Our lodges are open. For bookings after 4 July, please contact Sr Laurentia at Tel: 01347 868931 In view of our vulnerable elderly sisters, the abbey church, parlours and bookshop remain closed until further notice. The bookshop is still operating a mail order service and Sr Benedicta would be delighted to hear from you: Tel: 01347 868927.

Please be assured of our prayers at this testing time and please do continue to send prayer requests via or the Prayer Page of the website. The telephone is checked frequently so do leave a message if you wish to get in touch or need to speak with someone.


Mt 17:1-9

'Light shines in the darkness and the darkness cannot overpower it' (John 1:5). Six or eight days before the Transfiguration, Jesus was at Caesarea Philippi asking his disciples who they thought he was and Peter announces, 'You are the Christ...'.  Some commentators think that Jesus needed to go up the mountain to ask his Father if he was actually doing his will  in setting his face to go to Jerusalem. But the Father's voice from the cloud does not say directly that it is the Father's will but that the disciples must listen to Jesus. Peter who rebuked Jesus for predicting the Passion, has, in his impetuosity not listened carefully enough to Jesus who had gone on to say that he would be raised on the third day. 'Get behind me Satan,' (Mt 16:23) are harsh words, but Peter was thinking as human beings think,  not as God thinks.

The darkness of ignorance and even foolishness will not overcome the Light.  Jesus knew precisely what he had to do - he and the Father were one in this, it was going to be tough so he took Peter,  James and John with him to prepare them.  If the disciples needed any confirmation about who Jesus was and what was his mission, this was it.  Who better than the Father himself to tell them that Jesus was his beloved Son and that they were to LISTEN to him.

Jesus led the three up the mountain; he was in charge of the situation, they were to follow. There is some speculation as to whether this was really Mount Tabor.  At the time, there was a fortress at the top and it is unlikely that Jesus would have found the peace and quiet to pray there.  Could it have been Mt Hermon with its three summits?  Possibly, but would there have been Jewish crowds in pagan territory at the base of the mountain when Jesus descended? Mt Hermon is 14 miles from Caesarea Philippi and 9,400 feet high. In the 19th century HB Tristram took 5 hours to ride to the top and found activity almost impossible: 'before long we were painfully affected by the rarity of the atmosphere', so it is no wonder that in Luke's account, the disciples went to sleep - probably nightfall by this time (shades of the Garden of Gethsemane) - but awoke in time to witness the vision.   

Wherever the Transfiguration took place, the mountain he and his disciples ascended was the new Sinai with Matthew portraying Jesus as the new Moses.  Just as Moses face shone when he talked with God, (Ex 34:29) so Jesus face 'shone like the sun and his clothes became white as light'. It is thought this Light emanated from within Jesus.  Can a human being emit light? It has been proven that the human body does glow, admittedly in extremely small quantities rising and falling at different times of the day, the lowest point at 10am and peaking around 4pm and faces glow more than the rest of the body. ('Live Science' 2009). 

It is interesting that if all the colours of the rainbow were beamed on to a single spot, the combination of these colours would result in a beam of white light.  Teasing out the possible significance of this, we know the rainbow was the sign of God's covenant in Noah's time. 'I now set my bow in the clouds and it will be a sign of the covenant between me and the earth' (Gen 9:13).  Jesus has come to establish a new covenant between God and his people. He came to fulfil the Law of Moses, hence the importance of his presence with Jesus and Elijah.

Talking of Elijah, he too had a profound experience of God as 'a still, small voice' on Mt Horeb (1 Kings 19:9-12).  It was Jewish belief that Elijah was to herald the coming of the Messiah and indeed this was the case - Elijah in the great figure of John the Baptist - the greatest of all the prophets.  In Luke, we read that both Moses and Elijah were talking of Jesus'  'departure which he was to accomplish in Jerusalem' (Lk 9:31).  The word for 'departure' in Greek is exodos, the exact same word we use in English - exodus. Jesus was setting out on his exodus to Jerusalem which would involve great suffering but even greater glory. This was what Jesus was preparing his disciples for.

Clouds as well as mountains feature a lot in salvation history and this time, God was speaking from a luminous one.  Such a cloud would be familiar to the Jews as the Shechinah - the glory of God (Ex 13:21-2; 40:34; 34:5; 1Kings 8:10 etc). Peter in his confusion had been in the process of suggesting that three tents be erected to accommodate Jesus, Moses and Elijah, somehow to hang on to the marvel of what was happening. He was indeed meant to absorb this experience but the Transfiguration was not to be contained in tents.  It was to encourage Peter,  James and John and fill them with the light of Christ before his Passion and death and for  the work they would do in the future to spread the Gospel.

This wonderful Feast of the Transfiguration is sorely needed in our own day as we struggle to meet the demands of life in a world battling climate change and pandemic.  It can encourage us too in our own exodus to the Father, knowing that we are all his beloved sons and daughters and that we have Jesus to accompany us as he had the great law giver and prophet to accompany him.  How we can we not say with St Peter, 'Lord, it is good for us to be here?'

Sr Julian Falkus OSB     August  2020

Here is some suggested summer reading:

Truly Seeking God by Bernard Bonowitz OCSO; pub. Cistercian Publications, 2019, Monastic Wisdom Series, No. 62; pb; pp.150;
 ISBN 978 0 87907 262 9; £11.75.

'Another book on monastic spirituality?' you might ask.  Why read this one?
Well, having had the privilege of hearing Abbot Bernard speak at a Novice Directors' course some years ago, and being impressed by his deep humanity, I was drawn to read the book. Then there was his previous inspiring work, St Bernard's Three-Course Banquet, and, before that, an excellent translation of a biography of St Edith Stein. But there is something special about this new book. It is as if Abbot Bernard has crossed a threshold and become a modern day Desert Father.

Writing from his own rich experience of the monastic life as monk and novice master at Spencer Abbey in Massachusetts, and, since 1996 as Abbot of Nova Mundo Abbey in Brazil, the author imparts deep wisdom with a lightness of touch:  'Blessed are the silent for they shall hear God' (p. 3).

The book falls into two halves. The first, 'From the Rising of the Sun to its Setting' covers most areas you would expect in such a book: Silence, Work, Humility, Compassion, Asceticism and so on. Abbot Bernard has the gift of distilling the essence of vast subjects like prayer into very brief chapters - usually about four pages - without losing depth.

The second part of the book, 'The Making of a Monk' spans the different stages of a monastic life from the first visit to the monastery through clothing, profession, early professed years, maturity, old age, death and beyond. The tone throughout is personal and engaging.
Although describing the monastic path, there is sufficient overlap with the life of a committed Christian for this to be helpful to a lay audience. For example, some kind of mid-life crisis seems to be universal whatever one's calling!

The book is studded with perceptive insights into Scripture, some of which draw on the author's Jewish background. We learn, for example (p. 112), that when, in the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus bids us be 'perfect' as our heavenly Father is perfect (Matt 5: 48), we are really being bidden to be 'complete'. Perfections in the Hebraic way of thinking are relational rather than individualistic, explains Abbot Bernard. The Hebrew for 'complete', shalem, shares a root with shalom, 'peace'. So this beatitude is calling us to a wholeness and peace through Godlike'loving, going out to all with equal care and attention regardless of how they treat us.

Like the Rule of St Benedict which permeates the whole, this work, rooted in the daily round, lifts our sights to the heavenly. It is a book for all who truly seek God.

Sr Laurentia


News & Photo Archive

Summer News

27 June 2019, Feast of Our Lady of Perpetual Help, Sr Marian Sweeting-Hempsall made her Solemn Profession of Vows and thus became a full member of the Stanbrook community. 

17 July, on the completion of Dame Andrea Savage's 12-year term of office, Dame Anna Brennan was elected the new abbess of our monastery. 

19 July, we celebrated the Requiem Mass of Dame Agatha Backhouse (1937-2019) who had died peacefully at Apley Grange, Harrogate, on 12 July. R. I. P.

News of a collaborative venture between our own Sr Philippa and Mirfield's Fr Nicolas Stebbing. 

These two veteran monastics share their vast experience of monastic life in a way that should be helpful to all Christians. 'Making space for God: an invitation', published by Mirfield. ISBN 978-0-902834-48-9. �6.50. Available via Stanbrook Abbey bookshop: A poem of D. Laurentia's, 'Mary Reflects', formed part of the programme of 'Carols from King's' on BBC 2 on Christmas Eve 2018. 

Links below: 

The video download (just as an fyi): 

The pdf of the booklet:

Photographs of Stanbrook.

Aerial footage of Stanbrook Abbey
Made by students of the Kent School of Architecture

The monastery won a national RIBA award in June 2016.

In November 2016 we were awarded the Presidents' Award for new church buildings.

The abbey church has also won an award from the Wood Trust for 'excellence in architecture and product design in the world's only sustainable material.'

For an article about Stanbrook in the Yorkshire Post April 2016, please click on the link below:


Deo Gratias! The abbey church was duly and solemnly dedicated by the Right Revd Terence Patrick Drainey, Bishop of Middlesbrough, to much rejoicing.
For a full photographic record, please click here


The inaugural Mass in the new Abbey Church took place on Sunday 26 April 2015, thanks be to God and thanks to all our kind benefactors.
Read more by clicking here

 Right: Choir of the new Abbey Church (still incomplete)
Below: Inaugural Mass: the Gospel is proclaimed at the ambo

 Archive: The project since the start of the build:

Click here for Blessing of the East Wing site 6 February 2014
Deo gratias, building work began February 2014
Click here for March 2014 update

Work in progress, Spring 2015

Inside the Blessed Sacrament Chapel

March 2015
Much activity inside the church which it is
hoped will be finished by the end of April.
So one more Easter in the Chapter House...

August 2015, the new chairs for guests arrive! Many of these have been sponsored by kind benefactors.

West-facing view of the church

East-facing view of the church