I plop down onto my bed at 10:30 and feel like it was only minutes ago that I was emerging, slightly hesitantly, from it to go back down for some breakfast before mass at 8am. That, of course, was after the lauds at 6. I woke up at 5:30, emerging from a heavy sleep into the cold, misty morning, and walked with Lacey to the small wooden chapel five minutes away. As the high school senior and I sat down, Mother Prioress, an elderly mother smaller than me, walked in. She didn’t say a word and I dared not say one in fear of disrespect or breaking her seemingly ancient rhythm. Besides, she had walked over and was looking methodically at a small book she had picked up from one of the pews. And then, after locating the page that had seemed to have been eluding her, she came over to us, placed the book in our hands and said “this should be the right page.” It said Monday lauds at the top. Welcome to my first attempt of Gregorian chant and true Benedictine spirituality.
One by one, the sisters trickled in over the next several minutes, bowing to the sacristy and the altar respectfully as they have done for decades before sitting down on the other side of the railing. They are technically cloistered, after all. And then the chanting began, only it was not like anything I had been used to.
First, it was in Latin. The psalms and responsorials and verses were connected to each other—halfway between being spoken and being sung. I followed along as best I could, scanning the words the sisters seemed to be flying through and fumbling through the unknown pages. Next thing I knew it was 6:45.
The funny thing is, that description doesn’t even begin to sum up my day.