What are the monks doing all day long?
The answer is: it depends. Aside from prayer, community life and common meals are significant to the daily monastic schedule. According to the Regula Benedicti, manual labor is crucial – except for Sundays or holidays. Also, the lectio divina (i.e. the spiritual lecture) is a daily routine of our lives. You may read in the Holy Bible or other spiritual literature. Besides that, you may also read trivial literature – even though they should not be contradictory to monastic life. Horror thrillers are usually not part of the “must read” list.
Every monk is assigned an officium (i.e. a particular task) by Father Abbot that he is taking care of. For example in the sacristy, as cantor, in the kitchen or the garden, but also in the administration of the monastery. Usually, there is more than one officium assigned to each monk – depending on the officium and the individual capacities and capabilities.
Every Cistercian monastery is also a place to host and welcome guests. Thus, the guestmaster is one of the most important people in the monastery. There is also one chapter in the Regula Benedicti that deals with the reception of guests. There it says: “All guests shall be received like Christ himself.” (RB 53). In Neuzelle, the monks are also active in pastoral services attached to the parish, especially for the pilgrims, youth, families and prayer groups.
Our community is rooted in the unity of Gregorian chant, pointing towards the unity of the Holy Trinity. That is what we love to do, several hours every day. During the last years, we also recorded some CDs:
The first duty of the monks however is to sing the officium divinum, that is the monastic liturgy. Nothing, says St Benedict, is to be preferred to this divine office.