Life at the Abbey


The life of the monastery is centered in its liturgical life and prayer. At the Abbey, the Sacred Liturgy of the Mass, known as the Rite of St. Gregory the Great, Pope of Old Rome, is generally sung according to the Sarum Use of the Western Rite given in the Missale Sarisburiense, an eleventh century codification of the Mass rite that was celebrated at the end of the first millennium throughout Northern Europe and parts of North America at that time, and this differs even from the "traditional" rites issued by the Roman Popes in the sixteenth century, which themselves were an attempt to dilute the sober, contrition-evoking mode of true catholic worship.

In addition to the Mass, the monastery liturgy centers around the Divine Office, the ancient chanting of the Psalms and Odes of the Old Testament at different hours of the day and night. At the Abbey, the Office, like the Mass, is chanted in the ancient form of singing known as Gregorian Chant, and the Psalms are arranged exactly as designated by our Father, St. Benedict, in his Rule, so that every one of the 150 Psalms of St. David the Prophet-King are chanted each week, and a total of 300 Psalms and Odes (due to the repetition of some Psalms) are chanted in the same time span. The Antiphons, Hymns, and Responsories of the Office are taken from the Antiphonale Wigorniense used by the Benedictine monastery founded by St. Oswald of York, who in the tenth century codified what was later called the Roman Rite of the Sarum Use according to the monastic provisions of the Rule of St. Benedict. The portion of the Office known as the Night Vigils (Nocturnes) also includes many readings from the Holy Scriptures and the Church Fathers. Also, as observed in the time of St. Oswald, we calculate the occurrence of all Feasts, Holy days, and fast days according to the Old Julian Calendar that has been in use since the time of the birth of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

The practices of the monastery thus totally follow the ancient Western tradition of the Orthodox Church in a most literal sense, and are completely Orthodox. No modernistic elements (especially those from non-Orthodox or non-Christian sources - currently so popular) or forms of modern moral leniency, are practiced or tolerated.

The meals eaten by the monks consist of simple food prepared in our own kitchen. As the Rule of St. Benedict directs, we never eat the flesh of any four-legged animals. In addition to this daily partial abstinence, we observe a full abstinence from all meat, eggs, and dairy products on Wednesdays and Fridays, and each day of the seasons of Advent, Great Lent, the Fast of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul, and the Vigils Days of the Dormition and other Feasts. In addition to this abstinence, St. Benedict enjoins on us rules for daily fasting, so that we never eat a morning breakfast, the earliest meal being taken at noontime. On weekdays from the end of September until the beginning of Great Lent, the daily fast is prolonged so that no food is taken before the Hour of None (approximately 3 pm), and during Great Lent itself, this prescription is enjoined at least until the beginning of the Pre-Sanctified Liturgy and Vespers (approximately 4:30pm). We regard this aspect of our life to be a major external mark of our authenticity as monks. It is also emphasized that nothing a monk uses is his own, for he has renounced the world, its pomp and splendor, and all that might lead him away from expressing his death to the ways of the world.