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Partners in Prayer

by Br. Alban Petesch, OSB
What makes a man a Benedictine monk? This question, despite its apparent simplicity, has been contested down the ages and is far from easy to answer or explain. There are a number of criteria a man must meet in order to be a monk: he must be Catholic, he must be celibate and chaste, he must promise to obey the will of another, he must live in or belong to a community for life. Above all, though, he must be a seeker after God; he must become a man of prayer. Yet in some ways every Christian is called to live these same values. We are all called to live in a chaste way: faithful to a marriage, striving for decency and integrity in whatever state we live. We all must obey someone: throughout life there are levels of obedience owed to others and to institutions, but ultimately the Christian strives to obey the will of God. We are all called to some form of community: each of us belongs to the human family, we have nuclear families and extended families, we are members of churches and organizations. And, finally, each and every Christian is called to live as a seeker of God, a person of prayer. The monk just lives each of these values in a different way and, perhaps some of them, with a bit more intensity than others are able to according to their state in life.  To seek God is to pray. All Christians are called upon to pray, but the monk does this in a different manner. A large part of this prayer is in common; that means he prays with others at regular times and in a set manner, with a special emphasis on the psalms. This prayer is called the Liturgy of the Hours or the Divine Office. Diocesan priests and other religious pray in this manner as well, but they don’t have to or can’t always pray in common. The monk’s life is built around and centered on this prayer. All work, leisure and other activities are scheduled or arranged according to the times when the monks gather for prayer. Here at Assumption Abbey we pray in the morning, at noon and in the evening. These are non-negotiables in our day.  What exactly is this Liturgy of the Hours, this prayer that monks are devoted to? From ancient times, borrowing from their Hebrew ancestors, Christians have sanctified the day from its beginning to end with prayer. Jesus himself prayed this way, and so down through the ages the faithful have continued to hallow the day with special “hours” dedicated to prayer. Throughout the day, then, the monk turns to God in praise, thanksgiving, adoration and intercession. The community arranges its day around our common time of prayer. Prayer is more powerful and effective for the individuals and the group if all are present and actively participating. This “common” element of our prayer is about the individual monks in community and their functioning together as a whole. We are stronger together than when we are standing alone. If one of us is tired or ill, the rest of us help to support him in his prayer. If my performance today is rather sluggish and my heart and mind are elsewhere, my brother’s zeal may enthuse and edify me. There is also the fact that this collective little body of monks in North Dakota is the Church at prayer, and I mean the whole Church universal at prayer. We not only represent the Church standing before the throne of God in praise and worship, we are praying with the Body of Christ and for the world.  So, what is all of this leading to? We are so often helped by the generosity, kindness and support of others. We are continually edified by the holiness, good-will and faithfulness of friends, guests and visitors. We would like to do our little part to help other Christians in their pursuit of holiness. As mentioned at the outset, if the monk’s vocation is not radically different than that of any Christian believer, and if the Divine Office is the prayer of the Church, we would like to share with you a shortened form of what we pray in common every day, three times a day. For the third year we are offering our Partners in Prayer program to you, our friends. Many of those who have availed themselves of this opportunity attest to its value and significance in their life of prayer. What we offer is three installments—Advent-Christmas, Lent-Easter, and Ordinary Time—of prayer for morning and evening. This prayer is based on the Divine Office with a brief hymn text, a psalm, a short scripture reading and concluding prayers. This “prayer book” comes to you free of charge. All you have to do is fill in the enclosed card and return it to us. In late November, just prior to the season of Advent, you will receive your packet of materials. If you have subscribed to this program in previous years, we ask you to fill out the card and return it to us; you will not automatically be renewed. If you have subscribed in the past and no longer wish to receive these materials, that is fine. This prayer may not be for everyone. As Christians, as seekers after God and people of prayer, we can help and support one another, for we are all in this together, we are Partners in Prayer.
Spiritual Reflections Spiritual Reflections

Partners in Prayer

by Br. Alban Petesch, OSB
What makes a man a Benedictine monk? This question, despite its apparent simplicity, has been contested down the ages and is far from easy to answer or explain. There are a number of criteria a man must meet in order to be a monk: he must be Catholic, he must be celibate and chaste, he must promise to obey the will of another, he must live in or belong to a community for life. Above all, though, he must be a seeker after God; he must become a man of prayer. Yet in some ways every Christian is called to live these same values. We are all called to live in a chaste way: faithful to a marriage, striving for decency and integrity in whatever state we live. We all must obey someone: throughout life there are levels of obedience owed to others and to institutions, but ultimately the Christian strives to obey the will of God. We are all called to some form of community: each of us belongs to the human family, we have nuclear families and extended families, we are members of churches and organizations. And, finally, each and every Christian is called to live as a seeker of God, a person of prayer. The monk just lives each of these values in a different way and, perhaps some of them, with a bit more intensity than others are able to according to their state in life.  To seek God is to pray. All Christians are called upon to pray, but the monk does this in a different manner. A large part of this prayer is in common; that means he prays with others at regular times and in a set manner, with a special emphasis on the psalms. This prayer is called the Liturgy of the Hours or the Divine Office. Diocesan priests and other religious pray in this manner as well, but they don’t have to or can’t always pray in common. The monk’s life is built around and centered on this prayer. All work, leisure and other activities are scheduled or arranged according to the times when the monks gather for prayer. Here at Assumption Abbey we pray in the morning, at noon and in the evening. These are non- negotiables in our day.  What exactly is this Liturgy of the Hours, this prayer that monks are devoted to? From ancient times, borrowing from their Hebrew ancestors, Christians have sanctified the day from its beginning to end with prayer. Jesus himself prayed this way, and so down through the ages the faithful have continued to hallow the day with special “hours” dedicated to prayer. Throughout the day, then, the monk turns to God in praise, thanksgiving, adoration and intercession. The community arranges its day around our common time of prayer. Prayer is more powerful and effective for the individuals and the group if all are present and actively participating. This “common” element of our prayer is about the individual monks in community and their functioning together as a whole. We are stronger together than when we are standing alone. If one of us is tired or ill, the rest of us help to support him in his prayer. If my performance today is rather sluggish and my heart and mind are elsewhere, my brother’s zeal may enthuse and edify me. There is also the fact that this collective little body of monks in North Dakota is the Church at prayer, and I mean the whole Church universal at prayer. We not only represent the Church standing before the throne of God in praise and worship, we are praying with the Body of Christ and for the world.  So, what is all of this leading to? We are so often helped by the generosity, kindness and support of others. We are continually edified by the holiness, good-will and faithfulness of friends, guests and visitors. We would like to do our little part to help other Christians in their pursuit of holiness. As mentioned at the outset, if the monk’s vocation is not radically different than that of any Christian believer, and if the Divine Office is the prayer of the Church, we would like to share with you a shortened form of what we pray in common every day, three times a day. For the third year we are offering our Partners in Prayer program to you, our friends. Many of those who have availed themselves of this opportunity attest to its value and significance in their life of prayer. What we offer is three installments—Advent-Christmas, Lent- Easter, and Ordinary Time—of prayer for morning and evening. This prayer is based on the Divine Office with a brief hymn text, a psalm, a short scripture reading and concluding prayers. This “prayer book” comes to you free of charge. All you have to do is fill in the enclosed card and return it to us. In late November, just prior to the season of Advent, you will receive your packet of materials. If you have subscribed to this program in previous years, we ask you to fill out the card and return it to us; you will not automatically be renewed. If you have subscribed in the past and no longer wish to receive these materials, that is fine. This prayer may not be for everyone. As Christians, as seekers after God and people of prayer, we can help and support one another, for we are all in this together, we are Partners in Prayer.
Spiritual Reflections Spiritual Reflections
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Phone (701) 974 3315 Address PO Box A Richardton, ND 58601