The Brothers at Volmoed were accompanied by John de Gruchy on a day pilgrimage to nearby Genadendal, the site of the first mission station in South Africa (established by Moravians who were also a significant part of the early history of Volmoed and of the valley we are situated in). We were warmly welcomed and shown great hospitality. The site has been substantially restored in recent years. The driving force behind the restoration is Dr Isaac Balie, the first curator of the comprehensive museum, who graciously guided us on an extensive tour, sharing his encyclopaedic knowledge of the remarkable history of the place, including extraordinary verbatim quotations. We were even treated to some lovely organ music, beautifully played by the local organist of over 50 years on the fine instrument they have in the attractive church building there.
Br Roger travelled to Mariannhill Monastery Retreat House in Pinetown KZN to attend the annual meeting of the Council for the Religious Life, together with representatives from most of the religious communities in the Anglican Church of Southern Africa, as well as the Liaison Bishop who facilitates the interaction between the Council and the institutional Church. The meeting took place over two days in late October, and included reports from each community about its life and work, as well as discussion of challenges that exist within communities and between communities and the church. We also prayed and ate together and had times of fellowship, all of which strengthened the supportive relationships among communities.
We were pleased to welcome one of our local Associates to Volmoed for a weekend retreat. Guests at our chapel prayers and Eucharists included Quakers, Dutch Reformed and even a Presbyterian minister from South Sudan. It was good to have a man pray with us who some years ago had participated at our previous monastery near Makhanda (Grahamstown) in an enquirer’s week organized for those interested in exploring a vocation to monastic life. We were asked to bless two groups of pilgrims on their way to Cape Agulhas along the local Pilgrimage of Hope.
A pilgrimage group led by Right Rev. Eugene Sutton, the Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Maryland in the US, spent some time at Volmoed at the beginning of November. They attended some of our chapel prayers and invited us to share a meal with them. Br Scott facilitated a lively conversation around church history in South Africa one afternoon. The discussion included the question of the role of contemplative prayer in justice activism.
The annual Volmoed Colloquium took place the following weekend. The theme was Sacramental Time and the Christian Life (developing a Spirituality of Time), and considered aspects of the dark night of the soul, breaking dawns, and the acedia of noon day. The group prayed with us, we attended most of the sessions (one of which included prepared input from Br Scott), we shared some meals and conversations with them, and Br Scott preached on the Colloquium theme at the Sunday Eucharist. The text of his sermon can be found elsewhere on this blog.
We ask for your prayers for a young man from Kwazulu Natal who is making his first visit with us as part of his discernment whether to pursue a monastic vocation with our community.