Archive for the ‘Orders’ Category


A “monks day” at the Abbey of Gethsemani

January 21, 2008


Liturgy of the Hours
Vigils, lauds, terce, sext, none, vespers and compline are the seven “hours” of the liturgy of the hours or opus Dei (work of God) as St. Benedict called it in his Rule. They are common prayer services, the prayer of the Church as well as the prayer of our community. None of these “hours” actually lasts an hour. All seven add up to two and a half or two and three-quarters hours. The backbone of these services is the 150 psalms, sung or recited according to a two-week cycle. At each hour there is also a hymn, reading from Scripture, prayer of the day and commemoration of Our Lady. Some of the brothers recite a simple office of Our Fathers, Hail Marys and Glory Be to the Fathers in another part of the monastery. The monks and others who pray the liturgy of the hours do so on behalf of the Church, and of all humankind, to praise, thank and petition God throughout the day. Guests are welcome to join us for any of these services as well as for the community Mass.

Reading and Individual Prayer
Besides the liturgy of the hours, the typical prayer of the monk or nun is lectio divina (divine or holy reading). It consists of a reading ordered to prayer. Material will be selected on the basis of whether it is conducive to prayer. A bit of the text is read, then reflected on in order to grasp its meaning in itself and its meaning for us. This leads naturally to prayer: praise, adoration, thanksgiving, petition, repentance, resolve. At times, the monk is led to rest in God’s loving presence with few or no words. Such reading allows the brother or sister to spend time with God and builds up the habit of doing so. It nourishes faith in such a way that they come to see and value things as God does and to live from this vision.

Work and Service
We earn our living by making cheese, fruitcake, and bourbon fudge. The community has to be fed, clothed, housed. The needs of the guests are cared for. Newcomers to the community must be initiated into monastic living. Those with particular talents will probably have a chance to use them. Thus we have musicians, artists, gardeners, craftsmen. According to the needs of the community and the gifts of each monk, the abbot assigns work. Work is seen as service and preference is given work favourable to prayer.

The fundamental discipline is surrendering our will to God and submitting ourselves to the guidance of another. This does not at all exclude a personal search for the will of God but it does mean we bring more important decisions to the superior for discernment.

The pattern and regularity of the daily schedule can be a searching discipline.

When it is time for the office or other community exercise, the monk goes.

Living a community of love with 65 other persons, year in, year out, implies a willingness to sacrifice oneself.

Bringing our best effort to prayer, whether we feel like it or not, can be costly. The relative lack of recognition for achievements that comes from being hidden in a community goes far to tone down excessive self-concern.

Friendship is encouraged. Community amounts to a network of friendships. Yet these must be balanced with the need for solitude and with our radical commitment to Christ. These are real penances in Trappist life, more so than fasting, abstinence from meat (actually, the meals are well-balanced and well-prepared), silence, vigils.


What is Trappist Monasticism? (Pt11)

January 15, 2008




To be celibate is to remain unmarried and without any focus on sexual desire.


1. “Alone in God my soul waits, silent. My help is from Him. Alone in God rest, my soul, in silence. My hope is from Him. He alone is my rock, my safety; I shall not be shaken.” (Psalm 62, V2)


What is Trappist Monasticism? (Pt10)

January 15, 2008



When a monk chooses to enter a monastery, it is a commitment to solitude and a letting go of society. However, a monk also agrees to become part of a community, living together and sharing all the tasks and responsibilities of daily life. Hospitality is equally a strong component of the monastic life. Providing a retreat atmosphere for individuals and groups is an important gift to the world outside the cloister walls.


1. “Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity!” –Psalm 133

2. “The monk is one who is separated from all and united to all.” –Evagrius, 4th Century

3. “Let all guests be received as Christ” Rule of St. Benedict.

“House full of delight,
built upon rock
And indeed the true vine
Transplanted from Egypt.”

– Antiphoner of Bangor



What is Trappist Monasticism? (Pt9)

January 15, 2008



Contemplation is the long and attentive consideration or observation of something. To concentrate the mind on spiritual matters such as achieving closer union with God is the daily task of a Trappist Monk.


“Anything that can be loved can be contemplated.” –A Trappist monk.


What is Trappist Monasticism? (Pt8)

January 15, 2008



Like a seed in the spring, we awakening from a dormant winter to the warming earth. Our spiritual awakening can occur as a sudden recognition or realization of something. Our journey is (an) interior but it begins as a spark. To hear the calling to become a Monk is a special bell of awakening.


1. “The labour of obedience will bring you back to Him from whom you had drifted through the sloth of disobedience. This message of mine is for you, then, if you are ready to give up your own will, once and for all and armed with the strong and noble weapons of obedience to do battle for the true King, Christ the Lord.” –Rule of St. Benedict, Prologue.


What is Trappist Monasticism? (Pt7)

January 15, 2008



The Trappist obligation to live simply and sustainably within their natural setting produced excellent examples of small-scale community food production. The excess from their dairy production of cheese and butter were sold at market to provide income for the few things that the monks couldn’t make. Over the years, Trappist cheese became famous for its distinct flavour. Brother Albéric still makes cheese at the Trappist Monastery now in Holland Manitoba. Brother Albéric, came from the Trappist monastery in Oka, Quebec in 1967. In 1972, he won the Holstein Frisian Trophy for producing over 19,000 pounds of milk per cow for a year.


1. Although most Trappist Monasteries upheld strict vegetarian diets, the monks at St. Norbert had an official “Dispensation” (an exemption from a church law, a vow, or another similar obligation granted in a particular case by an ecclesiastical authority) to eat fish. They caught fish in nets in the LaSalle River.

2. In its largest configuration, the monastery housed 50 monks, 300 dairy cattle producing 36,000 lbs of milk/month, 50 beef cattle, 130 pigs,1600 chickens and 80 bee hives with an average annual 15 tons yield of honey.

3. “Idleness is the enemy of the soul. The brethren, therefore, must be occupied at stated hours in manual labour and again at other hours in sacred reading.” –Rule of St. Benedict, Ch. 48


What is Trappist Monasticism? (Pt6)

January 15, 2008



When we live in poverty by choice we act in a humble way towards the earth’s finite resources, we proclaim our solidarity with all the peoples of the world who live poverty not by choice but by oppression or difficulties. We gain a deeper appreciation for every gift with which we are blessed.


1. “Love not sleep, lest you come to poverty; open your eyes, and you will have plenty of bread.” –Prov.20

2. “The monks’ life is one of poverty; his death is in poverty; the outcome is spiritual wealth.” Abbaye N.D. des Prairies