The changing seasons of the liturgical year have great power to nourish and enrich the contemplative life of the sisters. They provide a solid basis for the preaching and teaching given to the community.
By constantly cultivating mindfulness of God, the sisters extend the Work of God throughout the whole day.The abbess is to see to it that each one has ample leisure to give herself to lectio and prayer. Furthermore, all should take care that the monastic environment is favourable to silence and quiet.
Those who prefer nothing to the love of Christ make themselves strangers to the actions of the world. In the monastic tradition this involves a certain degree of physical separation. For this reason, the monastery is built so that it completely safeguards the quiet and solitude of those who reside there.
The Eucharist is the heart of Christian prayer, and for centuries Catholic monastics have celebrated Mass daily. It is a commemoration of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, who loved us so much that he gave his own body and blood for our redemption. In the Eucharist the Word of God is proclaimed, and bread and wine become the body and blood of Christ, given to us to eat and drink.
Our Order means learning to be silent,
to fast, to keep watch,
to work with our hands
and, above all,
to cling to
that most excellent way
which is love.
St Bernard of Clairvaux, 12th c. Cistercian
"Trappist" means "silent" to many people, and although we no longer observe the almost total absence of speech practiced in recent centuries, we still maintain an atmosphere of silence in which we can be attentive to God at every moment, and grow in self-knowledge.
In the sober anticipation of the coming of Christ, following the tradition of the Order, the hours before sunrise are appropriately consecrated to God by the celebration of Vigils, by prayer and meditation.
"Holy Reading," or lectio divina, is the slow, prayerful reading of a sacred text, principally the Bible. Christian monastics have always spent time daily pondering the Word of God. At Mississippi Abbey each sister spends at least 30 minutes daily reading scripture.
Mississippi Abbey is a community of women in Iowa who belong to the Order of Cistercians of the Strict Observance. We are a contemplative community who follow the Rule of St. Benedict.
The call to enter a monastery is Christ's invitation to seek him in a particular community, place and manner of life. Entering a Cistercian monastery involves a long process of discernment.