A holistic life
In the daily routine of the monasteries I recognized another fundamental aspect: The monks and nuns live a holistic life. Of course, each and every community emphasizes a particular aspect or activity of religious life. But there was never the feeling of anything missing. They have everything they need. Together the various tasks and duties of every single day form a total work of art, like mosaic. There is no time for boredom. Of course, prayer takes up a large part of the day: eight times a day, the monks gather in the church choir to pray the Divine Office.
Furthermore they celebrate Holy Mass and pray the rosary. The liturgy forms the framework of the day, the gaps are filled with everything else: Physical work in workshops, on construction sites or in the field. Art and singing. Teaching novices or students. Pastoral care and apostolate. Last, but not least their one study of faith. Nevertheless there is enough time for recreation, which one can spend in the nearby nature.
The salt of the earth
A regular visitor does not get an insight into every single part of the day respectively of the monastery. However, if one considers a vocation, he can stay longer and experience everyday life in the monastery. Visitors quickly realize that if religious life is cultivated traditionally and seriously, there are not many possibilities for the worldly spirit to enter. In fact, a day in a monastery is designed very precisely and specifically to sanctify the religious and their environment. Christ’s statements about the “salt of the earth” and the “light of the world” (Matthew 5: 13–14) came to my mind over and over.
A missionary drive
As we passed another door on the winding upper floor, I had to duck slightly. We first entered the large library, where a Capuchin was already browsing through a few books and making notes. Next we went to the classrooms of the novices. Père Michel-Marie hurried to show me the Couvent Saint-François. The time of recreation after lunch was only 30 minutes. After that there would be another 30 minutes of silence before the various works were resumed. With bright eyes the priest told me about the daily routine of his order and its many missionary activities.
He and other young Capuchins were dreaming of spending a few days in the streets of the Banlieue in Paris. There they want to do missionary work. So far they were already going to truck stops to talk to the drivers about the faith. We went on and walked to the workshops, afterwards to the church. In the choir, the monk turned towards the altar, went down on his knees and kissed the floor, as all Capuchins did when entering the church. Shortly afterwards the bell rang. With a friendly smile through his large beard the priest said goodbye. The convent fell silent.