The above sketch undoubtedly depicts the normal day, but there were times when discipline was relaxed, and conversation and other social enjoyments permitted in the common room. Nor were certain quiet games considered indecorous for the novices and younger monks, a wise provision that ensured contentment of mind as well as health of body. Austere and monotonous as the life may seem to modern notions, gloominess and discontent were never characteristics of a Benedictine monastery, as indeed, they can never be of any institution which is imbued with the spirit of true Christianity.
For the outside world also these abbeys were centers of social as well as of religious life in mediaeval England. The monks were kindly landlords who took boys and taught them how to ply their various crafts, and live in prosperity and contentment. It was generally a privilege to be the vassal of a Benedictine abbot, a spiritual lord of Parliament and a great feudatory of the Crown. An abbot was able to use the influence he possessed in high places for the welfare of all those in one way or another dependent on him.
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