The two most important activities of monks are praying together (The Liturgy of the Hours) and praying alone. Communal prayer along with Mass takes about two hours a day. A monk is to devote an hour a day to private prayer — reading the Bible, reflection on its meaning and personal prayer.
Beyond this prayer is the regular work that needs to be done to earn a living and maintain our life. The work we do is divided into two aspects: work at the abbey and work outside the abbey.
Work at the abbey:
Here at Assumption Abbey, monks work an average of six hours a day. Along with communal and private prayer (3 hours), meals and some time to socialize with each other, we have a full day.
Our work might be anything from business office accounting to operating the abbey ranch. We believe that sound spiritual living requires a balanced life. A monk who does not work lives an unhealthy spiritual life.
As a guide, the ancient Rule of St. Benedict tells monks, “if the circumstances of the abbey, or their poverty, should require that monks themselves to do the work of gathering the harvest, let them not be discontented; for they are true monks who live by the labor of their hands.”
The abbot assigns the work, balancing the needs of the abbey with the talents of the individual monk. Sometimes these dovetail nicely. More often, generosity and fortitude on the part of the monk is required for necessary tasks to be done. Monastic life is fueled by charity, and nowhere can this be seen in more concrete fashion than in service to the community in work. For example, nobody is exempt from doing dishes or pots and pans. Humble tasks, such as cleaning bathrooms and washing floors, are done by all — priests and brothers, the elderly and the younger. Farm work requires muscle and many skills, and fortunately there are monks with both. Administration and business concerns require sharp minds and good judgment. Fostering vocations to monastic life, teaching and helping new members adjust to monastic life need training and skill. Planning for the future and doing all the things necessary to operate the abbey require knowledge and hard work.
In addition to the above mentioned things, here at the abbey monks tend gardens, mow lawns, shovel snow, trim trees, pick fruit in the orchard, keep bees, make soap, wash laundry, conduct tours, welcome guests and groups and see to their needs, answer phones, clean windows, bake bread, maintain cars and trucks, paint walls, maintain boilers and electricity, and do many, many other essential things. Most of the monks have multiple jobs. In fact, at Assumption Abbey, monks are so insistent upon doing their own work that there are very few employees on the payroll.
Work outside the abbey:
The second aspect of our work is work done outside the abbey. In brief these are employed as hospital chaplains, convent chaplains, teachers and pastors. At present, thirteen monks work outside the abbey. Assumption Abbey also has a satellite community in Bogotá, Colombia, where the monks maintain two schools.
PO Box A
Richardton, ND 58652-
What Do Monks
Do All Day