Life at Tarrawarra Abbey is a contemporary version of the ancient tradition of Cistercian monasticism with an Australian accent, designed to foster the experience of God and growth in prayerfulness and love. Our simple lifestyle gives priority to liturgical and personal prayer as well as sacred reading, balanced by community living, work, and study. Each monastery of the Order supports itself by working. From the very beginning at Tarrawarra, we have earned our living by farming and a small guesthouse. In 2000, we started distributing Eucharistic Breads to churches in Australia.
The monastic day begins at 4.00 am with the Office of Vigils. This is a service of psalms and readings from the Scripture and from the Church Fathers that sets the tone for the monk’s day, inviting him to be formed by God’s word. The first hours of the day is a privileged period for prolonged personal prayer and sacred reading.
At 6.00 am the monks gather for the Office of Lauds and the community celebration of the Eucharist. After Mass, there is an interval of an hour during which the monks have the opportunity to immerse themselves in personal prayer and sacred reading again. At some stage in the morning, the monks take their breakfast individually and in silence.
At 8.00 am the Office of Terce is celebrated. After this, the monks work for about three hours: some on the beef farm, some in the Eucharistic Breads department, some in house cleaning and maintenance. Others are at work in the guest house or the kitchen. This is also the time for classes and study for those in formation.
At 11.15 am the Office of Sext concludes the morning. After this, the monks have their main meal of the day which is taken in silence during which a suitable book is read. After the meal, the monks take a short siesta so that they are ready for the Office of None at 1.40 pm and the afternoon’s work.
The Office of Vespers is sung at 6.00 pm after which there is the evening meal. Except during Lent, there is usually conversation during the meal, an opportunity for the brothers to connect with one another and to strengthen relationships. After the meal, there is an opportunity for further reading. Sometimes there are community meetings or Abbot's conferences.
At 8.00 pm the Office of Compline brings the day to a close; sung by heart in the dark it concludes with the Salve Regina and the blessing of each monk by the Abbot.
On Sundays, the programme is slightly different with the Community Mass celebrated at 10.00 am to facilitate the attendance of guests and visitors.