Work, and Study are the watchwords of the monastic life. It may be
useful for the prospective candidate to hear a bit about how we
understand these terms and attempt to live them out at Spring Bank.
monk is a man of prayer. He prays in two ways: the Divine Office in
public, choral prayer and personal, private prayer. Neither kind of
prayer stands alone; each supports and strengthens the other. The noble
language of the Psalms and the haunting melodies of the chant inspire
private prayer, and private prayer bolsters and enhances liturgical
The monks of Spring Bank meet for
choral prayer seven times each day. In the monastic horarium there is
time set aside early each morning for private prayer. The members of
the community spend about 5 hours each day in liturgical and private
prayer. Monks do not emphasize techniques for private prayer or a
particular school of spirituality. Private prayer is a highly
individual thing; what works for one may not be right for another. The
important thing is for a monk to use this scheduled time for lifting
his mind exclusively to God and not for other pursuits. He will be
greatly rewarded in doing so, not only in his performance and
attentiveness during the Divine Office in choir, but also by the peace
in his soul that comes from a mind increasingly attuned to the Divine.
A monk is not limited to designated times for prayer; prayer should
suffuse his whole day. Whether at work or study, kitchen or classroom,
a monk always tries to be aware of the presence of God and his own need
for divine mercy.
The celebration of the Mass
is the high point of the monk’s daily life. The community at Spring
Bank has great devotion to the Blessed Sacrament, both in the daily
celebration of the Mass and in times of adoration. We have benediction
of the Most Blessed Sacrament on Sundays, Solemnities, and First
Fridays. An optional half-hour of adoration is kept before Vespers on
Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.
with this devotion, many monks of Spring Bank are called to Holy
Orders. The vocation to the priesthood is in no way contrary to the
life of a contemplative monk. Priests of the community concelebrate
Mass daily, offer the sacrament of reconciliation to other members of
the community and guests, and give counsel and spiritual direction to
outsiders who request it. The Mass, Divine Office, and private prayer,
all twork together in the soul of the individual monk, making him a man
of prayer and a man of God.
"Ora et labora,"
- "pray AND work" is the monastic motto. Work then, has a spiritual
importance. The monk learns to offer his abilities and talents to God
and to the community. He also learns patience and self-sacrifice in
living by the labor of his own hands. Cistercian monasteries are
self-supporting; they do not live from donations. Remunerative work, as
well as careful management and investment of our property, money, and
talents, are central to an integrated monastic life. Monastic work at
Spring Bank is of different kinds. There is the routine cleaning and
maintenance of the building and grounds. Some monks have regular
positions such as cellarer or novice master; others do secretarial work
or bookkeeping. Although great care is used in seeing that a professed
monk is given work that suits him, new monks should realize that they
may be asked to do chores that are arduous or menial. This work helps
the monk grow in humility and obedience, and above all joy - a joy that
comes from offering everything, no matter how small and seemingly
insignificant, to the praise and glory of God.
community has worked for the past several years to discern how, as a
small community, we can best use our available resources to support
ourselves and use the surplus to help others. Two of our businesses,
LaserMonks and Benevolent Brands, have given the community a new degree
of financial stability and have become well-known as models of both
monastic enterprise and socially-responsible entrepreneurship.
remain committed to using the talents of all the brothers, along with
our available financial resources and property, for work that will
provide necessary support for our life, and the means to continue our
900-year old tradition of hospitality, guardianship of culture, and
being a spiritual presence to our secular society.
Read more about our businesses and their philosophy>>>
spiritual reading chiefly of the Holy Scriptures and the Church
Fathers, is a practice that influences every aspect of a monk’s life.
The great drama of the Old and New Testaments becomes a living reality
as the monk begins to see the entire history of salvation unfold in his
day-to-day life. Time is given for lectio during the early morning hours and the late afternoon. A monk should spend at least forty-five minutes a day with lectio. It is important to realize that lectio
is quite different than other types of reading. The amount read or
simply the acquiring of facts is not the goal - an encounter with the
risen Lord through the printed page is.
is practiced slowly, ruminatively. It is an invitation to witness the
great acts of God throughout salvation history. Although the art of
sacred reading may not hold the pride of place in today’s highly
technical world that it held in previous centuries, lectio is
a monastic practice that has stood the test of time. It is as viable
for the monk of today as it was in the time of St. Bernard. Technology
may change and become outdated; reading Holy Scripture and the Church
Fathers won’t. While a monk usually begins the practice of lectio
with the Bible, over the years, he will likely also turn to other texts
appropriate for spiritual reading, such as the homilies of the Church
Fathers, the writings of sound theologians, biographies of the saints,
or works of biblical or Church history.
monk’s intellectual formation is never really completed. He may have
earned his degree years ago, but his learning does not become truly
effective until it is integrated into the day-to-day living out of his
vocation. Brothers not going on priesthood are required to study at
least a year of theology and philosophy. Academic acumen is not
important; integration of the scared sciences into the mind and heart
of the monk is. Novices are given in-house formation classes to prepare
them for what will be expected in their theological studies. Monastic
education can include non-academic vocational pursuits as well. A monk
might go on to study forestry, mechanics, administration, or anything
that can be of use to the community and help him become the man God
wants him to be. Academic and vocational training also enhances the
monk’s private interests. It is not unusual for a monk to study poetry,
literature, art, and the sciences in his own free time. A monk is man
of many interests, but they all flow out from and enhance his love of
God and his willingness to imitate Christ.