Author: Bro. David O.S.B.

Br. David is a monk of Conception Abbey and webmaster for The Printery House.

Monastic Lenten Practices: How Benedictine monks observe Lent

It is a long-standing tradition in the Church for Christians to commit to extra prayer, fasting, and charity during Lent. The Rule of Saint Benedict offers this guidance for the monastic observance of Lent:

Bona Opera

“Although the life of a monk ought always to have a Lenten character, yet because few have the degree of strength requisite for that, we therefore exhort that at least during Lent he live his life with scrupulous care and that likewise during this holy season he do away with any departures from strictness that may have been permitted at other times: and this is then done worthily when we restrain us from all faults and give heed to prayer with tears, to reading and to heartfelt penitence and to abstinence.

Therefore at this season let us betake to us, as some addition to the accustomed severity of our holy servitude, special prayers and abstinence from food and drink, so that each of his own free will, with joy of the Holy Spirit, may offer to God somewhat over and above the measure laid upon him; that is to say, let him deny himself in the matter of food, of sleep, of talking, of mirth; and let him look forward to holy Easter with the joy of spiritual longing.

Let each one however confide to his abbot exactly what it is he is offering and let it be done with the help of his prayer and with his consent, because what is done without the consent of one’s spiritual father will not be accounted meritorious, but presumptuous and vain-glorious. Therefore it is with the abbot’s consent that all things are to be done.” 

(Translated into English. A Pax Book, preface by W.K. Lowther Clarke. London: S.P.C.K., 1931)

Modern Application

As St. Benedict stipulates, the monks of Conception each select their own bona opera, or “good works”. Each monk reviews his proposal with the abbot in a private meeting. It may be somewhat reassuring to read that even monks can slacken in their spiritual observance at times. We can all use Lent as time of spiritual renewal and re-awakening.

Other Sacrifices

It’s also interesting to see some of the other places the Rule of Saint Benedict mentions Lent:

Delaying Meals

In chapter 41 on “At What Hours the Brethren Shall Have Their Meals,” we find: “From the fourteenth of September until the beginning of Lent let them always dine at the ninth hour [3 PM]; but in Lent until Easter let them dine at an evening hour; but let that evening hour be so ordered that when dining they may not require the light of a lamp, but may be quite finished while daylight still lingers.” So when Benedict’s early monks ate only once a day, pushing that meal later in the day felt like a sacrifice. Especially on the traditional fast days of Ash Wednesday and Good Friday, you might try pushing the one full meal which the Church allows to the end of the day. Eat less than you normally would at the other two meals of the day, or skip them if you can bear it, and avoid snacking between meals. (Please consult your pastor if you want to know more about the Church’s rules for fasting and abstinence.)

Spiritual Reading

In chapter 48 “On the Daily Manual Work,” we find St. Benedict’s daily schedule allowing an extra hour for spiritual reading each day during Lent. Furthermore, he specifies that each monk is to obtain a book from the library and read it straight through. Benedict allots additional time for reading on Sundays.  

May you have a spiritually refreshing Lent!

See the Lenten Resources category on our web site for more ideas!

Our Family Book of Life Returns!

The Printery House is excited to announce the re-introduction of Our Family Book of Life, which had been out of print since 2018. Our Family Book of Life book allows families to record important events in their sacramental life. It also contains religious commentary on the meaning of each sacrament. This is an excellent wedding gift for young couples.

When we ran out of the previous printing in 2018, we felt it was too expensive to have it produced in the same format. We researched other possibilities, and came up with what is still an attractive book which we can now have produced in small quantities and sell at a lower price. In 2018 we were selling the book for $39.99. The new retail price is $24.99. The books are being produced for The Printery House by Ingram Spark at their facilities in the USA.

Other than an adjustment to the color, the inside content remains the same as before. Those who were familiar with the book in the past will notice several changes:

  • The cover is no longer leather bound or gold foil stamped
  • We no longer provide a box.
  • The size is also slightly different, 8.0 in. x 10.88 in. as opposed to 8.5 in x 10.75 in.

Order Now!

Table of Contents

Foreword

Family Use of the Book of Life

Prologue

Our Celebration of the Sacrament of Matrimony

Wedding Photographs

OUR FAMILY’S PARTICIPATION IN THE SACRAMENTAL LIFE OF THE CHURCH

The Sacraments of Initiation

Baptism

Baptismal Photographs

Confirmation

Eucharist

The Sacraments of Healing

Penance and Reconciliation

Anointing of the Sick

The Sacraments at the Service of the Church

Holy Orders: Diaconate

Holy Orders: Priesthood

Matrimony

Wedding Photographs

Other Liturgical Celebrations

Religious Profession

Christian Funerals

Burial of an Infant

Our Family History

Introduction

Family Tree

Record of Children and Grandchildren

Family Photograph

Record of Children’s Grandparents and Great-Grandparents

Ancestral Charts

Epilogue

Personalize It!

Our Family Book of Life can also now be personalized! An extra page can be inserted before the title page with any text or images you want. Both sides of the page are available, except for a non-printable margin of 1 inch on all sides. This option raises the price of the book to $31.99 plus an $8.00 personalization fee. Shipping is not included in this price.

Welcoming Priests and Pastors to New Assignments

Around this time of year, many Catholic dioceses rearrange priest assignments. Priests move to different parishes, new roles, or new duties. That makes this a great time to reach out with a card or gift to welcome the new minister. Even if it’s a little late, a card or gift from a new parishioner will help the priest feel welcome and accepted in his new role. Furthermore, Catholic priests are often assigned fairly far from people they know and love. As a result, they often have to start building relationships all over again with each new assignment.

Welcome Cards

Signs of support and welcome can ease what is sometimes a challenging transition for priests. To help, the Printery House offers two cards specifically for this situation.

Front cover of card to welcome a new priest. There is a cross in the center, and the text reads A Warm Welcome to Our New Priest
An old pencil drawing of Don Quixote and Sancho Panza sitting on their horses, by Wilhelm Marstrand.

The inside text reads: Thanking God for the gift of your faith-filled life and your dedicated service. Praying that the Holy Spirit will sustain and strengthen you as you serve our parish. God Bless You


An old pencil drawing of Don Quixote and Sancho Panza sitting on their horses, by Wilhelm Marstrand.
An old pencil drawing of Don Quixote and Sancho Panza sitting on their horses, by Wilhelm Marstrand.

The card above is a little more specific to the role of a pastor, but it can also be used for pastors of Protestant congregations who use that title.

The inside text reads: Thanking God for the gift of your faith-filled life and your dedicated service. Praying that the Holy Spirit will sustain and strengthen you as you serve our congregation. God Bless You


In addition to the specific cards above, we also have options from our general priest or minister appreciation selection. The following cards could be used appropriately to welcome a minister or priest to a new job or assignment.

Inside Text: May Christ, in whose place you stand as priest, give you continuing grace to teach, guide and sanctify His people.
Inside Text: May the good and loving God, who ordained you for His saving work by the laying on of hands and prayer of the Church, bless you with purity of heart and zeal for souls. And may the prayers of Mary, Mother of Priests, protect you from all evil and help you to grow in love. Amen.

Similarly, the next card would be appropriate for a new chaplain:

Inside Text: May God look upon you with favor for your faithful care of His people. Praying you continue to be renewed through the power of the Gospel and through the grace of Christ, Our Lord.

Gifts for New Priests and New Pastors

In addition to our cards, several of our icon reproductions would make excellent welcome gifts for a priest in a new assignment. Here are a few:

Check out our entire selection of icons! Our icons are also available as greeting cards which are blank inside, so you can adapt them for whatever purpose suits you.

Shipping Rate Update

April 26, 2021

Effective April 26, 2021 at 8:50 PM, we have updated our shipping rates as follows:

Order Merchandise AmountStandard2-Day Expedited1-Day Expedited
$0.01-$10.00$5.99$20.99$39.99
$10.01-$25.00$7.99$23.99$46.99
$25.01-$40.00$8.99$24.99$49.99
$40.01-65.00$10.99$26.99$54.99
$65.01-$90.00$11.99$30.99$59.99
$90.01-$120.00$13.99$31.99$64.99
$120.01-$150.00$14.99$39.99$74.99
$150.01-$200.00$15.99$43.99$99.99
$200.01-$250.00$16.99$50.99$109.99
$250.01-$350.00$17.99$51.99$149.99
$350.01 and up, add %
of merchandise total:
5%20%50%

Expedited services refer to normal business days, Monday through Friday, excluding holidays and holy days. If you require Saturday delivery, please call for availability before noon on Friday.

Bulk Orders: Orders with quantity discounts are charged published carrier rates based on the method, weight and destination of the shipment, rather than the flat rates quoted above.

Certain oversize items require an additional charge. This will be noted on the item page. Free shipping promotions do not apply to oversize charges.

Orders with quantity discounts and orders shipping anywhere outside the 48 contiguous US States are charged published carrier rates.

Orders are normally shipped either Fedex Ground or USPS. If you prefer shipment by a specific carrier (USPS, FedEx, or UPS), please communicate your request when you place your order. You will be charged the carrier list price if you specify a carrier.

You should expect your order to ship within 1-3 business days if the items ordered are in stock. Bulk orders may take longer.

Even with expedited shipping the carriers do not guarantee shipping times. Therefore The Printery House cannot predict or guarantee how quickly any carrier will deliver your order. Because shipping is out of our control, no refunds of shipping costs will be given for delayed shipments.