In 1948 monastic life at Pluscarden began again after an interval of nearly four centuries. Since the Protestant Reformation in the sixteenth century, Pluscarden had belonged to a number of owners, who had allowed the buildings to decay. The church was in ruins. Their website states that Pluscarden Abbey is the only medieval monastery in Britain still inhabited by monks and being used for its original purpose. Situated six miles south-west of Elgin in Morayshire, the monastery enjoys the peace and stillness of a secluded glen but is easily reached by road from the town. It has been rebuilt lovingly and with dedication by an increasing community of Catholic Benedictine monks over the years, and many people have supported their work. The work carries on, alongside the daily routine of prayer, services and inner development of the monks themselves. Pluscarden is a delight, sitting in the rolling fertile landscape, surrounded by quiet lanes, hills and sparse populations. The monks of Pluscarden offer retreat to men and women, the men accommodated at the monastery and women at the delightful property known as St Scholastica’s at the bottom of the drive. They also serve their local community by holding Mass and are an established group locally that are also well loved. I am also including their website link in this post, for those who wish to explore further.
I would like to visit Pluscarden far more often than I am able to. It is always a refreshment for the soul, wandering around the grounds is tranquil and clears a world weary mind beautifully, the tiny cemetery invites reflection and contemplation with its stark wooden crosses and stepping inside the church the delightful invocative smell of incense calls the wandering mind to attention and prayer. Many of us I think also find ourselves wondering what the monastic life must be like to experience, not just as a fleeting experience…but to dedicate and live the quiet repetitive rhythms of seasonal tasks and Daily Office day after day, month on month, year on year. The quietude, the chant, the joyful prayer-fullness is intoxicating and offers its own grace…. Monastic life is full of its own unique challenges to the Soul as well as the human body that is its vessel on earth, and yet there is something very hypnotic in watching the monks, clad in their robes, sliding into their places to offer their thanks and praises to God. Here, then are some of the photos I managed to get last time I visited, I hope you enjoy them, and I hope some of you manage to visit sometime soon. In a busy world, we all need to take time to stop and reflect.
Pluscarden Abbey viewed from the road
St Scholastica’s at the end of the driveway.
The Stained Glass
The Monks Pews
Work and Wildlife
The Approaches…Pluscarden in context of its landscape.
So there we have it, Pluscarden sometimes appears remote yet is very accessible, its monks are largely silent yet always friendly and welcoming, and it sits in a landscape that is vast yet very approachable. Rather like our own voyage of discovery with God…