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A Day in the Walls…
A look into the cloistered life.

Mount Angel Abbey in Saint Benedict, Oregon

“Listen carefully, my son, to the master’s instructions, and attend to them with the ear of your heart. This is advice from a father who loves you; welcome it, and faithfully put it into practice.”                                                                                    –Prologue of the Holy Rule Mount Angel Abbey is a community of Benedictine Monks founded in 1882 from the Abbey of Engelberg in Switzerland. We maintain a monastic tradition that has been a vital part of the Roman Catholic Church for more than 1500 years. Responding to God’s call to holiness and preferring nothing whatever to Christ, we dedicate ourselves, under a Rule and an abbot to a life of prayer and work. We strive to support one another in community, to serve God, the Church, and the larger society. We do this as we celebrate the Holy Eucharist together, pray the Liturgy of the Hours five times daily in choir, and devote ourselves to reading and silence. The monks follow the traditional monastic observances, including those of enclosure, or cloister, silence and the wearing of the monastic habit. The community identifies itself as Benedictine because it observes the Rule written by St. Benedict of Norcia, who is considered the Father of Western monasticism.

The Purpose of a Monastery

A monastery should be a place on earth that points to Heaven. Saint Benedict established his monastery as a “school of the Lord’s service” so that its monks could learn the life of Christian charity, for nothing points to God more eloquently than love. The good order of the monastery is meant to reflect the obedience of God’s creation. Its chanting of psalms is an echo of the heavenly choirs of angels and saints, and the hospitality it offers the guest becomes an invitation to come away for a while and set one’s heart on God alone.

Life of Prayer

In his Rule, our Blessed Father Saint Benedict teaches, “nothing is to be preferred to the Work of God” (43:3). Nothing is to be preferred to the liturgical prayer of the Church. At Mount Angel, the Hours of the Divine Office are chanted in common, with the celebration of the Holy Eucharist as the center and high point of the monastic day. Throughout the day an atmosphere of quiet prayer and reflection prevails in the monastery. Life for the monks of Mount Angel Abbey is a gentle and regular rhythm of prayer and work. Besides gathering in the church six times each day to pray together, the monks spend time alone in contemplative prayer, lectio divina, spiritual reading and personal devotions in the quiet of the monastery. Silence is diligently cultivated in the monastery, especially at night, to maintain a prayerful quiet in the house of God and in the souls of the monks.

God, Humanity, & Time in a Monastery

In a monastery life to a great degree revolves around the time of the Church’s year of grace. The monks and their guests gather in the Abbey church to remember the saving events of Our Lord. By this remembering they are drawn into the very mystery of salvation. They remember by praying the Liturgy of the Hours, the “Work of God,” as Saint Benedict called, and by celebrating the Mass. Here at Mount Angel we recite the offices of Vigils and sing Lauds, Noonday Prayer, Vespers, and Compline each day. The Community Mass is the center of our day. The offices and the Mass keep us in tune with the days of the Church’s year of grace and bring us into contact with the Lord and His saving works. The Liturgical Year is our Benedictine way of journeying together unto everlasting life.

The Vows

The monks of this monastery take the monastic vows of obedience, stability and “conversatio morum,” that is often translated as conversion of life or morals. Our obedience is to Christ and His Church. We live this obedience under a Rule and an abbot, who rules the monastery more by example than by legislation: the purpose of the Holy Rule being an assistance and guide in following the Holy Gospel. Stability has been described as the vows that stops us from running from the cross. Community life lived in charity is a great deal of hard work. When faced with challenges, sometimes we’d like to run away, but God always supplies to us sufficient grace and love to resolve our human difficulties, and in the process, be transformed. The vow of “conversatio” is a promise to daily follow the monastic way of life, which is very much about conversion. If the Holy Rule presumes anything, it likely is that by God’s grace, and our cooperation with it, change is possible. Over the years, even entrenched vices can be transformed in to virtues. Obedience, along with charity and humility, are values at the heart of the monastic way. These virtues allow us to pray and work in a recollected peace, which is the fruit of a personal encounter with Christ. The monk strives to hear the Word of God and respond whole-heartedly. When one hears the call of Christ to “Follow Me,” one responds as did the Blessed Virgin Mary, “Fiat,” “Be it done unto me according to Thy Word”. The life of a monk is not for everyone. It is a rigorous life of prayer and work, lived out in community, and it is not without its daily challenge. But for those called to it, the monastic way is a joyful and fulfilling life. For more information on the Mt. Saint Angels Monastery, please visit www.mountangelabbey.org.

Monastic Horarium

5:00 a.m. Rise
5:20 a.m. Office of Vigils
6:00 a.m. Lectio Divina
6:30 a.m. Office of Lauds Grand Silence ends
7:00 a.m. Breakfast
8:00 a.m. Conventual Mass sung
9:00 a.m. Morning work begins
12:00 p.m. Angelus & Mid-day Office
12:15 p.m. Lunch
1:30 p.m. Afternoon work begins
4:00 p.m. Afternoon work ends
5:15 p.m. Office of Vespers
6:00 p.m. Angelus & Supper
6:40 p.m. Community Recreation Grand Silence begins
7:30 p.m. Office of Compline Retire for the evening
8:00 p.m. Time for spiritual reading or study
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