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.”
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.
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 devotion.
Lectio Divina, or ‘sacred reading,’ is a traditional 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.