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Benedictine Monasticism: The Monastery PDF Print E-mail

The monks live together in the Monastery. As a community they eat and sleep, pray and work, recreate and die together. More than just a home, the Monastery is like a miniature Church.

The Monastery is a School for the Lord's Service. Here the monks learn how to serve the Lord and practice doing so. The teacher is the Abbot. The textbooks are the Gospels, the Rule of Saint Benedict, and the monastic tradition. The monastic enclosure creates a privileged environment for the fulfillment of the command to love God and to love the neighbor for the sake of God. This manifests itself in two primary ways: prayer and work. Prayer permeates the daily routine, occurring five times publicly and totaling some three hours. Work makes monks look like laborers, artisans, teachers, or scholars. Through these human pursuits the monks are not so much practicing a craft as they are serving God. Indeed, the ordinary tasks of prayer and work present numerous opportunities for acts of Christian charity, the practice of asceticism, and growth in holiness. By doing the ordinary well, the monks glorify God.

The Monastery is like the Church, the mystical Body of Christ. The head, Christ, is represented by the Abbot. In a sense the Abbot, the father, adopts the brethren as his children. Together, they form one body, a spiritual family, united in the common endeavor of seeking God. The Monastery is no mere human construct, but rather an institution infused with divine life.