Frequently Asked Questions About Monastic Life
What is Monasticism?
Monasticism is the ancient style of vowed religious life starting back in the fourth century. It usually applies to Benedictine women or men who have chosen to live together in community to seek and serve God, have common prayer and Eucharist together, practice silence and lectio divina (prayerful reading of Scripture), share all things in common, engage in a variety of ministries, and follow the Rule of St. Benedict under the leadership of a prioress (women's community) or abbot (men's community).
What are the Benedictine values?
Briefly, Benedictine values center on the love of God reflected in all that we do: our prayer, our welcome of others as Christ, our stewardship of God's gifts, and our commitment to our monastic community. These values impel us to serve others, in such ministries as education, social work and pastoral care.
What does it mean to "live as a community?"
We vow obedience (follow the Rule of St. Benedict and listen to the prioress and to each other), fidelity to the monastic way of life (a common, chaste life), and stability (live with these same sisters and in this same monastery for life). We are a large community, but also have small living groups that we daily meet and recreate with each other. We respect each other and see Christ in all we meet.
What is a typical day at the monastery?
Our daily schedule, known as the horarium, is very structured. We pray, we work, we eat our meals together. We balance our day with morning, midday, and evening prayer, private prayer, and holy Eucharist. Some may work in the flower or vegetable gardens and others exercise in other ways.
What is your outward identification?
Our dress is that of the ordinary person, as we strive to not set ourselves apart from others. We wear a ring as a symbol of our life commitment to our Benedictine community. We may also wear a Benedictine medal.
Can family and friends visit?
Sure your family may visit the monastery. You may visit your family and friends occassionally as the community schedule allows, and as your ministry allows.
What kind of professional career may I choose or continue?
The prioress and community member dialogue with each other to determine how a sister's gifts and talents may be used to benefit both the community needs and the member.
In what kinds of ministries do Benedictine Sisters typically serve?
Our ministries vary from teachers, chaplains, spiritual directors, nurses, doctors, lawyers, business workers. One of the most important aspects of choosing a ministry is being able to be available for communal daily prayers and meals.
What's it like to live a celibate life?
None of us made the decision to remain celibate lightly. Being celibate means that we don't focus on one other person, the way a spouse does in a marriage. Benedictine Sisters are free to develop personal and professional relationships. Celibacy allows us more time and energy to pursue our common life together of prayer and work and to minister to others.
How can a divorced person or widow become a Benedictine sister?
A woman who is interested in becoming a sister and is divorced must have an annulment. A woman who is a widow must be on her own for at least three years, and in both cases there can be no dependent children.
What if I have debts?
We do not allow anyone to enter who has personal debt. Educational debts are allowed under certain criteria. This may be discussed during your time of discernment with the vocation director.
What other requirements must I fulfill?
Each person must be in good health and pass a physical and a psychological evaluation.