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Beginning with Evening Prayer on Friday, the monks were on a Day of Recollection in anticipation of the season of Advent.  A Day of Recollection is a day of silence and reflection where no speaking or common recreation is permitted.  Rather, the monks are encouraged to read, spend more time in prayer, and practice lectio divina.  Abbot Gregory gave us a brief conference after Compline on Friday and the Day of Recollection concluded with Evening Prayer on Saturday, which is Evening Prayer I of the First Sunday of Advent.

Advent is the liturgical season that is a time of expectant waiting and preparation for the celebration of Christ’s Coming at Christmas.  During Advent, we prepare ourselves and are watchful for the many and varied graces that may come our way.

You might be asking yourself:  Why do monks, who spend much of the day in prayer and who practice the discipline of silence, need a Day of Recollection?

Even monks need to become conscious and re-focused on the importance of what we do each and every day.  It is true that we have the privilege of coming together as a community five times a day to prayer the Divine Office and daily for Mass, but like any other person, we can become preoccupied with work and other responsibilities in a way that our time for personal prayer and desire for Christ is no longer our primary focus.  Monks, too, can get distracted from pursuing God with their whole heart.  All of us need to be reminded to “stir into flame the gift of God” that we have been given (2 Timothy 1:6).

May all of us, whatever our state of life, not shy away from silence in order to prepare our hearts for the Coming of Christ!

The weather on Saturday turned out to be absolutely beautiful, so many of the monks could be seen outside walking the grounds during their Day of Recollection.  I took a walk and brought my camera along to capture these shots.  Enjoy.