From the very beginnings of the monastic life in the Church, the first work of contemplative religious has been to pray the Liturgy of the Hours (the Divine Office). The Visitation Sisters of Tyringham sing the Liturgy of the Hours five times each day.
In 1978 the Visitation Order in the United States commissioned Abbot Marcel Rooney, OSB, of Conception Abbey, in Conception, Missouri, to write music for the Liturgy of the Hours for our communities. For over twenty-five years now we have been singing the Office to the beautiful melodies that Abbot Marcel composed for us.
Personal prayer is another important “work” in a contemplative community. The Sisters spend an hour and a half in private prayer each day as well as another half hour in spiritual reading. Our prayer informs our life. It is for that reason that we devote at least five hours a day to the Liturgy of the Hours and to private prayer.
An important community work that flows directly from our prayer is the spreading of devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.
Each first Sunday of the month one of the Sisters gives a talk on the Heart of Jesus at the monastery. The talks are advertised in the diocesan and local papers and persons who attend come from the Berkshires and the surrounding areas. You can read the most recent of these talks here on our website.
The second component of our work is the ordinary household tasks that we perform each day. We cook, clean, keep the monastery accounts, answer the phone and the door, and do clerical work. We also tend our gardens to supplement our nutritional needs. Some of us also expend our creative energies developing items to be used in liturgical celebrations within and without the community.
Sacred music has always been important to our community. Since our move to Tyringham, we have given more time and effort to rehearsing our music. Once a year we have a vocal teacher come to the monastery to work with individual sisters and with the schola. This year we decided to make a CD of our Christmas music entitled, A VISITATION CHRISTMAS.
According to the wishes of our Founder, Saint Francis de Sales, the Visitation Order has an unusual privilege: we are able to have women make private retreats in the monastery. At our monastery we have two rooms reserved for retreatants but priority is always given to women who wish to discern their vocation to the religious life. However, we frequently have retreatants who are not discerning the religious life who just want to make a silent retreat in a monastery.