Like most monasteries, there is a daily schedule of prayers at the rectory known as the Liturgy Of the Hours. The Liturgy Of the Hours is the official set of prayers "marking the hours of each day and sanctifying the day with prayer". It consists primarily of psalms supplemented by hymns, readings and prayers.
The hours are:
3:30 am Vigils
6:30 am Lauds
12:00 pm Sext
5:30 pm Vespers
7:30 pm Compline
The visitor is free to go to all the prayer hours, some of the prayer hours, or none at all. I have gone to a few at Mount Savior Monastery in Elmira, NY. They are short and sweet. I have to say, I love hearing the brothers chant scripture.
Saturday morning I got up early, said hello to the chickens and billy goats on the property, and then hiked along the Greenway which follows the Genesee River. The Greenway is a half mile from Bethlehem house, if that. It’s a well kept, easy trail with some pretty views. I got back to my room around 10:30 and decided to visit the Abbey gift shop and stay for the noon prayer in the chapel. I bought some Monk coffee roasted by the brothers and some Monk biscotti baked by the brothers. I also picked up a book about Thomas Merton, called In the School Of Prophets.
The chapel was beautiful. There is something about Monastery chapels - a sense of mystery, a reverence, something ancient and good. Modern churches that I’ve been to (both Protestant and Catholic), don’t come near it. There seems to be little focus on contemplation and silence in most western churches.
The mystery is what draws me to the monastery. It provides a place to come apart from all the activity and noise of everyday life. It gives the opportunity to think and to be at a deeper level. There is something to being still, listening and inviting God’s presence.
I thought I'd write a few thoughts on art, life and whatever else comes to mind.