Life as a Benedictine monk means life lived in
community: eating, praying, working and growing in holiness with
other men who desire a deeper relationship with God. The Scriptures
and our Catholic theology teach us that God is sought both in an
intense one-on-one relationship with Him alone, but also in the
people who share our lives.
The number and variety of men who live in the monastery mean
that we will face both the joys and the challenges of learning to
love our fellow monks. Great rewards come with developing life-long
friendships with confreres; however, a monk should not be surprised
when he finds himself upset with or even occasionally scandalized
by another member of the community.
In the end, these difficult relationships provide a monk with
the opportunity to practice the conversion he came to the monastery
seeking: a conversion to Christ, who modeled what it means to love
perfectly when He laid down His life for both friend and enemy,
saint and sinner alike.
In the end, there is an intimacy - a sense of
knowing and being known - that develops among monks. Years of
living together in a monastery yields a familiarity that enables
monks to anticipate one another's needs, to accommodate for
another's weaknesses and to discreetly hold one another accountable
for living as Christians.
In his Rule, St. Benedict encourages us: "May we learn
to prefer nothing to Christ, and may he bring us all together to
With over 90 monks, Saint Meinrad Archabbey is one of the
largest monasteries in the United States. At Saint Meinrad,
Benedict's emphasis on community is lived out in our common meals,
our common prayer, our shared works, and our formal and informal
periods of community recreation.
Table reading, community retreats, abbot's conferences and
culpa services (acknowledging our failings in community
life to one another) are all means by which we are formed as a
group and grow together in holiness. The size of our community
affords us an abundance of gifts, talents and energies, all of
which enliven and ennoble our life together.