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Bethlehem Abbey Cistercian Family: About Us

What is the Bethlehem Abbey Cistercian Family?

To find out how you can become part of the Bethlehem Abbey Cistercian Family eCommunity, click here for more information.

We are a community which gathers ‘virtually’ around an established monastic community.  Using various media we form together an ‘e-Community’, a community of persons which exists not just virtually but as a communion, by our common search for God and interest in Cistercian wisdom and contemplative life.  We are, then, a group sharing, by electronic means, in an ancient Christian way of life, centred on Christ and his call to ‘love one another’ after his example.

This family and community encourages its members to participate in whatever way each one can, according to his or her desire, time, interest and capacity.  It is our hope that each of us, finding in the gift of the Cistercian monastic life a vibrant and attractive invitation to follow Christ more closely, might discover in the teachings offered here tools for our spiritual life.

In visiting these pages we invite you to enter more deeply into this living water of Christ’s life and Spirit.  By considering what is offered here we hope you feel drawn into this community, and that you join others who seek Christ above all things.

You join, by your prayer and reading, a community of men who live the Cistercian monastic life in Our Lady of Bethlehem Abbey, Portglenone, Northern Ireland.  This community was founded in 1948 and has continued to live a way of life handed down from the first founders of the Order who established the Cistercian life in 1098, in Cîteaux, France.  In doing so, they live by the Rule of St Benedict, and embrace a special observance of silence, solitude, prayer in common, the prayerful reading of Sacred Scripture (lectio divina), and other spiritual tools hallowed by tradition and practice.  But above all the life of a Cistercian monk is characterised by a singular desire to seek God.


The monks in Portglenone observe a timetable of prayer which consecrates the whole of the day, beginning with the night office, called the Office of Vigils.  Then, regularly through the day, they join together in the monastic church, marking the passage of the day, until the last hour when night prayer, Compline, asks God’s blessing and protection through the hours of sleep.  You might feel called to join in some way at some of these times by praying the prayer of the Church, the Liturgy of the Hours, which you can find here: THE DIVINE OFFICE

You can find the Divine Office online here: https://universalis.com/, on the Universalis App or in a breviary.


In our prayer, we always ask God to send new men to the monastery (Prayer for Vocations).  We are confident that there are people who are searching for this way to God, who may already value silence and solitude, who are interested in leading a life which is centred more on prayer and life in a religious community – but they do not yet know that they want to be a Cistercian!  We hope that, in the midst of this e-Community, and by our sharing something of this Cistercian life, some will hear the invitation which God is extending to them to recognise that they may have a vocation to the Cistercian monastic life and so come to join us at Bethlehem Abbey. We ask those who form our e-Community to pray especially for new Cistercian vocations to our monastery. Find out more about vocations to the Cistercian life here: VOCATIONS

-Bethlehem Abbey Cistercian Family-


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