A Day in the life of a Benedictine Nun At Colwich Abbey!
‘Listen my Son to the teaching of your master’ (Prologue of Rule of St. Benedict)
No two days are the same in the monastery, despite our divine office and Holy Mass being at set times, but a typical day……… well………
In the stillness of the early hours of the morning (which for some people who work – they think is the middle of the night), an alarm clock rings at 5.30am to awaken us to serve the Lord with all our heart and mind. This is a good intention but sometimes you don’t feel like it and want to turn over for another half hour. Anyhow once awake we get ready and go down for half hours’ private/mental prayer in the Church or as we call it – the Choir! Rising early and making prayer in the darkness and stillness of a winters morning is to surround yourself in Gods’ loving and merciful presence, offering up to him your complete day no matter what takes place.
The Angelus Bell can be heard ringing at 6am and this is a time to remember that it was Our Lady who said ‘Yes’ to become the mother of God, who was to become man and then later to die for our salvation. This is an ancient prayer of the Church and is recited 3 times a day.
Following prayer, an informal breakfast before 7am, when Morning Office is sung. I hear you ask, ‘What is Morning Office?’ Well, it is a collection of psalms and readings for the liturgical day, it is what we call the Divine Office and is spread out at set intervals. This was said seven times a day, in St. Benedict’s time, but today Matins and Lauds are put together for morning office, Prime, None, Terce are Midday Office. It is said that: ‘He who sings prays twice’, (St. Augustine)
In St. Benedict’s day they said the whole Psalter each day, but today it is set out for the whole week, and on liturgical seasons and special feasts there are special antiphons and psalms. After morning office we have the highlight of the day – Holy Mass!! This is at 8.30am (9.30 on Sundays’). It’s a privilege to have this each day as Our Lord comes to us in a special way, to think that He came and died for each one of us – is truly amazing!!!
Following mass each sister has her own duties to perform. This varies: cooking, working in the laundry, gardening or guest house. Yes, every day to day jobs about the house is a part of our monastic life in which we aim to strive nearer to God. St Benedict asked for hospitality to form an important part of the life and this is evident when in the midst of silence a noise is heard and it’s the phone ringing………but wait……what’s that……I also hear a door bell ringing!!!
A warning bell at 3 mins to 12 sounds to remind us that Midday Office is about to take place. Once more the choir is filled with songs of praise from the psalms. Sometimes groups come for a quiet day and they too share in our midday office. After office it’s dinner time then follows a quick walk in the garden with the abbey dog – Chelsea!!!! Following walkies is more work, afternoon tea then recreation. Recreation is just as important to us as the office is, as we need to get to know each other if we are to get closer to God. Various hobbies can be seen to be done during this period. There is then time to get your Lectio/bible study done and this too has an important part to play in our life. It is through our reading that we learn to know what god is saying to us and St. Benedict puts a special place in his rule for this. Each sister has to fit this in according to her work!
The bell resounds for vespers at 3 mins to 6, and the nuns will be processing into choir two at a time. After supper there is free time to do what you want, read, or hobbies or catch up on anything you may have missed etc……Prayer is made together quietly at 8pm for half and hour, then Compline finishes the day of. This is the shortest of the offices but has a lovely feeling for ending the day its quiet, and after singing a antiphon to our lady in latin we are given a blessing from mother abbess.
- In the stillness of the night its time to say goodnight and go to bed. Even in our deep sleep and conscious or unconscious dreams we are still praising god (even if your not fully aware of it).
Is Benedictine Spirituality relevant in the 21st Century?
Yes, it is! It gives us a model of how we should live our lives as one of LOVE, HUMILITY, AND OBEDIENCE!
Our Benedictine life is one of love and service, 1st of all to God and secondly to each of our sisters. We need to be both Mary and Martha, so it is also an added joy that we have exposition of the Blessed Sacrament at least once a week!
Jesus, in the garden of Gethsemene, said to his three apostles whilst they slept, ‘Could you not watch one hour with me?’. So that’s what we do, each sister has an allotted time to pray and let Jesus speak to our hearts.
Jesus says, ‘Come follow me!’.
An Apology: Can i say ‘sorry’ to those people who have been trying to contact us through an email address belonging to our Novice Mistress. I noticed a discrepancy in it as it was completely wrong. Please note that it has now been changed and is: firstname.lastname@example.org once again sorry!!!!!!!