Monastic Work: The 'Labora' of the Nuns

So what do you do all day? Pray?

We often hear this question.  It's a very sensible guess: as contemplative nuns, our main work is prayer.  As Benedictines, our goal is to live up to the New Testament exhortation to "Pray without ceasing" (1 Thessalonians 5:17).  However, St. Benedict was wise enough to know that people who imagine they are praying just because they are doing nothing else are usually deceiving themselves pretty significantly.  One of the ways his Rule provides for the balanced life necessary for mental, spiritual and physical health was to make sure that our day includes a fair amount of labor, whether manual or intellectual or both.  Benedictines are supposed to earn our own living insofar as that is possible.  While we would be hard pressed to survive without the generous help of our many friends and well-wishers, we do seek to provide for our ordinary needs as best we can.  Unlike religious communities founded for specific works of service, we do whatever sort of work our circumstances permit in order to support our work of prayer.  At present, here are some of the things we do.

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Like everyone else, we do all the sorts of work required to keep house for our "family" of twenty or so nuns:  cooking, cleaning, laundry, grocery shopping, gardening, getting the cars serviced. maintaining the buildings and grounds, maintaining a growing library for the community (Benedictines love to read and study), answering the phone and the door, and doing the bookkeeping.

Formation and Education

We provide an education in monastic living for our new members as part of their formation, or preparation for vows.  Formal classes include courses on the Rule of St. Benedict, scripture as prayer, liturgy, music (especially Gregorian chant), liturgical Latin, and sometimes other subjects as well. 

Hospitality

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Hospitality is a central feature of Benedictine life.  We welcome all visitors who wish to join us in our life of prayer.  The public is welcome to participate in any of the services celebrated in the Abbey Church. 

In addition, we offer facilities for individuals and groups who wish to take advantage of the quiet beauty of our valley.  Our retreat house, now open on a limited basis until we can raise the funds to complete our building, has been our main work for many years.

 

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Our pioneer Sisters started with a farm -- and we still follow in their footsteps.  We run a small herd of beef cattle for the table and for sale.  Our irrigated pastureland provides good hay.  We also have llamas, who protect the herd from predators.  (Ever seen a llama chase a mountain lion out of the field?  Awesome!) And we have the usual assortment of chickens, pigs, dogs, and countless barn cats to help out. Before you ask:  the nuns do the farm work, with occasional help from neighbors and friends.

Heads and Hands at Work: New Styles

We'll try almost anything, to make the best use of community gifts and opportunities. 

Currently, we run a small altar bread distributing business, selling hosts made by another contemplative community, the Benedictine Sisters of Perpetual Adoration in Clyde, MO.  We now have put this business online.

We also operate a gift shop, which sells religious books and religious articles, cards and small craft items made by the nuns. Drop in and see us!