Fr. Christopher Cell 704 718 9697 firstname.lastname@example.org
Next Sermon - 7:00 AM on Sunday 28
Fr. Christopher Cell 704 718 9697 email@example.com
Candidates should be between 21 and 43 years old. The Director of Vocations is available to discuss the life, prayer, and work of the Abbey, as well as questions regarding the discernment of vocation. He can also provide publications that may help you in learning about the Benedictine life here.
The life of a monk turns on two hinges: Prayer and Work.
Our daily life is structured around the cycle of liturgical prayer, with our day culminating in the celebration of the Mass. Time is also allotted for spiritual reading, personal reflection, and Lectio Divina. This spirit of prayer then flows through the rest of our activities, making all of our work a form of prayer.
Since the model of the Benedictine life is the family, the monastic community functions as a family unit. Each monk assists in the daily life and work of the community. The monks may cover such tasks as:
All of this takes place under the careful direction of our Abbot, who guides our community as a father guides his family.
Saint Benedict founded only three monasteries: Subiaco, Montecassino, and Terracina. But he indicates various modifications of the Rule that may have to be made for differing climates, and so he probably expected it would be adopted elsewhere. In any event, that is what happened. His Rule was found to be so moderate and sensible that it spread throughout Italy and into the Frankish Kingdom, England, and Germany. From the tenth century until the beginning of the thirteenth century it was virtually the only form of religious life in Western Europe. Benedictine monks played a prominent role in converting the pagan Anglo-Saxons, Germans, Scandinavians, Slavs, and Magyars, and in renewing the Christian life in lands which had long been converted but where the invasions of the fifth and sixth centuries and later of the ninth and tenth centuries had produced chaos and a breakdown of orderly life.
With the rise of the mendicant orders of friars and of other forms of the religious life from the thirteenth century, the Benedictine Rule ceased to hold a monopoly in this field. But it continued to exist alongside the newer groups and spread wherever Christianity was carried, especially from the time of the great voyages of discovery. It was, however, relatively late in reaching North America. The first Benedictine monastery in the United States, Saint Vincent Archabbey in Latrobe, Pennsylvania, was founded in 1846 as an offshoot of the Bavarian Abbey of Metten. Among Saint Vincent’s numerous foundations was Belmont Abbey, established as a dependent priory in 1876 and raised to abbatial rank in 1884.
The Benedictine religious family is not an “order” in the strict sense. It is not organized under a supreme superior, who has the authority to dispose of the individual members as he sees fit and to intervene at will in the individual houses throughout the world. Actually, the only common bond among all the monasteries is the Rule of Saint Benedict. The “order” consists of individual monasteries, each leading its own life according to the Rule. But for the sake of supervision and of maintaining good discipline and in the interest of a minimal uniformity of observance, the monasteries are grouped into congregations, based chiefly on geographical location and the circumstances of their origin. Each congregation is presided over by an elected President and his council, and the highest authority reposes in its General Chapter, which meets at specified intervals. But, even so, the congregation does not absorb the member monasteries or encroach upon their lives. Its main purpose is to provide guidance and assistance to member monasteries as they might need it, and to detect and uproot abuses that may creep in. All the congregations are further united in a worldwide Confederation, headed by the Abbot Primate, who resides in Rome at the Abbey of Sant’Anselmo. While the Primate is the first ranking Benedictine in the world, he is not the “general” of an order or its supreme superior. He is the special contact of the Benedictine institute with the Holy See, which may delegate him to carry out specified functions in the interests of the Benedictine family or of a part of it.
And so, while it may seem to be organized like the great centralized orders in the Church, the Benedictine institute essentially consists of individual autonomous monasteries which regulate their own affairs subject to the canon law of the Church, the constitutions and directory of their congregation, and in accord with the Rule of Saint Benedict. Each monastery is a particular family with its own private and public life, in no sense dependent on any other monastery or on any other superior than its own Abbot or Prior and, of course, the Vicar of Christ. Dom David Knowles, in his excellent work, The Benedictines, says: “Independence and autonomy, unity and variety, and ever renewed vitality have always been characteristics of Benedictine monasticism.”
This family idea is one of the chief attractions of the Benedictine way of life. It means that the monk joins, not an order, but a particular monastic family and that, except in extraordinary circumstances, he will belong to and remain in that family until death. He cannot be assigned to any other monastery, even though for some urgent reason he may be asked to assist another family for a more or less extended period. The monastery he entered as a candidate remains his family for life. It sinks roots in its locality and ordinarily draws most of its recruits from that general area. It carries out its apostolate locally, seeking to make Christ better known and to draw to Him all whom its influence can there reach. While certain monasteries acquire a national or international reputation and their influence extends far beyond their locality, ordinarily the monastery integrates itself into the territory of its immediate vicinity and devotes its efforts primarily to this area.
Written by Saint Benedict of Nursia in the 6th century, the Rule of Saint Benedict provides spiritual and practical guidance to monks living together in the service of God.
The Rule is comprised of 73 chapters, each dealing with a specific aspect of monastic life.
Benedictine monks are Catholic men who band together in the search for God. Saint Benedict wrote his Rule for monks to give monastic life its organization and to express its purposes. Benedictine monasticism complements a monk’s ambition: his goal of glorifying God in all things. Today’s monks, like centuries of monks before them, embrace Benedict’s Rule as their guide to monastic life. A monk’s first duty is prayer, and the works of virtue that follow upon it. Living together in community, monks vow:
A commitment of allegiance to this one monastery and its monastic family
A commitment to give order to their pursuit of God by working under the guidance of an Abbot, who acts as “father” of the monastic community