Monastic life

A monk's day

When you say monk you say prayer. Not because the monk devotes most of his time to it; but because it must be an essential part of his day. Nothing must be preferred to it said St Benedict about the Divine Office (or opus dei), that is to say that we must look to prayer for the roots which give meaning to what we do.


A monk's day in Maredsous

7H00 Morning prayer : lauds - breakfast - work
10H00 Short prayer (only for the community) - on sunday's : Sung mass - work
12H00 Sung mass
13H00 Meal - rest - work
16H00 Short prayer (only for the community) - on sunday's : Vespers - work
18H30 Evening prayer : Vespers - meal - rest
20H30 Office of Readings or Compline

A monk's day does not only have many hours of shared prayer.

This prayer must be fed. Monks spend a lot of time at lectio divina , i.e. contact with the Bible, with those who have commented on it, with great spiritual authors, returning to earlier traditions in order to move towards the future. This is also done with fundamental various tasks of everyday life. Living together implies all sorts of jobs. To look after sick and older monks requires at least one brother full-time. Welcoming guests who come to the monastery is another job for several brothers. Giving advice, listening, encouraging a lot of people as pilgrims, are other jobs. When the abbey was founded, a boarding school was also created : today it is St Benedict's School. A School of Art was in existence up to 1964. This needs a monk present whenever possible. Nowadays welcoming tourists requires the presence and attention of monks too.

However, more intellectual and spiritual activities occupied and still occupy monks. The French translation of the Bible in 1950 symbolises all that was done around this great book, work that today is continued by the Centre Informatique et Bible. The Revue bénédictine does the same for the Benedictine history. The Lettre de Maredsous echoes today's monastic life.

A mere few lines cannot give enough of a realistic picture of a single day. Most important is to understand what is basic to a monk's day, what his vocation is : attention to God, presence to his brothers, trying to respond to the requirements of Christ's gospel.