What do monks do?


What is the daily life of a monk like? How does a person become one?


The basic things a monk does are pray and work, hence the Benedictine motto of Ora et Labora.

Prayer centers on Mass, the Office, lectio divina, etc. Work depends in part on what the monastery does to support itself (e.g., teaching, farming, etc.) and in part on what is needed for the monastery to function (e.g., cooking, serving as guestmaster, etc.).

This page has a list of North American Benedictine monasteries: osb.org/intl/confed/nacong.html

You might take a look at some of the different websites to get a feel for what life is like in various monasteries. They often list the daily schedule.

The websites also typically have vocation information. In short, once you are accepted you spend time as a postulant and then a novice before you take vows. This takes several years. Eventually you move on to final vows for life.


Why they Monk - ey around! :juggle:

Sorry I couldn’t resist.

If you are considering a vocation, check all your options first. The internet is a great place to start “visiting” the Orders around you. Good luck and God bless. I’ll keep you in my prayers.



From a recent article by Mark P. Shea:

**"I once heard about a traveler who stayed at a monastery. He asked one of the monks, “What do you do all day?”

The monk replied, “We fall down and we get up.”

The monk, I finally realized, was in touch with human reality."**


Thanks, more of a curiosity than a vocation for me at this point. Id really like to be married and have a family someday, but if that doesnt happen I might be open to serving God in this way possibly.


The first thing to recognize is that all male religious (people often referred to as “brother”) aren’t monks. To oversimplify, there are two main types of religious life: active and contemplative. Active religious usually have some ministry in the world they participate in (teaching, working in medicine, et c.); while contemplative religious (called monks) focus more on personal prayer, and work only to support their community.

Here is a sample horarium (schedule) for an an contemplative order, the Carthusian Charterhouse of the Transfiguration:

*]12:00pm Rise
*]12:15am To Church Night Office : Matins
*] On return to cell Prayers (Option : Maternal; Paters & Aves; Psalms) - return to sleep
*]6:00am Rise Prime - Prayer time - Lectio divina
*]7:00am Brother’s Chapel Brother’s mass - (optional)
*]7:45am To Church Angelus
*]7:45am In Church Conventual mass
*] On return to cell Bread and tea for those who want
*] In cell Terce
*]9:30am Work
*]11:45am Angélus
*]11:45am In cell Sext
*] Meal- Recreation The time of recreation may be employed freely.
*] In cell Recitation of the Office of None before going to work
*]1:30pm Manual Work until 4pm
*]4:00pm Return to cell Free time
*]5:00pm To Church Vespers
*] On return to cell Free time - light evening meal
*]7:00pm Angélus - Compline Recitation of Complines before going to bed
*]8:00pm Bedtime Advisable before 8:15pm.

Here’s the sample horarium for an active order, the Dominicans of St. Albert’s Priory:

*]6:30am – Office of Readings and Morning Prayer [Lauds]
*]11:35am – Rosary
*]11:50am – Day Prayer
*]5:00pm – Mass with Evening Prayer [Vespers]
*]7:15pm – Night Prayer [Compline]
*]7:30pm – Adoration (except Friday)

The rest of an active order’s day would be spent working in whatever apostolate the community is involved in. At St. Albert’s Priory, the majority of the friars are students, so that would be studying!


***Watchmen of the Night / Veilleurs dans la nuit ***


“We don’t serve a purpose. We serve Someone. We serve God.”

(“On ne sert pas à quelque chose. On sert Quelqu’un. On sert Dieu.”)


Two Franciscans opened a Long John Silver’s franchise.

One was the fish friar and the other was the chip monk.

Sorry, I couldn’t resist either. :smiley:


Hello Thorns.

Could be you’re being called to Third Order status or being a Oblate, etc. There are many laypersons who assist our Religious Orders and do take vows of various sorts, more like Promises actually. They are immeasurably helpful to those Houses that have them. Having a family is in no way an impediment to getting involved with the Religious in your own Community or farther away. Check them out and listen to the still small voice in your heart. If you are indeed called to married life and that is your vocation, then association with a Religious Order will only enhance your marriage and will prove a great help to not only you, but your whole family as well. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that as a future Head of Household and the main director of your families spiritual life, you should involve yourself in SOMETHING for your family’s sake. See what I mean? It will only prove good in the long run. Whatever your Vocation, Religious, Priest, or Brother or Married Man, take it seriously. Jesus did.



True story:

A non-Catholic visited with the Trappist monks at Gethsemani Abbey. He was delighting in the salad, and asked the server-monk if he had made it. “I’m the French friar,” the monk responded.

Here is another site for you: cloisters.tripod.com/




Seek God. “quaerere Deum.”


It all depends on the kind of monk.

Of course the Divine Office, lectio divina, prayer, various degrees of silence etc are involved…but each Monastery and Order is different…

There are various kinds of Monks…

Here is my favorite: The Carthusian Order chartreux.org/en/






Compared to other monastic orders, the Carthusians are basically like Formula One drivers compared to your average motorist! Carthusians are basically hermits living in community (not quite as contradictory as it may sound). Other orders generally engage is some form of apostolic work fitted in around their prayer which is of course at the centre of all that they do - hence ora et labora (work and prayer). This work can include running a school, a parish, a farm or even a brewery! What the tend to have in common however, besides of course a life centred on prayer, is adherence to the rule of St Benedict as a guideline for their way of life.

for a somewhat less extreme daily schedule see this example: Ampleforth Abbey


What do monks do? Whatever they are assigned.

There is a regular schedule of prayer, Eucharist, and meals and recreation, plus work hours at each monastery. Monks are expected to attend these regularly as possible; if they begin to be absent, the superiors will check to see if they are overburdened or sick or something.

In addition, each monk has work assignments, both annual and weekly or daily. The monastery needs people to administer business and do the finances, to clean, to cook and manage the kitchen, and so on. There is also need to lead the office (public prayers) each week, to do the meal dishes, and so on.

Monasteries also tend to have major apostolates or works they do, such as parish work or chaplaincies, colleges or schools they run, retreat houses, and so on. A monk may reasonably anticipate helping in such ministries if he joins that community.

All of this means that each monastery is really unique; if you want to consider joining a community, you really need to visit that community and see how they do things and what they do.


In short, a monk seeks a life of perfection through practice of the evangelical counsels and through prayer and labours. Prayer, particularly the official prayer of the Church, the Divine Office, is the first duty. Whichever sort of labour is performed depends upon the monastery, though they are all compatible with the monk’s life of prayer and renunciation of the world. Agriculture and cottage industries are very common.


It really depends on the order and the local community. You usually become one by visiting at least once and then entering a period of discernment with the community by being with them. Finally, you make vows that depend on the community and the individual.

It really varies.


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