Ever get the feeling monks are looked down on? (feeling discouraged)


#1

Once I started talking about the idea I might have a religious calling to the monastic life, about a year and a half ago, I have mostly met with negative or neutral responses.

Usually these responses go along the lines of:
you could do more to help people, or perhaps you could be a deacon instead, or, hmph, you should talk to my Jesuit friends, or are you sure that’s the best way to serve the Church? (a deacon’s wife literally just made a grunt sound and turned away from me. It was at a party and I hadn’t met her, perhaps it was a mere coincidence and she didn’t mean it towards me, as I wasn’t talking exactly to her but was being introduced to her and her husband by another)

The only person that ever really encouraged me was a former Buddhist nun.

I am going to start talking with my local priest about religious discernment. We had a preliminary talk today just for a few minutes. Though I think his heart is in the right place, I’m worried by some of his language that he will be more interested in persuading me to follow the priesthood. It’s not something I’m vehemently opposed to… but how do I stick up for the monastic way, without being too unbalanced in one direction or another?

Does anyone have advice for me? Does anyone ever feel the same way? I meet with opposition or redirection at just about every turn. But I don’t think that’s God telling me to avoid the path of the monk-- the circumstances under which I met the ex-nun are far more compelling, and her encouragement towards the monastery seems like it would be more an act of God’s intervention than the mundane circumstances I meet opposition in.

I’m just feeling discouraged and could use some help:(


#2

We need all the monks, friars, brothers and sisters we can get because we need your prayers!!!

If God is calling you to the monastic life, then contact the order or the particular monastery whose spirituality and life is attracting you. Your diocese should be able to help you, as well. No doubt there is someone there who could advise you.

Your diocesan priest probably knows very little about the monastic life, so he may not be the best person to ask about it. He means well, I’m sure, but not every man who has a calling needs to pursue the priesthood. Indeed, many orders have all the priests they need and so want/need religious brothers.

And depending on the order you enter, you may be working out in the community far more than a parish priest by helping the needy and other such apostolates.

Religious life has many vocations, monastic life is but one–a perfectly valid and valuable one. So, pursue it if you believe that is what God wants you to be/do. :thumbsup:


#3

I don’t know if that is true. But I believe that it should not discourage you of pursuing the religious vocation.

As Jesus said: “So the last will be first, and the first will be last.” Matthew 20:16.

So, your vocation may be looked down here on earth, but granting you treasures in Heaven.


#4

Continue to prayerfully seek answers. I agree with the last poster who says to contact the order you are finding an interest in. Remember, one thing in the church right now is that we have so few priests - That is one reason that some may point you toward being a diocesan priest, but there is a place for brothers and sisters among the consecrated . God Bless You


#5

No matter the path, each and every step closer to God - and living that journey - will be met with various levels of opposition. Some opposition will be truly hostile but most will be well meaning.
God is aware of this - and in fact - monasteries and seminaries ect. fairly require that one encounter and work through such things in order to make sure that the proposed path is indeed the right one.

So - rather than be discouraged - take such challenges as God’s way of helping to to properly discern.

Peace
James


#6

Good monks seem very holy and spiritual to me
because of their humility.
Because, in spite of how the world views them,
they carry their crosses
as disciples of Christ.

Of course the world will look down on you.

Praying for you to follow God’s path for your life.

:blessyou:

~~ the phoenix


#7

Have you made many monastic retreats and talked with other monks?
It is a vocation and not many who do not have the vocation understand it.


#8

Praying from today’s Liturgy of the Hours:

Psalm 63:2-9
A soul thirsting for God
Whoever has left the darkness of sin yearns for God.

O God, you are my God, for you I long;
for you my soul is thirsting.
My body pines for you
like a dry, weary land without water.
So I gaze on you in the sanctuary
to see your strength and your glory.

For your love is better than life,
my lips will speak your praise.
So I will bless you all my life,
in your name I will lift up my hands.
My soul shall be filled as with a banquet,
my mouth shall praise you with joy.

On my bed I remember you.
On you I muse through the night
for you have been my help;
in the shadow of your wings I rejoice.
My soul clings to you;
your right hand holds me fast.

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit:
– as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be for ever. Amen.

Psalm 133
Joy when hearts are united in love
Let us love one another, for love is of God. (1 John 4:7).

How good and how pleasant it is,
when brothers live in unity!

Psalm-prayer

Pour out over your Church, Lord, the spirit of brotherly love and a longing for your peace. May this precious oil of the Holy Spirit flow over us to fill us with your gracious benediction.

Amen


#9

:):):slight_smile:
Thank you for the encouraging words. Even Our Lord had help carrying his cross by Simon the Cyrenian. So I am not ashamed of being helped by words of encouragement :wink:

I will start to contact some of the orders that I might have interest in, directly.


#10

In addition to the other posts, are you aware we have an awesome Franciscan monk on CAF? Look up JReducation (Brother Jay) and send him a private message. I am sure he would be delighted to help.


#11

“you could do more to help people”
Really sounds like these people are very ignorant in what monks actually do.

“you should talk to my Jesuit friends”
As someone discerning a Jesuit calling I would say go for it :thumbsup: our orders might be different, but we are all still serving God and his Church.

“are you sure that’s the best way to serve the Church?”
Once again another ignorant statement. Monks are very charitable, faithful, and spiritual.

We all serve the Church in many ways some might be through prayer, active service etc. but it all serves God and his Church.

I also would look up Thomas Merton, and the movie Of Gods and Men
May God Bless you on your journey
:highprayer::signofcross::byzsoc::crossrc:


#12

I’ve noticed there is always a big push on men to get them to be priests.

As a kid, I always thought the nuns and sisters had a much–much-- better vocational arena.

I sympathize with you, OP. I think men can do more than just the priesthood. But you’re going to have to keep a stiff elbow at those who want to push you into the priesthood.


#13

There are all kinds of monks. I’m married, and have always known my vocation was to be married, but I have sometimes thought if my wife died before me, I would be very very tempted to join a monastery.

But my second thought is always, “well, what kind of monk, though?”. There are the contemplative ones, and the evangelistic ones and teaching ones, and then there are the ones that are sometimes priests. Lots of Benedictines are priests as well as monks. Their lives are very active “in the world” for the most part, but I once attended a retreat at one of their monasteries and some of them (mostly the brothers, maybe?) were almost like contemplatives only they did a lot of physical work…mostly farm work right there at the monastery. Nobody to talk to when you’re on the tractor, plowing, other than God. :slight_smile: I thought that was a particularly beautiful life they had there. But during meals and recreation, there were no more entertaining guys on earth than they were. Smart, fun and funny.

Their whole deal was attractive to me, understanding that I knew my vocation was to be married. I was young then and naturally met a girl on retreat there, which the retreat master didn’t appreciate too much. Being a callow youth as I was, I figured it was still part of my vocation to meet girls, and not inconsistent with my being on retreat. :slight_smile: In my heart, and after, lo, these years of marriage with children and now grandchildren, I still don’t think it was wrong of me.

But for someone who isn’t/wasn’t as sure of his vocation to marriage and child-rearing as I was, I think being a monk is an extraordinarily worthwhile life. Again, though, the “what sort” question looms pretty large in all of it.

Had I been different, I think I would have joined the Benedictines. Yes, lots of them are priests, and lots of them get assigned to parishes, and I think I could go for that. But while they’re “in the world”, they’re never quite “of it” in the way diocesan priests are. Their roots and hearts are always in the monastery. They always return to the monastery with regularity, and they spend their last years there always. I think that’s neat too.

Thinking it out, if I had been different, and if I had felt a vocation to the priesthood, I would still have gone to the Benedictines rather than pursue being a diocesan priest. It’s just different.

Oh, one last thing. Once I was at an event where there were several Bendictines; all priests I think. Anyway, they were joking and laughing and I got close to hear what they were joking about. After a few seconds I realized they were doing it all in Latin! I was even more impressed with them then. What a bunch of smart guys that they could joke around in Latin!

They are smart.


#14

I think part of the problem is a lack of understanding of the monastic leading to monastic life being confused with cloistered life. As Ridgerunner rightly points out many monastic orders are quite active, often running a school, a parish, a farm or all three in addition to other work inside the walls of the monastery (like brewing). The best response is probably to educate people by (gently) correcting their misconceptions.


#15

In my diocese some Benedictine monks run an ink business selling big name brands of ink for a cheaper price.


#16

I wanted to say thank you for all of the feedback I received here. I’m feeling excited about the future. Thanks and may God bless you!:thankyou:


#17

I also encourage you to google the Carmelite Monks :wink:
Pretty cool guys there!


#18

X2 what the phoenix said here. Great advice and points.


#19

Great to be a monk or friar: I’d be a friar if I were a young unmarried man.

I think this is more interesting stuff than the chores of the parish priest.


#20

May I bring to the table a few quotes from “Monk In The Cellar,” by David Griffin:
(Jesse and the Brothers face eviction from their monastery now owned by a bank.) “I suppose the eleven of us could head down to the malls and become superannuated stock boys at Best Buy or greeters at Sam’s … get jobs and become solid citizens. But we are not solid citizens. We are revolutionaries. We are monks whose job is contemplative prayer and study. No, it doesn’t make sense to most people. It doesn’t have to. … Not even we understand our purpose. We do it because we somehow know it is the right thing for us to do. The world can follow its logic. We’ll follow our …. well, I guess I’d say our hearts. Yes, the word I want is hearts. … As I age, I worry less about my soul. I think it will do what it is meant to do and I trust it to God’s hands. I am more afraid for my heart, that part of me that feels someone’s agony other than my own, the only part of me that stands a chance of leaving this world in better condition than when it got here. … (The discerning of a vocation) “ … isn’t that simple, of course, but the psychic change is exactly that simple. It is a calling to live a different life and it comes from a God who has bought your soul and all your dance tickets. He will run the rest of your life for you, if you let him. It’s his plan from now on, not yours.”


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