The Cistercian monk is a man who knows he is called to a life of prayer. Prayer takes various forms in his life. There is the so-called prayer of the Divine Office or Liturgy of the Hours. It is the great prayer of the Church which the monastic community celebrates, from Vigils in the heart of the night until Compline before retiring for the evening.
Besides, in the morning and in the evening, with the Major Hours of Lauds and Vespers, monks join the prayer of the Church, the people of God called to praise and supplication.
Monks also celebrate the Little Hours (Terce, Sext, None) which express how much all of life is imbued with prayer.
Finally, all brothers are assembled in the choir for the Eucharist which is the heart of the monastic day, the source and the culmination of all the life of the Church, of the Work of God.
Each monk also devotes time during the day to personal prayer often called orison. It is definitely a deep and intimate experience, giving oneself up into the Father’s hands, intimacy with the Lord Jesus, a smooth and peaceful submission to the Holy Spirit. It is up to each monk to let himself be led into that prayer to which he is called through his baptism.
In his continuous search of God, the monk also goes to the scriptorium for Lectio Divina, where he is supported by the silent presence of his brothers. It is first and foremost a spiritual meditative reading of the Word of God written in the Bible and also of the words of men and women who have brought it within our reach, the Doctors of the Church and of the monastic tradition, past and present.
All of that naturally leads the monk to live his days in what the elders called « continuous prayer » which is usually a jaculatory prayer springing forth spontaneously as a cry of love :
- Jesus, have mercy on me !
- Glory to you, O Lord !
The fruit of those various forms of prayer is to lead the monk, little by little, into inner silence where words are no longer needed: there is only the whisper of the Spirit in the heart of the monk in whom the Holy Spirit dwells.