Outside the City: Monks, Beer, and Quest – DVD

Nick Hamer’s feature documentary about the monks of Mount St Bernard Abbey, Outside the City, has now been released as a DVD.

The Monks: a contemplative Roman Catholic monastic community of the Order of Cistercians of the Strict Observance in Leicestershire. They live a balanced life of work and prayer; of radical discipleship and fidelity to the Gospel, in accordance with the Rule of Saint Benedict and the Constitutions and Statutes of the Cistercian order.

The Beer: Tynt Meadow English Trappist Ale. In June 2018 the monks became the 12th Trappist community in the world to brew its own beer. It is brewed using English barley, hops and yeast to create a strong dark ale.

The link with Quest: For a number of years the community has welcomed members of the local Quest group for Days of Recollection and, beginning in May 2017, it became the venue for the Quest National Retreat.

Together with two other members of the Quest in the Midlands group, I attended a screening of the feature documentary on Monday 9th December at the Phoenix Cinema in Leicester. It is a beautifully crafted film perfectly capturing the deep spiritual lives of the monks; many of them will be instantly recognised by those who have visited the Monastery. The difference here being that we glimpse the lives (and deaths) of monks from within the monastic enclosure, normally off limits to visitors.

I can honestly say that the documentary had me smiling a lot of the time, both in seeing familiar faces and in listening to the monks explain in clear and simple terms what drew them to the monastic life and what keeps them there. Tears and laughter were also part of my own experience of this film. This is an extraordinary religious community with so much to teach us about ourselves, our direction (or misdirection) in life and the mysterious life to which God has called each one of us. John Ashman


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