Benedictine Monks


#1

I have been discening Religious Life for almost a year now, and I'm starting to take an interest in Benedictine Monks. The ones that I've found at snowmass.org/ really interest me, but I wanted to know if there was any others similar? I'm looking for ones that live in solitude, but definitely not complete solitude like a Carmelite Hermit would. I would like a community that is very active within its property. In other words: I don't want to basically live in silence 99% of the time. I'd like to work, have pleasant conversations with the Monks daily, study, etc, while still allowing family to visit, like the ones I mention above. I know I'm being nit-picky here, but I'd like an Order that lives a Monastic life without having the extemities of, let's say, fifth century Monks. Am I being unreasonable, or is there more than one Benedictine Community (Or another Order entirely) like the ones at Snow Mass?


#2

[quote="ATeutonicKnight, post:1, topic:269385"]
I have been discening Religious Life for almost a year now, and I'm starting to take an interest in Benedictine Monks. The ones that I've found at snowmass.org/ really interest me, but I wanted to know if there was any others similar?

[/quote]

I am not personally familiar with the monastery you mention, but I do recognize them as being Cistercian. Of course, Cistercians are closely related to Benedictines, but they are separate.

Have you considered the Monastery of Christ in the Desert?
christdesert.org/

It is located in the New Mexico wilderness. Some here might remember it from a TLC program which aired a few years ago.


#3

[quote="Dale_M, post:2, topic:269385"]
I am not personally familiar with the monastery you mention, but I do recognize them as being Cistercian. Of course, Cistercians are closely related to Benedictines, but they are separate.

Have you considered the Monastery of Christ in the Desert?
christdesert.org/

It is located in the New Mexico wilderness. Some here might remember it from a TLC program which aired a few years ago.

[/quote]

Cistercians are most definitely Benedictine, just as Camaldolese Monks are. Cistercians are a reformed group of Benedictines that, from what I can tell, did not appreciate where the Order went. It went from being Contemplative to being scholastic, and I don't think that's what Saint Benedict wanted. Then again, I know very little about it and these are all guesses, so nobody yell at me if I'm wrong. :p

I looked those guys up a little bit. I mean no offense, but they seem sort of too modern for my taste. I'm looking for the old Church with the beautiful Gothic-Cathedral mentality, not a George Jetson vision. :p

I mean no offense by that. I can just tell that their vision is not my vision. They aren't terrible Monks or anything, they just aren't what I'm looking for. I believe U2's "Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For" fits nicely here. :D


#4

Though I can’t help you with your question, I do have one little point to make. As you discern you have to let go of those things you think you want, those things you think are non-negotiable because they can cloud your judgement of where God is leading you to. If you think too much about “I want a, b and c” and end up with this ideal community in your mind then you are setting yourself up for disappointment because no community will ever meet you ideals. You may think you know what you want but God may be leading you to something different. I’m not saying you can’t think “well I don’t really feel drawn to x kind of lifestyle” because that is important in a vocation, I’m just saying you have to be careful to place God at the centre and go where He wills you. You may realise all these things, I don’t know, but this is just what I have learnt discerning and from fellow discerners who are much further down the path than you or I.


#5

I would recommend looking into the American Benedictine Monastery founded by
Fontgombault In France.

Clear Creek Monastery
www.clearcreekmonks.org/

It is located in Ok.


#6

There is also a community of Benedictines who refouned the monestary in Nursia, Italy (St. Benedict's birthplace)

Surprisingly, they are mostly Americans.

osbnorcia.org/

It is not full solitude, as the monks care for the Basillica there, and run a gift shop near the Basillica. They will also host retreats for pilgrims who come to visit St. Benedict's birthplace.


#7

You may want to check out the Benedictines at St. Procopius Abbey in Lisle Illinois. One of their mottoes is "pray and work". They are teachers and professors at a local high school and also College.

procopius.org/Welcome/Hospitality.html


#8

[quote="ATeutonicKnight, post:1, topic:269385"]
I have been discening Religious Life for almost a year now, and I'm starting to take an interest in Benedictine Monks. The ones that I've found at snowmass.org/ really interest me, but I wanted to know if there was any others similar? I'm looking for ones that live in solitude, but definitely not complete solitude like a Carmelite Hermit would. I would like a community that is very active within its property. In other words: I don't want to basically live in silence 99% of the time. I'd like to work, have pleasant conversations with the Monks daily, study, etc, while still allowing family to visit, like the ones I mention above. I know I'm being nit-picky here, but I'd like an Order that lives a Monastic life without having the extemities of, let's say, fifth century Monks. Am I being unreasonable, or is there more than one Benedictine Community (Or another Order entirely) like the ones at Snow Mass?

[/quote]

Go here: saintvincentarchabbey.org/

I know them well and they seem to fit all or your criteria. Largest monastic comminity in the United States, I believe. Over 200 monks in residence. Monastary attached to St. Vincent College, providing teaching opportunities for monks. Within Diocese of Greensburg Pennsylvania, providing parish service opportunities for monks. Many retreats offered for lay people throughout year, providing opportunities for monks to be involved in lay formation activities.

And a bonus, it is the location of the Pittsburgh Steelers Spring training camp. Pretty cool!


#9

If you're looking for Benedictines rather than Cistercians you can look at an atlas of Benedictine monasteries here: atlas.osb-international.info/atlas/geo/WORLD/NameCat/1/en.html When a monastery has a web site it is linked.

Cistercian monasteries are listed here: ocso.org/index.php?option=com_mtree&task=listalllinks&Itemid=54&lang=en


#10

[quote="PerfectTiming, post:4, topic:269385"]
Though I can't help you with your question, I do have one little point to make. As you discern you have to let go of those things you think you want, those things you think are non-negotiable because they can cloud your judgement of where God is leading you to. If you think too much about "I want a, b and c" and end up with this ideal community in your mind then you are setting yourself up for disappointment because no community will ever meet you ideals. You may think you know what you want but God may be leading you to something different. I'm not saying you can't think "well I don't really feel drawn to x kind of lifestyle" because that is important in a vocation, I'm just saying you have to be careful to place God at the centre and go where He wills you. You may realise all these things, I don't know, but this is just what I have learnt discerning and from fellow discerners who are much further down the path than you or I.

[/quote]

Thank you for the advice. I have done that before, being open to everything, even never seeing my parents again as I thought about being a Carmelite Monk in Wyoming (carmelitemonks.org/), but I soon realized I wasn't called to such extremities. I don't think I could handle a Hermit way of life. Not that I think it would be too hard and completely impossible, but I just look at my personality and try to fit it with the Hermits, and I realize that I don't like silence that much. I don't like to live in contemplation very much, either. I like to preach, to help the poor, to convert souls up close and personally. Therefore, trying to be something that I couldn't do would be a waste of my time and the Hermits' time. And trust me, they don't have much to spare. The things those guys do for us is amazing. I'd be willing to bet that it's because of Communities like them that the world hasn't burned to the ground, and won't any time soon.


#11

My monks (olivetani=Olivetan) are a wonderful order. They do travel outside of the monastery giving retreats, visiting us Oblates who are attached, but far off (we are a 4 hour trip away--in both directions).

Wonderful, wonderful orthodox and holy men. They have a monastery in San Luis Obipso, CA. A truly gorgeous place :)


#12

I thought you were discerning the secular priesthood? Specifically FSSP. Am I mixing you up?


#13

[quote="ATeutonicKnight, post:1, topic:269385"]
I have been discening Religious Life for almost a year now, and I'm starting to take an interest in Benedictine Monks. The ones that I've found at snowmass.org/ really interest me, but I wanted to know if there was any others similar? I'm looking for ones that live in solitude, but definitely not complete solitude like a Carmelite Hermit would. I would like a community that is very active within its property. In other words: I don't want to basically live in silence 99% of the time. I'd like to work, have pleasant conversations with the Monks daily, study, etc, while still allowing family to visit, like the ones I mention above. I know I'm being nit-picky here, but I'd like an Order that lives a Monastic life without having the extemities of, let's say, fifth century Monks. Am I being unreasonable, or is there more than one Benedictine Community (Or another Order entirely) like the ones at Snow Mass?

[/quote]

Another has mentioned the Cistercians, also called the Trappists.

Please understand that the history of Benedictine monasticism is one of constant renewal and constant reform. Ongoing conversion is in fact, one of their vows. St. Benedict set it up that way. It is not a revolt or a revolution for one community to change or reform itself. Ongoing conversion and ongoing renewal are part of the Benedictine way of life for both individual Brother's during their own lives and for Benedictine monasticism throughout the centuries.

I am very familiar with the Cistercian community at the Monsastery of the Holy Spirit in Conyers, Georgia. If I don't become a deacon some day, I will likey become an oblate to this community. I am too old to join as a full member of the community as I have children and will be past the age of admittance when my children are old enough to live on their own.

But the Cistercians at this community live in community and practice "Grand silence" from after Compline until after Mass the next morning, unless charity demands that they speak. Prayer (both privately and in community AKA the hours), Lectio and work are the three pillars of the community. They eat and work in community and run several industries including a stained glass window factory and factories which make fudge and fruitcake.

Just be aware that one does not join a Benedictine or Cistercian/Trappist community to become a priest. One is a brother first, and a priest only if the community has that need and as a servant of the community. You will not be able to tell who is and isn't a priest other than seeing who vests for Mass. A priest scraped off my dirty dishes when I was on retreat. That's the way it is.

I highly recommend the following:

Watch this wonderful video. The Call. The second man in the video is Br. Elias, the Novice Director.

Contact Brother Michael, the first one in the video, using the form here. He is the vocations director at The Monastery of the Holy Spirit. Not that you are joining this particular monastery, but let him know that you are thinking about Benedictine monasticism in general and simply ask if he would be open to a conversation. Include your phone number and I wouldn't be surprised if he calls. He is a wonderful man and the first one in the video above.

You should definitely go on a vocations retreat at a Benedictine or Cistercian monastery. I went for three days, woke up at 3:45 to pray and stood in the choir stalls between two of the Brothers and chanted the liturgy with them, ate in the refectory with them, met the Abbot and the Novice Director and spent time with a 99 1/2 year old Brother. The experience totally changed my life. Two of the men on retreat with me stayed for a one week observership and one has since become a novice.

I will recommend that you read, "The Cistercian Way" by Andre Louf. This is a wonderful book which covers the history of Cistercian/Benedictine monasticism from it's roots in the dester fathers up through the refors of Citeaux to the present day post Vatican II communites and covers Cistercian spirituality and living in community. I also recommend that you read "Praying with Benedict" by Korneel Vermeiren. The latter was only available used when I bought it. If you are serious about it, I will send you copies of both. Just send me a PM with your address and I'll get them out to you - Just get yourself to heaven and we will call it an even trade. ;)

The monastery at Snowmass is an amazing space, nestled in the mountains as it is. They are also Trappist. I would be very jealous if you wind up there. :D

Praying for you...

-Tim-


#14

[quote="ATeutonicKnight, post:3, topic:269385"]
Cistercians are most definitely Benedictine, just as Camaldolese Monks are. Cistercians are a reformed group of Benedictines that, from what I can tell, did not appreciate where the Order went. It went from being Contemplative to being scholastic, and I don't think that's what Saint Benedict wanted. Then again, I know very little about it and these are all guesses, so nobody yell at me if I'm wrong. :p

I looked those guys up a little bit. I mean no offense, but they seem sort of too modern for my taste. I'm looking for the old Church with the beautiful Gothic-Cathedral mentality, not a George Jetson vision. :p

I mean no offense by that. I can just tell that their vision is not my vision. They aren't terrible Monks or anything, they just aren't what I'm looking for. I believe U2's "Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For" fits nicely here. :D

[/quote]

Ongoing reform is part of Benedictine monasticism. They expect it. When one community want's to "Reform" itself, it is not seen as a revolt or a rejection of anything. They simply adapt to the time and place but always remain faithful to the Rule of St. Benedict.

There have been times when some communities became very worldly, and so brother's have left and started their own communities, such as the Order of Cistercians of the Strict Observance (Cistercians). This is seen as part of how the Holy Spirit guides the Church.

The history of Benedictine abbey Churches is simplicity, not to the extent that Franciscans insist on simplicity, but they are simple comapred to the Gothic Churches with high altars. They typically have large sanctuaries with free standing altars around which the community will gather during the Eucharist. This is because they are a community, in every sense of the word. Yes, some are very modern looking to us but they generally follow the rule of simplicity and community.

A beautiful example is at tagdigitalphotography.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/06/churchInterior.jpg

-Tim-


#15

[quote="ATeutonicKnight, post:10, topic:269385"]
Thank you for the advice. I have done that before, being open to everything, even never seeing my parents again as I thought about being a Carmelite Monk in Wyoming (carmelitemonks.org/), but I soon realized I wasn't called to such extremities. I don't think I could handle a Hermit way of life. Not that I think it would be too hard and completely impossible, but I just look at my personality and try to fit it with the Hermits, and I realize that I don't like silence that much. I don't like to live in contemplation very much, either. I like to preach, to help the poor, to convert souls up close and personally. Therefore, trying to be something that I couldn't do would be a waste of my time and the Hermits' time. And trust me, they don't have much to spare. The things those guys do for us is amazing. I'd be willing to bet that it's because of Communities like them that the world hasn't burned to the ground, and won't any time soon.

[/quote]

How old are you? You sound like you are all over the place regarding ideas for a vocation, not that there is anything wrong with being young but it seems you need to be guided more by ONE priest or religious than by using an internet forum for advice.


#16

TK is a kid, only 15! :D
Ah, to be so young again... LOL

And yes, I have to agree with Ringl here, TK, you are really all over the place. In November, you were already considering yourself a Franciscan, then you wanted to be a diocesean priest, then a couple of days ago, you were convinced that you belonged with the FSSP, and now you think your are called to the Benedictines. :whacky:

Not to say that learning about each order is not important, I just think that you are spending too much time looking for what you think is going to be a "perfect" fit for what you want.

Sorry to have to be the one to tell you this, my friend, but "perfect" does not exsist.

You are in my prayers-
please find a spiritual director who can help you out with all this stuff.
And contact your vocations office- that's what they are there for!!! :D

[quote="ringil, post:15, topic:269385"]
How old are you? You sound like you are all over the place regarding ideas for a vocation.

[/quote]


#17

[quote="Oneofthewomen, post:16, topic:269385"]
TK is a kid, only 15! :D
Ah, to be so young again... LOL

And yes, I have to agree with Ringl here, TK, you are really all over the place. In November, you were already considering yourself a Franciscan, then you wanted to be a diocesean priest, then a couple of days ago, you were convinced that you belonged with the FSSP, and now you think your are called to the Benedictines. :whacky:

Not to say that learning about each order is not important, I just think that you are spending too much time looking for what you think is going to be a "perfect" fit for what you want.

Sorry to have to be the one to tell you this, my friend, but "perfect" does not exsist.

You are in my prayers-
please find a spiritual director who can help you out with all this stuff.
And contact your vocations office- that's what they are there for!!! :D

[/quote]

I wanted to be a monk at 15 as well. Actually since I was VERY little I thought I wanted to be some kind of monk. I went and spent a weekend at a conventual franciscan priory in DC. They were great guys. I also used to meet with a monk at the local Benedictine abbey, who was also a nice fellow.

I then wanted to be a priest until I was 24 or so and was speaking with the vocations director for the diocese BUT it didn't work out and now I'm married with a 2 and a half year old. I'm happy as a Dad but sometimes I do still wonder how things could have been different, but that wasn't God's plan for me. . . .

But, yes, I was the same way as TK in many ways. But who knows. . . . . maybe TK will do it. We certainly need priests and religious.


#18

I'm happy as a Dad but sometimes I do still wonder how things could have been different, but that wasn't God's plan for me. . . .

Pretty much mirrors me. Only my child is now 20. :)


#19

If I had discovered Catholicism as a teen, I might have become a nun.

Anyway, it’s okay to research different vocations, ATK. It’s just sort of funny because each time you are so convinced!


#20

[quote="TrueLight, post:19, topic:269385"]
If I had discovered Catholicism as a teen, I might have become a nun.

Anyway, it’s okay to research different vocations, ATK. It’s just sort of funny because each time you are so convinced!

[/quote]

Oh the passion of youth! At one point I think I wanted to become a Redemptorist simply because I liked their clerical atire! :)

The drives of of youth can be a great thing though. As we grew up it seems as though more distractions come in and crowded out God.

I sometimes feel that I was more spiritual as a child, albeit in a less mature way. The only sort of "spiritual" experience I had occurred when I was a teen so. . . .


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