I saw videos about religious who seem to have very little sleep on a daily basis due to their intensive work and spiritual activities. Is this true and does it seem to the Church that prolong lack of sleep can pose a health threat?
It’s completely untrue. The Religious Communities are very concerned with health and living a healthy lifestyle. Monastics in particular, despite waking up at around four in the morning, get tons of sleep. Most get eight hours of sleep. The active Orders such as the Franciscans get between seven and eight hours of sleep, and they always have recreational time where the Friars get to do what they want, so if there are Friars like me that need tons of sleep, they can get it done then. The Monastic Orders also have recreational times, so despite even their awesome sleeping habits, you can get even more sleep if need be.
Is it possible you’re thinking about the office of ‘Prime’ which was abolished by the 2nd Vatican Council? I believe it was read in the small hours of the morning, thus not allowing for a great amount of uninterrupted time in bed, but the new breviary no longer contains it.
It’s worth noting that the Carthusians have their own Liturgy of the Hours, and I think they do indeed get up in the middle of the night to pray, but as an Order, they are pretty unique.
If you’re interested in the Carthusians, I’d highly recommend getting hold of a copy of the DVD ‘Into Great Silence’, which is a deeply fascinating look at the cycle of life in a Carthusian monastery.
If you look at the schedules on some of the congregations’ websites, “lights out” can be as early as 8 PM, so that getting up in the dead of night isn’t a big deal. It would be like going to bed at 11 PM and getting up at 5 AM, a schedule I’ve kept for the past ten years. It’s plenty of sleep. They also usually have a rest period sometime in the afternoon, after work and before vespers and dinnertime.
Sometimes what looks like austerity is really very healthy.
Contrast that kind of schedule with being up till one AM, because you had to study, wanted to catch a particular show on TV or met some friends at a pub, and having to get up at six AM, shake the cobwebs out of your head, and get to work on time!
And with that, given it’s 2.25am in England, I really ought to turn out the lights! (Thankfully I don’t actually have to be up until 9, but even so!)
I read somewhere once that the habit of waking up in the middle of the night to pray was meant to help the religious practice the same level of self-sacrifice that parents frequently exercise when their children are up at night sick or scared.
Six hours of sleep is normal for me.
I’m a teenager so I couldn’t live off six hours. Once I’m about twenty I’ll be able to live off your type of schedule.
I don’t function on less than 8 hours of sleep. I’m in bed before my landlord’s two year old, who goes to bed at 11:00.
Does anyone know if the FSSP pray the entire 1962 breviary with the nighttime prayers? I often wondered that.