Sunday, January 10, 2010

Monastic vigils.

As I post this, it is -2 degrees below zero.  It has been below zero for the past few nights - down to -15 some nights.  Imagine how in the old days monks and nuns broke their sleep, rising during the night to fill unheated churches to chant the night office - vigils.  Monks and nuns still do that of course, although these days they usually have the modern convenience of heat and electricity - in this country at least.


  1. I have read that, back in the day, the lovely cathedrals of Europe were unheated; it would have been like heating outer space. I have seen drawings of Bach, et al., playing the organ wearing gloves with the fingers cut off, for warmth. I am an organist and find it hard enough to do a decent job without my hands being half-frozen! One has to admire our ancestors for the way they persevered under such adverse conditions.

  2. I don't think the Carthusians in Vermont have heating. Just stoves they burn wood in.

  3. Juan - don't you remember - the choir stalls had a grate in the floor so a bit of heat was there during office - otherwise it was freezing when I was there - and I wasn't much good with the wood stove in the cell.

    Melody, a friend told me the Cathedrals and churches in Prague and Warsaw were freezing when he was there.

  4. Anonymous1:16 PM

    The Dominican nuns in Summit, NJ rise for night adoration and they do not have heat at night. They say it is very cold in the choir at night. Most of them say that while it IS cold they are used to it and all own a number of shawls and sweaters to wrap up in!


  5. I wish I could withstand the cold better...stupid body of mine!
    Great reminder that there are those who wake in the middle of the night to praise God (no matter what the conditions) for "those who do not believe, do not adore, and do not love" the Lord. (Prayer of the Angel to the children of Fatima).

  6. Oh Yeah, I remember the grate in the floor. But it's the Cell where you're at alot of the time as well.

  7. Padre: we lose sight of the holy work of your prayer. I think of, and often pray for, the homeless these dark and cold nights.



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