How cut off are monks from outside learning?


I very much like learning about philosophy, different religions and esotericism as a monk could one have the freedom to learn about this stuff of course I wouldn’t assimilate anything that is contrary to Catholicism and I realize that a monk is foremost called to prayer, since monastics live in poverty I would have to have access to a library. I know some books by catholic monastics who have written about these topics so it seems to be possible.

Of course I should eventually talk to a vocations director about this.


Monasteries are famous for having large libraries! I know a sister who brought her “technology/science” books with her when she entered as the monastery lacked books in that field.

There will be a focus on theology and philosophy books in a monastery but there will be other kinds of books as well. Several sisters and brothers write books or translate them to other languages. There are some orders which are more focused on education and have brothers and sisters teaching university level courses (all fields) with a doctorate degree (or two).

If a brother or sister in a more contemplative monastery is asked to write a book about XYZ or has a special interest in ADG which could benefit the monastery, then they make sure the brother or sister has access to relevant books and other documents needed.


“Halfway to Heaven,” the book about the Carthusians, mentions if a monk needs lighter reading, he is permitted to read about hang-glidiing, and such subjects.

I know Mary Higgins Clark gets read in one particular Passionist nuns’ monastery.

The late Mother Mary Francis, PCC, was given time and permission to research the book on St. Colette called “Walled In Light.”

When I went on retreat at a Visitation monastery, the novice mistress said I could bring other books, but not “novels”. I couldn’t believe some retreatants would bring in romance novels.


Mrs Cloisters OP
Lay Dominican


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