A Monk’s Mission
Downside Abbey is a Benedictine monastery and is home to a community of monks. Their mission is praise of God, pastoral care and education. The community follows the Rule of St Benedict and seeks to serve God and spread the Gospel in all that it does.
What is the Rule of St Benedict?
St Benedict began his monastic life as a hermit, but as men joined him, community life began. This necessitated the introduction of guidelines, which he wrote in about 520 AD. Benedict was familiar with the older Rule of the Master, which he adapted, shortened and made more human for his monks, and it is Benedict’s Rule that is followed in monasteries throughout the world, including at Downside Abbey. He set out the way that a monastery should run, by describing the role of the Abbot as the Father of the Community, and the Prior (his deputy), along with those who advise him. He wrote eight chapters that set out with great precision the way that the Divine Office (the formal prayer of monks) should be said, but also allowed an Abbot to adapt this if his community needed a different scheme. He wrote about work, reading, meals, clothing – it is a practical document, as well as a spiritual masterpiece that has been at the basis of monastic life in the Western Church ever since it was written.