“Then are they truly monks, when they live by the labour of their hands, as did our fathers and the Apostles. Yet let all be done with moderation, on account of the fainthearted.”
– Rule of St. Benedict, Chapter 48
An important part of our life as monks is our work. As Benedictines, the work of our vocation is the praise of God, every other work is to be a continuation and expression of this. We try to do as much of the daily work of our monastery such as taking care of the infirm monks, developing an appreciation of the fine arts, working in the library, running the kitchen, the farm, maintenance of the buildings and grounds.
“Before all things and above all things care is to be taken of the sick, so that they may be served in very deed as Christ Himself, for He has said: ‘I was sick, and you visited Me’.” Rule 36
Presently, our monastic family is comprised of monks from 19 to 94 years of age. Under the guidance of the abbot, care for the elderly and growing with them and the sick is a fruitful and essential part of the daily life of the junior monks and of our entire community.
“The true measure of humanity is essentially determined in relationship to suffering and to the sufferer. “ Pope Benedict XVI, Spe et Salvi 38
The Crafts of the Monastery
“Should there be craftsmen in the Monastery, let them work at their crafts in all humility, if the abbot give permission. … that God may be glorified in all things.”
– Rule of St. Benedict, Chapter 53
Art holds a special place in Benedictine life because it is one expression by which a monk hopes to represent the beauty of his search for God. Thanks to the God-given talents of one of the Abbey’s monks, Father Dunstan Massey, it is difficult to find a room that is not adorned by one of his works. In the Minor Seminary Chapel there hangs his beautiful ceramic Crucifix; or if one walks into the abbey church, one is surrounded by a myriad of reliefs emerging from the concrete walls. But perhaps, Father Dunstan’s most celebrated work is his fresco ‘The Temptation of St. Benedict’. The painting radiates the triumph of a youth over the world and its riches.
Music is a cherished art of the monastic tradition. While chanting is the monks’ primary expression of music, the rich heritage of polyphony is also encouraged. Throughout the year, a choir of younger monks heighten the solemnity of special feast days by singing polyphonic motets.
Since the foundation of the monastery, various monks have learned the art of carpentry. Much of this work can be seen throughout the abbey grounds and buildings, from the more lofty places (i.e. the guesthouse, refectories, etc.) to the more humble (i.e. carpenter shop, the barns etc.).
The library contains 55,000 books as well as current periodicals. Monks, faculty and seminarians have ready access to the library; guests need permission. The library is a private library and hence does not lend out books publicly.
We have a small print shop with two presses for in house printing jobs. Our main publication is the Pax Regis but we also produce various small items such as cards and stationery for our own use and for availability in the guest house.
We have a small bindery, which has served the community well over the years. Well-used or damaged books from the library and/or school will eventually find their way to this department.
The tailor shop, situated in a modest crook of the abbey, is the place where the monastic habits are measured, cut and sown. At the hands of various monks, some of the abbey’s liturgical vestments are also been fabricated here.
“Let the brethren wait on one another in turn, so that none be excused from the work of the kitchen, except he be prevented by sickness or by some more necessary employment; for thus is gained a greater reward and an increase of charity” (Rule of St. Benedict, Chapter 35).
A good portion of our monastic land is dedicated to our farm. While not supplying all our needs, the farm contains cows, pigs, chickens, hay and pasture lands, a vegetable garden, and fruit orchards.
With buildings over 60 years old, maintenance of the Abbey property, its vehicles and machines etc. is part and parcel of the rhythm of monastic life; it is as ongoing as is the praise of God.
“Regard all utensils and goods of the monastery as sacred vessels of the altar.”
– Rule of St. Benedict, Chapter 31