For those who live in monasteries, the path is woven with prayer. The monastic day at Redwoods balances times of silent, meditative prayer with common prayer; prayer of praise and thanksgiving to God, with prayer of supplication and need for mercy. The psalms, which are the substance of the Divine Office, give us a way to sing out our faith to God. We sing them a cappella, on simple melodies which help to create a contemplative atmosphere.
In communion, we join with the whole of creation and all the peoples of the world, in receiving the life of Christ. The daily celebration of the Eucharist serves as a pivotal moment each day for entering into the heart of God. We hold the needs of our world and lift them up with the bread and wine -- to be transformed. . .
The window behind the altar in the Church opens out into nature where our worship is enveloped by the tangible wonders of God's creation. Together, our souls proclaim to God in the words of the ancient psalmist: "Heaven and earth are full of your glory!”
"We have known and held the love that God has for us"
Work of Our Hands - Manual Labor
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’.
"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
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; and that which is our main industry and source of income: 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, or 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, felt through all things.
"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
"Whatever the object of my prayer, I never pray or worship you in vain; the very act of praying brings me rich reward. Teach me then, Holy Spirit, to pray without ceasing, that you may grant me to rejoice unceasingly in you."