We laugh at the frequency with which we are asked, "What do you do all day?" My own mother wonders why we have 'retreat days' each month, a ten-day personal retreat and ten-day community retreat each year. After all, aren't contemplative nuns in retreat every day? All we can say in answer to these questions is that regular days fly by and retreats become neccesities because our lives are filled with all the regular, tedious and energy demanding tasks of everyday life.
Here is our Regular Daily Schedule:
7:00am - Office of Readings and Morning Prayer
7:30am - Breakfast (make your own)
8:30am - Gospel Sharing (brief sharing on the Gospel of the day) or Work Assignment
9:00am - Work Assignment (sewing, book-keeping, cleaning, cooking, hospitality, administrative tasks, shopping, answering the door and phone, etc., etc.)
11:40am - Midday Office
12 noon - Dinner (prepared by us or by our cook)
12:30pm - Free Recreation
1:30 - 3:30pm - Little Silence (time for rest, prayer, spiritual reading)
3:30pm - Work Assignment
4:30pm - Prepare for Mass
5:00pm - Mass
6:00pm - Office of Vespers
6:15pm - Supper (a 'pick-up' meal in which we enjoy all the leftovers or make our own)
7:00pm - Free Recreation (watch the news, check e-mail, read the paper, etc., etc.)
8:15pm - Office of Compline (Night Prayer)
9:00pm - The Great SilenceThat is the 'regular' schedule. But normal life - interruptions, visitors, special occasions, visits to the doctor, etc.) provide many variations on the theme. These variations require flexibility and maturity in the vocation in order that prayer remain our focus. Each sister is committed to a minimum of one and half hours of personal prayer a day in addition to the usual communal prayer times. She is also committed to a minimum of half an hour of spiritual reading each day. The challenges provided by circumstance require personal ingenuity and discipline in pursuit of the spiritual life.
Visitors to our monastery invariably comment on the silence and peace they find here. We may be busy but we manage to maintain that atmosphere by respecting each other's need for silence and solitude; by praying the Offices with ease of pace in a contemplative manner; and trying, at all times, to live out a paramount value expressed in our Rule, "charity and union of hearts."