A virtual retreat and Downside Abbey? These hardly seem to go together! When we think of retreats (if we do!) we imagine going away to a quiet place, somewhere away from home, from social media, cooking and cleaning, where we can pray, read, stroll, think. When the monks of Downside Abbey have their annual retreat, however, we stay at Downside. We try to put aside everyday matters as far as possible (with more or less success if we are honest) and give more time to prayer, reading, strolling and so on. If we can do it, so can you! 

The next few days of the Easter Triduum are the high point of the Church’s year – the most important days, in fact. Many people would make a special effort to get to the services each day, and a number come away to Downside for a more intense retreat with the monastic community. This year it will be different for everyone, including the monks. But it is still possible to have a retreat at home! First, you can watch the main liturgies, which will be livestreamed from a number of churches throughout the world. There has never been so much choice! If you would like a service with music, then it would be best to opt for one of the larger cathedrals or a monastery. Unfortunately, we cannot livestream services at Downside Abbey, but we are not leaving you in the lurch!

Technology permitting, there will be the following aids to a virtual retreat without needing to make to your way to Downside Abbey (except via the internet!). 

Maundy Thursday

Music and a reading will be uploaded here in the early afternoon to help you pray in preparation for the evening liturgy.

We will celebrate the Evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper at 6pm, and will upload the Gospel and homily afterwards. You will find it here.  

Good Friday

We will record Lauds in the morning and upload it here.

11am  You can join a Livestream with Dom Anselm, who will look at the Passion narrative from John’s Gospel, that we will hear in the afternoon liturgy. This will be on our Instagram (@downsideabbey) and (if it works) our YouTube  channel (DownsideAbbey) at the same time. This will last until about 11:45am.

In the early afternoon (about 1:30pm) we will upload another recording of music and reading here.

Our afternoon Liturgy will be at 3pm, as in practically every church in the world! We will upload the homily here afterwards.

Holy Saturday

Once again, we will upload Lauds in the morning here.

2pm You can join a livestream on our YouTube channel, when Dom Michael will lead prayers for healing. This will last 15-20 minutes as currently planned. 

We have Vespers at 6pm, and will upload the recording here afterwards.

Easter Sunday

We will upload the Gospel and homily from the Easter Vigil, as well as the whole Easter Sunday Mass and Vespers and Benediction here during the late morning and evening. 

There may be other videos or “thoughts for the day” on our social media channels, so do sign up for notifications so that you know when we have posted anything. Those who usually come to Downside for the retreat will need to remember that we do not have a choir, and so most of the music will be in plainchant! It will be a different experience for all of us, but we hope that we can feel united in prayer even at a distance. If you have a prayer intention, then you can email us or to offer a Mass stipend. 

In the meantime, all of us at Downside Abbey, wish you a blessed and safe Easter Triduum.