Exploring New Monasticism
Rhythm of the Day
09:30 Morning Office
13:00 Lunch and
14:00 Reflection and Prayer
18:00 Evening Office
22:30 House quiet
Le Rythme du Jour
08:30 Petit Déjeuner
09:30 Offices du Matin
13:00 Offices de Midi et Déjeuner
14:00 Réflexion et prière
18:00 Offices du Soir
temps de partage et de
22:30 Maison calme
L ‘ Abri à Suvigny
(A developing House of Retreat)
L’Abri à Suvigny is a project which has been developing since 2005 into a place where people can come to stay for a short or longer time, to live in a Christian Community and practise a modern form of monasticism, working within a framework and rhythm to the day allowing space for work, prayer/meditation, relaxation and study. The 'cell' that a monk of old would withdraw to can be developed as a 'cell within the heart' to which one withdraws spiritually throughout the day, rather than necessarily being a particular place. This aside, we have a 'poustinia' or prayer cell in the prayer garden, as well as a chapel. L ‘ Abri will run as self-sufficiently and organically as possible with an area for woodland, orchard, small livestock like sheep, chickens and rabbits, vegetable garden, pond, meadow and prayer garden. The aim is to be environmentally friendly to wild creatures as well as domestic ones, and encourage all visitors to be involved in the day to day jobs, as well as any training/retreat programme they might be coming for.
L'Abri is one of the Other Houses of the Northumbria Community, and because those who espouse the Community principles vow to be available, intentionally vulnerable and to show hospitality to all, there is also the option for anyone who feels pulled to community living to live on the farm for a time or longer, as God leads.
There is also the opportunity for groups to come and run their own retreat programmes with the proprietors of L’Abri à Suvigny acting as hosts. The pattern of the monastic day would remain the framework during this time. The property is situated in Normandie in France, to the East of Avranches, between St Hilaire du Harcouët and Mortain.
The property consists of a house and a separate barn. The plans are for the house to be private for the owners upstairs, and communal living downstairs. An extension to the house is currently being built, and will provide extra bedrooms and a conservatory. The separate barn will be a chapel upstairs with workshops/stables downstairs. It is possible for tents/caravans to be accommodated in the orchard. The project required the full renovation of the existing buildings as a first phase, followed by extension of the house to accommodate extra bedrooms and the conservatory. The planting and design of the grounds has now largely been achieved. A prayer labyrinth garden is currently under construction.
Considerable work has been accomplished on the house, but it is still in the process of renovation, and does not offer 5 star accommodation! The ethos is that of sharing life together and generally helping one another out and being willing to live with some inconveniences.
Just as important as the physical progress is the social and spiritual progress which has also started with the people who have been involved thus far. Our prayer is that God will be in every block laid, and every plan made, in every plant that grows and in every life that is touched by contact with the project. So far, those who have come, have expressed the desire to return, and many have in fact done so. A warm welcome is always offered, and time and space for reflection and conversation is constantly available.
A celtic blessing
May the road rise
to meet you;
May the wind be always
at your back.
May the sun shine
warm upon your face
and the rain fall
softly on your fields.
Until you come again
may God hold you
in the hollow
of his hand.
Que la route se monte a vous rencontrer;
Que le vent soit toujours votre soutien.
Que le soleil brille chaleureusement sur votre visage,
et la pluie tombe doucement sur vos pres,
jusqu’au temps que nous nous rencontrons encore une fois.
Que le bon Dieu vous tienne dans le creux de sa main.