Contemplative communities

Vocations - SSC Novice
Novice, Society of the Sacred Cross, UK

Christians are called by God to worship and to seek a relationship in prayer. For many this can be met by going to church and by prayers as part of their day-to-day lives. For some, the call is to make prayer the primary activity in each day.

Most called by God in this way seek to respond in a community. There are Anglican communities which focus on this vocation. Their lives revolve around set times of prayer and worship. Much time is given over to seeking God in private prayer, including intercessory prayer, and silence.

The community’s house, which may be called a monastery, priory or convent, is a place of God. There is work around the monastery: gardening and growing food, cooking and domestic chores, receiving guests, reading and studying. Work helps maintain a balance in the life and keeps the focus on God.  Some members do leave the monastery at times to preach and minister, but such outside commitments are secondary to the life of prayer. Some communities confine their work to the monastery and its grounds and maintain what is called ‘enclosure’. This helps keep distractions from the life of prayer to a minimum.

Others seek to serve God by living a life of prayer on their own, sometimes called ‘solitaries’. Although this call has usually been heard by those who have experience of living in community for some while, there are those who have not had that experience and yet respond to such a call.

A full list of communities worldwide may be found in the Directory section of the website. Use the filters to choose your location, whether you want to view men’s or women’s communities and the type of ministry and lifestyle.

Video: Horarium

The nuns of the Anglican Benedictine Community at St Mary’s Abbey, West Malling, reflect on their calling and the joys and challenges of their way of life. In this short documentary, directed by Jamie Hughes, the nuns’ voices are complemented by images from the life of the Abbey.