So, what do you do all day?

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February Daffodils 2009.JPG

Daffodils Blooming Under the Chapel Window

Some folks do wonder what I do all day. This week I am especially blessed to have two priests staying with me here in the Cenacle to make a retreat. It is a very much a participatory retreat for them: one of the priests, Father M., has been doing the cooking, a task made simpler by the homemade meals that some women of the diocese have been kind enough to prepare. Both priests follow the whole monastic day and, if I am called away to hear a confession or meet with someone, they carry on valiantly.

Here is the horarium as it stands:

5:00 a.m. Rise, Coffee.

Why coffee before Vigils, you ask? I use the distribution of the Psalter (150 psalms in one week) as given in the Rule of Saint Benedict. Vigils, with fourteen psalms, plus the hymn, readings and responsories on an ordinary day, last for an hour. Usually I am alone for Vigils. A hot cup of coffee improves my actuosa participatio!

5:45 Exposition, Vigils, Angelus

First there is a little antiphon to Our Lady, a reminder of the Office of the Blessed Virgin that at Cluny and Cîteaux used to precede the great Night Office. And yes, the day begins, while it is still dark, in the radiance of the Eucharistic Face of Jesus. After exposing the Blessed Sacrament in the monstrance, I recite a short prayer of adoration and reparation on behalf of all my brother priests throughout the world, especially for those who are most in need of our Lord's presence, and of the healing and purity that flow from His wounded side in the Blood and in the Water. Then the Office begins: Domine, labia mea aperies.


Very, very simple. The monastic term is frustulum.

{ Lectio Divina

Readers of Vultus Christi know the explanation of lectio divina that I often give. It is the Word heard (lectio), the Word repeated (meditatio), the Word prayed (oratio), and the Word indwelling the heart (contemplatio).

7:30 Lauds

A glorious Hour as Saint Benedict laid it out: Psalm 66, Psalm 50 (the Miserere: compunction, spiritual resurrection, and praise), two morning psalms, a canticle from the Old Testament, the three Laudate Psalms (148, 149, 150) under one doxology. Then follows a short reading, responsory, hymn, and versicle that lead into the Benedictus, the Canticle of Zechariah with its own special antiphon. The Hour ends with a little Kyrie, eleison litany, the Our Father, the oration of the day, a commemoration of Our Lady, and the concluding verses. After the Office: an antiphon and prayer for priests, invoking the intercession of Saint Peter Julian Eymard, the model of priest-adorers.

{ Lectio Divina

9:00 Tierce and Holy Mass

Tierce recalls the descent of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. Thus, Holy Mass is offered under the fire of the Paraclete who descends in response to the prayer of the Church, with His seven gifts.

After Holy Mass -- celebrated in Latin apart from the readings -- there is work to be done. This is when I generally schedule appointments for the clergy who come for spiritual support.

12:30 p.m. Sext, Rosary, Angelus

This is the simple prayer that closes the first half the day. Refreshment and peace close to Our Blessed Lady, the Advocate of Priests, and Mediatrix of All Graces.

1:00 Dinner

For the retreat this week we are taking turns reading at table. The book is Partnership With Christ: A Cistercian Retreat by Dom Eugene Boylan, author of This Tremendous Lover. Both books are marvelous.

{ Rest

A very civilized thing to do. And I am 50% Italian.

3:00 None

The ninth hour recalls the death of Our Lord on the cross, and the openng of His Sacred Side by the soldier's lance. All the Hours, by the way, are sung from the Monastic Antiphonal, principally using Latin and only Gregorian Chant.

Then there is time for work again.

5:00 Exposition, Ave Maris Stella and Vespers

Eucharistic adoration again: "Stay with us, Lord, for it is evening." The Ave, Maris Stella is prayed for the spiritual needs of all priests. Vespers is structured like Lauds, except that there are four psalms and, in place of the Benedictus, there is is Our Lady's Canticle, the Magnificat. Adoration is prolonged for a full hour after Vespers.

6:30 Collation

A light supper, then clean-up.

8:45 Compline, Angelus

The end of the day . . . and to bed. There are always variations on this structure. It is flexible. It has to be. To use a certain language -- "souls" often come to the door or ring. They have to be received as Christ Himself. Then, there are a few outside commitments, all of them related in one way or another to the spiritual support of priests and to the sanctification of the clergy.


Thank you for this, Father. Most interesting. Hopefully, as the days and months go on my own Horarum will pan out! :D

Thank you Father, it is a grace and a privilege to know these details.


"{ Lectio Divina
Readers of Vultus Christi know the explanation of lectio divina that I often give.."

This is a hint that this is the time when the posts for Vultus Christi are written.

Thank you.

Thank you Father, it's a privilege to know.
Have a blessed Lent!

Given 13 additional inches of snow here in Canton MA today, that little flower of spring is encouraging indeed!
Your postings have been particularly inspired of late. Thank you!
Have a prayer-filled Lent.

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About Dom Mark

Dom Mark Daniel Kirby is Conventual Prior of Silverstream Priory in Stamullen, County Meath, Ireland. The ecclesial mandate of his Benedictine community is the adoration of the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar in a spirit of reparation, and in intercession for the sanctification of priests.

Donations for Silverstream Priory