In a secularized world and an epoch marked by a disturbing culture of emptiness and meaninglessness, you are called to proclaim the primacy of God without compromise and to advance proposals for possible new forms of evangelization. The commitment to personal and communitarian sanctification that you pursue and the liturgical prayer that you encourage equip you for a particularly effective witness. In your monasteries, you are the first to renew and to deepen daily the encounter with the Person of Christ, whom you always have with you as guest, companion and friend. For this reason your convents are places where in our time too men and women hasten to seek God and learn to recognize the signs of Christ's presence, charity and mercy. With humble trust, you never tire of sharing with those who turn to your spiritual care the riches of the Gospel message, which are summed up in the proclamation of the love of the merciful Father who is ready to embrace every person in Christ. Thus you will continue to make your precious contribution to the vitality and sanctification of the People of God, in accordance with the special charism of Benedict of Norcia.
Benedict XVI Papal Summer Residence, Castel Gandolfo Saturday, 20 September 2008
The life of a monk therefore becomes a fruitful symbiosis of action and contemplation, “so that God is glorified in everything” (Rule 57,9). In contrast to an egocentric and easy self-fulfillment, often extolled today, the first and irrefutable duty of a disciple of St. Benedict is a sincere search for God (Rule 58,7) on the road traced by a humble and obedient Christ (Rule 5,13), the love of whom nothing should be allowed to stand in the way. (Rule 4,21; 72,11).
It is in this way, in serving others, that Benedict becomes a man of service and peace. By showing obedience through his actions with a faith driven by love (Rule 5,2), the monk acquires humility (Rule 5,1), to which the Rule dedicates a whole chapter (Rule 7). In this way man becomes more like Christ and attains true self-fulfillment as a creature in God's own image.
…monastic life of isolation has it's place, but a monastery also has a public aim in the life of the Church and society as a whole. It must serve to make faith visible as a force of life.
Benedict XVI, Vatican City, April 9, 2008
Benedict did not found a monastic institution oriented primarily to the evangelization of barbarian peoples, as other great missionary monks of the time, but indicated to his followers that the fundamental, and even more, the sole objective of existence is the search for God: "Quaerere Deum."
Pope Benedict XVI, Vatican City, July 10, 2005
Common life, fashioned on the model of the early Church where the body of believers was united in heart and soul (cf. Acts 4:32), and given new force by the teaching of the Gospel, the sacred liturgy and especially the Eucharist, should continue to be lived in prayer and the communion of the same spirit. As members of Christ living together as brothers, religious should give pride of place in esteem to each other (cf. Rom. 12:10) and bear each other's burdens (cf. Gal. 6:2). For the community, a true family gathered together in the name of the Lord by God's love which has flooded the hearts of its members through the Holy Spirit (cf.Rom. 5:5), rejoices because He is present among them (cf. Matt. 18:20). Moreover love sums up the whole law (cf. Rom. 13:10), binds all together in perfect unity (cf. Col. 3:14) and by it we know that we have crossed over from death to life (cf. 1 John 3:14). Furthermore, the unity of the brethren is a visible pledge that Christ will return (cf. John 13:35; 17:21) and a source of great apostolic energy.
Pope Paul VI, Perfectae Caritatis, 15; October 28, 1965
Benedict describes the Rule as “minimal, just an initial outline” (Rule 73,8); in reality, however, it offers useful advice not only to monks, but to anyone looking for guidance on the path to God. Through his capacity, his humanity, and his sober ability to discern between what is essential and what is secondary in the spiritual life, he is still a guiding light today.
Pope Benedict XVI, Vatican City, April 9, 2008
But as we go forward in our life and in faith, we shall with hearts enlarged and unspeakable sweetness of love run in the way of God’s commandments; so that never departing from His guidance, but persevering in His teaching in the monastery until death, we may by patience share in the sufferings of Christ, that we may deserve to be partakers of His kingdom.
- Monastic Life1
- Monastic Life2
- Monastic Life3
- Monastic Life4
The Rule of St. Benedict consists of 72 short chapters. It is the Gospel put into practice.
Benedictine monastic life is a simple and ordered Christian life. The“light” of the Gospel that Benedictine monks are primarily called to shed in the world is simply the lived Christian life.
Ora et Labora Prayer and Work
As we are all made in the image of God, each of our identities is our relations. We are all called to live the Trinitarian Life “to be a gift of the other in a communion of persons.” (John Paul II) To the extent that we “prefer nothing to the Love of Christ” will be the extent to which we realize the Trinitarian Life and allow Christ’s Light to shine through, with and in us.
What seems to many people to be the most frightening aspect of monastic life is really what is most like their own life: the fact that we live our entire lives in the same place with the same people doing the same things. The difference and importance of the monastic life is that the regular life we live is our joy, our freedom and our sanctification. And the regular life we live is accessible to every Christian.
Let nothing be preferred to the Work of God
Rule ch. 43
There is nothing in our spiritual, physical, intellectual
or relational lives that is not accessible to
every Christian. It is not what we do so much as
why, the way and how we do it that gives our way
of life its significance.
“The Christian life consists in this and nothing but this, to be by grace what Jesus is by nature: the Son of God.” Abbot Marmion. The primary focus of our life, as it should be for every Christian, is the praise of God.