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Monk Day in Fourth Grade

Wednesday, September 30th, 2020

Wearing brown hooded cloaks, Mrs. Bradway and her fourth graders took the vow of silence on October 10 and spent a school day living as Benedictine monks as part of their study of the creation of monasticism in the Benedictine order. Each student-monk was given a breviary, or liturgical book, with the order of prayers and Scriptures to be prayed and read throughout the day. Praying, reading Scripture, and singing for worship were the permissible times to speak out loud. Part of the morning was spent in the Scriptorium, where the "monks" worked by candlelight to illuminate a passage of Scripture from John 1 in Latin, using embellished script and drawing details and borders to create beautiful manuscripts of God's Word. They also prayed for every student and teacher in the Grammar School by name, asking God to develop certain virtues and the fruit of the Spirit in them. 

Lunch was a special time for the monks to share a simple but delicious meal of potato and vegetable soups and crusty bread--in keeping with a typical monastic meal--at beautifully set tables, all prepared by parent volunteers. Working in pairs, each monk served a "brother" (or "sister") by ladeling soup into his crock and pouring water into her goblet, and then clearing and cleaning each other's dishes. 

In the afternoon, the monks carried out acts of service all around the "monastery." They swept the stairwells, collected trash, wiped doorknobs and whiteboards, washed windows, reshelved library books, and even hand-washed and dried a teacher's vehicle because modern-day monks might serve the abbot in this way! 

Mrs. Bradway explains that the purpose of Monk Day is for the fourth graders to have a live, historical experience of what they are studying and reading. Their literary companion for this unit of study is "The Door in the Wall," by Marguerite deAngeli, about a boy in medieval England. One of the characters is a Benedictine monk who lives in a monastery. The fourth grade students will have a much more personal understanding of what this way of life entailed now that they've spent a day trying to imitate it. Ask a fourth grader about Monk Day; they will be sure to tell you all about it now that they're free to speak again! 

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