To seek God in silence is as old as Christianity itself. When Jesus went alone to pray on the mountain he started a trend that would continue down the ages up to the present day. Those who make it their life's work are called 'monks'. This is an "ecumenically monastic" websight that will that will share with you the monastic quest of a small community of Benedictine monks who live on the outskirts of Lima, Peru. Our main website is in Spanish, but it is a highly proffessional job, with lots of photos and surprises. You will find it at <www.monasteriodelaencarnacion.org>
As this is ecumenically monastic, thie life of this small, insignificant monastery must be seen within the context of all those brother monks and sister nuns who are seeking God all over the world, both in the Catholic Church to which we belong and in the Orthodox and Oriental Orthodox churches
Although the EBC claims technical canonical continuity with the congregation erected by the Holy See in 1216, that earlier English Congregation was destroyed at the dissolution of the monasteries in 1535-40. The present English Congregation was revived and restored by Rome in 1607-33 when numbers of Englishmen and Welshmen had become monks in continental European monasteries and were coming to England as missioners.
At the beginning of the 21st century the EBC has Houses in the United Kingdom, the United States, South America and Africa
The above was taken from the "Wiki". Of course, we are the house in South America. Although the EBC is known for its schools and parishes - I served in the parish of Whitehaven that has had Benedictine monks as parish priests since 1706 - our monastery in Pachacamac has no outside apostolate, nor is it directly involved in education. This is because we set out to serve the Peruvian Church in what it most needs, a house that offers the cloistered life to men. There are lots of enclosed convents of nuns, but not a single one for monks; which means that those who had a strictly monastic vocation had to go abroad.
Fr Augustine Baker, who was born in Abergavenny in 1575 and died of the plague in 1641, was born into a "church papist" family - one that conformed to the Anglican establishment while being Catholic by inward conviction,. He lost all belief in God while up at Oxford, but survived a close shave with death which he experienced as a miracle. He became a Catholic. Eventually he became a member of the Middle Temple and could have looked forward to a distinguished career as a lawyer. However, he left England and became a monk at St Justina of Padua monastery in Italy. Ill health forced him to return home, but he took vows in the Italian Cassinese Congregation and, a little later, helped in the resoration of the English Benedictine Congregation. His happiest years were spent with the English nuns in Cambrai, now the Stanbrook Community. His teaching to the nuns was put into a book called "Santa Sophia" by and has become a staple diet of English Benedictine monks and nuns ever since.
He was a mystic and belonged to the school of Cassian, of "The Cloud of Unknowing" and of other English mystics. Indeed, the survival of most of the classics of the English mystical tradition is completely due to members of the English Benedictine Congregation under his influence. He taught that the purpose of monastic life is continuous prayer. This is a gift of God, but monastic life must prepare those who live it to receive this gift. Paradoxically, he only received this gift of constant prayer himself after he had left the silence of the Cambrai convent and had gone across to England to face the dangers of the English mission. It seems that this act of obedience, against all his inclinations and tastes, was exactly what was needed to prepare him to be completely open to God. He would probably have become a martyr, but he died of the plague before the authorities could get to him.
There will be more about Belmont in the website. Here it is enough to say that it began life as a cathedral priory for the whole of Wales. It was the only cathedral to have the whole Divine Office, and it was here that Gregorian Chant was re-introduced into England. It was associated with the English Benedictine mission to Mauritius and to Australia, and Roger Bede Vaughen who was Cathedral Prior of Belmont became first Archbishop of Sydney. It was also associated with the conversion of the Jesuit poet Gerard Manley Hopkins. It was also the common noviciate and house of studies for the other EBC houses and had a central role in the formation of the present day congregation. In the 20th century it became an independent abbey and had its own parishes and schools. At the time of the foundation, Fr Paul Stonham was a housemaster at Belmont Abbey School, while Fr Luke Waring was parish priest and I assistent at St Begh's, Whitehaven in Cumbria.
Dom Paul Stonham is the real founder of this community and visits us two or three times a year. At the moment we live in what was built to be a guest house. As we become better known, so the number of guests increases; and the community feels exposed and vulnerable. Perhaps, this next year, when the money can be squeezed out of wherever it is hiding, we will start the first stage of the monastery, under Abbot Paul's watchful eye.
This is the community of the Monastery of the Incarnation in Pachacamac, south of Lima, during the last visit of Abbot Paul Stonham before Christmas, 2009. The old guy at the back is me. The one with the beard is Fr Luis Rodriguez, the very first Benedictine to be solemnly professed on Peruvian soil. The two in lay clothes are aspirants. We will be joined by one more aspirant, God willing, today. We all hope you will enjoy this website.