Durham Cathedral offers opportunities to learn more about the Benedictine tradition which is at the heart of our life and worship. The genius of Benedict's Rule, written some 1500 years ago, is that it is as relevant for people living non-monastic lives today as it has been through the ages for those called to the monastic life. We invite you to join us on a Benedictine week which provides and opportunity both to learn about the historical legacy of the Rule of St Benedict and to explore its wisdom for living today. In that sense the week is a cross between a study week and a retreat, and it includes an evening pilgrimage in the Cathedral when it is closed to other visitors.
Durham Cathedral has one of the most complete set of monastic buildings still in daily use and a highlight for many people attending the 2007 week was the opportunity to understand the way these buildings provided the context in which the Rule of Benedict took living form in the past. The programme provides a balance of historical study, insight into how the Cathedral lives its Benedictine inheritance today, and reflection on how the Benedictine tradition provides a framework for Christian discipleship in any context.
Benedictine Rule at Durham Cathedral
From very early in its history, the monastic community at the Cathedral lived by the Benedictine Rule, holding prayer (the Opus Dei) at the centre of its life, and abiding by the vows of stability, obedience and conversion of life. The Cathedral's monastic buildings express the routines of daily life in a monastery, from washing to study, cooking to welcoming guests, business to prayer. After the dissolution of the monasteries at the Reformation the newly emerging Church of England took on, and gave fresh expression to, much of the monastic mantle. This was expressed in Cranmer's Book of Common Prayer by his skilful adaptation of the monastic offices to form the two Daily Offices that are still said daily in Anglican churches, and in Durham by the Prior and some of the monks remaining to become the first Dean and Chapter of the refounded, non-monastic, Cathedral. Increasingly there is an understanding that much else from Benedict's rule can make a transition from a monastic to a non-monastic setting.
At the heart of Benedict's way of life is hospitality and with St Chad's College of the University of Durham, whose eighteenth century buildings are in the shadow of the east end of the Cathedral, we welcome people who want to come together for worship, study, conversation over good food, and friendship. Accommodation is provided at St Chad's College, the programme takes place in the Cathedral buildings.
Find out more!
The next Benedictine Week will be held on 15th ó 19st September 2012 and a provisional programme for the 2013 week can be downloaded. For further information please visit the website of St Chad's College or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Visitors who wish to visit some of the sites associated with the northern saints — for example Lindisfarne, Iona and Whitby — can combine the Benedictine week with a pilgrimage organised by St Chad's College. Please ask for further details.
These Benedictine weeks offer an opportunity for exploration of this living tradition of Christian discipleship in the context of a Cathedral which has breathed the Benedictine spirit for over 900 years. We hope that you will join us.
To book your place on the 2013 Benedictine Week, please download, print and complete the booking form. The completed form should be posted to: The Commercial Director, St Chad's College, 18 North Bailey, Durham, DH1 3RH.
Two of the participants on previous Benedictine Weekends had this to say:
An opportunity to study the past and realise its influence in today's world so very different from the 6th century of St Benedict. That was what was offered through the Benedictine weekend arranged by the Cathedral and St Chad's College. The studying and the praying were done in the Cathedral and the Benedictine hospitality of food and shelter were found at St Chad's College.
Walking the Cathedral precincts with the Dean gave us a wonderful insight into the orderly arrangement which allowed work, prayer, rest and refreshment to flow as an integrated whole. Canon Rosalind Brown brought The Rule to life by encouraging us to engage with it on a personal and corporate level. The history and development of the Liturgy was interestingly outlined by Canon David Kennedy, whilst the 600 years of Choir tradition, and the place of music in the life of the cathedral was told to us by Canon James Lancelot. An opportunity to reflect on our own ‘Rule’ brought the weekend to a close.
Under-girding all of this was the Saturday evening pilgrimage and the round of worship in the Cathedral which provided the rhythm of work and prayer. People who were strangers became a temporary community which in the midst of hectic activity had time to enjoy each otherís company and enjoy laughter together.
Patricia Francis and Margaret Parker