Life within the community

The ‘Lord’s Supper’ is extended towards the refectory.

Times are changing but monastic life remains essentially the same. Communal living constitutes receiving a grace – a gift – as well as surrendering: within the community the monk encounters the specific situation where he meets God in every brother and in everything that happens.

Communal living is closely interwoven with a life of prayer. This is why the part of the abbey that is dedicated to prayer is also the centre of the brothers’ community. The most important moment in which the community takes shape is the Eucharist: the ‘Lord’s Supper’.

The monks are closely tied to every living creature.

In fact, the monks also celebrate the ‘Lord’s Supper’ in the refectory. At mealtimes, the brothers form one big family. The food is plain but nourishing and there is plenty of it, mindful of the words of St Bernard: “Look after the health of your body: so much the better will you be able to serve your Creator!”

During meals, readings are heard so that the spirit is nourished as well as the body. The books chosen are mainly religious but may also cover current social and cultural themes.

Although the brothers withdraw from the world, they do not completely set themselves apart from the needs and concerns of people outside the abbey. Through prayer they empathise with what is happening in the world.

The monks have close ties with all living things. St Benedict says that they must consider all physical objects as if they were destined for the service of worship, as evidence of God.

The Word of God is only really answered in silence. 

Living in silence is far from straightforward; it takes courage. The Word of God only receives a response in silence. If you live in this way, you come face to face with yourself all the time. God himself confronts you with your own reality.

The silence also allows the monks to keep their senses sharp. The quietness that is inherent in the regular order of the day make an important contribution to this. Also, the quiet atmosphere and the keeping of regular hours enhance the peace within the community. Without this it would not be able to function.

The path of silence is far from easy. Father Abbot supports the monks in following this path. Although he is a brother amongst brothers, he is the representative of Christ within the community.

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