My uncle was a monk in southern Mexico, and every few summers we’d take road trips through the area and visit him.
You know how teachers will sometimes ask kids at the beginning of the school year what they did during the summer?
“I went to a monastery” sounds awfully odd amongst tales of beach days and amusement parks, haha.
But even though it was an odd trip from the point of view of a kid, I really came to enjoy them. There were many songs sang throughout the day’s prayer times, but it was Completas (last one of the day) that have stuck with me the most. After most songs and prayers were done in the chapel, all lights would be shut off with the exception of the one aimed to the image of the Virgin Mary. A note was played for tone, and the monks would sing Salve Regina. After the last chord rose and disipated, silence was the rule. The monks would walk off to their chambers and they were not allowed to speak until morning prayers.
There is something beautiful about the chant’s words surrounding you, echo in the chapel and wash over you in the darkness.
When I was a teen, I seioursly considered becoming a nun, and although it was not my true calling, to this day Gregorian chant is something I turn back to when I need to find peace.
I don’t have a recording of the Mexican monks’ singing. But this one resembles it the most: