Dear mothers and women of the 40 Hours Project,
On February 2, we celebrated the day of consecrated life with the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord in the Temple. On this occasion we want to highlight the consecrated life of the monks in our Incarnate Word Religious Family (IVE).
IN WHAT DOES THE LIFE OF THE MONK CONSIST?
The monastic life is called such because it comes from the word monos (meaning “one” in Greek) and signifies that the monk dedicates himself to only one thing, just as Jesus told Martha in the Gospel: to God, the only important thing. The monk consecrates his life totally to God and to Him alone; thus the necessity for
him to separate himself and live in the cloister (not because of fear or rejection of others…it is not that at all, but rather to dedicate himself, his body, soul, and affections to God alone), to love and serve Him for all those who do not love and serve Him.
God is a jealous God (Ex 20:5) and therefore this consecration must be total, giving all of our body, soul, and affections to God. From this follows some minimal
dispositions for the one who desires to become a monk: The desire to consecrate oneself completely to God and not to seek in this vocation a means to simply escape the problems that one may have; The desire to abandon all in God, that is, not to have any other commitment before God, such as one who is married may have, who, being married by the Church, has already made a contract before God to sanctify himself through marriage. The same goes for one who has children; before God he has the responsibility to educate them in the faith and help them along the road of sanctity. One must have an intense life of faith, that is to say, believe in the truths professed by the Catholic Church and live them out, putting them into practice, since they will be the foundation for union with God in the monastic vocation.
As the love of God goes hand in hand with love of neighbor
… (as St. John says in his letter, “you cannot love God whom you cannot see if you do not love your neighbor whom you do see”) the contemplative life also implies a generous gift of self to mankind…in fact, our entire life of prayer and penance is offered for the salvation and sanctification of men, for those that ask us for prayers, those who suffer, those that don’t know God…etc.
It is truly a great gift of God to be able to live dedicated to Him, and at the same time, to all mankind, since those who daily ask for our prayers, help, counsel, etc. are innumerable…and what is more, the monk aids the world simply by his presence, since he is a living witness in the middle of a materialistic world that God exists, that we have a soul, and the most important thing is to save
it…the monk, even in this life, gives his life in order to give testimony of this great truth. The monk desires to consume his life for the love of God and neighbor. Therefore, in a certain way, he is made resemble the martyrs in that he must have the same internal disposition to “give his life for Christ.”
Moreover, the monastic life is an anticipation of heaven, because heaven is seeing God face-to- face and to rejoice forever in His presence, and this is what the religious, and especially the monk, tries to live here on earth. From this his vocation receives the name “contemplative.”
WHAT IS OUR LIFE LIKE?
Our schedule is as follows: We wake up at 5AM; we then sing the Office of Readings (Matins) and do a half hour of mental prayer with the Blessed Sacrament exposed, after which have the Holy Mass accompanied by Lauds (Morning Prayer). Breakfast is followed by an hour of Lectio Divina (reading, prayer, and meditation of the Word of God). We then sing the psalms of Terce (9AM), after which we have three hours of manual work (there are various types: gardening, cleaning, baking, tending to the animals, the sacristy, the kitchen, the bathrooms, etc…). Then there is the singing of the hour Sext (12:30PM). Lunch is followed by an optional hour of siesta. At 3PM we sing the psalms of the hour None. Afterwards there is cell time (the “cell” is the small private room of each monk) until 7PM, when the Blessed Sacrament is exposed and we sing Vespers (Evening Prayer), have an hour of adoration and personal meditation. We finish with Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament and go to dinner (which consists in something light, such as soup or something similar). The day is ended by the singing of the psalms of Compline (the prayer for the night which asks God for a peaceful rest), and finally we go to bed. Throughout the day we are in silence. During breakfast and lunch a spiritual book is read so that our body and soul may receive refreshment. During dinner, we break silence to have an hour of recreation (an hour where we can talk and converse with the other monks).
The idea of the silence is to not be distracted with others so that we may speak with God. Above all, there must also be an interior silence, to be really united and attentive to God, with the mind and heart placed only in Him.
On Sundays, being feast days, we wake up a little later and we may speak and have recreation during the entire day. Of course we still pray all the hours of the Office and all of the psalms are sung. Seven times per day we sing the psalms (as King David sings): Matins, Lauds, Terce, Sext, None, Vespers, and Compline.
Our life is certainly one of greater prayer and sacrifice, a life of deeper dedication because we want to be victims with the Victim of Calvary, Jesus, who died for all.
For this very reason, our life is also one of great joy, since God is never outdone in generosity, and we live, or make efforts to do so, in charity and peace, a foretaste of heaven. We live immersed in supernatural joy, the joy of being with God and knowing that, after this exile, eternal life awaits us.