t’s not rare that some may think the cloistered life is boring and monotonous, or very easy since, "All you do is pray. Not work." But both of these ideas are monastic myths. We do both: ora et labora [pray and work]. And, in truth, all of it is prayer and only possible by prayer.
The Prayer: Seven times a day we pray the Divine Office [the Liturgy of the Hours]. We are blessed to have Benediction and Mass, individual holy hours of Eucharistic adoration, spiritual reading, lectio divina, study, and nocturnal hours of Eucharistic adoration. And that's not also counting the conferences, chapters, and ongoing formation. Depending on a day's schedule the sum total of actual time this can sanctify is between six and seven hours a day or more. It is after and around all these foundational elements of prayer (without which our existence is impossible) that we tuck in the work, sometimes in fits and starts.
The Work: This can range from chores like laundry, ironing, cooking, cleaning, sacristy, gardening, maintenance, repairs, to the entire host of office tasks falling into administration, website work, apostolic venues, vocations, prayer requests, correspondence, medical, bookkeeping, fundraising and the other sundry tasks that must be done to keep a monastery up and running.
The Great Adventure: As many of us came to the monastic life from a culture of "get things done!", the adventure has been to transition from a day of 'to-do' lists to days of constant contact with Our Lord in prayer, whether it be in Chapel or at work. It’s a challenge to let the work not drive the day, but rather to allow the prayer to drive the work. When we find God present with his ample grace to get needful tasks accomplished with peace and prayer, we discover we are right in the middle of God's Great Adventure: living together in his Presence, close to his heart in everything we do.