Learning from monks

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Recently, I spent a few days at Mount Saviour Monastery and it was an incredible time of reflection, prayer, and spiritual enrichment. I also instituted a social media blackout. I must admit, I didn’t know what to expect. My friend and follow pastor David Bennett invited me to come.

In seminary I studied the monastic life and learned of the rich tradition in spiritual community. I was surprised with how God spoke to me and how I connected to a deeper prayer life. The monks pray based on St. Benedict’s monastic order and the Liturgy of the Hours:

  • 4:45 am: Vigils
  • 7:00 am: Lauds
  • 9:00 am: Mass
  • 12:00 pm: Sext
  • 3:00 pm: None
  • 6:30 pm :Vespers
  • 8:15 pm : Compline

I wish I could say I was up at 4:45 a.m. but I was at Lauds every morning. The rhythm of the prayers is worshipful and reflective. The monks lead in singing hymns, psalms, prayer, and responsive liturgy. I was amazed how the song and prayer centered me. I can’t say that I came away from the experience with a profound insight in to God but did receive peace. Eating meals in silence help further the sense of listening rather than speaking. Humility of the monastic life requires one to listen instead of being quick to speak.

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The monks tend to sheep, the farm, serve meals, and keep the property running. Mount Saviour Monastery is a place that houses a small group of monks and priests. There were some visiting Catholic deacons on retreat. In addition, there were visitors for the day.

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Our accommodations were basic. A 10 x 6 foot room with a bed, desk, and window. Such simple rooming reminds you that basic comforts is all one needs to live a life of prayer. And like living in a dorm room in college, I didn’t make my bed for this shot.

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The experience was an examination of how the monastic life is not a crazy way to live. Perhaps we live the crazy life: weighted down many possessions, worry, fear, and the general rat race of our culture. Living a life of prayer and worship is so freeing. We continuously consume social media, entertainment, and news. We have to take Sabbath and get away from those things in order to focus on “God things”.

Alan Rudnick

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Alan Rudnick has been featured on television, radio, print, and social media and serves as the Pastor of the First Baptist Church of Ballston Spa, NY. He has quickly established himself as a leader, blogger, and commentator in the areas of faith, Christianity, ministry, and social media. He is the author of, “The Work of the Associate Pastor”, Judson Press. Alan’s writing has been featured with the Albany Times Union, The Christian Century, Associated Baptist Press, and The Fund of Theological Education. http://alanrudnick.org

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