The Monastery Life

Monasteries are unique environments. They sit just outside the mainstream and are by their nature somewhat counter-cultural. Some people have never been to a monastery and experienced first-hand the day-to-day life of monastics (monks and nuns). Therefore, today I want to offer just a glimpse in a typical day at the monastery, in the hope of offering a better understanding of our day-to-day life.

First, I want to dispel any notion that the monastery life is anything lofty, heroic, or mysterious. To the contrary, the monastic life is a simple and earnest pursuit of God, not unlike that of our all of our friends outside the enclosure. It’s just that we make that pursuit living in community with others in mutual support of one another.

After rising at about 6:00am, we spend the first two hours or so writing or exercising. Both are spiritual practices that we feel are essential to our well-being. As a rule, we come together to pray the Divine Office four times each day, with slight adjustments made according to our scheduled time to be in the jails.

We also have two work periods scheduled on the days we are not in the jails, one in the morning and one in the afternoon. Our work could include preparing programs for the jails, working on sermons or other forms of writing, maintaining our websites, manual labor around the monastery, preparing for retreats and quiet days, etc.

Study is an essential element of our community life and we spend 1-1/2 hours each day gathered as a community in the library for study time. This includes the study of Holy Scripture, Christian spirituality, other sacred texts, and other intellectual pursuits ranging anywhere from gardening to psychology, philosophy, and a wide range of other important studies.

Another important element to our community life is recreation and leisure. Both are necessary to a healthy and well-balanced life. We periodically plan for a community game night. This is not only fun but also helps in community building and learning more about each other in a fun and relaxed way. It’s common to have a large puzzle in the works inviting all to place their pieces!

We also spend a great deal of time in developing silence in the monastery. I think we can all admit we are a continual work in progress in this area. Silence in community is very different that silence in solitude. There is much to learn by listening to God in this way. With the exception of the lunch that we offer after Holy Eucharist each Friday for the wider community, we take most all our meals in silence. The exceptions are when we have a visitor and it is appropriate to have a taking meal.

As you can see, this rhythm of daily life reflects the Ora et Labora (Prayer and Work) that is the Benedict way of day-to-day living. It’s filled with holy intention while leaving room to relax and just be ourselves as God has created us. We hope that our life in monastic community brings us closer to God and helps us to be better people, friends, and colleagues in the world. We hope it helps us to be more sensitive to the needs of others and more loving and helpful with the light of Christ as our guide.   

I have always felt that the best way for people to know us better is to come and pray with us. You are always welcome and you can find our schedule for prayer by visiting our website at:

www.cdlmonks.org    

It is truly a blessing for us to be part of the Church of Our Saviour community and we look forward to many years ahead as we walk together with God.