Why do some Monks take a Vow of Silence?

What exactly is a vow of silence? A vow of silence is a very personal, and completely voluntary promise to stop speaking to anything or anyone. There are many reasons to take a vow like this, all over the world. Often enough, people might associate this concept with Religion, and religious faiths. The length of the vow depends on the reason and overall purpose. Many people take this vow of refraining from any speech with commonly shared reasons, such as concentration, contemplation, forgiveness, sadness, repentance, the desire to give up, adhere and control, and refrain from arguments or political viewpoints.

What is the duration of a vow of silence exactly? The amount of time poured into this act of silence can strongly vary in between people and different reasons for taking action. Permanently enduring this vow is extremely rare, but there are people who have taken this on and succeeded. Most Monks plan on doing this for a set amount of time. This amount of time could be anywhere in between a year or a day. Many people engage in a ‘lesser’ silence. Something like this may just last from morning prayers to evening prayers, or even simply but a few hours.

What are the main purposes and goals of undergoing this vow? Usually, when someone takes this vow, their main goal is to bring something like religious contemplation into the light. One might typically believe that when one stops speaking at all, they will be forced to search inwardly. This is what they believe to be forced contemplation of the inner soul. In theory, now that the general distractions of conversation with other people have been removed, one will be much more inclined to focus on aspects of their own personal and inner life. Lots of people who agree with and understand this aspect of silence, also understand that God does not directly communicate with words — and that his voice may sound in one’s heart through meditative silences.

Sometimes Monks and Nuns may go through with this for repentance. Often, ordinary people will stop talking to show someone else that they may have offended just exactly how sorry they feel. It is almost a way of dealing with the guilt instilled with doing something wrong. However, if the person feels that forgiveness has been relayed back to them, their silence may end there.

Others may do this as a type of substitute for material sacrifices that they have made. Now, this is probably more common for people of Religious faith. They carry out this vow to live simpler, and in a more minimalistic fashion. In some cases, one may focus on the principle that too many ‘things’ can make it difficult to be active in the Religion that they are attempting to fully engage with. Many tasks and responsibilities come hand in hand with having many material possessions. For example, when someone gives up something that they very much care for, it can be made easier to focus on the internal life — and silence, in turn, is an additional sacrifice.

What is the Rule of St. Benedict?

Pretty much everything we know about the Rule of St. Benedict originates from St. Gregory the Great’s famous “Dialogues.” In Gregory the Great’s writing, he says that Benedict is a “man of God.” And that he wrote amazing rules for the Benedictine monks, ‘that is remarkable for its discretion and clarity of language…’

Although the original text and writings of the rule have been since lost, the well known Codex San Gallensis 914, written in time in the early ninth century, is usually taken as authoritative and legitimate.

Now, about the actual Rule (or set of rules, if you will), is a great and important witness to the personal life of St. Benedict. It gives life to Benedict’s character and illuminates his thoughts. Throughout the rules, Benedict can be seen as gentle, knowledgeable, and virtuous. The rules are also very based off of actual scripture. Sometimes, Benedict can be seen as a very ‘English’ writer — his expertise for an organization, his funny glints of humor, and his over-all hints of placidness serve for this. This could be the reason why that for both women and men, the life of Benedictine monasticism became such a large part of England catholicism, just before the great (and infamous) Protestant Reformation.

Now, in contrast with other previous writers that shared the monastic lifestyle, Benedict is far more moderate and less demanding in his rules and ‘guidelines.’ In Benedict’s ideal life, monks and nuns are given plenty of moderation, but not to an extreme extent like other orders. The way of life that he idealizes lets monks and nuns receive sleep, food, and drink without letting too much luxury, temptation, or indulgence spread rampantly in their lives. Lots of prayers, writing, reading, studying, and especially work, typically make up the majority of a monk or nuns day.

Of course, Benedict was aware that his Rules would, of course, have to be set accordingly in different scenarios and places. Within the text, much discretionary power is given to the abbot, or, ‘superior.’ Benedict is pretty reasonable, of course. Benedict realizes and understands that in, for example, a region that is colder, more clothing will be necessary. Benedict is not stingy in this way or unreasonable.

Fortunately enough for us, Benedicts Rule is actually somewhat short, and can even be read through in its entirety in just one small hour. Alongside all of the technical aspects and specifics of life as a Benedictine Monk, or Nun, there’s quite a lot of teaching, the inner, spiritual kind. Since the monk or nun is a disciple, and always ‘ready’ for the voice of God, so to speak, they should be alert, meek, humble, and readily attentive.

Nowadays, the famous rule of St. Benedict is widely followed and accepted by thousands of Monks and Nuns across the entire world. Not only are there already thousands of followers of the Rule, but it is still further spreading across the globe. Even people who do not wish to enter a religious order seeking to follow the Rule — as a way of keeping a healthy, minimal, and balanced life-style.


How Do Monasteries Support Themselves? 

Monk communities live lives dedicated to prayer, good works, and simplicity. This does not, however, come easy. They live in monasteries which do not pay themselves. They have bills to pay, projects to be funded and personal needs to be met. This necessitates the need for monks to make some money to cater for their lifestyles, meet the needs of their community and run their projects. This begs the question; how do monasteries support themselves?

Though the popular belief is that monasteries mainly restrict themselves to performing religious duties and voluntary communal services, the idea of them making money is not new in the Christina monastic tradition. As early as in the 6th Century, St. Benedict, under the influence of his Latin motto “ora et labora” (pray and work) helped to organized the money generating systems that many Catholic religious orders still follow. However, the money generating activities do not take up a majority of monks’ daily life. They live a balanced life of prayer, work and genuine recreation guides which govern their day-to-day schedules.

Much of the finances needed to fund monastery activities come from donations and offerings that Christians voluntarily give in church and gifts from visitors. There are designated places in some churches where visitors can drop currency notes and many visitors know what’s expected of them whenever they visit. Monks at such facilities also offer hospitality services to visitors at a small fee. This implies that when people stay overnight at these facilities, they make some donation for lodging. In most instances, the accommodation wing of most monasteries is run just like a normal business, with complete price lists and various price tiers for different types of room quality.

Though prayers and manual labor have socially been the norm of monastic life, some communities have discovered ways in which they can support themselves through the 21st-century technological innovations. Some are using technology to produce items which are then sold to finance their activities and those of their affiliated religious groups for decades. These items produced for sale range from fruitcakes, jams, candy, caskets, etc.

While in performing duties that meet the needs of the church, monks also engage in various work activities that help to finance their living. For instance, some monks are engaged in educating students at the school. They either serve as teachers or hold administrative roles. Other monks perform duties that directly meet the needs of the monastery by receiving and dispatching mail, taking care of monastery vehicles, tilling the farming grounds and taking care of the monastery buildings.

Here is a synopsis of the Rule of St. Benedict:









Do Monasteries Offer Spiritual Retreats?

Spiritual retreats are an integral part of the Catholic faith that help one to restore or grow his spirit and faith. They provide a silent and holy place to find a better sense of balance and also get away from everyday life. Retreats can be attended by individuals or groups such as the church youth, choir or just a group of general church members. If you’ve never attended a Catholic spiritual retreat and you’re not sure where to start, then there are many retreat centers that you can choose. Catholic monasteries are perfect places that offer amazing spiritual retreats that will renew your faith once again. They are known for their contemplative and relaxing atmosphere which is ideal for spiritual retreats. The following are 2 famous monasteries that offer spiritual retreats.

1. The Monastery of the Holy Spirit
Located in Conyers, Georgia in the US, The Monastery of the Holy Spirit is a place where you go for a spiritual retreat to rejuvenate your soul and revitalize your spirit. The place offers a sacred place where you can seek God in the stillness, solitude, and in the beauty of nature. The monastery welcomes visitors of all faiths or no faith who want to find God and begin a new life. They also allow their guests to fully participate in their monastic schedule of the Divine Office. They offer different retreats including personal retreats, group retreats, and have a Preached Retreat Program that provides spiritual presentations, scriptures, and prayers. You will rediscover several types of prayers such as Lectio Divina, Eucharist, and centering prayer. Visit this beautiful monastery to enjoy a solitary time for prayer, silence, and meditation.

2. The Abbey Guest Center at Conception Abbey
Located in Northwest Missouri, this guest center is a unique place for individuals or groups coming for spiritual treats in the Conception Abbey monastery. It’s a complete retreat center that gives you a chance to join the monks of Conception Abbey and renew your spirit in God. The Abbey Guest Center offers you a chance to witness Benedictine hospitality. The retreat center offers several benefits for its guests such as overnight visits and tours of the Abbey Basilica and the nearby Gift shop. The Abbey Guest Center at Conception Abbey will provide a sacred time to reunite with your maker. They give you a calm space with plenty of resources to facilitate your prayers, silence, and spiritual renewal.

There are many retreat centers you can choose, and monasteries are one of the best. They will ultimately fulfill your desire for spiritual growth and rejuvenation.

Discernment Process for Religious Vocation

If you visit a website like Vocation Network, you could be led to believe that anyone can discern at any time. All you have to do is, “go for it,” “follow your heart’s desire,” and “have experienced.” This myth has been passed down from one 
generation to the next of people who simply don’t understand the spiritual journey.

The truth here is that God’s call is found in your desires, in what’s going to make you happy. The lie is that His call is in your deepest desires, in what’s going to make you deeply happy. The nice thing about this myth is it allows adults to invite young people to “think about where God is calling you” without doing any of the tough work up-front of helping you grow in your relationship with Jesus Christ and get rid of any obstacles in your path. Don’t you think there’s probably a reason why some young people take years of bouncing around from one thing to the next when the spiritual masters say the “discernment” process should be over in two weeks?

The problem is not you. The problem is your strategy, your process. The problem is you’re trying to discern when you’re not ready yet. What does it take to be ready? Two things: prayer and interior freedom. What does that mean concretely? Mental prayer (also called meditation) with Scripture or another spiritual book for at least 20 minutes a day

  • Mass at least every Sunday
  • Confession at least once a month
  • Freedom from family wounds and pressure
  • Freedom from friends’ opinions
  • Freedom from romantic relationships
  • Freedom from sins and attachments
  • Freedom from your plans
  • Living a life of simplicity without too much noise, distractions, business
  • Living a life of virtue, in particular, chastity/purity
  • Living a life of balance
  • Trust in whatever God’s plan is for your life: “whatever you want God, I’ll do it.”
  • Knowing yourself and the purpose for which you were created
  • Knowing what marriage and consecration are and what 
they’re not
  • Some people probably think that a spiritual director is necessary. That’s certainly a nice help but not necessary according to the masters.

What is necessary is that you go through a 3-step process:

Like laying a foundation of a house, here is where you clear out the trees and brush and pour in the concrete of God’s love in His word and the sacraments

General Discernment
Before you jump into a commitment, check to see if you show any signs of having a vocation to the priesthood or the religious life.

Specific Discernment
Once you know whether 
marriage or consecration is your path, begin pursuing the “prospects” 
that most align with the deepest desires of your heart.So now that you know what it takes to get to work laying the foundation for your discernment. God bless. Live from your heart.






What are the Roles of Monks and Nuns?

Monks and nuns are the lowest in the hierarchy of various religions. They are neither members of the clergy nor are they members of the lay faithful. They are called consecrated religious, and this means that they have taken vows of chastity, poverty, and obedience. So, what exactly are the roles of played by monks and nuns in the monasteries?

Gathering Alms
Monk and nuns are supposed to go out and seek alms in a peaceful manner and with humility. They, however, do not seek or beg in the way in which a regular beggar does, but they modestly present themselves to receive offerings.

Temple and church sweeping and cleaning: once monks and nuns have returned from seeking alms and have taken their meal, their next duty is sweeping the monastery grounds. They are supposed to sweep from the main chapel then go all the way down to their quarters.

Another major role of nuns and monks is a confession. What exactly do we mean by this? Confession involves a monk or a nun who has sinned against their monastic discipline, and they wish to express their regret over this misdeed to his preceptor, and then promises to never repeat the misdeed.

Meditating and Chanting
This should be done both evening and morning to strengthen their faith in a concrete way constantly. Having said this, people in the ancient past viewed chanting as a vital part of daily life.

Reflection helps them to be a person who are diligent and attentive. After reflecting nuns and monks will possess clarity of mind, self-restraint and be people who don’t suffer from the affliction of greed. The more they practice reflection, the more they will have self-awareness, and their sense of perception improves along with their ability to judge other people with greater preci­sion

Caring for The Priest or Preceptor
Monks and nuns owe a lot to their preceptors. The precep­tor spends hours instructing them on the how to meditate on the religion tirelessly. As a result, they express their gratitude by helping him in all possible areas, including personal matters and respect­ing him.

Maintenance, Management, and Exercise
Monks and 
nuns must learn to care for their personal properties, as well as the temple property. They must well understand principles of good organization, efficiency, and caring for things for them to last.

Responsibility and Caring for Monastery Property
Monastery Property means anything and everything that has been built for or donated to in the name of that religion. Every monk or nun must co-operate with one another to help care for all these things. Otherwise, people may not continue donating the goods. You may come across some temples have been destroyed or abandoned, and one of the reasons may be that the monks didn’t take care of the temple properly. Proper care of the monastery instills a desire for fixing and looking after things.

By reading this article, I hope you have now understood the various roles played by nun and monks in the monasteries. If you’d like more on this subject, check out this article.



Types of Catholic Religious Orders 

Catholic religious orders are organizations of clergy or laity who have taken solemn vows and have taken to living a common life according to a constitution or religious rule oversaw by a superior religious leader. Catholic religious orders were founded with the aim of closely imitating the life of Jesus, though not exclusively, by way of observing evangelical chastity, obedience, and poverty.

The three are considered to be the evangelical counsels of perfection. Member of religious orders commits themselves to adhering to the three evangelical counsels by publicly taking vows which are guided by the church law. Additionally, they vow to obey the laid down guidelines for living, since each order has its norms. Members of religious orders do not form part of the hierarchy, except in instances where they get ordained as priests or deacons. According to the Annuario Pontificio, religious orders can be grouped into four major branches. These are; Monastic orders, Canons orders, Mendicant orders and Clerks Regulars.

Monastic Orders
These are groups of men and women who have dedicated their lives to God and either stay alone or in isolated monasteries. They are majorly monks or cloistered nuns who practice ascetic lifestyles and typically wear robes or plain clothes. They pray, eat and meditate several times a day and have taken vows of poverty, celibacy, and obedience. Monastic orders recite the divine office.

Mendicant orders
Mendicant orders refer to Catholic religious orders which have committed themselves to a lifestyle of poverty, traveling and staying in urban areas with an objective of evangelization, preaching and ministering to communities, especially the poor. The Mendicant religious order started in France and became popular in the poor cities of Europe at the beginning of the 13th Century. Due to their refusal to pay tax and own property, some mendicants were suppressed by Pope Gregory X in the year 1274 at the Second Council or Lyon. Mendicants avoid owning property, trading property and often adopt an itinerant lifestyle. They depend on the goodwill of the society in which they are preaching for their survival. Examples of Mendicant orders are the Franciscans and Dominicans.

Canons Regulars
These are priests who live in the community,
 commonly sharing property under the Latin “regular” rule. They are different
from monks in that they engage in the public ministry of sacraments and liturgy. They
are sometimes called White or Black Canons, depending on the color of the
religious garments that the mother congregation wears. Canons take three vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience, though this occurs at later development stages. They recite the divine office and are mostly in charge of parishes.

Clerks Regulars
This order is composed of priests who have taken vows and live very active apostolic lives. Clerks Regular are completely devoted to pastoral care with only a few penitential observances. An example of the Clerks Regular order is the Society of Jesus order.



5 Oldest Catholic Monasteries in the US

Monasteries in the ancient times were built to bring people of similar religious affiliations together to worship their creator. The oldest Catholic monasteries in the world were built several centuries ago. This was soon after man’s civilization and realization of the existence of God. The structure of monasteries was different from the structure of modern churches. The USA was one of the earliest countries in which monasteries were built. The following are 5 oldest Catholic monasteries in the US.

Cathedral of San Juan Bautista This is one of the oldest Roman Catholic monasteries built in the territory of Puerto Rico in the Northern America. It is the second oldest Roman Catholic cathedral in America. The original building was made of wood and its construction took place in 1521 but it was destroyed by a hurricane followed by the construction of an existing structure which took place in 1540. Since its construction, this monastery has been reshaped several times until 1917 when it was last reshaped.

Porta Coelin Monastery This monastery serves as one of the most famous tourist attraction centers in the US. It was constructed in 1531 after a decree by Empress Isabel demanded 200 decades to be given to the Dominican priest so as to assist in building the monastery. This was meant to have Ordered in the Town of San German in the present-day American territory.

San Miguel Mission Chapel The building of San Miguel began in the 1600s but was completed in 1710. The initial adobe walls and its altar were built by Tlaxcalan Indians from Mexico under the direction from Franciscan friars intended to serve a small congregation of laborers, soldiers, and Indians who lived in Analco Barrio.

San Estevan Del Rey Mission Church This is another monastery that has been in existence since 1629 when its construction was initiated. It was completed in 1641. The kind architectural style used to build this Spanish mission church is quite unique from most churches in the US. In 1970, the monastery was declared a National Historic Landmark and was listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Church of Saint Blaise of Illescas Also known as Iglesia San Blas de Illescas, the Church of Saint Blaise of Illescas is a Catholic parish monastery that was constructed in 1661 and since then it has been considered one of the most important work of religious architecture in Puerto Rico. Presently, there is a series of delicately curved Baroque which is a manifestation of a major reconstruction that was completed in 1784.

Conclusion In general, the above described Catholic monasteries are important religious and historical symbols in America. They contain a lot of information regarding religion in ancient times thus they are great places to visit.