These are some of the most important values which shape the life of Cistercian monks.
Seeking God: The monk is constantly seeking God. He does this through prayer and lectio divina, through work and labour, in community relationships, in every event of life.
Conformity to Christ: Christ is our model: we strive to be conformed to him in his obedience, humility, patience and poverty. Christ is our King, whom we try to serve. Christ is our Beloved: we seek intimate union with him in prayer. The more our love for him grows, the more our hearts are transformed into his likeness.
Solitude and separation from the world: Cistercians generally live in places that are somewhat apart – desert places, quiet places, rural places, where there are fewer things to distract us from the search for God, where it is easier to be still, to listen for the voice of God, to see the hand of God in nature, and to focus more exclusively on the things of the Spirit.
Unceasing prayer: St Paul exhorted the first Christians to “pray constantly”. Through the observance of monastic life, the monk gradually learns to occupy his heart more and more constantly in interior prayer. At the communal level, we assemble in the church seven times every day, at regular intervals, to pray together the liturgy of the Hours (see more on our Liturgy page).
Work: Monks try to earn their living by the work of their hands. For us at Mellifont this means through our farm and garden centre. Every brother has some manual work, such as in the kitchen, house maintenance, care of the sick or elderly members, looking after the grounds, etc. We do not have an active apostolate outside the monastery; our task is to be monks, men of prayer.
Simplicity: Monastic tradition and the Gospel itself call us to renounce personal possessions, to live in poverty and simplicity, not to rush to own every flashy gadget and latest invention that the world offers, but to pare down, to own things in common or to do without them – in the words of the early Cistercian fathers, to be “poor with the poor Christ.”
Community: We do not go to God alone, but with our brothers in community, those whom God has called to serve him in this monastery. We are not merely a group of individuals who happen to live in the same place: monks aim to be, like the first Christians, “of one heart and one mind”. Our love of God is put to the test and refined in our love for our brothers. We share our gifts and bear each others’ weaknesses. Our vow of stability binds us to this particular community for all our life.
Hospitality: Many people are drawn to visit the monastery. The good things we receive from God are not for us alone, but to be shared with these visitors. We welcome anyone who wants to join us in the church for Mass or the Liturgy of the Hours (timetable on the liturgy page). Our monastic guest house provides a place of prayer and retreat for those who would like to stay for a few days. St Benedict urges us to receive all visitors as we would receive Christ himself.
Devotion to Mary: Each community of the Order and all the monks are dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother and Symbol of the Church in the order of faith, love and perfect union with Christ. Under her protection and through her guidance we draw closer to Jesus on our pilgrim journey. Every Hour of the Divine Office includes an anthem sung in honour of the Blessed Virgin Mary, ending with the Salve Regina at the end of Compline before we go to bed for the night.