Liturgy simply means the worship of God.
Our shared community life and our celebration of the divine liturgy, according to the rites of the Roman Catholic Church, are our principal way of proclaiming the Good News.
As Monks, we believe we have much to thank God for – in fact, we believe that we have everything to thank God for, because God created us, and everything in the world – all those things which give sustenance and fulfilment and meaning to our lives.
Every day and each moment is a gift from God. We also want to understand and know God more intimately – not that we can ever fully understand him in this life, but more so as a friend whose company we enjoy, and whose wisdom we appreciate. We want to stay close to him, and come to know him better.
St Benedict emphasised the importance of the Liturgy of the Hours (the Divine Office). By praying six times each day, we sanctify all our human activity, and act as a channel of God’s grace in us.
1-Matins (or the Office of Readings) is the night watch hour, when we listen to the word of God and the teaching of ancient writers and saints of the Church.
2-Lauds (or Morning Prayer) takes us out of darkness into light. We focus on praising God for his creation with which we are about to be blessed again, as the sun rises on a new day.
3-Sext (or Midday Prayer) is the hour we bring ourselves back to prayer, after our morning works and duties. We bring the joys and the cares of the morning to the Lord.
4-Our Conventual Mass takes place at at 5pm during the week, and is the sacrament of unity at the heart of our monastic life, and fulfils Jesus’ command to, “Do this in memory of me”. It allows us to recall the actions of the Last Supper, the Passion of Christ, and to receive the Body and Blood of Christ As Pope John Paul said: ‘‘at every Mass every priest hands over his voice to Christ, ‘This is my body, this is my blood’ so that every generation may become healed and made holy.’’
5-Vespers (or Evening Prayer) is a time of thanks for the day just past and makes an evening sacrifice of praise to God. We join with Mary, Mother of Our Lord, in her hymn of thanks, the Magnificat.
6-Compline (or Night Prayer) is our final time of prayer before retiring to bed. We review our consciences, and pray for God’s blessing as we enter the hours of darkness. At Buckfast, we have a special tradition of gathering in the Lady Chapel at the end of Compline, to sing a beautiful hymn to Our Lady, the Memorare.
The Benedictine tradition stresses the importance of personal prayer (in addition to our communal prayer), and the monastic day creates time, space and silence for this. As Pope John Paul wrote, ‘the call to holiness can be cultivated only in the silence of adoration before God, we all have need of this silence, filled with the presence of him who is.’ God calls each one of us to deepen our a unique and personal relationship with him.