Work is one of the elements or pillars of the Cistercian monastic day. It "belongs to the essential rhythm of a fully human life" (Charles Cummings, Monastic Practices, p.49). St. Benedict in his Rule gives first this reason: "Idleness is the enemy of the soul. Therefore, all the community must be occupied at definite times in manual labor" (Chapter 48). He goes on to say that "they will really be in the best monastic tradition if the community is supported by the work of their own hands". Simple work cultivates prayer and helps focus the heart on the ’one thing necessary’.
"John Cassian spoke of work
as an anchor which can stabilize the boat of our heart
on the tumultuous waves
of our thoughts."
André Louf, The Cistercian Way
And so work is an integral part of our day.
It includes that which is necessary to any household: cooking, cleaning, garden, grounds and building maintenance; that which is more specific to monastic life: guesthouse, administration, liturgy, spiritual accompaniment and class preparation; that which is our main industry and source of income: for us, our creamed honey.
There are also times in the week when one is free to explore a craft or talent such as card making, music, art, wood working, writing. In all the elements of our monastic life the challenge is one of balance and mindfulness of the presence of God in all things, and through all things.
"Outwardly he was entirely given up to work,
but inwardly he was entirely given up to God.."
William of St. Thierry, Vita Sancti Bernardi, 4:23
For more information about our largest industry, visit Monastery Creamed Honey.