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!
Photos (c) Peter Hoffman, used with permission. Above: Br. Gregory. Below: Abbot Austin
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.
What do monks do?
The short answer is "pray and work," one of the Benedictine mottos. Monks of St. Procopius Abbey pray together for Lauds, Noon Prayer, Vespers, and Compline, as well as the Holy Mass. Monks also spend time in private prayer, especially lectio divina (see below) and they put aside time for reading spiritually enriching books. Prayer is not simply a private affair, but it contributes to the salvation of the world.
Monks also work. At St. Procopius Abbey, monks work in outside apostolates as well as within the abbey. Monks have taught, coached, worked as administrators, and done campus ministry in the two schools they founded – a high school (Benet Academy) and a university (Benedictine University). They continue to work in the schools to this day. 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.
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.
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 promised to the abbot of the monastery, who is the highest-ranking superior and the spiritual father of the monastery. By obedience, the monk 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. The practice of obedience helps the monk to overcome self-will, which is the tendency to seek one's own ways rather than God's.
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.
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 way of life at St. Procopius Abbey, one is formed in prayer and virtue, and made more like Christ. This vow is the pledge to let this happen by being faithful to the way of life at the abbey.
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 at the abbey. 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, after this the person can take final vows, also called solemn vows, which commit the monk to the monastery for life. Hence, to become a monk in final vows, it takes about four and a half years.
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 be an unmarried practicing Roman Catholic man, 21 to 45 years old.
Interested in more information about being a monk at St. Procopius Abbey? Contact Fr. James Flint, OSB, the vocations director (firstname.lastname@example.org or 630-829-9279).