daily life at Citeaux

communaute-refectoire

Le Val San José près de Madrid – Espagne

How very good and pleasant it is when brothers live together in unity.

Psalm 132

 

A community is, first of all, brothers living together.

The Abbey of Cîteaux is a community of the Order of Cistercians of the Strict Observance which numbers around 35 brothers committed to following Christ according to Cistercian customs, in prayer, work, and spiritual reading. The community is rich in diversity, in ages (from 30 to 90 years old), in social and geographic origins, in personal sensibilities, yet united by the love of the living God.

During their final act of commitment, their solemn profession, monks make vows of obedience, of stability, and of conversion of life. This conversion of life is the promise to live according to the customs of the monastery. It gives a concrete content to the call to follow Christ: for me, to follow Christ is to live according to the customs of Cîteaux. These customs are the fruit of a thousand-year-old wisdom, recognized and approved by the Church.

For St. Benedict, the monastery is a school of service to the Lord. For our Cistercian fathers, the monastery is a school of love. One and the other go together: there is no more beautiful service than to love, and there is no truer love than to serve.

You will love the Lord your God
You will love your neighbor as yourself!

Thus, there are three loves to put into practice: the love of God, the love of oneself, and the love of the neighbor. Cistercian life developed three arts that together form an art of living

  • The art of seeking God
  • The art of knowing oneself
  • The art of brotherhood

It is an art of living because it has its share of created institutions, organized and intentional.
It is also an art because this life is artistic: the true, the good and the beautiful are joined together.

In order to put these arts into practice, different means are given to us: prayer, work, spiritual reading, common life, monastic discipline. Each of these means concerns all the arts at the same time. Work contributes no less to seeking God than does prayer. This does not mean that the one can be substituted for the other. The Rule seeks a balance among these means: not a single one is sufficient, not a one is secondary. The Abbot establishes this balance in relation to the conditions of the community and the aspirations of each monk.