Junior Course at Pluscarden Abbey, 2012

“Listen, my child, to the master’s teaching, and bend the ear of your heart…” (Rule of St Benedict, Prologue)

An important date for our juniors calendar is the annual junior course, this year arranged jointly between the Benedictines and Cistercians of the region of Ireland and the UK, and held this year at Pluscarden Abbey, Scotland, from 12th to 19th July.

This is an event open to those in their second year of novitiate together with those who have progressed to their first monastic vows as juniors in their initial formation.

Pluscarden Abbey, home to twenty-one Benedictine monks belonging to the Benedictine Congregation of Subiaco, were this year’s gracious hosts to twenty monks and nuns of the region attending the course, including nuns from Germany and Holland.

Pluscarden Abbey boasts of its medieval monastic roots, with a monastic community established there as early as 1230 until the reformation period. In 1948 the monks of Prinknash Abbey reconstituted monastic life there, making a foundation on the site and property of the original Priory buildings. Fr Michael Casey, a frequent speaker at formation conferences in the Cistercian order, is a Cistercian monk of Tarrawarra Abbey, Australia.

The course, entitled “Benedictine Beliefs and Values” explored the spiritual path for monks as envisioned by St Benedict, the sixth century Italian monk responsible for the direction Western monasticism has taken ever since with the composition of his Rule for Monasteries, described modestly by himself as a “little rule for beginners”.

Fr Casey examined Benedict’s call for orderliness in the monastery, explained against a background of cultural collapse and decadence in the world in which Benedict lived in the sixth century hence the emphasis on living by a rule, envisaging the monastery as a workshop and seeing the various means of growing towards God in the monastic life as tools of the spiritual craft.

Other topics included the monastic vows, life in community, the liturgy, and monastic work.

The course was of much interest to those who are seeking to deepen their understanding of the Rule and the vision of St Benedict and to integrate it into their own monastic lives as currently lived in the various monasteries represented by those participants on the course.

We wish all those currently in formation in both Benedictine and Cistercian houses of the region of Ireland, the UK and Europe every blessing as they continue to grow and give glory to God in their monastic vocation.

Photo: Pluscarden Abbey, Scotland