Br. Gregory (Photo (c) Peter Hoffman, used with permission)
Fr. James Flint, OSB
Interested in the monastic life? We are looking for young men (21-45 years of age) who are practicing Roman Catholics and are eager to seek God in community life according to the Rule of St. Benedict.
Contact Fr. James if you have questions or would like to arrange a visit. God bless!
Monastic Life at St. Procopius Abbey
Discernment Overview - Fr. James Flint
Year of Consecrated Life - Abbot Austin Murphy
Abbot Austin (Photo (c) Peter Hoffman, used with permission)
What is a Benedictine monk?
A Benedictine monk lives a life dedicated to seeking God according to the teaching of St. Benedict, who wrote a rule for monasteries in the 6th century. This way of life includes living in community, common prayer, work, and private prayer. (See also the page on charism.)
What do monks do?
They pray and work, as one of the Benedictine mottos has it. Monks of St. Procopius Abbey pray together as a community four or five times each day. Each monk also spends time in private prayer, especially lectio divina (see below). Prayer for a monk is not simply a private benefit, but something offered for the good of the whole world. (See also the page on prayer.)
Monks also work. At St. Procopius Abbey, monks have worked in the schools they founded and continue to sponsor, namely, Benet Academy (a college preparatory high school) and Benedictine University. Also, monks who are ordained priests help in nearby parishes, especially with Sunday Masses. Within the monastery, monks work as treasurer, business manager, guest master, kitchen master, etc. (See also the page on work.)
What is lectio divina?
It is praying with Scripture. You put aside quiet time to read a passage of Scripture and to meditate on it. From this the monk prays to God and, at times, he rests in the contemplation of God's love and truth. At St. Procopius Abbey, the monk is expected to spend at least one half hour in lectio divina each day. (See videos on lectio divina.)
What vows does a monk take?
A Benedictine monk takes five vows: poverty, chastity, obedience, stability, and conversatio morum (or "conversion through a monastic way of life").
Poverty means you forfeit private ownership. All things are owned in common by the community.
Chastity means celibate chastity -- that is, a monk gives up marriage and abstains from sexual activity. But more than simply giving up something, the aim is to give yourself more radically to God, to His contemplation and to His service.
Obedience is aimed at overcoming self-will (seeking one's own ways because they are one's own) in order to follow God's will. In concrete practice, the monk by obedience follows the rules of the monastery, the directions of the abbot, and also seeks the good of others by preferring their well being over his own wants. (For more on overcoming self-will, see the page St. Benedict's teaching.)
Stability means you vow to belong to the same monastery your whole life, as opposed to moving around from monastery to monastery. Stability makes the monastery the place where the monk will work out his salvation. The monastery is home in a special way. (See also page on stability.)
Conversatio morum, or "conversion through a monastic way of life," is a commitment to let the monastic way of life form you. That is, by living the monastic way of life at St. Procopius Abbey, one lets its practices form oneself in virtue, so as to become more Christ-like.
How long does it take to become a monk?
There are three stages. First, there is the period called postulancy, which at St. Procopius Abbey is 4-6 months. The person lives in the monastery and learns about the monastic life as it is lived in St. Procopius Abbey. Next, one enters the novitiate, which is for the period of a year. The person in this stage, called the novice, wears a modified form of the habit, takes classes, and is formed more intensely in the monastic way of life. After the novitiate, the person becomes a "junior monk" -- that is, he takes temporary vows for at least three years. Finally, the person can take final vows, also called solemn vows, which commit the monk to the monastery for life. All together, then, it takes about four and a half years to become a monk in final vows.
Are monks ordained priests?
Some are and some are not. One can become a monk without being ordained a priest or deacon. However, one can also be a monk and be ordained. At St. Procopius Abbey, one typically takes final vows before going to study at seminary for the priesthood.
Can anyone become a monk?
To become a monk at St. Procopius Abbey, one must seek God, want to serve His people, and be an unmarried practicing Roman Catholic man, 21 to 45 years old. (If interested, feel free to contact us.)
How do I discern where God is calling me?
A few things help.
- Put your trust in God and work at trusting Him more completely, especially when you get anxious about your future. God has a plan for you and, if we let Him, He will lead us to it.
- Make sure you find time each day to pray -- this is crucial.
- Do what you are doing now well. That is, if you are a student, be a good student. If you are employed, do your work well. If you do well (that is, do with virtue and integrity) what God is calling you to do now, then He will work through that to lead you to what He wants you to do in the future.
- It helps to talk to someone whom you trust about what you want to do. If you can find a spiritual director to work with, that is great. Also, participating in a discernment group can help (see here for one at the monastery).
- If you are thinking about joining a religious community, then visit that community. If you can arrange for an overnight visit, that can especially help. (To contact St. Procopius Abbey for a visit see the contact information below or click here.)
Interested in more information about being a monk at St. Procopius Abbey? Contact Fr. James Flint, OSB, the vocations director ([email protected] or 630-829-9279).