Monastic Musings

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Monastic Musings

What is a typical day in the life at the Monastery like?

In my first draft, I took this very literally and started listing our schedule and my particular part in it. It was almost done but then I reread what I had written. It was boring! I realized that the last thing most people would want to do is read yet another schedule.

So how shall I answer this question? The first and most important part of our schedule is the Liturgy of the Hours, the official prayer of the Church. We pray Morning Prayer and Evening Prayer every day in Our Lady Queen of Peace Chapel. Anyone is welcome to join us; this is prayer for everyone, not just Sisters. These two prayer times are the linchpin of the Monastery schedule. We have other times for other prayers, such as Midday prayer and Compline.

Sometimes a Sister is not able to attend prayers because of traveling or a work commitment. St. Benedict says in his Rule that if a monastic is not able to be at community prayer, they are to pray right where they are (actually, his words are to kneel and do it, but many people have trouble kneeling). Many of us have an abbreviated prayer book for just this purpose. “So too, those who have been sent on a journey are not to omit the prescribed hours (of prayer) but to observe them as best they can, not neglecting their measure of service (Rule of St. Benedict, RB 50:4).” We also have a chapel channel that the elderly and sick Sisters can watch on television and remotely join us. The camera is above the piano in the chapel.

In his Rule, which is more than half scripture, St. Benedict ties community prayer and community meals very closely. We generally eat together after evening prayer and after the Eucharistic Celebration in the middle of the day.

A day in the life of a Sister varies greatly because of everyone having different ministries. But the most important principle is that it all revolves around prayer. The Benedictine charism, or gift, is “to seek God.” St. Benedict says we are to prefer nothing to the work of God (Opus Dei, another phrase for the Liturgy of the Hours or community prayer).

St. Benedict addresses his words to anyone, not only Sisters or religious people. I have friends who are Lutheran and Methodist, and they love coming and joining us for prayer. We have also had people of other religions, such as Buddhists and Jews, and no religion, such as atheists, join us. This hospitality of St. Benedict is the Benedictine Value of hospitality, and it means everyone is welcome, no exceptions. “This message of mine is for you then, whoever you are…the Lord seeks his workmen in a multitude of people, calling out and lifting his voice: ‘Is there anyone here who yearns for life?’” (RB Prologue: 3, 14-15). Everyone on this campus becomes a noble Saint, practicing this radical hospitality of St. Benedict.

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“And let them first pray together, that so they may associate in peace.”
–St. Benedict of Nursia, The Rule of Saint Benedict