Christ is the Good Shepherd (Gospel according to St. John 10,1). Just as a shepherd calls his flock, Christ calls upon each and everyone of us "to have life and have it to the full." (10,10; 17,13)
The quest, however, to find the appropriate social and spiritual environment where life can be lived to the full with utmost inner happiness is often a trying, but also a suspenseful and exciting adventure. Just like most other people, we Benedictine monks also strive to live our lives to the full. For us, however, it is not so much secular impulses, but rather the extraordinarily fertile monastic tradition, that still resonates in the twenty first-century, which guides our quest for a life lived to its full potential.
As we advance in the religious life and faith, we shall run the way of God's commandments with expanded hearts and unspeakable sweetness of love (Rule of St. Benedict, Prologue 49) to reach life everlasting (42).
The entrance into a Benedictine monastery is governed by a overriding criterion: whether the candidate with all his heart and soul truly seeks God. In the chapter of his Rule pertaining to the acceptance of new members in the monastic community, St. Benedict insists:
"see whether he really seeketh God, whether he is eager for the Work of God, obedience and humiliations" (RB 58,7).
The seeking of God, according to St. Benedict, should be an indissoluble force that determines every facet of the monk's life. Whether it is attending the daily Holy Mass, or praying and meditating in the seclusion of one's cell, or reading spiritual texts, or doing manual or intellectual labor, all of these many endeavors share the self same goal - namely, to delve ever deeper into the mystery of God and to become increasingly cognizant that we are living in the presence of His loving omnipotence.
St. Benedict adamantly believes that obedience is predicated upon the ability to listen. The nexus between obedience and listening is of such fundamental importance that St. Benedict begins his Rule by demanding us to Listen:
"Listen carefully, my son, to the master's instructions, and incline the ear of thy heart, and cheerfully receive and faithfully execute the admonitions of thy loving Father, that by the toil of obedience thou mayest return to Him from whom by the sloth of disobedience thou hast gone away" (Prol. 1f.).
The cardinal belief that God created man in His own image (Gen 1,27) constitutes a primal concept that empowers us to see ourselves as worthy recipients of God's everlasting Love and Grace. According to St. Benedict's Rule, if we are willing to listen, and to listen carefully with an open heart to the voice of God: in the Holy Bible, in the Rule, in the Abbot's instructions and finally the voice of God in us - and then to faithfully obey what we have heard, we can, through the labor of obedience, strive to become a living portrait of the human being that God created in His own image.
Those of you who feel a keen devotion to God, and can imagine leading a life of a monk, should spend a few weeks in a monastic environment. By taking part in the Holy Mass and by meditating in the privacy of your room, you can listen to your own inner voice, and through personal conversations with monk or a nun, you can test whether God is calling you to become a monk.
Contact in our Monastery:
Pater Johannes Hauck OSB
Benediktinerabtei St. Mauritius