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Scriptorium: “A View from the Cloister”


Since I started this project I have found some good blogs about monasticism, mysticism, and Benedictine spirituality. I’ve even found a few blogs written by monks. I am going to periodically highlight some of my favorites. Then I will post a link to the blog in the Scriptorium, which is what I’ve taken to calling my blogroll. I chose the name Scriptorium because it implies both writing and community. The scriptorium, which literally means “a place for writing”, was where monastic scribes copied manuscripts. Today, the scriptorium is often a gathering place. Here is how the monk Luke Bell describes the activities of the scriptorium at Quarr Abbey on the Isle of Wight, England:

Although we spend quite a lot of time on our own, we come together at different times during the day and in several places. There is the scriptorium where we go after lunch, at least if the weather is good. In monastic tradition the scriptorium is the place where writing is done, but actually nowadays we write in the library or in our cells, mostly on computers. In fact, our scriptorium houses a small library of books of literary or recreational interest. We go there for our celebrations after the great Masses of Christmas and Easter, as well as for coffee after lunch.

The first blog I want to highlight is written by an unnamed monk at Mount Angel Abbey. The name of the blog is “A View from the Cloister”. The writer doesn’t post as often as I’d prefer, but I check everyday, just in case. The most recent post, entitled “For Everything There is a Season”, is about stability in the monastery, the seasons of nature, and the seasons of life.

Wandering through the gueshouse garden the other day, a tree, the brightest red I have ever seen, caught my attention. It seemed not so long ago that the Lord had decorated this garden in purple and green. Now it is adorned in red and gold!

For one with a vow of stability, it is considerable consolation to know that no matter how many years may be spent in this place, it will never be twice the same. The Lord who made us understands perfectly how we occasionally need a change. We don’t have to change our place, because our “place” is always changing if we are attentive to the Lord’s works.

This can even be said of the Psalms. In the Divine Office, as it is prayed here at Mount Angel, we pray 3,600 Psalms per year (150 every two weeks). One is likely to pray over 200,000 psalms in a lifetime in the monastery, yet these inspired poems are ever changing under the influence of the Holy Spirit; one day read from this perspective, the next day read from another. The Lord knows that on different days we have different needs, season after season.

One who daily sings God’s praise, ever attentive to His Word:


“He is like a tree planted

beside the flowing waters,

that yeilds its fruit in due season

and whose leaves never fade.”
(Psalm 1:3)

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