Holidays and Holy Days

This past week showcased one of the contrasts of monastic life here at New Melleray.  In addition to doing manual labor on Saturdays we also work through most national holidays.  The only exceptions are the 4th of July and Thanksgiving*. (And Thanksgiving can be understood as a religious holiday as Fr. Mark pointed out in his homily last year!) We do however, “keep holy” the solemnities of the Church calendar treating them as we do a Sunday. Liturgically we observe solemnities through all hours of the office from Vigils to Compline. If the solemnity does not fall on a Sunday we have the “option” of manual labor at our personal discretion but many of us choose to spend extra time in lectio divina and prayer as on a Sunday. And so, this past week found us doing manual labor on Monday’s Memorial Day national holiday but observing a holy day on Friday for the Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus.

*Keeping in mind that Christmas Day is the Solemnity of the Nativity of the Lord and New Year’s Day is the Solemnity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Mother of God.

from The Rule of Saint Benedict: Chapter 48. The Daily Manual Labor

On Sunday all are to be engaged in reading except those who have been assigned various duties. If anyone … is unwilling or unable to study or to read, he is to be given some work in order that he may not be idle.