One of the oldest religious communities in the Church of England is the Community of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Oxfordshire. It was founded in 1848 by the local Vicar, William Butler during the spiritual revival of the Church of England in the mid nineteenth century.
From the outset the Rule of the Community placed great emphasis upon simplicity of life, with Sisters taking vows of chastity, poverty and obedience before the Bishop of Oxford or his nominee. The Community grounds are simply beautiful and offer the opportunity for peace and rest for the weary pilgrim. The nuns have certainly moved on with the times whilst being rooted in those original aims and objects.
Aware of their obligation as Christians to care for God’s world, their gas boilers give off low carbon emissions, a bank of solar panels, a log burning boiler and a computerised building management system control everything. Those of you who may be of an engineering bent may care to visit their website to get the whole story – quite amazing!!!
The round of daily prayers centres on the celebration of Holy Communion and they continue to wear the habit, characteristic of Anglican nuns. This Lent, they launched a series entitled, “Discovering Prayer” that was founded by CSMV oblate Michelle Eyre. It offers a new and free series of audio prayers called, Rhythm of Grace. In its heyday the Community boasted over 400 nuns worldwide; it is now much reduced in numbers but still offers a place of haven.
It would seem to have navigated more recent divisions in the Church of England by sticking pretty closely to the observations about it expressed by its founder after the proto Sister converted to Rome. He said, “It offers simple, honest loyalty to the Church to which it belongs, that is the Church of England, the Church of our native land.” Do look them upon the web.
Another good one to visit!