St. Pasquale

Patron saint of Kitchens

To insure an atmosphere conducive to reflection

and discernment,

the use of cell phones,

computers and social media devices is restricted

to the minimum.

Br. Martin O'Connor calls the brothers to Mass

BECOMING A MONK | Stages of Growth



DURING A WEEK-LONG VISIT, the candidate in discernment lives apart in a hermitage at the retreat house, but works and prays with the community. The emphasis is on providing an opportunity for the candidate to disengage from the familiar demands and activities of his normal life, and allow space for prayer and

reflection in the solitude, silence and rhythm of the monastic day. To insure an

atmosphere conducive to reflection and discernment, the use of cell phones,

computers and social media devices is restricted to the minimum. The candidate

has the opportunity to meet and share his thoughts with the abbot and

members of the community, and adequate time for conversations with the

vocation director. If at the end of the week an assessment of the experience by

both the members of the Formation Committee and the candidate is positive,

the Formation Committee may recommend that he return for a second visit. A

minimum of two visits is required to advance to the next level of discernment.



DURING THIS SIX-MONTH PERIOD, the candidate lives in the monastic quarters with the members of the community, and continues participation in daily prayer and work. Prior to admittance as a participant, medical and dental examinations are required. Conversations with the abbot, the vocations director and members of the Formation Committee continue. With the extended time available and

greater immersion in community life, the candidate focuses on whether he can

adjust to the psychological and spiritual challenges which a commitment to the

monastic life requires.



IF AT THE CONCLUSION OF HIS RESIDENCE as a participant the candidate receives a positive assessment from the abbot and the members of the Formation

Committee, he may at his request continue discernment in a six-month period

of postulancy. Prior to acceptance as a postulant, a psychological examination

is required to assess the candidate’s fitness for monastic life. He is welcomed

and lives as a member of the community, but makes no commitment and

remains free to end his postulancy at any time. Under the guidance of the

Novice Director, the candidate continues integration into the monastic

community, and begins a program of reading and study of biblical and patristic

texts, the Rule of St. Benedict, the history of the Cistercian Order, Christian

anthropology, and readings in prayer and spirituality from selected classic and

modern authors. The extended time period of postulancy provides to the

candidate and the community an opportunity to determine work assignments

which are best suited for the candidate’s abilities.



WITH ACCEPTANCE TO THE NOVITIATE, the candidate becomes a monk—a member of the Order of the Cistercians of the Strict Observance, and during this two-year period continues his formation under supervision of the Novice Director. As his experience of the monastic life deepens, the novice focuses more

intensely on the integration of monastic practices into his personal spiritual life

and search for God, and through further reading and prayerful reflection begins

to understand the dimensions of personal change which a life-time commitment

to the monastic life will require.



AS HIS NOVITIATE DRAWS TO CONCLUSION, the monk may request permission from the abbot to profess temporary vows for a period of one year, renewable annually for a minimum total of three years, and a maximum of nine. With the consent of his brothers in the conventual chapter (the senior monks of the community), the monk commits himself to a life of stability, obedience and fidelity to the monastic life. At this stage of his formation, the candidate begins to identify

with the daily flow and rhythm of monastic life, responding less to external

influences and routines than to a relaxed personal acceptance of, and

participation in, a community which he now claims as his own. After at least

three years of temporary profession, he may petition the abbot to make solemn




AS THE CONSTITUTIONS AND STATUES (C. 56) of the Cistercian Order state: “By making profession of solemn vows, a brother gives himself to Christ in a spirit of faith and commits himself perpetually to lead in his community a way of life in accordance with the Rule of St. Benedict.” The “way of life” is defined by a

solemn and final commitment to the three vows in the formula of profession

which the monk writes in his own hand and lays on the altar during a Eucharistic

liturgy in the presence of the abbot and monastic community: obedience

(submission of mind and heart to the Rule of Benedict), stability (commitment

to remain in community with his brothers), and fidelity (receptivity to continual

conversion of life in the daily circumstances of monastic life). In a formula of

consecration, the abbot blesses the monk prostrate before the altar, committing

him to the care of God and of his brothers. Finally, he clothes the monk with a

white cowl, signifying his consecration as a solemnly professed monk in the

Cistercian Order.


St. Benedict's Monastery | 1012 Monastery Road | Snowmass, Colorado 81654

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