Some News from the Sisters of the Blessed Virgin Mary in their new home at Old Oscott Hill, Kingstanding, Birmingham

( from the SBVM website: )

Benedicite…. PAX. We have been here at Kingstanding for exactly two weeks. The chaos is being sorted and there are fewer boxes around. Thank you for your prayerful support, and to all those who have made this possible, we say a heartfelt thank you. So, to begin with, let us share a little of the last two weeks, starting with our departure from our dearly beloved PCJ sisters. It was an unforgettable moment in our lives as we moved through the enclosure door and back into the world. Only Our Lord knows how it was for them and for us. The coach crawled onto the ferry and we parked. At some point I walked along the deck to see the wake of the ship. How can one be borne up on the ocean without some sight… The sea was foaming underneath us and the movement was heavy over the occasional swell. It wasSBVM monastery really strange travelling back up the A34 on the coach with the same driver who had brought us down. Eventually the coach swung through the spaghetti junction just as the Angelus would have been ringing before supper at PCJ. We pulled into the drive of our new convent, and the now familiar simple lines of the building were in front of us. We unpacked the coach and went to chapel to greet Our Lord. The doorbell rings all the time… today it is five Sisters of Charity in their distinctive white saris with the blue stripe. There are days when our chapel is packed with Religious of every kind, from around us or from abroad… so many different nationalities, accents, personalities. So. as Mother Winsome often says… “This is where we are at the moment!”

Thursday 12 September 2013. We have changed the arrangement of the furniture in the chapel after a fortnight here. We have wanted to live with it as it was for a time, as well as to be very sensitive to the needs of the parish who have their weekday Masses in the Convent chapel. However we were encouraged to change by those who know the parish; they have encouraged us to be faithful to our charism, which is the liturgy. So after much physical activity we have arrived at a ‘horseshoe’ formation which is truly monastic. It provides for the Superior, who in the Rule of S Benedict holds the place of Christ in the monastery, for the alternation of psalmody choir to choir, and for our musical instruments. All the parish needs in terms of seating and placing are also provided for. There is space for those who want to come and pray, and this was exemplified by the celebrant asking to stay on for some quiet prayer. As in Benedictine life the liturgy flows on into the rest of the day, so we expect that this will follow on from the new formation. We shall shortly be gradually introducing the Divine Office on which we have been working so hard and so long. Please know that all your prayers are gathered up and offered in the sacrifice of the Mass, and please pray for us. On this day when we remember the Most Holy Name of Mary, God bless you.

13 September 2013. S John Chrysostom. This fourth century Bishop and Doctor of the Church, named ‘Golden Mouth’ because of his eloquence in preaching the Gospel, still exerts an influence today. Even though he was twice sent into exile as a result of his challenges to the imperial court of his day, he remained faithful. Here is an example of his unswerving faith, taken from one of his homilies: ‘I hold fast to his bond. That is to me a staff, that to me is security, that to me is a calm harbour. Even though the world be in turmoil, I hold fast to this bond. I read it. It is my rampart, my safeguard. What bond is this? “I am with you all days even to the end of time”‘. Here, we continue to prepare to use our new Divine Office. We will begin in a very simple way, with Midday Office. By beginning it we also at the same time begin gradually to introduce a one week Benedictine Schema of Psalms, though it will be some time before it is fully complete. The liturgy has always been at the very heart of our life and it is a joy to see the fruit of long labours coming into use. As you read this, know that you are prayed for, specially that this ‘bond’ of which S John Chrysostom wrote may be a real rampart and safe harbour for you, wherever you are. Also, we remember in particular the Mother Prioress of S Cecilia’s Abbey as she celebrates her Silver Jubilee of Profession this weekend. God bless her, and God bless you.

14 September 2013, the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross. Today we are particularly closely united in prayer with Mother Prioress of S Cecilia’s Abbey, Sr Mary David Totah OSB, as she celebrates her Silver Jubilee of Profession today. We are with her as she sings her Suscipe and we salute this large-hearted Benedictine soul, truly a Sister and Mother to us. May she be greatly blessed on this day and in the future. Here, we began yesterday to use our new Midday Office. It is good to hear the pure sounds of the zither in our worship again. It was a kind of threshold as a new Community to begin our new Office at last, and we rejoiced. Also we are delighted with the Revised Grail Psalter which we are using for Midday Office and we are grateful to Father Abbot of Conception Abbey who is responsible for this translation. As a Hebraist and musician, he has done a wonderful work. Today we finish these postings with the English translation of the Sarum Respond for this day: ‘O Cross, thou art the Tree of Life, for on thine arms the Saviour was suspended, the King of Israel: O sweetest Wood, O sweetest Iron, which bare so sweet a Burthen: O Wood of priceless value! O gem of beauty rarest! Which meetly did sustain the Lord’s body’. God bless you.

heart15 September 2013, Twenty Fourth Sunday of the Year. Our hearts and our thoughts are still very much with the Sisters of S Cecilia’s Abbey, Pax Cordis Iesu this weekend, as Mother Mary David celebrates her Silver Jubilee weekend. This image illustrating Blessed John Henry Newman’s motto, Cor ad Cor Loquitur, seems apt here. There is much to reflect on in the image: the one heart within the other, and the gentle yet strong figure of the Virgin embracing all. Christ’s Heart is a pierced heart, from which flows the living water of our redemption. Today were it not Sunday we would be remembering Our Lady as the Mother of Sorrows as she stood by the Cross of her Son, and this is also expressed here. ‘Heart speaks to Heart’ is the essence of prayer: the meek and lowly heart of the Son, and the immaculate and pure heart of the Ancilla Domini, his Mother. May His Heart speak to your heart most specially today, and may your own heart speak with His. God bless you.

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