Downside Abbey Retreat: Meditations from a Monastery


Downside Abbey

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GENTLE DAWN CHORUS

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RUNNING WATER

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DRAIN GURGLES

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CLOCK TICKS HEAVILY

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DOOR CREAKS

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FOOTSTEPS

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DISTANT BIRDSONG

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HINGE CREAKS

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Hmm.

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KNOCKING OF WOOD

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BELLS RING

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RINGING CEASES

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WHISPERING

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KNOCK OF WOOD ON WOOD

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GREGORIAN CHANTING

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GREGORIAN CHANTING

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WOOD PIGEON COOS

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GENTLE BIRDSONG

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INSECTS BUZZ

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GATE CREAKS

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STEMS SNAP

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DOOR CLOSES

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FOOTSTEPS APPROACH

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-Benidicite.

-Benedicite.

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GREGORIAN CHANTING

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The rule of our Holy Father, St Benedict, Chapter the 38th -

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The Weekly Reader.

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During meals, there shall be complete silence,

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disturbed by no whispering.

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Nor should anyone's voice be heard except the reader's.

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Everyone in the community should be attentive to

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the needs of their neighbours as they eat and drink,

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so that there should be no need for anyone to ask for what they require.

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However, if such a need should arise, there should be agreed

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signs for such requests,

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so as to avoid the sound of voices.

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No-one should venture to ask a question about the reading

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during the meal times, nor about anything else,

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for fear of provoking a breakdown in silence.

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Chapter the 39th -

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The Amount Of Food To Be Made Available.

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Whether the main meal each day is at noon or in mid-afternoon,

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two cooked dishes on every table should be enough to

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allow for differences of taste, so that those who feel

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unable to eat from one may be satisfied with the other.

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Two dishes, then, should be enough for the needs of all, but if there

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is a supply of fruit and fresh vegetables available,

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a third may be added.

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The full pound of bread every day for each

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member of the community should be enough, both on days when there is

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only one meal and on those when there is a supper as well as dinner.

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If the community is to have supper, the cellarer must retain

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a third of each one's bread ration to give them at supper.

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Ye must always be careful, however, to avoid excessive eating,

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which might also cause indigestion.

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Nothing is so opposed to Christian values as overeating,

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as we can see from the words of our Lord -

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"Take care that your hearts are not weighed down by overeating."

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GAVEL BANGS

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DOOR OPENS AND CLOSES

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METALLIC WHIRRING

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BELLS RING

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RINGING CEASES

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GREGORIAN CHANTING

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CHANTING IN CHORUS

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FOOTSTEPS

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The first film is set in Downside, a spectacular neo-gothic monastery set in the beautiful valleys of Somerset. It is home to fourteen Benedictine monks who live according to the 6th-century Rule of St Benedict. We follow two of the monks over the course of a typical, quiet monastic day, as they engage with carpentry and baking, religious services and moments of private prayer in the monastery gardens.

The pattern of the monks' day has changed little over hundreds of years and this programme encourages us to slow down to their pace, share their silence and eavesdrop on their rituals. Father Michael has been designing and making extraordinary pieces of furniture in his workshop for the past 48 years. He picked up his passion for woodwork from his father - but found when he joined the abbey in his early twenties that it was a role he could embrace and nurture. He's now a master craftsman and is on hand should the abbey need repairs, restorations or any new items of furniture. We watch him working on prie-dieu (a traditional prayer desk), carving, whittling and sawing until it's finished and we watch him use it in private prayer. 'Ora et labora' (prayer and work) is the Benedictine motto.

Father Christopher originally came from Malta where he developed his love of food and in particular bread. He first joined Downside Abbey when he was 24, but stayed only five years. Aged 60, he decided to become a monk again and joined the community for good. We watch him bake a loaf of sourdough bread for lunch, mixing, kneading and baking the dough. He also collects wild garlic from the monastery meadows and makes a garlic butter dish to serve alongside the bread.

Filmed with an eye to the beauty and peace of the ancient surroundings, the film has a painterly quality that creates a feeling of restfulness and quiet contemplation. And by focusing on the natural sounds of nature and the peace of the abbey we have created a meditative soundtrack that adds to this unique experience.


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