One of the first questions we are always asked is, 'What do you do all day?' Here, as far as timetable goes, is what a typical day looks like at the monastery. The timetable varies according to the season of the year as we always try to make the most of the daylight hours.
5.00 a.m. Get up, etc. Time for prayer and reading before the day's noise and busy-ness intrudes. (Some members of the community are up earlier but they have to be extra quiet.) Breakfast is usually eaten before or after Lauds.
6.00 a.m. Vigils, the first of the day's offices or services, a mixture of psalms and scriptures. A meditative start to the day.
7.15 a.m. Lauds or Morning Prayer, sung in English. Afterwards we each begin our work for the day, not forgetting the housework.
The time of Mass varies, according to whether it is being celebrated in our oratory or at Belmont Abbey or one of the local parishes. We love having Mass in the oratory, where we can use some of the traditional plainsong chants as well as more modern English settings. When we go to Belmont or one of the nearby parishes for Mass, there may be timetable adjustments, especially if Mass is in the evening.
12.00 Midday Prayer, sung in English.
12.30 Lunch, which is shared with guests and visitors. In summer we often eat in the garden which makes even the dullest meal festive.
After lunch there is some free time for writing, hobbies or one of those little jobs that is always waiting to be done.
2.30 p.m. Work begins again . . .
4.00 p.m. or thereabouts, being British, we generally have a cup of tea.
At some point in the afternoon or evening, each nun will make time for more prayer and reading. As a minimum, we are committed to two half hours of contemplative prayer every day (more on feast days) and at least half an hour of 'lectio divina' or prayerful reading. There are also opportunities for further study since as Benedictines we prize learning. In fact, the library was one of the first things we set about making. We also try to fit in a walk with Bro Dyfrig BFdeB, the monastery dog.
5.00 p.m. Vespers, sung in Latin, and followed by supper preparations.
6.45 p.m. Supper, the main meal of the day.
After supper, we try to keep the house quiet so that anyone who wishes can pray or read without being disturbed.
8.15 p.m. Compline or Night Prayer, sung in English. Afterwards comes the special time known as the Great Silence, lasting until Lauds next day, when no one speaks or makes any unnecessary noise. We are free to go to bed after Compline and Lights Out is at 11.00 p.m.
At given times . . . occupied in manual labour, . . . at other times in prayerful reading.