Home » Episodes » Refect on This Monastic Lingo

Refect on This Monastic Lingo

Play episode
A monk at St. Gregory’s Abbey in Three Rivers, Michigan, a Benedictine monastery in the Episcopal Church, shares some of the terms used there on a daily basis. The monks gather seven times a day to pray as a group, a practice called corporate prayer, because they’re praying a body, as opposed to the private prayer they do while going about their daily chores. They are assigned tasks on a rotating basis, and also take turns as church cantor. Because the cantor performs this duty for seven days, that person is called the hebdomadary, from Greek ἑβδομάς meaning “seven,” and is related to the French for “weekly magazine,” hebdomadaire, or hebdo for short. The dining hall at the monastery is called the refectory, from a Latin term that means “a place of restoration.” To refect is “to refresh oneself or another person with food or drink,” a word that goes back to a Latin term that means “make” or “do” and is also the source of such words as confectionary, confection, and manufacture. Incidentally, mealtimes are silent, but each week a different person is assigned to read aloud from a book while everyone else eats. Among the books on this year’s reading list is A History of Women in Astronomy and Space Exploration: Exploring the Trailblazers of STEM (Bookshop|Amazon) by Dale DeBakcsy. Others include Weapons of Math Destruction: How Big Data Increases Inequality and Threatens Democracy (Bookshop|Amazon) by Cathy O’Neil, as well as Yiddish: Biography of a Language (Bookshop|Amazon) by Jeffrey Shandler. This is part of a complete episode.

Leave a comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

More from this show

Unta Is for Sopping Up the Last Bites

Corey in Buffalo, New York, says her family uses the word unta for “the piece of bread you use to sop up the last bite of what you’re eating.” They also use it as a verb, as in I’m going to unta. Her family is half Sephardic...

Recent posts