I write these words in Huntsville, UT, at the Abbey of the Holy Trinity. This monastery is home to contemplative Cistercian Monks commonly known as Trappists. Sheri and I have come here on retreat, and thus we are now officially Retreatants.
Wow! Where do I begin? I have so much I want to say all at once …
I am sitting on the front row in the Church Sanctuary. I just finished eating dinner with the other male Retreatants, and evidently they all know each other and are from the same area of Idaho. It also seems that they are all recovering alcoholics, because the dominant topic of conversation at the dinner table was 12-step meetings. Obviously they don’t feel compelled to adhere to the credo of silence practiced by the Monks and expected of the Retreatants. Usually I would help clean up and set the table, but I came in here to get away from their conversation. And one of the primary reasons I came to this monastery was to experience silence.
Sheri and I went on retreat together back East at the Holy Cross Abbey in Berryville, VA. It was also a Cistercian monastery, but silence was expected there. I got shushed on our first day there by the Retreat Director because I was engaged in a little too much conversation. I learned my lesson.
Another difference here in Utah is the fact that I am allowed in the Retreat Center, but Sheri is not. Women are allowed in the Church for services, and also allowed in the gift shop, but the Retreat Center is for men only. Consequently, she will stay in the Guest House owned by the monastery, which is located about a mile down the road near the entrance to the monastery grounds. We decided that I would spend the night with her in the Guest House so that she would not be alone, but we will sleep in separate rooms so that each of us can have devotional time.
Enough about the differences between Holy Cross and this abbey, it is what it is here, and it will continue to be a blessing. This monastery is situated on over 1800 acres, and is ringed by mountains. Monks from Kentucky came here in the 40’s to purchase this land and establish this monastery.
The Monks here balance prayer, manual work, and spiritual study. Seven days a week, several times a day, they gather here in the Church Sanctuary to praise God and pray for all people.
3:30 A.M. Vigils – “Night Watch”
6:00 A.M. Lauds – “Morning Praise”
6:25 A.M. Mass
7:45 A.M. Tierce – 3rd Hour Prayers
12:15 P.M. Sext – Mid-day Prayers
2:15 P.M. None – 9th Hour Prayers
5:30 P.M. Vespers – “Evening Prayers”
7:30 P.M. Compline – “Final Prayers of the Day”