The Monastic Community at Downside Abbey might seem to live in something of a bubble, but events in the world have an effect on life here as well! Like everyone in Britain and many other parts of the world, the monks have been practising “social distancing”. Although we are fortunate still to be able to celebrate Mass and to pray the Divine Office together since we live under the same roof, we have had to close the church and ensure that no-one can attend the Office or Mass. We have, however, been even more active on social media and the website, and each day all or part of the daily Mass is put on-line and we post regularly on our social media platforms, including short videos.

The requirement for “social distancing” has, of course, affected our life at Downside! Monks are engaged in pastoral work in the local parish and in neighbouring schools, and this can no longer take place in person. Instead, however, these monks are engaging with parishioners and others by phone and email. Anyone involved in teaching in a nearby school is preparing work for pupils to do at home, so that they can keep up with the syllabus. In the choir and refectory we are sitting further apart, and we are, of course, staying within the enclosure and not leaving the grounds unless absolutely necessary. We are very fortunate to have physical space at Downside, so that we can exercise in the grounds and the good weather definitely helps everyone’s mood!

It is very strange for us not to have any guests, or anyone coming to the Office or Mass, and the Triduum (Maundy Thursday to Easter Sunday) will be very different – certainly quieter! We are, of course, praying for all our oblates, friends and benefactors in different parts of the world, and hope to see you all in person before too long!

Keep in touch via the website and our Social Media Channels; Facebook @downside.abbey and @downsidemonks; Twitter @downsideabbey and @downsidevocation; Instagram @downsideabbey