Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Monastic life

Taken from "A Day in the Life of a Catholic Monk"


For most people, the only monks they come across are in Brother Cadfael or The Name of the Rose. It often comes as a surprise to learn that they are also real people. There are still monasteries of monks and nuns in England, most of them belonging to the Roman Catholic Church, all of them witnessing to God by their life of prayer and by a rich variety of works including teaching, running parishes, giving retreats, creating beautiful objects like stained glass and ceramics, and inspiring others with uplifting music and worship. Unlike missionaries and friars, who travel about quite a lot in the course of their work, monks tend to stay put in one place, so that the monastery which they make their home becomes a focus for the prayer life of the local community and a stable point in a rapidly changing world.

During Mass, The whole community is gathered together for the celebration of the eucharist, in which we remember the saving sacrifice of Christ, and renew the offering of ourselves to God. Afterwards, the monks go about their different jobs, whether it be teaching in the school, looking after a local parish, or dealing with visitors. In the middle of our working day, we pause to remember that it is God who gives value to our work and sustains us in our labours. This is followed by lunch. We begin by singing grace together; then, as we eat in silence, one of the brethren reads to us an extract which the Abbot has chosen: it might be an academic article from a journal, or a sermon or lecture. At the end of the day is Compline. It is the last part of the Divine Office, which we sing by heart in the darkened Church. Afterwards, there is silence in the monastery until breakfast the next morning. Some monks will go to bed soon afterwards; for others there is still work to be done: the school will not quieten down until 11.30 p.m. I tend to get to bed around 10.00 p.m.



Hm. With just a little editing...

For most people, the only graduate students they come across are in The Paper Chase. It often comes as a surprise to learn that they are also real people. There are still graduate schools of monks and nuns in England, most of them belonging to the state, all of them witnessing to NSF by their life of research and by a rich variety of works including teaching, running demos, giving retreats, creating beautiful objects like posters, and boring others with boring papers. Unlike professors, who travel about quite a lot in the course of their work, graduate students tend to stay put in one place, so that the graduate school which they make their home becomes a focus for the academic life of the local community and a stable point in a rapidly changing world.

During the research group meeting, The whole group is gathered together for the celebration of the advisor, in which we remember the saving sacrifice of funding, and renew the offering of ourselves to our advisor. Afterwards, the graduate students go about their different jobs, whether it be teaching in the school, looking after an undergrad, or dealing with visitors. In the middle of our working day, we pause to remember that it is our advisor who gives value to our work and sustains us in our labours. This is followed by lunch. We begin by singing grace together; then, as we eat in silence, we read: one of the brethren reads to us an extract which the Abbot has chosen: it might be an academic article from a journal, or an e-mail. At the end of the day is finally getting to work on research. It is the last part of the Divine Office, which we sing by heart in the darkened Church. Afterwards, there is silence in the office until breakfast the next morning. Some graduate students will go to bed soon afterwards; for others there is still work to be done: the school will not quieten down until 4:00 a.m. I tend to get to bed around 1 a.m.


The lesson: Monks get more sleep than I do. Maybe I should be a monk.

3 comments:

blithering moron said...

lol... awesome.

Blogel said...

ha ha!!
cool post in a novel way!

awu said...

Hi...

I pretty much decided where to go to grad school, and I'm really sorry that you may not be enjoying where you are.

I had a pretty interesting experience in my travels to these schools -- I'll probably get to tell you more in person some day -- but I do hope you find your calling in a way where you can not only do great research (if that's what makes sense for you) but also work towards something greater and more meaningful for you and the rest of the world that would benefit from your happiness.