St. Meinrad develops app aimed to find 'inner monk'
Prayer is literally at the center of a monk’s life here. It’s in the Benedictine motto “ora et labora," or "pray and work," and it’s at 12:00pm -- the middle of the day.
A few dozen monks have settled in for afternoon prayer. Seated in the middle of the group is 30-year-old Brother William Sprauer, the media coordinator in Saint Meinrad’s vocations office.
He helped develop a smartphone app, focused on prayer, to bring new monks to the monastery.
“It's a way for us to usher in a new generation of monks, religious, priests, people who want to make this life their own somehow," Sprauer said.
It’s designed for lay folks, too, which is why the app is called “Honor your Inner Monk.”
“There’s a spiritual dimension to all of our lives," Sprauer said. "So we’re asking people to honor that inner monk by praying every day.”
Vocation Director Brother John Mark Falkenhain came up with the idea. He says that prayer is a comfortable place to find common ground with someone, before launching into a permanent lifestyle decision.
“When we take the time to pray and to pray for other people, it changes us. It turns our hearts to wanting to do something for people," Falkenhain said. "The more people who do that, the more we create a more peaceful, caring and loving world."
And he adds, the new technology is keeping this ancient lifestyle relevant. Just ask the Pope, who Tweets in nine languages.
“The methods of communications have changed, but the need for prayer have not, so if we don't use these new forms of communication, we'll just fade out,” Sprauer said.
When you open the Inner Monk app, incense rises on the screen and the sound of Saint Meinrad’s legendary Gregorian chants resound. On the main screen, users have the option to select morning or afternoon prayer, and once they finish the short recitation, a notch is added to a progress marker on the bottom of the screen.
It’s like a fitness tracker for days prayed per month.
“I think that’s the piece that really has captured something with people, the sense that it's tracking your progress," Sprauer said.
So far, Spauer says the app has been downloaded onto nearly 6,000 devices, which is an impressive reach for this relatively small, cloistered community.
“Not only just the target audience but kind of middle-aged people who say they take this with them to work and listen to the chant on their lunch break," Sprauer said. "It has reached a wider audience than I anticipated.”
But he hopes it reaches those with an inner monk, who ultimately, find their way into the monastery.