Texts read in the refectory



Monks and nuns took their meals in silence in the refectory. This is a monastic tradition established long ago in all the big orders. During a meal, a member of the community did the reading. In Lisieux a book was read nonstop, broken up with the reading during the evening meal, with the French translation of the Office (Dom Gréa), and by the reading of circulars received from other Carmels. These circulars were short biographies of deceased sisters. This reading done in a peaceful way had a strong impact on the listeners. We can verify this in numerous passages from Thérèse’s works which are directly inspired by these readings, notably the circulars.

The Carmelite whose turn it was to enter the pulpit in the refectory, did not read as if speaking in a conversation. The reading was done in almost a musical way in recto tono (from Latin: in a single tone), meaning that the text was read on the same note, like a mi (e) for example. To improve the sound of the reading, the tone was lowered a half step at the end of a sentence.