How to Become a Monk
10 Nov 2016
What is a Monk
In the general sense of the word, a monk or nun is a person in search of God, but moreover, someone who has realised that they need to make this search a priority in life. This realiasation comes in the form of a vocation which is the key to become a monk.
In Roman Catholicism, a monk is a member of a religious order who lives a life in a community – either enclosed or open – in a monastery, abbey, or priory under a monastic rule of life.
Monks will either follow the Rule of St Basil or the Rule of St. Benedict. The latter is what our monks here at Downside Abbey follow, and which penetrates all aspects of life here at our beautiful monastery and school.
Monks live simple lives and their time is split between prayer, contemplation and community service. Like any other community, a monastery embraces a wide range of people, ages, experience, abilities and interests.
“We devote ourselves to prayer and any work that is necessary. We do not marry since we are called by God to give our lives wholly to him and to spend our lives in seeking him.”
The words of one Downside Monk
Life as a Monk
Life as a monk starts with a monastic vocation. This is a call from God to devote one’s life to his service. Individuals ‘hear’ this call in many different ways and in many different circumstances. Normally these are not the result of any great vision or revelation as is often depicted in religious teachings.
Vocation often appears in two polar modes:
- The first is a negative vocation: This type of vocation often arises out of complete dissatisfaction with one’s current life. This is not always the result of poor life choices, but instead the failure to find satisfaction in work, however highly esteemed it may seem in a secular perspective.
- The second is a positive vocation: This type of vocation blossoms from an innate and definite want and undying desire to follow Jesus and his will. At the time, it is often unclear what this ‘will’ involves.
On hearing and answering one’s personal vocation, a monk’s life will be varied, personal and shared. The monastic life combines a serious desire to pray with a readiness to dedicate one’s life to serve God in the practical ways of a community’s life and work. As a result, God is glorified in all that monks are and do.
A Typical Day-in-the-Life of a Monk
For Benedictine Monks, like the Downside community, their days follow a fixed routine. The day is split between prayer and work or other community duties. Although busy, a monk’s day is purposeful as is the stated in the Rule of St Benedict. A typical day of a Downside monk will look something like the following:
- Personal Prayer
- Morning duties (study, pastoral duties and community work)
- Midday Prayer
- Afternoon (work and exercise)
- Community recreation (coffee and a chance to chat)
- Summum silentium (peace and quiet or pastoral duties)
To find out more about these daily activities please visit our A Day in the Life of a Downside Monk page. Alternatively, keep up with Dom Anselm via the Vocations Page on Facebook or get in touch with our team of resident monks who will do their best to help you.
“They should make sure that there is no one overcome by idle boredom.”
Rule of St Benedict 48.18
How to Become a Monk: The Process
Before embarking on your monastic path and devoting your life to God, there are certain criteria you must fulfil. At Downside it is vital that you are a confirmed practising Catholic, over the age of 17 and in good health. It also is necessary that you are unmarried with no dependents.
The process of becoming a monk begins with staying at our monastery a few times. This allows you to take the time to consider and discern your vocation by praying and talking with the Vocations’ Director and Abbot. This ensures that you will make a right and complete decision. Following this stage, if an application is accepted, the next step is an invitation to come to join our community as a postulant for about Six months.
On completing the postulant stage, an individual will be invited to enter the monastery as a novice; the first formal period of training to become a monk. After completing a year in the position, a novice – if they wish to, and the community agrees – will be eligible to commit themselves formally to monastic life. This initial commitment comes in the form of temporary vows , which, as the name suggests, symbolises a temporary commitment of three years.
Finally, once the three years are up, a junior – if he wishes – will be able to make his Final Profession of monastic vows for life, solemn vows. These vows are dependent on the rest of the community agreeing to the individual joining the community on a permanent basis.
“As soon as the arrival of a guest is announced, the superior and members of the community should hurry to offer a welcome with warm-hearted courtesy.”
Rule of St Benedict 53.3
More Information on how to Become a Monk
For more information, or to find out more about vocations at Downside, contact the Vocations’ Director by email or visit our website.
If you want to find out more about vocations or how to become a monk or more about the monastic life in general, please contact us. Alternatively, keep up with Dom Anselm via the Vocations Page on Facebook.