Here we look more closely at the lay-brothers’ life, and at various
aspects of their daily routine.
Entry to the lay-brotherhood
Anyone who wished to enter
the Cistercian life as a lay-brother was received by the monks
of the abbey at their daily chapter meeting.
He was then received at the lay-brothers’ chapter which was held every
Sunday, but might meet more frequently to welcome new members.
A master was assigned to train the new recruit and teach him of
the Cistercian way
of life.(11) After a year’s probationary
period, which was a testing time as well as an opportunity to learn
Cistercian customs, the novice made his
profession in the monks’ chapter-house where he professed obedience
to the abbot and was formally received as a member of the Order.
The recruit first renounced his possessions and thereafter prostrated
the monks, asking for mercy; he knelt before the abbot and swore
obedience by joining his hands, and placing them in the abbot’s. The
newcomer then kissed the abbot and with this gesture brought the
ceremony to a conclusion.(12) He was then officially
recognised as a member of the lay-brotherhood
of the wider Cistercian family, and was expected to remain faithful
to his vocation as a lay-brother. This meant that he never to take
the monastic habit, and was to observe the customs of the Order.
The lay-brother was subject to Cistercian discipline and was
to follow regulations relating to spiritual observances, silence,
food, drink, clothing, and personal grooming, and also to abide
by the ideals of simplicity