We’re all monks now

By Gregory Hillis, 1 May 2020


The Cistercian monks at the Abbey of Gethsemani in Kentucky chant Psalm 91 every evening at Compline, a psalm that contains the following lines:

You will not fear the terror of the night,
nor the arrow that flies by day,
nor the plague that prowls in the darkness,
nor the scourge that lays waste at noon.

Paul Quenon, O.C.S.O., a monk at Gethsemani, has been praying this psalm nightly for decades, but only in the last month have the words hit home: “I never thought the threat of plague would pertain to us or specifically to me.”

The Cistercians of the Strict Observance, also known as the Trappists, is a contemplative religious order. Cistercian monastic life is characterized by work, silence and prayer in obedience to an exacting interpretation (hence the “Strict Observance”) of the sixth-century Rule of St. Benedict for monasteries.

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Gregory Hillis is an associate professor of theology at Bellarmine University in Louisville, Ky.

With thanks to America Magazine, where this article originally appeared.

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