Prayer and Liturgy

The defining feature of a monk's life is prayer. A monk is a man of prayer and this should be evident by the amount of time and attention he gives to this most important activity. Prayer is the axis around which the entire life of the monastery revolves.

The monastic community at Saint Meinrad Archabbey gathers five times a day in the Archabbey Church to celebrate Mass and to pray the Liturgy of the Hours: Vigils, Lauds, Midday Prayer, Vespers and Compline. The style of the liturgy is formal, reverent and dignified.

Throughout the centuries, Benedictine monks have guarded a long history of excellence in liturgy and we build on that heritage by attending to the quality of our music (primarily chant), liturgical action and liturgical environment, so that prayer, beauty and solemnity come together in true moments of worship and praise.

To the newcomer, the amount of time spent in Church can seem overwhelming. With time and perseverance, the frequency of prayer throughout the day becomes second nature and assumes a rhythmic quality that punctuates and sustains one's life in the monastery, like breathing. Novices also often say that so much of the chant - the hymns, antiphons, responsories and psalm tones - all "sound the same" at first.

Again, time, study and repetition tune the ear to the subtle and sometimes-pronounced shifts in music and text that accompany the changing seasons. As years progress, the monk grows to appreciate the ever-unfolding richness of the liturgical year with its perennial themes of hope, light, repentance, salvation, mercy and discipleship.

To our liturgical (or public) prayer are added two periods each day for lectio divina, or private prayer with Scripture and other spiritual texts. In his lectio, the monk aspires to encounter Christ in the Word of God and to cultivate a deep, personal relationship with Him. Love is the result and the monk finds the object for his charity - love in action - in the confreres, students, guests, retreatants, poor and needy for whom he lays down his life in service.