“Work, especially manual work, has always enjoyed special esteem in the Cistercian tradition since it gives the nuns the opportunity of sharing in the divine work of creation and restoration, and of following in the footsteps of Jesus Christ. This hard and redeeming work is a means of providing a livelihood for the sisters and or other people, especially the poor. It expresses solidarity with all workers. Moreover work is an occasion for a fruitful asceticism that fosters personal development and maturity. It promotes health of mind and body and contributes greatly to the unity of the whole community” -OCSO Constitution 26
The sisters are engaged in work for at least four and usually not more than six hours a day. In the Rule of St Benedict there is no sharp delineation between work and the inner spiritual quest. It is all part of the whole. For St Benedict work is not in opposition to, or competition with, either the Divine Office or Lectio, and work is always directed towards service in the community.
All share in the onerous work of the community so that it does not fall on a few stronger and more willing members of the community. When everyone gives a hand the work is lighter and manageable and when everyone contributes there is a sense of fairness and unity in the community, though, we always allow for those who, at times, cannot contribute physically to the demands of work.
Pope Francis in Laudato Si writes: “We are called to include in our work a dimension of receptivity and gratuity, which is quite different from mere inactivity. Rather, it is another way of working, which forms part of our very essence. It protects human action from becoming empty activism; it also prevents that unfettered greed and sense of isolation which make us seek personal gain to the detriment of all else.”
Besides the running of the Eucharist bread department, the card department, guesthouse and farm, our sisters cook, clean, care for the older sisters, do the laundry, iron, mend and make clothes, repair our books, make candles and prepare the floral arrangements for the church, cut grass, keep the monastery looking attractive and all in a spirit of joy and service!