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: