Simply put, a monk is one called to seek God.
St. Benedict of Nursia (480-540), who wrote the Rule which inspires Benedictine monastic life, described the life of a monk as both a journey and a “labor of obedience.” Led by the abbot, who is “believed to hold the place of Christ” in the community, the monks of Conception make a vow of “stability in this community, fidelity to the monastic way of life and obedience, according to the Rule of St. Benedict and the Constitution and Statutes of the Swiss American Congregation.” Freely embraced obedience, the monks believe, liberates them in their efforts to imitate Christ.
St. Benedict wrote: “As we progress in this way of life and in faith, we shall run on the path of God’s commandments, our hearts overflowing with inexpressible delight of love.”
The Rule of St. Benedict contains directions for almost every aspect of monastic life, including how monks pray, dress, eat, sleep and work. The Rule also defines the role of the abbot, who is elected to an indefinite term by the community, and explains how he is to keep discipline. But St. Benedict did not intend it as a harsh code of conduct. In fact, he called it a “little rule for beginners.”
Chastity and poverty are integral observances of monastic life. In fact, they are so necessary they are assumed and not vowed. St. Benedict saw private possession as a vice, and thus prescribed communal ownership of goods. Read more about monastic vows.
Benedict urged his monks to find Christ in every person they meet. This not only strengthens the spirit of their community, but also has resulted in a religious order known the world over for warmth and hospitality.