Why do religious rise so early?

Each morning, all the priests and seminarians of the abbey rise at around 5 o'clock in the morning. Waiting in two lines by a side of the church (called statio in Latin - think of it as "battle stations"), all process in at 5:45 to begin the day's prayers.

Now, you might say, "Yikes! That's really early to get up and start praying! Why would you do that?" A reasonable question, and an accurate observation: it is early. Replies could be made that 5:45 is actually very moderate in practice. Historically, Norbertines used to interrupt their sleep each night and have the first office of the day at midnight, and present day Trappists and some Benedictine abbeys start the day at around 3:15.

The ultimate reason for rising so early for communal prayer, even more than the penitential aspect for the confrere who is not a "morning person," is the sanctification of the day - rendering to God what is His throughout the hours of the day so that all comes under His gentle yoke. Such a practice pulls each member out of himself and his purely personal concerns, while the community prays the public prayer of the Church, the Liturgy of the Hours, or Officium in Latin, interceding for the Church and the world.

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