All of monastic life is a liturgy, but the liturgical offices mark the day by seven particularly intense moments: five are celebrated in the solitude of the hermitage and two in the monastery church.
The monks and monastic sisters celebrate the OFFICE OF WATCHING when they arise, in the silence and solitude of the hermitage in order to keep vigil in watching for the return of the Bridegroom who comes in the middle of the night. It is a time of intercession for all those who are prey to the night of doubt, suffering, error, sin and unbelief.
In the monastery church, the monks and monastic sisters gather for the office of MATINS, which is followed by LAUDS, to sing to the true Dawn, “the Light of the east,” Christ, the Orient of orients. By Him, the Church is illuminated by the Light without setting. This is the principal office of the day. It includes a long period of psalmody and also biblical and patristic readings. The canticles of the Old and New Testaments, prolonged by the troparia of the Canon of Odes, are, like the psalms, the response of the Bride to the Bridegroom.
At 9 A.M., in the solitude of the cell, the monks and monastic sisters celebrate the office of TERCE which commemorates the completion of the paschal mystery by the effusion of the Fire of the Holy Spirit.
At noon, the hour of SEXT is celebrated. In the solitude of the hermitage, the monks and monastic sisters contemplate Christ nailed to the Cross.
At 3 P.M., the hour of NONE is celebrated. In the oratory of the cell or of the workshop, the monks and monastic sisters commemorate Jesus’ death of Love on the Cross.
At VESPERS, the community gathers in the monastery church in order to praise God for his creation. In the depths of the night of sinful man, the community welcomes with joy the appearance of the risen Christ who is the “Joyful Light of the holy Glory of the Father.” The Gospel of the day is proclaimed.
The office of COMPLINE, always celebrated in the cell, is the final liturgical act of the day. Before going to bed, the monks and monastic sisters commit their spirit into the hands of the Father, beseeching Christ to guard their hearts during the watches of the night.
The EUCHARIST is the summit of the liturgical day and of fraternal life. It is the daily offering to the Father of the sacrifice of Jesus for all of humanity. It is usually celebrated at the end of Matins or Vespers.
In our monastic Family, the different liturgical offices draw their inspiration from the liturgy of the east, while the Mass is of the Latin rite. These celebrations are colored by the particular liturgical periods of the year, feasts and by the memorials of the saints.
THE FEASTS OF THE LITURGICAL YEAR
The liturgy (the word means the work of the people) is the filial and loving response of men and women to God’s plan of Love for his creatures. Since the Incarnation of the Son of God in Jesus of Nazareth, who perfectly adored the Father, every human being can — by Him, with Him and in Him — address the Father with complete trust.
The liturgy of our monasteries is drawn from the churches of the east and west. The liturgical year unfolds the Mystery of Christ, following two lines which repeatedly intersect:
one is the great cycle of the Nativity, the Manifestation of God made man and of the Passover of the Redeemer, which is completed by the gift of the Spirit and the birth of the Church at Pentecost.
the other is that of the periodic feasts, when the Church celebrates and contemplates a particular Mystery of the life of the Redeemer or of the work of grace in the great saints.
During the course of each liturgical celebration, the Holy Spirit silently intensifies, in the hearts of those who are present, the Fire of Love, which He is in plenitude. To those who invoke Him, He lavishes his gifts, in order to hasten the coming of the Kingdom of God. For those who celebrate the Liturgy with faith and in communion with the Church of heaven and of earth, it is a call to pass from their own life to the life of Christ, and to be “transformed into his likeness from one degree of glory to another” 2 Co 3:18. That is why, when Christians are present at the Mass, which is the culmination of the Liturgy, they are called to pass from death to Life, from lies to the Truth, from discord to Love and from darkness to the Light — which is the Person of Christ.
Easter is the Feast of feasts, which celebrates in advance the deification of every person who believes in Jesus and who unites his will to the Father’s will. In Jesus, having passed from this world to the Father, we enter into the “Eighth Day,” the new and eternal Day of the risen Christ. It is with the Virgin Mary, the Mother of Jesus and his first disciple, that the Church celebrates this Mystery. Day after day, the Virgin Mary brings to birth in the true Life as expressed by the Gospel those who, with Saint John at the foot of the Cross, receive her as Mother.