow them to take stock, to recharge the batteries and come back "into the world" hopefully as better people. Little did they know that they were going to get far more than they bargained for.

see http://www.bbc.co.uk/religion/programmes/monastery/
and http://www.worthabbey.net/

It was great to see people having the kind of (religious) experiences I have had at times over the years and talking about them in lay man's terms. It's also great to see an aspect of the Church portrayed in such an open, positive and generous manner. The series has reminded me why I was so attracted initially to monastic life (Benedictine monasticism - Thanks, Raph - and then the Cistercian variety) as opposed to the Brothers I am now with. Though I thoroughly enjoy life as a De La Mennais Brother and have no regrets, part of me still longs for the "desert". I try and go for a monastic retreat once a year and also take school groups on retreat. As Brothers, we have to try and live out many of the values and principles of monastic life in an urban, "worldy" context. Not always plain sailing, but very rewarding.

Anyway, if anyone wants a copy on dvd, just let me know and I'll post it off to you. No fee. You can say a few prayers for us instead! If anyone from the BBC reads this, I hope you understand my reasons. If you do release it on dvd I will stop giving out my copies.

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