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Pray with Monks


Abbey Mass & Prayer Times


Benedictine Prayer, Purpose, History

The monks' prayer is the prayer of the entire Catholic church. Somewhere in the world Benedictine monks are always praying the divine office. It is the Work of God.

The prayers of today's Benedictine monks trace their origins to the Jewish temple prayers at Jerusalem many centuries before Christ's incarnation.

We Pray with the Monks

On Oblate Sundays we pray with the monks at midday prayers. You can pray with the monks anytime you visit.

During the annual oblate-program retreat we get to pray with the monks throughout the retreat. It is close to heaven.

When we pray with the monks, either as part of an Oblate group or on your own, you join your singing and reading of the Psalms to those ancient traditions.

Monks like people to join them at prayer and generally a monk is available to help set up the books. However, you can download the free ibreviary to your phone or tablet and use that.

For Oblate-program retreat the abbey generally provides booklets for all guests.

With prayer books in hand, sometimes people think monastery singing is like parish singing. It is not.

Everything at the abbey is different. Praying different is too.

Monastery reading is not like reading in a parish.

Words are read slowly in a monastery to allow time to gain stillness. There are pauses at the end of each line for the heart to hear.

At a monastery we seek silence — the time between speaking is a time to listen to God. It is the rest between words that is just as important as the words you are speaking.


How to pray with the monks like a monk

1. Softly.

2. Slowly.

3. Pause at the end of each line. The pause is long enough to think in your heart, “Seek God in silence.”

4. Tip: One way to join the peace of the monks’ chanting is to just listen and watch the first several times you come for the daily prayers at Saint Leo Abbey. Singing the psalms dates back perhaps 3,300 years to the time of Moses. You are seeing one of the most ancient daily religious practices.

5. If there's a schola in the center. Sometimes when the monks are in the two choir stalls, there will be two monks in the center between the choir stalls. These two monks are called the schola (small group of monk signers compared to the full choir of monks). In those situations you will follow the majority of the monks as part of the full choir, regardless of which side of the church you are on.

6. Schola and other monks in center. When all the monks are in a circle in the center between the choir stalls and you hear two monks signing (the schola), wait until the majority of the monks begin to chant, then join in, you sing with the full choir.

7. At noon a single choir. At noon prayers all the monks form one choir in the center between the two choir stalls. There is no schola. All the monks chant together as a single choir. You sing with all the monks.


When someone asks how monks and Oblates pray — you will know:

It is slowly, quietly, with a pause at the end of each line. Benedictine prayers follow an ancient form.

Monks face each other to remind themselves to see Christ in their brother monks.

They sing with one voice, una voce. They chant quietly enough to hear the voice of their brothers beside them.