Saint Meinrad Seminary & School of Theology

Formation and Education for the Life of the Church

Monastic Time



At Saint Meinrad, we operate on Central Time, which is quite confusing because we are situated right on the time-zone border with Eastern Time. Guests frequently tell us that our clocks are an hour behind, or they are showing up to prayer an hour early.

There is a constant need to specify "their time" (Eastern) vs. "our time" (Central). What's even more confusing, there are two cell phone towers nearby, one on the Eastern side and one on Central, so, depending where you are on the Hill, your cell phone will show a different time altogether. When you throw in a time-change weekend, as in the end of Daylight Saving Time, all hell seems to break loose!

"Our time" in the monastery should operate much slower than "their time" in the world. I have heard guests remark that "time seems to stand still" while visiting the monastery. I certainly think that is the goal.

As a monastery, we should operate somewhere "in-between" time, that is, when we are immersed in our public liturgy in the church, that celebration is happening somewhere in between time, in between heaven and earth. Pope Benedict XVI speaks of this idea in his book The Spirit of the Liturgy, published before his papacy.

While our lives as monks are indeed busy, our goal is to use our time wisely, to have a full schedule but never let ourselves get overwhelmed. We must learn to strike a healthy balance between prayer and work, a balance that all of us as Christians are indeed called to.

Learning to use every minute we have been given. Learning to use this gift to love and praise God in our prayer and work is our true goal. As Michael Casey has remarked, we must become comfortable with "wasting time with God."

Are you a good steward of your time? Are you giving yourself enough time to pray and rest? You could have all the time in the world, if you would only give it to yourself. Fr. Hilary Ottensmeyer, a monk of our house, put it this way: "Unless you are convinced that prayer is the best use of your time, you will never find time to pray."

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Echoes from the Bell Tower is a blog devoted to observations on Christian faith, spirituality and everyday events, by authors with a connection to the Benedictine values found at Saint Meinrad Archabbey and its Seminary and School of Theology. Contributors include students, permanent deacons, Benedictine oblates and Saint Meinrad monks. Their stories, thoughts and ideas highlight the mission and vision that ring out from the bell towers on this Hill in southern Indiana.