monks in work clothes picking grapes from vines

Brother Peter Gao comments on what Ordinary Time means to a Cistercian monk: Following the celebration of Pentecost, we have transitioned into the period known as ordinary time. This season, often overshadowed by the magnificence of Advent, Christmas, Lent, and Easter, holds a special significance for us as it truly embodies our Cistercian spiritual journey. The term “ordinary” encapsulates our spirituality, as being ordinary is at the heart of our Cistercian identity.
This season is the most extended one in our Catholic liturgical calendar. It is generally characterized by silent growth, faith deepening, and the acknowledgment of divine presence in our daily lives. It’s about perceiving each moment as a divine gift, an opportunity to draw nearer to God.
This season aptly mirrors our Cistercian life. It reflects our life of toil and prayer, our dedication to discovering God in the mundane. As cultivators of vines, walnuts, and prunes, this season provides us monks with an ideal opportunity to test our Willingness for hard work. During this time, we labor under the sun, nurturing the vines that grow big and strong. This laborious task is not merely physical labor; it is a form of prayer, a way of participating in God’s creation. It is often during this time that I am reminded of the deep-rooted connection between Cistercian spirituality and agriculture, soil work, nature, and self-reliance.
The Ordinary Season is a testament to the transformative power of ordinary moments. It serves as a reminder that our faith, like our orchards, requires time, care, and the right conditions to flourish. It invites everyone to embrace the spirituality of the ordinary, to find God in every moment, and to allow their faith to be nurtured by the daily rhythms of life.


Your brothers of New Clairvaux