Benedictines and Monastic orders

Hey all. I am wondering about some things regarding monastic orders, I’ve been in discernment for monaticism in other religions but I am quite unclear regarding what the general rules are, so I’m kind of lost in what I should be looking at for discernment now that I am Catholic. I just kind of have a list of questions in hopes I might get a better idea.

  • Are there monks that listen to music?
  • Are there monks that can travel to and from monasteries?
  • Are there long-haired monks (head not beard)?
  • Are there monks who are allowed to go around the general area like a town?
  • Can monks go to other areas to study or see friends (eg. Priest friends, bishops, etc.)
  • Are all monks permitted to become priests if they want?

Many thanks all and God Bless

If you’re looking at Benedictines, then, no, those scenarios are not likely.

Mendicant friars would be more likely to do that. Long hair is never permitted, to my knowledge.

Click the first link under my signature to learn more about the cloistered life. I also have a page describing the different vocations, as well.

Mrs Cloisters OP
Lay Dominican

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If the order is cloistered then no. Most Benedictines are not cloistered. The run parishes, retreat centers, seminaries. Not all want or are permitted yo become priests.

Praying for your discernment that if God is calling you to this life of serving Him that He will lead you to the best possible Religious Community.

Are you drawn to a particular Benedictine monastery? It’s probably better to ask these questions to them directly. Also, if they have a decent website, you will be able to get a feel for their life in community. That might help. As for being ordained a priest, well that would depend.


If there is a monastery near you, perhaps you could visit and spend some time with the monks. It might give you a better sense of what their lives are like and you could ask all your questions.


And may God bless you and guide you to your vocation. Have you been in touch with your Vocations Director at your Diocese yet?

The list of things in your question are not generally what monks engage in doing. One of the vows a Benedictine monk takes is the vow of stability in which he professes to stay in the same monastery for life. Each Benedictine monastery is autonomous and a monk belongs to a monastery not an order, so they do not move from monastery to monastery.

The length of hair would vary from monastery to monastery with each having the freedom to make its own rules. Each house often has what is called a customary in which its house rules are set down. In general I thought monks wore short hair but recently saw a video of life in a US Benedictine monastery and the monk who featured most in it had a pony tail.

Monks generally stay in their monastery. They are not simply free to leave and go off and do their own thing. Whether they have a day off and how often varies from monastery to monastery. Some also allow their monks an annual holiday, often to visit family.

A lot of Benedictine monks are ordained to the priesthood but that has not always been the case. St. Benedict was not a priest and it was less common for monks to be ordained as priests back then. Since Vatican II there are also been a change where there is no longer a distinction made between priest-monks and lay brothers. All monks are equal, now. Whether a monk becomes a priest will depend partly on his own vocation and on whether his abbot permits him to become a priest. The decision does not take place until after he has made his solemn profession.

If you are considering a monastic vocation these are not things that a monastery would want to see you most interest in. They would want to know if you have a true desire to seek God. They would be looking at your prayer life. I just it may be a good idea to look at a number of Benedictine monastery websites and look at their vocations page.

I believe the Op is asking about the Benedictine order and other non Benedictine Monastic orders.

I good friend of mine was a Benedictine monk for 8 years. He eventually discerned to become a diocesan priest, which he is today.

Each monastery is different, but to my knowledge, they do not permit long hair. During my friends time, he was shaven head, with a beard.

Yes he was permitted to go into town. He had a yearly trip home to visit with family and friends. The monks ran a parish in the town and the monks were commonly seen in town. They can also have visitors, I stayed at the guest house and the monastery, They host people coming for retreats or simply having a chance to spend time in prayer with the monks.

But just about everything they do is related to either work or prayer ( Ora et Labora). The walk into town was for some purpose. It might be to shop for dinner, buy hardware for a work project, it could be to simply be seen as a Catholic presence. But nothing was done simply ‘just because’. The life is very purpose driven.

Even the meals there were towards that purpose. The monks gathered, the Blessing was said, and they all ate just about a quickly as possible. No casual conversation. In fact, one of the monks would read from some spiritually enlightening work while the rest ate. When the last person was done, a blessing was said and the monks went off to their assigned duties. The food is simply a means to an end, that of having the energy to work and pray. No point in spending any extra time at it.

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Any Religious Vocation is about serving God and serving others not about our own likes, comforts

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Whar part of the country are you in?
I am down the road from St. Meinrad…their website answers a lot of your questions…

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