Monks seek God and respond to Him through prayer. Prayer makes the monk aware that God is not only found within ourselves, but also in our daily encounters with others. As men of faith, we recognize the mystery of Christ’s coming; and through our monastic prayer, we welcome Him into our lives.
Our prayer life expresses itself most explicitly in community prayer: what Saint Benedict calls the “Work of God” (opus Dei). We unify all aspects of our daily lives in a humble response to God at morning prayer, midday prayer, Eucharist, and evening prayer. This prayer is filled with praise, adoration, and thanksgiving to God, celebrating the mysteries of His wondrous deeds in Christ Jesus. Communal prayer serves as a springboard for our individual, private prayer. Traditionally, monastic prayer has always been rooted in the Psalms.
It is in community that we express our consciousness of being God’s creatures called to the glorious destiny of the Kingdom. At the Eucharist, our community celebrates the deepest dimensions of its existence and purpose, while confessing and experiencing the mystery of faith and hope in Christ.
Our lives are stamped with the mark of pilgrims. We know that at times our prayer will be distracted, but, nonetheless, we continue to “put on the new man,” longing to bring the whole world to Christ’s life and service. We realize that our prayer is not simply a matter of praying from time to time, alternating with other activities, but rather a matter of directing our whole lives to this end. By our presence at public prayer and our attention to our individual prayer lives, we remind one another of what God has done, proclaim what He is doing, and announce what He will accomplish in the future.
In step with today’s profoundly human and radically Christian concerns, the monk takes up his daily work: tasks full of hope and promise, service to his brothers in community, and to the Church and the world at large. A monastic community is not, by its nature, bound to specific endeavors. However, work has always been essential to the lives of monks.
The Rule of Benedict reminds us that our work is not a career or profession but a holy service. Work forms an integral part of our lives. In it, we praise God, help bring creation to completion, and support our community and the needy.
The apostolate of education has for centuries been one principal work of Benedictine communities. Continuing this tradition, the monks of Saint Martin’s Abbey, together with their lay colleagues, are involved in a wide variety of work in Saint Martin’s University, serving as administrators, teachers, auxiliary personnel, and counselors. Monks are also actively engaged in pastoral work in archdiocesan parishes and hospitals, where they celebrate the sacraments, preach, and organize and conduct parish activities.