Our late Holy Father John Paul II, of most blessed memory, sums up the monastic life most eloquently in his encyclical Vita Consecrata, stating:
“From the first centuries of the Church, men and women have felt called to imitate the Incarnate Word who took on the condition of servant. They have sought to follow him by living in a particularly radical way, through monastic profession, the demands flowing from baptismal participation in the Paschal Mystery of his Death and Resurrection. In this way, by becoming bearers of the Cross (staurophoroi), they have striven to become bearers of the Spirit (pneumatophoroi), authentically spiritual men and women, capable of endowing history with hidden fruitfulness by unceasing praise and intercession, by spiritual counsels, and works of charity.
“In the West too monastic life, whether lived alone or in community, has been practiced in a variety of forms from the first centuries of the Church. In its present form, inspired particularly by St Benedict, western monasticism has a rich inheritance of men and women who, having left life in the world, seek God and surrender themselves to him ‘preferring nothing to the love of Christ.’ Still in our day monks focus their attention on harmoniously blending their interior life with their work. This work involves their commitment to the evangelical counsels expressed in their vows of ‘Conversion of life’, Obedience and Stability together with their zealous dedication to Lectio, the celebration of the Liturgy and Prayer.” (Vita Consecrata 6)
As the Holy Father indicated, it is the monastic participation in the Paschal Mystery through the vows of obedience, stability, and conversatio morum that characterizes our life. The next few pages are a brief introduction to each of these vows as a window into monastic living at Saint Louis Abbey.