I Believe I Want To Be a Catholic Monk: What Do I Do Now?
So you believe you want to be a Catholic Monk and you want to know what you ought to do now? You are halfway there, if you already believe that you want to be a Catholic monk. The next step is to discern what kid of Catholic monk you want to be. Do you want to live a solitary life? Live in community with others? Live as a solitary and live with others? Do you want to do charitable works outside the monastery? The Carthusians today have remained faithful to the purely contemplative life since their founding in the 12c. by St. Bruno of Cologne.
These are some of the questions you can ask yourself and address with a spiritual director or vocations director of a religious institute. A monk is a person who lives alone with God, but because the solitary life of the monk is so demanding the Christian tradition has allowed certain religious orders to develop these consecrated lifestyles in differing degrees. For example, while St. Benedict of Nursia, who is know to be the Father of Western Monasticism, only allowed a form of cenobitic living in the monastery. Though St. Benedict had lived as a solitary monk in the early part of his life for three years thru the direction of a certain Romanus of Subiaco, in his rule for Monks he didn’t allow a solitary lifestyle.
As the Cenobitic lifestyle developed in the earliest centuries three orders developed in the Catholic Church, which sprang from Benedictine Monasticism and were for persons seeking to live the life of solitary life; solitary life being a monastic lifestyle fitted for persons who life a purely contemplative life with little interaction from the outside world. Sometimes these religious orders were called cloistered lifestyle, since they were restricted to life in the cloister.
The three rules which later developed from Benedictine spirituality were the Camaldolese, Carthusians, and Cistercians. Each of these orders blends both the community life and the eremetical life in such a way that the solitary monk both lives among others while living mostly alone.
For example , the Camaldolese and Carthusians are allowed to live alone in their hermitages throughout the day, but attend certain liturgical functions with the rest of the community during certain parts of the day; otherwise, they carry on their life as a monk in the confines of their individual cells. On the other hand the Cistercians spend most of their time with the community, though because of the strict observance, their social communications are little even when they are attending liturgical functions or working among one another.
Usually, for a person seeking to enter into one of the three more solitary lifestyles like the Camaldolese, Carthusians or Cistercians, the candidate is invited to live with the professed monks and brothers for a certain amount of time. If you are interested in one of the above lifestyles for discerning your vocation you can contact them for further information and a vocational retreat: Camaldolese, Carthusians, Cistercians.
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