Becoming a Monk

GOD’S DESIRE IS FIRST. God always makes the first move toward us. God in Christ is always drawing us, beckoning us. But how to know, how to recognize God’s nearness, God’s desire? Perhaps the best way is by noticing my deepest desires. What do I long for? What do I dream about? What attracts me? What has seized my imagination? It takes time, prayer and patience but once I get in touch with this deep down place of my desire, everything will be changed, transformed. I will want to follow and pursue what I love with my whole heart, with all my strength. For, indeed, God speaks to us through our deepest desires- desires for happiness, wholeness, holiness. “His desire gives rise to yours,” says our Cistercian father, Saint Bernard, “and if you are eager to receive his word, it is he who is rushing to enter your heart; for he first loved us, not we him.”

Clearly then the first question in any vocational discernment always will be, “What do I really desire?” Some may notice the first stirrings of a desire for the monastic way of life. They may have read about Cistercian monastic life; they may have visited our Abbey and been attracted by the beauty of this place, the beauty of the Liturgy, the joy and meaningfulness of the lives of the monks they see. Indeed, the attraction to our life may be experienced by many, but the life of an enclosed monk is meant for relatively few. These are the ones who will acknowledge the continuing desire for monastic life in their hearts. These are the ones who will want to respond to the divine invitation to remain in the monastery hidden in Christ, following him in a way of life that is “ordinary, obscure and laborious.”

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The Rule of Saint Benedict
The Cistercian Way, Andre Louf
Toward God, Michael Casey
Strangers to the City, Michael Casey