What Does an Abbey Do?

What is a monastery? One way to answer this question is to look at the fruits of its work. In this short video, confreres and lay faithful talk about the impact of St. Michael's Abbey in their lives.

The Role of the Abbey in the Modern World

Short address delivered May 4, 2024 by Fr. Abbot Hayes, O.Praem. on the occasion of the celebration of the Anniversary of the Dedication of the Abbey Church.


God has created me to do Him some definite service. He has committed some work to me which He has not committed to another. I have my mission. I may never know it in this life, but I shall be told it in the next….

These famous words of St. John Henry Cardinal Newman serve as an excellent starting point as we reflect this evening on the role of the abbey in the modern world. Newman says that we may never know our mission, which may sound a little strange because we do have a pretty good sense of why we are here. We know our vocations, and we all know that we are supposed to choose good and to avoid evil and to follow the precepts of the Church. 

But Newman’s point—one that applies to each and every one of us here tonight—is that none of us understands the full extent to which our actions advance the economy of grace. God has put each of us right here, right now, for a very specific reason, and if we do our best to follow His Will for us, He will do extraordinary things.

So what, exactly, is the mission of an abbey in the modern age? Why is St. Michael’s Abbey here, at this place, at this moment in time?

We know part of the answer. We are called to pray. We are called to offer the sacraments to the faithful. We are called to bear witness to truth in a world that has become hostile to it. We are here, in short, to bring souls to Christ. And with the support of our benefactors and those who hold us in prayer, thanks be to God, we are succeeding in this mission.

But this is only part of the story. 

Even if we consider all the good that we can see—the visible beauty all around us, the vocations that we continue to receive, the baptisms and confessions and spiritual direction and deathbed conversions that we have witnessed—this all pales in comparison to the dazzling, beautiful, and unseen operation of Providence that is moving in each of our hearts.

This short video highlights just some of the many, many graces we have witnessed recently at St. Michael’s Abbey. These chances to “look under the hood” of Providence, as it were, are a true joy and a foretaste of the lasting love and consolation God has prepared for us in heaven.

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