The life of the Olivetan Benedictine nuns at Turvey Abbey has many activities and areas of interest but only one purpose: to seek God. We do this by following the Rule that St Benedict composed for monasteries and by living the associated vows of stability, obedience, and conversio morum (‘conversion of manners’). The Rule has been rightly praised for its moderation and its understanding of human nature, as well as for its insight on the spiritual life. St Benedict knew the importance of creating a healthy balance between work and leisure, prayer and study, and solitude and togetherness. His centuries-old wisdom flows through our present-day search for God.
The Priory of Our Lady of Peace houses a diverse community of nuns living under the leadership of our Prioress and under the jurisdiction of the Benedictine Nuns of Schotenhof, Belgium. We are also affiliated with the Congregation of Monte Oliveto and wear the traditional white Olivetan habit.
We seek God first and foremost through prayer and structure our day around liturgical prayer in our chapel. St Benedict called the liturgy ‘the Work of God’ and stated that no other activity should be put before it. We pray five offices from the Liturgy of the Hours every day: Office of Readings, Morning Prayer (Lauds), Midday Prayer, Evening Prayer (Vespers), and Night Prayer (Compline). The monks from the Monastery of Christ Our Saviour join us for the offices as well as for daily Mass. Visitors are welcome at all of our services.
Private prayer, too, has a special place in our daily routine and we set aside an hour every morning for lectio divina. This is the practice of ‘sacred reading’, which means not just the reading of sacred scripture but also the prayerful reading of other texts. Closely allied to this is study, which varies among the nuns depending on personal needs and interests. Whether we are reading in our extensive library or pursuing formal qualifications, study is an important means of deepening our understanding of God, our Church, our world, and ourselves.
In his Rule, St Benedict wrote about household tasks and manual labour just as he wrote about prayer because he understood that work was also an opportunity to glorify God and to serve others as well as to use our individual talents and gifts. In some respects, we are just like any other household and do all the usual tasks of cooking, cleaning, gardening, and so forth. But we also engage in a number of arts and crafts that we then share with others.
We also maintain the monastic tradition of offering hospitality to guests. Individuals and groups can stay with us for structured retreats or just for some quiet time; arrangements can also be made for spiritual direction. It is a particular pleasure for us to welcome visitors from other faith traditions as well as those who share our Roman Catholic faith: our guesthouse and retreat programme are open to all those who truly seek God. In addition, we host a variety of special ecumenical and interfaith gatherings every year.
We hope to welcome you soon to Turvey Abbey to share a little in our daily life.