As baptized Christians, we all are called to a life of
continuous conversion: striving every day for holiness, working to
be the most Christ-like person possible.
A monk goes about pursuing this goal of conversion with a
particular intensity and single-mindedness that limits his life in
some respects, yet allows for an intentionality, a "purity of
heart," that blossoms with time into a deep, intimate and life-long
relationship with Christ.
The more the monk can cultivate his relationship with God who
lives within him, the more the monk loses himself and achieves
"contemplation" - a renunciation of his heart, mind and will to the
will of God.
Of course, this kind of
conversion this takes time and depends very much on the support,
example and direction of others of like mind. Hence, monks live in
community - in monasteries - where all work together to seek God
and His will.
By living with monks of all ages, the young are reminded that
conversion is a life-long pilgrimage and that holiness often looks
different at different stages of life. Likewise, the older members
of the monastery are blessed by the zeal of the young and the
continuous reminder that idealism is always be cultivated when
Of course, a monk's own
conversion cannot be his only concern; so he busies himself also
with the salvation of others by praying for the world, learning
each day to love his confreres and by serving the larger Church.
Just as Jesus, when pressed to name the most important commandment,
links love of God with love of neighbor, Benedictine monks
recognize that the fruits of their contemplation must be
Traditionally, monks have served the larger Church through
education and scholarship, offering hospitality, spiritual
direction and pastoral assistance, and cultivating Catholic culture
in the form of the arts, literature, music and beautiful
Finally, monks are called to provide a prophetic witness to the
world. As a community of men of different ages, races, interests
and personalities living together in a spirit of unity and love,
the monastery stands as witness to the Kingdom yet to come, when
all will be gathered back together in one Christ, who is love.