Trappists celebrate eucharist every single day. Eucharist is the “source and summit” of our life as Roman Catholic Christians, and this is especially true for Trappists. Christ gave himself totally in obedience to God on the cross. When we celebrate mass, this sacrifice is made present to us again. But a Trappist's whole life is just this kind of sacrifice to God in obedience. The mystery of the cross made present again on the altar, is the source of our joy as monks and nuns. We have found true happiness and fulfillment as human beings in surrendering our life to God just as Jesus did on the cross.
Cistercians have been saying mass together for nine hundred years! Consequently the church allows us to preserve certain customs from Medieval times in our own “Cistercian Rite” of the mass. So, at those moments in the mass when a parish priest genuflects, a Cistercian, (Trappist) priest bows. At the beginning of the gospel when parish worshipers cross themselves three times, once on the forehead, once on the lips, and once on the breast, Cistercians cross themselves one time, (forehead, breast, both shoulders). Trappists tend to make longer pauses after the readings and at the end of prayers and, in general, the liturgy moves at a slower pace than that of parish liturgies. The vestments worn by the priest and the vessels used on the altar are striking in their simplicity.
We consider it a blessing that we are able to celebrate eucharist with people we know very well, some of whom we may have lived with for decades. Because we are poor, the musical instruments we use are simple. The melodies we chant, in many cases, have been passed down to us from generations of monks and nuns whose artistic gifts we celebrate as if they were our own brothers and sisters. Trappists observe silence in church in order to maintain an atmosphere of recollection there at all times. This means, we would not gather in back of church and visit with one another after mass as is done in parishes. Rather, each of us would typically spend a short time in silence before the Blessed Sacrament, and only enter into conversation in one of the rooms adjacent to the chapel.