A Monks day starts at 4 am to the symantron, a long wooden symbol hit with a mallet. Think of a beating alarm clock. Then they head to the church for matins, chanting of the hours and Liturgy. This ends about 10:30 am. The monks then head to their main meal for the nourishment for the days activities. They then head to their allotted work, this is individual like gardening, house work, or grounds. One more services is celebrated either at 3 or 5 depending on the calender year. At 7pm the have their evening meal and then they are left to retire in their rooms. Although at 11pm the symantron beats again for an hour of individual prayers in rooms. They count the knots of the rosary repeating the Kyrie Elieson. If you have never heard this, it is an amazing and moving phrase meaning "Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me". He then returns to sleep to wake at 4am with the symantron again.
For the most part monks use a vegetarian diet. Meals are eaten in the beautiful refectory while someone reads from the New Testament through the entire meal. A typical noon meal will have a seasonal salad, cooked beans, rice, and/or lentils in broth, seasonal vegetables, bread, side of fruit, fish, cheese, and watered down wine. Depending on the order and the liturgical year some never eat any fish except feast days and the sick. During Lent they refrain from any fish, eggs, cheese, and butter. The vegetables they eat are only seasonal and grown in their own garden. The evening meal consist of soup and bread, mostly from the food left at the noon meal. Fruits consist of those grown and maintained on the grounds, seasonal. On average the monks eat 1 lb of bread a day. This is a huge calorie and energy source for them.
I wanted to make a similar meal. Last night we had a seafood soup, side salad, artisan bread, roasted mixed vegetables, and wine. The bread was simple to make and tasted amazing. While my soup had a mixture of seafood that normal would not have been used for monks, the broth and vegetable in it would be similar. The important thing I want to mention is the food eaten is simple, tasteful, and provides the energy for their daily task. Monks do not sit around all day. For the 1/3 of the day is spent in manual labor of the grounds and buildings. A 1/3 in thoughtful prayer, reflections, and study which also needs energy and focus. The remainder 1/3 is in rest which as you see is very much needed.
Artisan Bread Recipe
4 cups lukewarm water
1 1/2 tbsp yeast
1 1/2 tbsp sea salt
6 cups whole wheat flour
corn meal for sprinkling the bread
Remove the towel and foil and cut into 1/3. (This is a great representation of equal parts, work, prayer, and rest!) On a stone or baking sheet sprinkle a little corn meal. Then place your rounded bread and flatten out like in the picture. Allow to rise for 30 minutes. Then make a tic tac toe cut across the top. This is very important to allow some heat to escape while baking. If not done the bread with slit itself. After making cuts, sprinkle a little corn meal over top. In a 450 preheated place a oven safe bowl of water when you add bread to oven. This is a steam bath. Bake for 28 minutes and allow to cool.
We enjoyed a loaf for dinner for a party of 7. The remaining two loaves where used one at breakfast for french toast and the last for lunch. We started another batch of bread this morning and thought this to be a simple routine for daily bread in just 5 minutes. Today's bread will have a simple cross instead of the tic tac toe to symbolize Jesus sacrifice for us during this lenten season.
4 red potatoes, sliced and 1/4
1 zucchini, sliced
1 yellow squash, sliced
1/8 red cabbage, sliced thinly
4 small red peppers
On a baking dish place off vegetables and drizzle 1 tbsp of Olive Oil. Sprinkle with a dash of salt and mix. Place in 375 oven for 35 minutes. Delicious!
You can visit local monasteries near you. Here is the location Monastery I plan on visiting soon here in Az, St. Anthony This is a wonderful experience and I have heard they have the most beautiful grounds to appriciate their works of labor.
New Advent The Carthusian Order
New Advent Eastern Monasticism