Many individuals who enter monastic life are not prepared for the fact that monastic formation implies that one’s spiritual and psychological life must change and grow. No matter how mature the individual is before he enters the Monastery, he invariably finds his maturity being challenged by the demands of the schedule, of communal charity, of the degree of silence and solitude, of obedience, of humility, and of deepening his spiritual life according to the teaching of monastic tradition. There will be a culture shock upon entering the Monastery. Many become disenchanted with monastic life when they come face-to-face with it. Either they expected to find a community of “angels”, perfect in every way, floating around on clouds, or they wanted a life of “greater mortification”, self-imposed, of course. Without a basic willingness to be taught, indeed, to start all over again from the beginning, as it were, the new member will find himself in a constant state of inner conflict as he struggles to hang on to his habits of praying, his spirit of independence, his self-will. etc., which are incompatible with, and a hindrance to, the new life he has chosen. But if the desire and good will are present in the new member, the period of monastic formation will be fruitful for the attainment of a deeper level of faith, inner freedom, and joy.

A monk’s day begins early in the morning, while most of the world is still asleep. At four AM, before the sun has come up and before the birds have begun to sing, the sound of the rising bell peals out through the dark hallways of the monastery beckoning the sleeping monks to rise from their beds. They must hurry after they wake up since they have to be in the church within 20 minutes after rising for the beginning of the Divine Office, Lauds, after which Prime and Tierce will be sung.

his morning Office is probably one of a monk’s greatest sacrifices. To wake up at four in the morning and spend forty-five minutes chanting psalms does not come easily to human nature. But that is the point. If it was easy and pleasant it would not be much of a sacrifice. And so the monks can firmly hope that amidst all their weariness and distractions their early morning prayer has done some good for the world, that it has glorified God.

When the morning Office is finished the monks walk back to their cells for a long period of private prayer and spiritual reading. Often during the day, at times like this, a monk finds himself in solitude, alone with God. Such moments are precious to him, for it is then that he is most free to pray to his Heavenly Father in secret and in peace.

The Conventual Mass (the Mass for the monastic community) begins at 6 o’clock. Private Masses are also said around this time on the various side altars of the church. This is, for a monk, the most important time of the day. For this is when he will have the enormous privilege of offering himself, with Christ in the unbloody reenactment of Calvary, to the Father in reparation for the sins of mankind. And not only will he give himself to God but he himself will receive God in Holy Communion. The opportunity to receive Communion every day is one of the greatest blessings of religious life. Nothing on this earth could be more sanctifying. After Mass, the community has another period for spiritual reading and holy solitude, time to cherish the gift Christ has made of Himself in Holy Communion.

At 7:30 the monks gather in the refectory to eat breakfast, in silence. On most mornings they have cereal and toast, but on fast days their morning meal consists of bread and water, and coffee too, for those who want it. After breakfast the grand (night) silence is broken for the day. This means that the monks are free to speak, as necessity might require, until after Compline, when the grand silence will again descend as a quiet and gentle blanket of peace, enveloping the monastery in its rich folds. This night silence, as well as the partial silence observed during the day, is not merely an empty external silence but one which is full of God. External silence is one of the most important ingredients for acquiring that interior quiet within the cloister of the soul in which one can more easily hear the gentle voice of God and more freely converse with Him by frequent heart to heart conversation, remaining in His holy presence throughout the day.

he Abbey of Christ the King is a monastery of contemplative Benedictine monks established in order to preserve the traditional practices of the monastic life under the Holy Rule of St. Benedict and to maintain inviolate the traditional Catholic Faith, as taught and observed prior to Vatican Council II. The Abbey stands in resistance and opposition to the wave of Modernism that has invaded the Catholic Church, yet it is forever loyal to the traditional and orthodox teachings of that Roman and Apostolic Church. In all rites, ceremonies, and usages, the monastery shall adhere without exception to the established forms of holy tradition, cherishing the ancient and venerable as fitting for Divine worship, and shunning novel and strange forms as alien to Catholic tradition and unworthy of the expression of the Catholic Faith. Therefore, the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass shall be offered by the priests of Christ the King Abbey, at all times and in all places, solely according to the form ordained by the Council of Trent and as codified in A.D. 1570 by Pope St. Pius V in the Bull, Quo Primum.

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