Ealing Abbey Crafts

saint-dunstan1 Crafts and craftsmanship, included among the creative arts, are promoted in the Holy Rule. St Benedict hopes that monastic women and men will praise and worship God through a proper ordering of life and interests. Practical skills and an appreciation of the beauty of creation are elements in this ordering. After 1500 years of Benedictine monasticism a particular, and perhaps refined, style of humanity and openness to God, self, others and creation is found in the devotion of monastics to Benedictine crafts. In this way an attitude towards creativity and beauty has developed within the monastery enclosure that is constitutive of Benedictine culture and life.

At Canterbury St Dunstan (908-988) established schools and built and restored churches, offered patronage to visiting scholars from Europe, and both promoted  and practised the crafts that he had learned both in his youth and in his later years (including organ-building and bell-making) and he corrected the books in the cathedral library. Many Benedictines today are proficient in works of culture (in the true meaning of the word) such as music, calligraphy, vestment making, bookbinding, design, architecture, bee keeping, librarianship, pottery, preparing good lessons for the classroom, cooking, bread making, beer and wine making, art,  iconography, music composition, gardening, preaching or study. p017rn28Art has the distinct characteristic of being a point of communion with God and among peoples. The incarnation of Jesus gives us access to the divine, enabling us to be interested in life, divine and human, expressed in the beauty and materiality of art. A monk who would spend time creating and collecting art, thus spending money that could be used for the poor, and who seeks to do other inspiring things for the Kingdom of God is recognizing Christ in the medium of art that opens the human heart to beauty and truth. We are developing the monastic arts and crafts of the monks at Ealing Abbey

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© Ealing Abbey, copyright 30 August 2015