What Do You Do...?

“What do you do in the monastery?” This is a question we hear fairly often. And one answer might be the words attributed to St. Francis of Assisi: “Preach the Gospel at all times, and if necessary, use words.” The act of living in community can be a powerful illustration of people from different backgrounds living in peace together. So what does “peace” mean in this context? Well, we do have differences: in tastes, in opinions, in what we think about how we should do things. But we try not to go to war over them.

We spend time studying how to use language to strengthen our bonds rather than tearing them apart. We try to ask questions rather than accuse. We make an effort to actually listen to each other instead of spending our “listening” time deciding what we will say next. We try to remember this line from the Rule of Benedict: “A kind word is better than the best gift.”

And in case this is sounding entirely too angelic, let me assure you that another thing we do in the monastery, as a monk once said, is “fall down and get up, fall down and get up...” starting over again every day, hoping to do a little better.

The main thing that helps us continue to strive to do better is prayer, particularly prayer in community. We get up in the morning and go to Morning Praise, where we pray the Psalms from the Hebrew Scriptures. We pray the Our Father, also known as the Lord’s Prayer, which reminds us to forgive one another as we hope to be forgiven. We hear readings from Scripture. We pray for our world and all the people and other beings in it. At Noon Praise, we have a shorter prayer time, again praying the Psalms, and also remembering those who have died. At Evening Praise, before relaxing and bed, we do all the above and also pray again for the peace and well-being of people everywhere.

An unusual Morning Praise, outdoors with guests

We are fortunate to have Mass in our chapel Monday through Thursday at 5:00 pm, and again on Sunday at 9:00 am. At Mass we pray again for all the needs of our world and its many peoples, for those who request our prayers, and for people who are in need of help or healing. The monks from Saint Martin’s Abbey nearby are our faithful chaplains. The pandemic affected us, like the rest of the world, but now we are blessed to be opening our doors to all who have been vaccinated and “boosted.” (Because we live here, we need to be a little cautious.) We are so glad to be welcoming our friends and neighbors back to Mass and Praise, and to come and visit!

Welcome sign at Spirituality Center

Like Benedictines everywhere, hospitality is very important to us, another reason we are so happy to be opening again after the long pandemic. We have a Spirituality Center, too, and there we welcome individuals and groups to come on retreat, for a little quiet time with God. The Center also has a schedule of programs that focus on spirituality. Several of our Sisters are trained Spiritual Directors, and are available to companion those who wish on their spiritual journey. We try to make retreat time available even to those who can’t afford it by offering “scholarships.” If a person needs help, they just ask.

What do you do in the monastery?” Believe me, this is only the tip of the iceberg! Follow our blog and find out more. Even better, visit us, and learn more, first hand, about Benedictine hospitality.

Comments

  • Comment posted by Kathryn Rickert on June 10, 2023 at 1:57PM (12 months ago)

    Beautifully written Sr. DOROTHY, I am thankful for this gracious answer.

    • Comment posted by Sr. Dorothy on June 10, 2023 at 3:59PM (12 months ago)

      Thanks for taking time to read what we write, Kathryn! And thanks for your kind comment... *smiles*

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