Monastic Living Today

Now the whole group of those who believed were of one heart and soul, and no one claimed private ownership of any possessions, but everything they owned was held in common.
Acts of the Apostles 4:32

The present-day Cistercian Community at Holy Cross Abbey seeks to live the Cistercian charism in the 21st Century. It is a life lived in community, a life of prayer, nurtured by daily manual work and lectio divina. Lectio divina is a meditative way of reading, listening to and pondering upon the word of God.

We live a life in common, nurtured by daily Mass and the Divine Office, receiving the grace to acknowledge our human frailty and the divine spark that is present in everyone.

The Community seeks to foster an atmosphere of tranquillity in the monastery, working at various tasks in a way that does not hinder this, but enables each member of the Community to make her individual journey to the Trinity in company with her sisters.

Speech is valued and dialogue developed as a way of promoting mutual understanding and sharing the fruits of the Spirit in joy, love, patience and kindness towards one another.

Seven times a day I praise you
Psalm 118 (119):164

Mass & Divine Office

Vigils - 4.00 am
Lauds - 7.00 am
Tierce - 7.40 am
MASS / Eucharistic Service - 8.00 am
Sext - 12.15 pm
None - 2.30 pm (14.30h)
Vespers - 5.00pm (17.00h)
Compline - 6.45 pm (18.45h)

Saturday same as weekdays except:
Mid-day Prayer (Sext & None) - 12.15 pm

Sunday same as weekdays except:
Tierce - 8.40 am
MASS - 9.00 am
Mid-day Prayer (Sext & None) - 12.15 pm
Vespers is followed by Benediction

Retreat Sunday:
1st Sunday of the month Exposition at 4.00pm (16.00h) followed by Vespers and Benediction

The Mass and the Divine Office, also known as the Liturgy of the Hours, follows the outline found in the Rule of St Benedict chapters 8 - 20, which lies at the heart of each day. As we participate in the Mass we enter ever more deeply into the redemptive mystery of Christ, a mystery in which we participate at the Divine Office. The purpose is to sanctify the day, to make it holy. Whatever the daily activities the sisters pray together in church.

Each Office has its own character but they all follow a similar pattern; hymn, psalms, scripture reading and prayers, the number of psalms allows all 150 to be said in one week. There are also times for personal prayer.


Is the night office, it is a time when we are most vulnerable and perhaps a little more open to God in our hearts. In the hours before dawn after praying Vigils together, we remain in silent prayer, praying for our world, for all in need, for all who ask our prayer and for ourselves.

Lauds & Vespers

Morning and Evening prayer are the main prayers of the day, at Lauds we pray the Benedictus, ‘Zechariah’s prophecy’ (Luke 1:68 - 79) and at Vespers the Magnificat ‘Mary’s Song of Praise’ (Luke 1:46 - 55). Lauds a time for praising God and Vespers for giving thanks. After Vespers we remain in church for silent prayer.

Tierce, Sext & None

These are the Little Hours as they are shorter times of prayer. Their names are derived from the time when the day was divided into twelve equal parts, so the third hour, sixth hour and the ninth hour. We break our daily work and return to church to pray together. This helps us to keep God in the centre of our life, to ask for his help to do his will and not our own.


Completes the day.

We have reading before Compline starts. The traditional Compline psalms are; 4, 90 (91), 133 (134), followed by the Nunc Dimittis the Song of Simeon (Luke 2:29 - 32) and the Salve Regina. As the last prayer of the day, we use candle light and minimal electric light in order to enhance the closing of the day. There is also a short quiet time where we can reflect on what went well and what didn’t go so well during the day.

After Compline it is the time of the Grand Silence which lasts until Lauds / Chapter the following day, which means there is no talking or noise except for the Divine Office.

Each monastery is under the patrimony of the Blessed Virgin Mary, each office has an antiphon to Mary and we pray the Angelus at the end of Vigils, Sext and Compline

A Typical Day

3.30am - Rise

4.00am - Vigils and personal prayer in church

5.00-7.00am - Lectio and breakfast

7.00am - Lauds

7.40am - Tierce followed by Mass and Chapter

9.30 – 12.00 - Work

12.15pm - Sext followed by Lunch and rest

2.30pm - None

3.45-4.15 - Work

4.15-4.45 - Reading

5pm - Vespers followed by personal prayer in church

5.45-6.15pm - Supper

6.45pm - Compline and retire