Monastic Life "By their prayers and works of penance and sufferings contemplative communities have a very great importance in the conversion of souls." Second Vatican Council Decree on the Missions
Our monastic life at St. Benedict's Abbey is focused on prayer. The bells of the Abbey church call the monks to community prayer five times each day. Together we pray the Liturgy of the Hours which include Vigils and Lauds, Noon Praise, Vespers, and Compline. We also celebrate the daily conventual Mass. It is this communal prayer that unites the monks in their service to God and the Church. When the bell calls, the monk stops whatever he is doing and hastily proceeds to Church.
The monks also spend time alone each day in private prayer. This is as important as community worship. Private prayer is often silent prayer in which the monk is in tune with the presence of God. There is a saying, pray as you can, not as you can't. Each monk is encouraged to find his way or path to God.
Spiritual reading "Lectio Divina" is another important aspect of silent prayer. This is a type of meditative reading where the text is received as a personal message from a loving God and not as an object of intellectual study.
St. Benedict in his Rule states that there are four kinds of monks. A cenobite is a monk that serves under a rule and an abbot. We the monks of St. Benedict's Abbey are cenobites and are called by Christ to live with him and to constantly strive for a closer personal relationship with God. Together sharing material and spiritual goods in our journey to God as individuals and as a community.
Life in community is filled with countless blessings. Each monk is lifted up by the unceasing prayer, generous love and true friendship of the other monks. Through lives dedicated to service of God and others, monks share the peace and joy that comes from each moment of giving of self.
In his Rule for Monasteries St. Benedict said, "that to truly be a monk one must work with his hands." There are many jobs to be done in a monastery. We are men who work. In today's culture our work is not always with our hands but each monk is expected to contribute according to his abilities and health.
In order to "serve one another" the monks of the Abbey are assigned individual responsibilities on a rotating basis. These assignments focus on the liturgy and the dining room or refectory.
The monks also tend to the daily maintenance of the monastery. This includes work in the kitchen, the library, the bookstore, the post office, the development office, maintenance of the buildings and grounds or serving the needs of the many guests and retreatants.
Some monks may assist the local church by helping out in a nearby parish.
Work is assigned by the Abbot and is based on the needs of the community and the talents of the individual monks.
In response to the call of Christ the monks of St. Benedict's Abbey strive to follow Him. This conversion is a life-long process, a continual journey by which the individual monk strives to be closer to Christ by believing and living the Gospel. The monk abandons everything that may hinder this journey including his pride, unnecessary material goods and his own will. Profession of monastic vows is not for everyone and it is only after a period of trial and formation and simple profession (three years) that the monk makes his solemn commitment to God which binds him for life.
It is often said that a man should be something of a saint before he even considers the life of a Benedictine Monk. Not true! If this were true, there would be few if any of us in monastic life. A man responds to the call of God, an invitation, to live his life as a baptized Catholic in search of God. A man enters the monastery because his search leads him here. It is here, that he is found by God--watching and waiting!
The vows of obedience, conversion and stability are our way of life, a way of life that is simply the Gospel put into action and lived to its fullness. Its basis is not the self-reliance of the monk on his own strength, but the invitation extended by Christ to "come follow me" and "I am the way." This life is not an easy life but it is not above the strength of ordinary men.
What is required is reasonable health, good morals, normal mental and emotional balance, a generous spirit and a desire to try. If you are interested in additional information about our way of life and the steps of initial formation, please write or e-mail us. If you are interested in visiting our Abbey or in making a retreat to consider your future we invite you to look at our web pages for Vocations and Discernment.