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My dear fellow Catholics,

Holy Benedictines have suggested that my personality is well-suited to the life of St. Benedict. I have tremendous doubts, however.

What is it about the monastic life that makes monks uniquely beneficial to the Church, alongside active religious orders, secular clergy, and the laity?

When I look at the cenobitic community life, I see three things:

1. the same psalms at the Office every week, over and over and over again,
2. the inability to go and be with the poor and embrace them personally,
3. the sense of being disconnected from the "real world".

I often think that perhaps the rhythm of psalms wouldn't drive me mad. Perhaps the fellow Brothers in the monastery could be "my poor" to serve. Perhaps the disconnection from the secular world would allow me to touch the truly real world of Heaven.

None of these help, though. I fear that somehow it's less Christian not to be around the poor, or that it's a waste of time to chant psalms for hours on end. I love the Mass and Office, but it seems a lot. I want to be a Christian, not a "role-player".

Does anyone know good resources about the monastic life - theologically, deeply, and spiritually? What is its purpose? Does it please God? Did the Fathers or holy writers of the 1500s-1800s write on it?

Christ, the Ideal of the Monk by Blesses Columba Marmion may be a good place to start.  I believe this is the best recommendation I can make.
Thank you, Prie Dieu. From what I've heard of him, Bl. Columba is a worthy guide.
I thought it was for the salvation of the monks. Plus each monastery is a kind of "grace plant" and their prayers are important for the well-being of society.
Excerpted from Rorate Caeli post:

In his text, Les cisterciens Trappistes, l’ame cistercienne, where he explains the Cistercian vocation, the Benedictine Abbott, at a certain point, describes the talk he had with the French Prime Minister, Clemenceau, the famous “Tiger”.  It took place during the years of the suppression of religious orders and when Dom Chautard was charged with the delicate task of saving the monastic presence in France.  Consequently, he found himself in a meeting with the radical and anti-clerical “Tiger:”

We think it is of great use to translate and transcribe what the Abbot reports of  their conversation:

Don Chautard to Clemenceau: “I will set about answering your questions: What is a Trappist? Why did you become a Trappist? And in order not to overdo it, I will settle for this argument: a religion which has the Eucharist at its base, must have monks devoted to adoration and penitence.

"The Eucharist is the central dogma of our religion. It is called the generating dogma of Catholic piety. It is not the papacy, as you seem to think.

"Now, Christ is not a Being who disappeared someplace we do not know of, nor even the far away Being that we think of.  He is alive. He lives among us. He is present in the Eucharist. And this is why the Eucharist is the base, the centre, the heart of religion. From whence comes every life.  Not from anywhere else.

"You do not believe it. But we believe it. We believe firmly, resolutely, from the depth of our being, that in the tabernacle of each of our churches, God truly resides under the appearance of the Host.”

It is clear then, the central dogma of Christianity is the Holy Eucharist, everything starts from there, not elsewhere…and if faith diminishes in the central dogma, in the Holy Eucharist, everything in Christianity and in the Church will collapse.

“Mass is the Divine Sacrifice of Calvary, which is reproduced every day amidst us. Everyday, Christ offers His death to God, through the hands of the priest, exactly as in Heaven in the Mass of Glory, He presents, the glorious scars of His wounds to perpetuate the redeeming efficacy of the cross, to His Father. Everyday, at Mass, Christ renews His immense work of redemption for the world.

“And to this event, the greatest that can happen on earth, more important than the noise of armies, more beneficial than the most fecund of scientific discoveries, you think we could be present at [this] without the quivering of our very being. You cannot get used to the Mass. Or what would our faith amount to?

“[…] To Love Crucified, we try to respond with a crucified love. You are scandalized by our way of life; you think it goes against nature. Yes, it would be so if we did not have faith in the Eucharist. But we believe in the Divine Crucified and we love Him; and we want to live like Him and through Communion we participate in His life.”

[Translated and adapted by Rorate Contributor Francesca Romana]
(01-05-2015, 07:15 PM)Heorot Wrote: [ -> ]Thank you, Prie Dieu. From what I've heard of him, Bl. Columba is a worthy guide.

I've already read a collection of his works with excerpts from the Ideal of the Monk, and I'm currently working my way through "Christ the Life of the Soul."  I'm struggling between deciding who I would elect as my "spiritual father" at this point - Faber or Marmion!

Blessed Columba is a joy to learn from.  His works have inspired me to pursue the oblate vocation.  I cannot possibly recommend him enough!

Your struggles, although understandable, are simply silly (and I say this with affection!).  The monastic and active lives both seek to emulate the life of Christ.  But the active life will always be inferior to the monastic life.  Why do we exist?  Is it for ourselves, for social justice, or for God?  We live to love and glorify God.  The monastic vocation is a vocation that calls to that primal instinct in man to bow in adoration before the majesty of God.  It is to live the interior life of Christ.  It is to live the interior life of the Most Holy Trinity.

Read Blessed Columba.  He will answer all of your questions!
The foundation of the monastic life:

Luke 10:
38 Now it came to pass as they went, that he entered into a certain town: and a certain woman named Martha, received him into her house.
39 And she had a sister called Mary, who sitting also at the Lord's feet, heard his word.
40 But Martha was busy about much serving. Who stood and said: Lord, hast thou no care that my sister hath left me alone to serve? speak to her therefore, that she help me.
41 And the Lord answering, said to her: Martha, Martha, thou art careful, and art troubled about many things:
42 But one thing is necessary. Mary hath chosen the best part, which shall not be taken away from her.

See St. Thomas:

Prayer is the means by which God's graces are constantly poured onto the world, and monastic life is the stronghold of prayer, not only for the monk but for the whole world. It is very probable that the world has been preserved from far greater evils because of the constant prayers of the monastic orders. Lastly, monastic life provides the best environment (by means of seclusion/silence, the vows, and the daily life) by which Heaven is foretasted here on earth; hence it is objectively the best preparation for eternity.

The Benedictine arrangement of the contemplative life is a particularly beautiful and balanced program, considering the realistic fact that contemplation, as Aristotle and Aquinas pointed out, cannot be continuous here on earth, and activity is still necessary while we are on earth.

For a history of spirituality especially cenobitic vs. eremitic life, see Fr. Jordan Aumann, OP, Christian Spirituality in the Catholic Tradition (; online for free:
Credo in sanctorum communionem.
I'd think the constant repetition and cycles of feasts and fasts, psalms, hymns and readings year after year would become a source of comfort and joy but that's just me. Praying the Office over the years, either Byzantine or Benedictine, has been a source of deep joy for me. Sometimes certain verses from psalms just jump out at me that I hadn't noticed before,or they come to me during the course of the day.

No matter what though, I've heard that a lot of men who enter a monastery have to go through almost a crisis of identity, a disintegration of sorts, but if they are faithful to grace and work through it the life becomes a source of peace and joy. I think I of monastic life as an exercise of standing your ground come hell or high water and being literally immersed in the liturgical year and the Mass e dry day for the rest of your life. Sounds kind of appealing to me, but than again I love the Office and I've always felt pulled towards a monastery.

What are monks good for? I'd say that they stand as ambassadors to the Kingdom that is not of this world. They are there to point people away towards heaven, or at least be reminders that we have here no abiding city. They are also there to pray, to adore God and to intercede on behalf of this fallen world. 

There is surely a place for the active apostolate a but there is also a place for the more contemplative.
1. the same psalms at the Office every week, over and over and over again,
2. the inability to go and be with the poor and embrace them personally,
3. the sense of being disconnected from the "real world".

1 - praying Liturgy of the Hours is the official prayer of the Church. Your prayers benefit the Church more than you can know.
2 - If you truly live the vow of poverty you become one of the poor.
3 - Praying for the church connects you with the rest of the world in a beneficial way that cannot be duplicated. The Church needs the prayes of the religous more than you can know. 
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