For Saint Benedict the monastery is a school for the Lord’s service.
In his Prologue he presents Christ standing in the market place asking “Who of you wants life?” Smitten with love for Christ, the monk recognizes in Jesus the God he has always sought in his heart and answers, “I do.” He comes to the monastery to learn how to be a disciple of Christ, to learn how to carry out the new commandment of fraternal love: “I give you a new commandment: love one another as I have loved you.”
The monk pledges himself to follow the abbot as the representative of Christ. By striving to obey the Gospel as mediated by the Father of the monastery and through daily interaction with brothers, he gradually learns to place the Lord’s will above his own. He undertakes a life of strict yet gentle asceticism (Saint Benedict’s hallmark) in order to become free enough of his own compulsions to be available for love. His life is rooted in prayer: the contemplation of God and the worship of God in the Church. Obedience gradually frees him from the need to have his own way and makes him available to serve the Lord’s purposes.
Monasticism is thus a way of finding and becoming one’s true self as a beloved son of the Father. The monk’s death to self is a share in the crucifixion of Christ and leads to a like resurrection. Through his conformity with Christ he fulfills that apostolate which is the most fruitful in the Church.