Prayer provides the supporting structure on which the monastic day is built. The monk’s day begins and ends with prayer. Periodically throughout the day the monks are called back to chapel to reconnect with God and each other through the liturgy of the hours. The monk’s entire day is sanctified by this continual returning to chapel as a community for prayer that unites the community through praise, petition, intercession, and thanksgiving to God through the communal recitation of the psalms.
The Rule of St. Benedict prescribes that a certain amount of time each day also be dedicated to lectio divina, the prayerful reading of scripture. Each monk at Mt. Michael selects his own time to fulfill this duty. Lectio divina is a multistep practice that totally immerses the monk in the biblical world and helps the monk bring God’s living word into his own daily life. It begins with a slow and deliberate reading of a passage of scripture; during this reading the monk listens for a particular word or phrase that will resonate in his heart. The monk then takes that word and meditates on the many meanings that it can have in the biblical passage as well as the present day. After this thinking about the word, the monk rests in contemplation of God—the word having brought the monk into a conscious realization of being in the presence of God. Moving from this time of contemplation, the monk gives thanksgiving to God through a brief period of prayer and then moves back into the regular schedule of his day carrying the word with him as a reminder of God’s being with him always and everywhere. The practice of lectio helps the monk maintain a connection with God’s word as he moves through the day.
Each monk is also encouraged to maintain a personal regimen of private devotions and prayers. Many monks find the practice of praying the rosary to be a very helpful augmentation to their life of prayer. Others will spend time in Eucharistic Adoration, and others have found the practice of centering prayer to be very helpful in their daily life. The community also has certain communal prayers that are used for meals and other occasions throughout the day. Prayers for vocations to the monastery and other church ministries are also said by the community each week.
The church’s great prayer of the mass is essential to the community’s daily life of prayer. The monks celebrate a daily conventual mass in the mornings which, in the words of A Declaration on Benedictine Monastic Life for the Monasteries of the Swiss-American Benedictine Congregation, “celebrates the unity of the monks, sealed with one another in the Lord’s new covenant through passion, death, and resurrection.” (D38)