Solitude and Relationships in the Monastery

The Gospels tell us that when Jesus traveled from place to place with his disciples he often withdrew to solitary places to pray. Jesus’ practice of anachoresis, withdrawal, has always inspired monks, and it inspires us at New Melleray. We are cenobites, and we love the cenobitic features of our life: our daily Eucharist and Divine Office, our common work, our gathering together for the abbot’s teaching and for conferences, and the rich texture of friendship, fraternal cooperation, mutual challenge, and forgiveness the community offers us. But for us, the spiritual fruits of these activities are realized fully only in solitude. It is in solitude that the love, awe, and gratitude inspired by monastic life flows into the prayer of petition, supplication, thanksgiving, and adoration. In our experience, solitude is something like a fruitful womb where prayer is conceived and grows.