Cistercian life at Nový Dvůr
The Cistercian monk is a cenobite. He lives the union with God amongst his brothers. In the same way that manual work attaches him solidly to concrete reality, the close fraternal life required by Saint Benedict and the tradition of Cîteaux obligates him to live in charity.
There are few human groups who, to such a heterogeneous degree, have such a community existence as monks. Neither affinities, nor competencies, nor a reciprocal choice nor blood ties are at the origin of their coming together. Having come together in the monastery very different, and reunited in appearance by chance, the monks live however together, side by side, all life long, a mosaic of generation, of social origins, of talents and of mixed personalities. There is no previous unity among any of them except that of pursuing a commun goal; but that goal is a considerable one. In effect, before being the place of fraternal relationships, the monastic community is, according to the Rule, the terrain of spiritual combat. Often unnoticed, always personal, this combat belongs to all, not that it is the same for all but because each member confronts it in his turn.
“If the brothers find themselves obligated, by necessity or by poverty, to work at the harvest, they will not be dismayed; it is then that they will truly be monks, when they will live from the work of their hands, following the example of our Fathers and the Apostles. Everything however should be done with moderation, out of consideration for the weak.”
Saint Benedict, Rule for Monks, Chapter 48.
“The monastery should be arranged as much as possible in such a way as that one can find all one needs. In this way, the monks will not need to go outside, which is not at all advantageous for their souls.”
Saint Benedict, Rule for Monks, Chapter 66.
Normally, monks work alone or just a few together. Nothing distinguishes them from their neighbors in the outside world; neither their work clothes – blue jumpsuits – nor the machines they use, nor their worries of profitability... except their close cut hair when they lift their hat. But behind that banal appearance, the ideal of the ancients who pray and work remains their own. For this reason, they try to emphasize predominantly agricultural activities, whenever their economic necessities permit it.