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Food and Faith in Christian Culture$
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Ken Albala and Trudy Eden

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780231149976

Published to Columbia Scholarship Online: November 2015

DOI: 10.7312/columbia/9780231149976.001.0001

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Eating in Silence in an English Benedictine Monastery

Eating in Silence in an English Benedictine Monastery

(p.221) Chapter 11 Eating in Silence in an English Benedictine Monastery
Food and Faith in Christian Culture

Richard D. G. Irvine

Columbia University Press

This chapter looks at the eating habits of English Benedictine communities. The eating patterns of English Benedictine monks do not differ radically from those of the wider English population; the monks eat three meals a day. There is generally no reduction in the number of meals served throughout the year, although there is some alteration in the amount and nature of food served on fast days. In the monastery, eating is connected to the work of prayer. Each meal follows a period of prayer, and can be seen as a continuation of that prayer. Breakfast follows Lauds, and lunch follows the Midday Office, while supper follows the half-hour period of private prayer after Vespers. The monks remain silent throughout the meal, except on feast days when they are given special permission to talk after grace has been chanted. There is a series of specific sign language that allows the monks to make a number of practical requests, such as passing the butter, without speaking.

Keywords:   eating habits, English Benedictine communities, English Benedictine monks, fast days, Lauds, Midday Office, Vespers, feast days, eating in silence, sign language

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