Media nocte surgebam ad confitendum tibi.
In the midst of the night I shall rise unto thy praise.
(Psalm 118, 62)
The Benedictine is a contemplative. The primacy of prayer is the guiding principle of the monastic horarium. The monk lives the inverse of the secular day, rising at night in order to be about the things of his Father. (St. Luke II, 49)
The bell rings at 3AM, he rises and goes to the Church to begin one to two hours of the Divine Office of Matins sung in Gregorian Chant, returning afterwards to the monastic cell in solitary study. At the break of dawn, the bell rings again for the Divine Office of Lauds, concluding the first part of the waking hours of the monk. By 7:30 AM the monks have completed 4 hours of prayer.
Septies in die laudem dixi Tibi.
Seven times a day have I given praise to Thee. (Psalm 118, 164)
Seven times during the day, called the Hours, the bells will call the Benedictine to return to the monastery church to attend to the Opus Dei, the Work of God, which divides each part of the day with prayer, the universal prayer of the Church. Let nothing be put before the Work of God… let nothing be preferred to the love of Christ. (Rule chapters 4 and 43) The Work of God is the essence of Benedictine life.
In mid-morning, between sessions of study, the Conventual Mass, the communityHigh Mass sung daily in Gregorian Chant, is the heart of the day. The hours of Prime, Terce, Sext and None continue the Laus perennis, the unending praise of God, which the ancient sundials fixed to the side of the Churches of Christendom marked with a shadow, indicating each passing hour of prayer.
Meals in a monastery are a reflection of the Liturgy, where the brethren take turns preparing and serving the community repast, taken in silence in the Refectory, while edifying readings sustain the spiritual and intellectual formation of the monks. The Benedictine is a disciple of Christ, (Rule chapter 6) everything in the monastery is an uninterruptedteaching, by which God makes use of all things great and small as instrumental causes to communicate his grace, being confident of this very thing, that he who hath begun a good work in you, will perfect it unto the day of Christ Jesus…and this I pray, that your charity may more and more abound in knowledge and in all understanding. (Philippians I, 6 and 9) Not only in the highest and most sublime liturgical actions performed in the Church, but also in the most humble labors of the hands in the fields where in all things, at all times and in all places, the disciple of Christ is being formed by the masters of nature and grace. Ut in omnibus glorificetur Deus. That in all things God may be glorified. (Rule chapter 57)