Sorry, I couldn’t think of any other place to put this than here.

What are matins and how long do they take? The Community I’m discerning with (Franciscan Brothers Minor) says they have grand silence at ten PM, and then they do matins at twelve AM, and then they wake up at six. I have a very hard time waking up when I have not had enough sleep, and I’m very worried over this. Do matins take an hour, or just a few minutes to do?

All depends on the community…

I have a very hard time waking up when I have not had enough sleep, and I’m very worried over this.

Hmmm, monastic life may not be for you, then.

I think Matins, or the Office of Readings, is the longest of the hours.

From 10 PM to 6 AM is eight hours and even if Matins takes a full hour, you will still get seven hours sleep. Members in some communities get naps during the day but I don’t know how that works when one is working outside of a house, teaching or serving the poor and such as Franciscans might.

It is a different lifestyle, especially for the Benedictine monastics who don’t eat meat. All of them look 15 years younger than they really are due to the lifestyle. Again, I don’t know how much bearing this has on Franciscans.


Is your question about Matins or the religious life?

Some religious communities call Matins Vigils. In the Roman Rite its current official name is the Office of Readings. If you say it personally, you may say it at any time. It has no fixed time. In many religious communities it is recited in the early hours of the morning.

If you recite the Office alone I believe it would take you about 15-20 minutes. The time a religious community takes will vary.

I believe it is possible to spend several weeks with a religious community as part of the discernment of a vocation. In that way you will be able to see if you can live that life. I suspect that many of us would find it difficult to rise at that time. However, it is possible over time to adapt to a particular lifestyle.


I’m sorry. I had to tease you a little bit. :slight_smile:

These are not Monks. They are Friars. There is a major difference, that Brother Jay has gone into great detail when explaining. Second off, not even Monks do this. Once they sleep, they sleep until the morning. I have never seen any Community do this before, so I wanted to know how long it took.

The Franciscan Brothers Minor are the Community I’m discerning with, and at this moment almost forgetting about because of this major block. I do not wish to waste the Brothers’ time as they spend twenty minutes trying to wake me up, so I’m worried about this. I need sleep, and lots of it. If I haven’t had enough sleep, it will be very hard to wake me up. The Brothers would probably think I died if they tried to wake me up.

The Brothers say the full seven hours of the Liturgy every day, so I wouldn’t be surprised if this was it.

These Franciscans don’t really take care of the poor. They do things like door-to-door evangelization. They were almost perfect until I learned about their schedule.

The problem is my body requires eight hours minimum. If I can get away with it, I could sleep for eleven hours and still be tired when I woke up. For me, there is no such thing as waking up feeling “freshed”. I never feel this. All I ever feel is tired in the morning, and this makes me concerned.

You won’t know until you try. It’s quite possible that your internal clock will adjust.

Is there a vocation weekend coming up?

Well, they don’t have “Vocation Weekends/Visits” as we know them. They have programs set up where junior high kids get to live with them for a day, and then they have another for high school kids. However, they live in Fort Wayne, Indiana, and I live in Kansas, so it’s just a little bit far for a day trip. Also, it would be too expensive, and we can’t afford it. I have no idea how I’m even going to go there for a week of discernment with them because of their distance. For those that are old enough, they invite you for a three to four day visit, and then the next one will be a week to ten days. I have no clue how I’m going to afford that.

I have emailed them and asked them certain questions, the question about sleep as well. There is a chance that I can change my body’s clock to fit theirs, but it will take a long time and a lot of patience will be tested for the Brothers. They will be late for their scheduled prayers in trying to wake me up, and that will surely spark controversy over whether they should keep me or not.

I don’t know if this is appropriate (and if not, moderators please delete this comment), but this is sometimes symptomatic of obstructive sleep apnea. You may consider a sleep study.

The length will depend on which breviary is used. I think the Franciscans use the 4-week LOTH but with adaptations (calendar, etc) to their community. It’s fairly short office even with long readings. I can do it (recitation only) in 15 min. or so. In community, chanted or recited (I think the Franciscans don’t use Gregorian Chant but they may chant recto-tono), I would think 30 min. max, maybe 10-15 min. more on Sundays and feasts when there’s a “third nocturne” (a bit of a misnomer because in the LOTH there’s no “second nocturne”; it’s really just 3 additional canticles followed by the Gospel reading).

The Benedictine community I am associated with uses a 1-week LOTH cycle (Benedictine Schema B) which takes them about 50 minutes, chanted slowly recto-tono, on ordinary days and 1h10-1h20 on Sundays and feasts; they start the Office at 5 am. A community doing the full traditional Benedictine Office would take an hour + on regular days.

I think the Carthusians still do a split night, praying Compline at around 7 pm and rising again at 11 pm for Vigils. Their Vigils are VERY long.

A side note about the Benedictines, many communities do now eat meat except on Fridays or during Lent; at least the 3 that I am familiar with (and two of the three use Latin daily in their liturgy, and one uses the original Benedictine schema for the LOTH). The Rule (depending on which translation) says not to eat the meat of quadrupeds (so poultry or fish would be OK), and the Rule also allows flexibility for the very young, the ill and the elderly to eat meat. As many communities have a large number of elderly monks it makes economic sense to only make one meat dish. Typically they eat meat at noon, not at the evening meal. The Rule is full of flexibility and most communities have long abandoned a strict legalistic interpretation of the Rule, but have adapted it to modern times. Of course that gave rise to first the Cistercians of the Common Observance (reform) and then those of the Strict Observance (reform of the reform). The Carthusians claim “never reformed, because never deformed”! The Benedictines on the other hand claim that theirs is a more balanced approach and leads to a healthier community. Go figure, I guess it’s whichever charism works for you and I like the balanced and nuanced Benedictine approach.

As for terminology, the Benedictines I know all call matins “Vigils”. “Office of Readings” is for the Roman secular Church and any community that has adapted that Office as their LOTH. For the most part the Benedictines except for those with a heavy external apostolate, do not use the 4-week LOTH but one of the approved Benedictine schemas with, at minimum, a 2-week cycle of psalmody, and many more contemplative houses (like the one I am associated with) do a full 1-week cycle (150 psalms per week).

I suspect they won’t be late for their Offices. Maybe one might if he’s assigned to help you get up, but in my experience in religious communities the Offices are like clockwork, and it’s the responsibility of each individual to drag himself to the Offices.

That said, the Offices nourish the vocation, but aren’t the vocation I suspect in the Franciscans, which has as primary vocation to serve the poor. For the Benedictines, the Office IS part of their vocation (ora et labora), and Vigils/Matins is considered their most important Office of the day. Still, one fairly young monk (mid-40s) in our community has always had problems with hypoglycemia and getting up at 5 am is very difficult for him so he’s exempt from Vigils, and the same for a couple of elderly monks with infirmities. So it’s possible that they make adaptations for those with legitimate difficulties. The idea is to discern if you truly have a vocation to the main charism of the community, and work it out with them from there.

Wonderful informatoin. Thank you.

I am more familiar with Cistercian/OCSC practices. The monastery which stole my heart uses a four week Psalter and they don’t eat beef or pork except those on an infirm diet. Fish and shellfish are OK and I have had the most delicious shrim and pasta in the refectory. I don’t know about poultry.

They sleep about 7 hours at night, rsing at 3:40 or so for Vigils at 4:00 AM. They do half of vigils, meditate for a half hour, and then finish Vigils about 5:00 AM. They also get a nap during the day - I’m not sure how long.

I feel for TeutonicKnight. I rarely feel refreshed in the morning. Morning is a chore for me. I am starting to think that I may have a blood sugar problem as well. Diabetes runs in my family. But as you say, getting up in the morning would not stop me from discerning a vocation. If it is Gods will, then sleep habits will not prevent it and it could be the devil throwing in a bit of confusion and reluctance.


I have a boss like you, TeutonicKnight. It’s just the way his brain is hardwired I guess and its possible this is the same for you.

His mother has told me he has always been a very deep sleeper, throughout his entire life. It’s just who he is, so I believe you.


The Office of our community consists of two nocturnes of 3 psalms each, and two long readings (the second one is patristic) with responsories. On Sundays and feasts there is a third nocturne as mentioned with 3 canticles, the Gospel reading (by the abbot) followed by the Te Decet Laus, a homily from one of the ancient Church fathers, the Te Deum, and the closing collect.

Those doing the full traditional Benedictine Office (a community in France I am fond of does this, but in the OF), and they have two nocturnes of 6 psalms each. The third nocturne, when called for, is as above. They chant it recto-tono in Latin, and it takes them about an hour on normal weekdays (ferias or memorials).

An interesting thing in the Rule of St. Benedict: from the second Sunday of Easter until the 1st of November, the readings can be shortened. The first reading is shortened, and in lieu of a patristic reading the second reading is a shorter reading and versicle. At our abbey the first reading isn’t shortened, but the second reading is replaced with the shorter scripture reading (like the sorter readings in the LOTH). St. Benedict was accounting for the shorter nights of summer!

In the traditional office, the long readings are divided into three sections (four on Sundays and feasts), with three responsories, the last one followed by the Gloria Patri. In summer, the readings aren’t divided and there’s only one responsory. At our abbey there’s only one responsory.

Of course Benedictines have a lot of room to maneuver as each house has considerable autonomy. Even the local bishop can’t tell them how to run things!

Matins is the office which is usually recited at night before the break of dawn and is accompanied by Lauds. It is comprised of three nocturnes which include psalms, lessons with responsories, canticles, hymns and more psalms! (This is what is contained in my version of Matins.) The Monastic Matins for example can take up to an hour. Usually for me when I recite it, it takes about 40 minutes But on Sundays it can be longer. Some communities attach Lauds to it so you could expect an hour or a few minutes more.

But in today’s day Matins is now the Office of Readings which is comprised of a hymn, a few psalms, with antiphons, and two readings with responsories and closing prayer. It takes me about 15-20 minutes to do it. It might take longer in the community though.

So they go to bed at 10PM? If my understanding is correct you would have from 10-12 (maybe a few minutes before) to sleep. Lets say Matins takes one hour so your now at 1. So if add the two hours of sleep from 10-12 and the 5 hours of sleep after matins you get seven hours of sleep. Some orders have a set time for bed but allow you to go to sleep earlier than this.

I suffer from the same feeling as well, all I can suggest is force yourself to get up. The sleeping longer will only make you (in my case) feel more groggy. Also like mentioned in other posts some orders allow sleep during the day. Hope this helps. :thumbsup:

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