'Now the whole group of those who believed were of one heart and soul,
and no one claimed private ownership of any possessions,
but everything they owned was held in common.'
[ Acts of the Apostles 4:32 ]

A Typical Weekday

       3.30am . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Rise

       4.00am . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Vigils and personal prayer in church

       5.00 - 7.00am . . . . . . . . . . Lectio and breakfast

       7.00am . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Lauds

       7.40am . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Tierce

       8.00am . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Eucharist and Chapter

       9.30am - 12.00 noon . . . Work

12.15pm . . . . . . . . . . . Sext followed by lunch and rest

2.30pm . . . . . . . . . . . . None

2.45 - 4.00pm . . . . . . . Work / Class / Meeting

4.45pm . . . . . . . . . . . . . Exposition

5.00pm . . . . . . . . . . . . . Vespers followed by personal prayer in Church

5.45 - 6.15pm . . . . . . . Supper

7.00pm . . . . . . . . . . . . . Compline and retire

The present-day Community at Holy Cross Abbey seeks to live the Cistercian charism in the 21st Century. The Community cherishes and preserves a life of prayer (Eucharist, Divine Office, personal prayer), of lectio divina and of manual work, which are called the three pillars of Cistercian monastic life. A brief explanation of three pillars below is quoted from The Cistercian written by a Trappist Abbot M Basil Pennington (1931-2005).

While our sacred study speaks to our minds and our spiritual or motivating reading speaks to our hearts and wills, in lectio divina (literally means divine reading) properly so called we seek something else. We seek to be brought into the very experience of God. Lectio is much more prayer than reading.

In lectio properly so called we do not seek so much to enlighten the intellect or move the will. Rather through the words of the sacred text we are seeking a visit of the Word. We want direct and immediate communication with God. [Traditionally,] having taken the text, we are to kneel and call upon the Holy Spirit who inspired the writer and who now dwells within us to teach us all things, bringing to our mind all that Jesus has taught. After this prayer we listen to the first words on our knees.

‘Listen’ is the right word here. We are deeply aware of the presence of God in his inspired word. Conscious of this presence, we do not hasten on to read a chapter or a page. Rather, after listening to the first words, we kiss the sacred text and then sit, quietly listening to the Lord until the next bell calls us to other service. There is no hurry. If the Lord speaks to us in the first words, we rest with them letting them engrave themselves in our minds and form our hearts, calling forth a response and leading us into contemplation.

Prepared by our lectio and meditatio we are ready to enter into the Church’s constant hymn of praise that rises up from all parts of the earth night and day to thank, praise and worship our Divine Benefactor and to humbly implore the pardon and benefits we all need. Each of the offices, though, has its own element of lectio and offers an excellent context of meditatio. The psalms themselves which make up much of the offices can be a powerful lectio.

Each of the hours of the office has a reading proportionate to its length; vigils and Eucharist have two or three. There is usually a pause after each reading to give the monks time to assimilate the reading and choose a particular ‘word’ – if one has not been as it were given to us by the Lord himself in the reading – to carry with us as we go on in the office or go forth to our other labours.

There are many ways in which we pray the psalms of the office. We can always make the words of the psalmist our own and enter into them as best as we can.

Saint Benedict saw these hours in choir as very special moments, but these moments will not be what they should be if they are not the gems set in the crown of constant prayer, if they do not rise up out of prayer and flow back into it, energizing it, deepening it, enriching it. The context for the office is a life of constant prayer.

Through the activity of the Holy Spirit, through her gifts, we become very conscious of the presence and activity of God in all. As we work not only do we see God in ourselves, working in and through us, but we also see God in all that we work with and all whom we work with. It is he who at every moment gifts us with the creative energy, intellectual and physical, with the gifts of soul that enable us to conceive and put into execution the creative projects we undertake. At the same time it is he who is bringing into being, sharing his being, with the materials with which we are working. It is he who gives me the mind and the mental energy and will to create these sentences and the fingers and the physical energy to type them into this word processor. And it is he who is giving being and its wondrous power to this word processor and to the electrical energies it is using. It is a labour of love and joy and creation, a celebration within God’s labour of creation.

We live a life in common, nurtured by three pillars, receiving the grace to acknowledge our human frailty and the divine spark that is present in everyone. Each sister finds her own balance of living in community and solitude.

The Eucharist and the Divine Office, also known as the Liturgy of the Hours lie at the heart of each day. Each Office has its own character but they all follow a similar pattern: hymn, psalms, scripture reading and prayers, the number of psalms allows all 150 to be said in one week.

There are readings during common lunch in the refectory and before Compline in the Church.

Work is a manifestation of humanity and humility. We work whatever we are assigned to with our own hands to earn our living. By following the footsteps of Christ, work helps us to grow outwardly and inwardly, restores us closer the image of God who creates the heaven and the earth.

The Community seeks to foster an atmosphere of tranquillity in the monastery, working at various tasks in a way that does not hinder this, but enables each member of the Community to make her individual journey to the Trinity in company with her sisters.

After Compline it is the Grand Silence which lasts until Chapter the following day, so that we could a little more open to God in our hearts. During the day, speech is valued and dialogue developed as a way of promoting mutual understanding and sharing the fruits of the Spirit in joy, love, patience and kindness towards one another.