Monastic Prayer

Vespers in the monastery chapel

The rhythmic pattern of monastic life is anchored and nurtured by gathering regularly for liturgical prayer and daily Eucharist. Our prayer streams from the basic human need to pray, to come before God in thanksgiving, in praise, in wonder, and sometimes in sorrow or pain.

The ancient psalms express well this broad range of human emotion before God, and it is the Psalter that we use when we gather morning and evening to pray the Liturgy of the Hours. We pray not just for ourselves but on behalf of the entire People of God and the needs of the world.

Gathering as a community to chant the Psalms is a tradition that goes back to the earliest days of Christian monasticism. It derives from the ancient Jewish practice of gathering to pray at fixed times of the day, a practice that was retained by the first generations of Christians.

The recitation of the psalms was a priority for the desert hermits of the second and third centuries.  As hermit monks began to gather in communities, praying the psalms remained an essential aspect of their monastic practice as they sought to fulfill St. Paul's exhortation to "pray without ceasing." 

Sister Magdalena Craig, OSB, Community Organist

St. Benedict placed a high value on the Liturgy of the Hours, exhorting his monks that “nothing is to be preferred to the Work of God.” Throughout the centuries, the Liturgy of the Hours has remained a defining element of monastic life. We have inherited this tradition, and approach the liturgy as a sacred task and cherished responsibility.

In addition to the Psalms, the readings, responses, antiphons, and canticles of the Liturgy of the Hours draw deeply from the springs of Sacred Scripture, keeping the community continually immersed in the Word of God.

Lectio Divina

While the liturgy is the most visible element of our monastic prayer, each Sister spends significant time daily in personal prayer and spiritual reading. This time apart is essential in order for the monastic to encounter God in the depths of her heart through silence, attentive reading of Sacred Scripture, and private devotions. 

Lectio Divina, or 'sacred reading,' is a traditioSister Kathleen Gallas, OSBnal monastic practice in which each Sister engages daily.  'Lectio' is a way of reading scripture in which we slow down, even pause, in order to savor the Word and listen deeply to what God is saying to us. 

This daily, sustained attentiveness to God engenders a contemplative spirit which flows into all other aspects of our lives. With one's heart resting in God's abiding presence, all of our work, activities, and ministry become a prayer.  Through hidden solitude with God, and liturgical prayer as a gathered community, each Sister enters deeply into loving relationship with our Creator, who nurtures, sustains, and animates our lives as Benedictine women.