When we think about pious individuals such as Junipero Serra, we’re usually left in awe of their kind works; that makes it difficult for us to view them as normal human beings, but, of course, they are. In most cases, their lives may be even more mundane than ours. Serra cooked his food in a kitchen just like the rest of us, and he chopped his food with all sorts of kitchen knives, just as we do today.
Rather than diminishing their great works, we believe that pointing out just how normal the lives of these saintly individuals were might inspire good acts in others. With that in mind, we thought it would be enlightening to look at a day in the life of a modern Franciscan monk.
Frequent Prayer Sessions
If there’s one significant difference between how Franciscan monks live their lives and how the average person lives, it would have to be the volume and frequency of prayers. While there are private citizens that pray several times a day, they are the exception and not the norm. Most churchgoers restrict their prayers to just before bedtime and at church on Sunday.
Franciscan monks dedicate a significant portion of their day, every day, to prayer. Personal prayers are normally performed shortly after waking around 6AM, then it’s off to mass before breakfast. Midday prayers take place shortly after noon, and, finally, evening prayers will take place just before supper time. In between all that, they find time to fit in the regular daily activities that are more familiar to the rest of us.
Much like most of us, Franciscan monks break bread three times per day. They have breakfast early in the morning, lunch around midday, and supper early in the evening. It’s not unusual for them to snack on occasion, either. In short, their eating schedules are nothing out of the ordinary. It’s all part of a normal routine, and while their meals may be a little more humble than what most of us are used to, they aren’t that different.
The Day Job
What may really surprise you is the diversity of the day jobs that monks may have. Living as a monk in a community of like-minded individuals doesn’t mean they all have the same interests. Some Franciscans may choose pastoral work, others favor office work, some are regular lecturers or teachers, and others may be caregivers. They live diverse lives, although most of their chosen vocations are normally related to activities that help others – that may be one key difference.
If there’s one thing that a lot of people have trouble with, it’s recognizing that monks need recreation time just like the rest of us. If you’re going to be able to help others, you need to take some time to recharge your batteries, and monks have this same need. This may involve reading a good book, watching a little TV, or engaging on some stimulating conversation with friends – not much different than how many of us spend our leisure time.